I mean, it is not as if we don't have enough on our hands already
After all, racists on the 'left' and 'right' as well as the ruling Awami League of Bangladesh are gunning at the only brown Mayor of a London borough on spurious grounds, with the backing of the British state media. Meanwhile, in Birmingham a most likely fabricated "Muslim Plot to take over schools" has provided a pretext for an unrelenting attack on the communities there. Internationally we have the Bangladeshi establishment and its global partners (BBC, DfID et al) still covering up a hideous massacre in Dhaka last May and Muslim communities in CAR and Burma under cruelties I can't even fathom.
Its worth dwelling on three individual #BritishMuslims whose circumstances are anything but happy. A leading poetical voice of the UK, Talha Ahsan, has been extradited to the USA, and is locked up 23 hours a day in a torturous Supermax prison Connecticut, braving it through Aspergers and many years of detention without trial. Down the road community worker Mahdi Hashi is locked up in solitary in New York City for refusing to spy for the British intelligence agencies. To top it all, the brave and eloquent, Moazzam Begg has been detained in the UK on bullshit terrorism grounds in a clear attempt by the government to intimidate its faithful critics.
Why HappyMuslimsGate is a critical, if not terminal issue
There is a lot to decode in the choice of the video, and the stories and reactions of the people behind and in front of the camera. There are lessons here and the more it is analysed the more we can learn about how not to do things. Although it appears to be a silly video, it has produced a genuine conference of the community, which is rare and instructive. Off the top of my head, the proceedings are as follows,
- What is this Bull Shit? Where's my book of 70 odd excuses?
- Hey everybody, look at me!
- No I'm nothing like Maajid Nawaz.
- You detractors are puritans, This is Genuine Islam's Brighton Rock!
- Erm. I did it as a bit of fun, not a political template for anything.
The song itself is by an artist called Pharrell, known for his role in the group N. E R.D. and tracks like Lapdance, with raunchy videos, and currently for collaborations with people like Miley Cyrus. It is ironic that the HappyMuslims are vehement in crying misogyny when they can get the airtime, but are happy to blow wind into this guy's sails, if it gets them attention. Perhaps we can next look forward to the Lapdance Muslim edit.
How much the actors knew, cared, or were able to cognitively handle about this video is interesting. Although many have expressed smug pride at the millions of views of this expression of cultural consumerism and lobotomy, and some have applauded any PR impact from it, others are trying to mitigate the political revulsion from large sections of their community. We had the strange case of conflicting apparent statements from Abdal Hakim Murad, followed by a thoughtful argument for why its important to be down with the kids. It was sad to see how he was being manipulated by that media gatekeeper group, again.
It is reasonable to presume that the group behind the camera overlaps with that in front of it. There is a bit of a fightclub air to their self-image, and a strong whiff of post islamic society frat pack in their discourse and methods of shutting down debate. All the people you would expect to be recruited for such a project were there, and decolonial salutations to the people, the creatively aware, who declined to be involved.
Happy Muslims represents a failure of imagination, cultural degeneracy, aesthetic autism, subculture of sycophancy and poor judgement amongst some folks in the media scrum. It is now a matter of public record and an actant in of itself.
|this meme is doing the circuit.|
Much of the response to it, from the seven seas of salafism to the outer Hebrides of HT, are very much concerned with the legalistic arguments. However, the murky politics, aesthetic and cultural lenses are much more pertinent here.
I don't believe that all music is haram. I am an advocate of cultural jihad, which has a vector direction towards a place called justice. Shit music that doesn't engender wrong doing probably isn't haram either. There is no legislating against bad taste, but enculturing and enacting superior creativity is hardly going to hurt. Sometimes I imagine a 1990s Zia Sardar might write about this video
For me, putting aside the political duplicity of it, the demonstration of cultural wastage, mimicry and aesthetic autism is worth reflecting on. The civilisations that have given the world Iqbal, Ghazals, Rumi and Ghalib, think that shooting a video like Happy Muslims is worthy.
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