'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube but has been criticised by a vocal minority

They are male and female, young and old, black, white and Asian, with hijab and without, but they are all Muslims. And they are all happy.

That's the message of a new video which shows dozens of British Muslims dancing their hearts out, laughing, singing and smiling along to Pharrell Williams' hit single "Happy".

Produced by a group of young Muslims called Honesty Policy, the four-minute video is infectious and its unashamedly positive message has gone viral more than 300,000 hits (and rising) on YouTube this week. Just try and watch it without smiling – you'll fail.

Aside from making you grin, the point of the video, according its creators, is to show that British Muslims are just as happy, eclectic, cosmopolitan, diverse, creative, fun and outgoing as anyone else. "This video was joining the global movement of happiness inspired by Pharrell," the Honesty Policy group tells me in an email. "It's part of something that we as Muslims could find ourselves relating to: happiness. We, too, are happy people, and we promote a message of happiness."

That happiness movement and Pharrell's happiness day collaboration with the United Nations last month inspired Honesty Policy, which closely guards the identity of its members, to hit the road and film ordinary "happy Muslims" from all over the country dancing to the hit.

"We've been completely blown away by the positive reaction," says one of the Honesty Policy team in a telephone interview with The Independent. He declines to give his name, adding that the group, which is made up of men and women from all Muslim branches, puts its "message before any identity".

The group admits it expected "a backlash" from some quarters, but the feel-good project seems to have struck a chord with the majority of the 300,000 viewers so far on YouTube, with Tweets and Facebook messages of support from celebrities, MPs and the wider public.

That hasn't stopped a vocal minority attacking the project as haram (an Arabic term meaning sinful), though, and yesterday the BBC Asian Network held a vigorous debate asking whether the video was halal (an action that is permissible to engage in).

Read more: Pharrell Williams 'Happy': British Muslims dance to song

"The issue with this video is that it touches on a lot of deeply entrenched issues within the Muslim community," adds the group's unnamed spokesman. "Lots of people have an idea of Islam that you have to conform to prescribed rules to be a good Muslim, but to us, as young second and third generation British Muslims, that's not the case. We're thankful to have grown up in a British society with freedom of expression... And we're thankful that our faith gives us the room to be British and to be a Muslim. Some people don't see that. They don't see Islam as pluralistic [as we do]."


One high-profile contributor to the video is Timothy Winter (he's the chap pictured above holding an "I'm happy" sign), who in the Muslim community is more commonly known as Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad. He's one of country's foremost Muslim theologians and lectures at Cambridge University.

Within days of the video first appearing online, a post appeared on Muslim news website Shaam Post claiming that the academic had distanced himself from the video and labelled it improper.

According to Honesty Policy these reports are "untrue". The mysterious spat deepened further when Winter himself told The Independent that he was "happy to be involved" in the project, which he said cuts the Muslim community free of the "negative images which oppress it".


Shaam Post did not respond to emails yesterday and many other posters continued attacking the video online, but Honesty Policy says it is "careful" about "responding to negativity".

The spokesman did say this though: "Most of the critique of the video comes from a baseless place and by responding to it we'd just adding fuel to the fire… Many in the Muslim community can feel disempowered in the face of this; we just want to give the normal person a voice again."

 

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot