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Aping the West does not make you a ‘Happy Muslim’

Bint Salaam – Opinion | 02 June 2014/03 Shabaan 1435

“That’s not Islam!” – The slogan for Muslims who feel they need to apologise for the behaviour of so called “Islamist” terrorist organisations. As if, telling the world that the actions of a few don’t mirror the whole is making a difference. Never mind that common sense and fair-mindedness says this shouldn’t even be necessary.

The misrepresentation of Islam runs much deeper. Marching to all the news and broadcasting organisations that continue to distort Islam might make a dent.

When videos like “Happy Muslims”, produced by a group of anonymous British Muslims, sparked the production of similar videos by Muslim communities around the world, disappointingly, these Muslims remained silent. There was no declaration – as there should have been – that “That’s not Islam”.

The Honesty Policy, the group that produced the British version, has deliberately chosen to remain anonymous. According to its creators, the point of the video is to show that “British Muslims are just as happy, eclectic, cosmopolitan, diverse, creative, fun and outgoing as anyone else”.

Apparently a Muslim is a happy Muslim when they’re dancing and singing along in mixed company, looking like anything but a Muslim, so that they can prove they’re like everyone else and their happiness is experienced like everyone else’s.

Clearly the “everyone else” they mention means the non-Muslim section of our accepting global society. In order to prove they are like “everyone else” they have had to adopt the ways, dress, thoughts, and speech of other than what is Islamic. Only to fit into a group that excludes them unless they strip themselves of all that makes them Muslim.

Nevertheless, the video – according to Honesty Policy– has received an overwhelming positive reaction. There was the “expected” negativity but from a “small minority”. It is telling that only a small number viewed unhappily the depiction of a Muslim as being happy when they’re imitating the song and dance of a man who recently came under fire for a music video that objectified women more so than his other videos.

But the video has been produced and will forever remain in the realms of virtual reality. Muslims in South Africa who loved it rolled their eyes dismissively at the “backward” minority who didn’t. Some even called it cute, while others expressed a desire to undertake their own productions.

So let’s just understand what happiness to a Muslim should be, because yes, happiness is also governed by your chosen way of life. The Muslims of this dying minority’s picture of happiness is not felt through the shameless sharing of song and dance, between men and women, in the streets, or by expressing similarity to a lifestyle contrary to a Muslim one. It would be fair to say even, the desire to be like anything but a Muslim is absent.

Happiness in Islam is as the word itself suggests through its definition – favoured by fortune and favourable – it is recognition, appreciation, and a sense of gratitude to Allah SWT for the favours He has blessed you with. It is not equated with fun and pleasure as the video portrays and has come to be understood.

Happiness should not be achieved by imitating the ways of the West (un-Islamic ways) or to satisfy a yearning not to be different, when Muslims by their very way of life are different to the amoral that is being espoused in the “free” world today.

This is not to say that Muslims aren’t allowed to laugh or smile, joke, have fun and enjoy life as is often falsely reported.  Like everything, this has its limits and is also meant to be felt with an awareness of gratitude. There is nothing wrong with having desires, but even desires must have a cap on them. Muslims should understand that they cannot go over the boundaries to achieve their permitted wants and needs and that desires must be reserved.

In fact Allah SWT tells us about the things we desire and run after in life in the noble Quraan. Allah SWT gives us a summary of the obvious things we will run after that we think will make us happy. Things we don’t really consider to be tools to attach us to this world.

“Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” [Surah Al-Hadid, verse 20]

At the various stages of our lives we have certain desires which are important to us to fulfil. In our early years the most important thing to us is play and amusement. Then later entertainment, a bit later beautification and showing off to others. And then even later in marriage and children, the shared desire to make money and stabilise our wealth and image.

Allah SWT compares these pursuits of happiness to things that become irrelevant. Once they are achieved they hold no value. What we once wanted so badly, we lose interest in and look for the next best thing. The fulfilment of worldly desires provides only momentary satisfaction.

“What is worldly life, it amounts to nothing but means by which people get deceived.” We think we will attain complete happiness but we won’t. Not completely in the Halaal pleasures and certainly not in the Haraam.

At the very end of this life there is either intense punishment or immense happiness. While we may get used to the desires and even the pains on earth we will never get used to those in the aakhirah. Not the punishment of Jahannam and not the pleasures of Jannah.

True happiness and incredible contentment is attained when we receive Allah’s SWT eventual and permanent Forgiveness. Only then will we be satisfied. Our search will be over and we will be at peace.

Disbelievers are disbelievers because they bury the truth inside them.  What is sad is that we are beginning to do the same in an effort to change and adapt.  We rightfully cry about the false portrayal of Islam as violent by “terrorist” groups, yet we also give off a false portrayal of Islam when we liken it to all that Islam isn’t, seek the very things Islam saved us from and covet all that Allah SWT warned us against.

How long will we continue to douse ourselves in the fuels of sins, chase our desires (nafs), right our wrongs, speak ill against the truth, assume intelligence, prove ignorance and shed the Sunnah. We would rather abandon the tools that Allah SWT has given us for our success than the acceptance of those doomed. A happy Muslim is one devoted to Allah SWT and the Sunnah of Rasulullah SAW, devoted to trying to live life as a true Muslim.

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