All posts by fmarwan84

Islamic Review of Happy Video by The Honesty Policy

I am sure you are aware of the Pharrell William “Happy” video made by “Honesty Policy”. There has been much debate around it, but I want to mention some points of contention that are not disagreed upon by the Muslim orthodox scholarly community.

Things that were Islamically problematic in the video are:

1) women dancing in public, sometime provocatively like shaking the rear in public

2) women dancing with non mahram men (this excludes the parts where they danced with their husbands or family) and men dancing with non-mahram women 

3) some women appearing without the hijab and with their arms and legs mostly exposed  (i.e. wearing a short skirt)

4) some of the women had their breasts clearly shaking a lot (very provocative)  

5) some of the participants (such as Adam Deen) of the video have called whoever disagrees with the video as “puritans/wahabis/sad/anti-happiness/extreme/not-mainstream-Muslim” etc. This means that they would call the women Sahaba as “wahabis/sad/anti-happiness” because they did not dance in the public and would not support it. It is a very sad day when British Muslims think that the only way to be happy is to dance. I don’t know when British Muslims became some hippies.

Some other points I want to mention (which are just my thoughts on the issue):

6) Honesty Policy used the lyrics and song of Pharrell Williams who said about women “Is it sexist when you walk around in a museum and a lot of the statues have their boobs out?” he asked the Time Out reporter. “The women in that video weren’t doing anything sexual: they were only dancing. Just because they had their boobs out, that was ‘sexist.'”

7) Honesty Policy had a blogpost condemning a Muslim speaker who wrongly made some remarks about women. Yet Honesty Policy made its video based on Pharrell Williams who made many clearer and more wrong remarks about women. 

8) The video has divided the British Muslim community further and this division is a fitna for the Muslims and the video has become a bad PR stunt. The Islamophobes must be jumping in joy.

9) Instead of showing women dancing, why couldn’t they just show women smiling, playing sports, cycling etc? It seems that the creators of the video wanted to send a political and ideological point (i.e. pro-feminism and pro-liberal Islam, as shown by the strong views of the participants in the video Adam Deen and Myriam Francois Cerrah on this topic), not just send a “Happy” video.

Someone I noted posted this comment which was never answered by the proponents of the video:

10) I’m all for happiness and I’ve got a question: how does women dancing in the video compare to the women Sahaba (like sayyidah Fatima (RA), or the other female companions that were not from the Ahlul Bayt)? Did they have happiness? Did they dance in front of non-mahrams? How does their modesty and actions compare to this video? Did they appear to non-mahrams without the hijab? Would the Noble Prophet be happy with this video? Who is our role model?

11) Note that there are some Sahih hadiths that indicate that men danced (e,g. the Abyssinian men in front of the Prophet). The standards of modesty for men and women are not the same, and this is highlighted by the fact that women have to wear a hijab covering their hair, but men do not. Nevertheless men dancing for no purpose is considered  makruh by most scholars (as indicated here  As for the specifics of how the men danced in this video, I’ve not been able to find a fatwa on it. However my post is about agreed upon (ijma) haram acts, thus this men dancing issue is not my focus.

Here are some links of orthodox Sunni Muslim scholars on the issue of dancing:

I highlight relevant parts here:

But innocent dancing that is not like the dancing of the corrupt would be allowed in private, between husband and wife, even if sensual”

 “ If the hadra contains something impermissible, like the free-mixing of marriageable men and women in way that is conducive to temptation or unrestrained looking at the unlawful, then attending it is forbidden. “