Supporting #HappyMuslims?: A Letter to Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

BismillahiRahmaniRahim. La Hawla Wala Quwwata illa Billah. Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal Wakil. 

I offer asalaamu’alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh to Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad.

I pray this letter reaches you in the best of health and iman. I write this in a public setting given that I feel it is beneficial for others to see this address. I would also hope that you don’t mind, given that the issue I am writing to you about has already been openly endorsed and explained from your end. I suppose then that this letter is not simply directed towards you, but also everyone else that has supported the #HappyMuslims project.

I also wish to ask for forgiveness in that I personally feel I am unworthy of engaging you in a critical way, as I am nowhere close to your level of learning in our faith — and even matters outside of our faith. This address may seem then to be hypocritical, but I’ve felt compelled to write because of this annoyingly unsettling feeling I’ve had since I saw you in the #HappyMuslims video, which was a matter of shock and confusion for me. If it is of any compensation, I pray that my critical questions might be accepted on account of my Shaykh, Umar Vadillo, and his Shaykh, Abdalqadir as-Sufi, from which I’ve learned much of what I know today; my perspective being reflective of what they have taught me. I have always believed it is better to be a medium for others of greater learning, than to preach of my own views. If this is, please continue, as I have profound respect for you and I would genuinely like answers to my inquiries.

Recently, I purchased a wonderful and enlightening book written by you called The Commentary on the Eleventh Contentions. I was particularly taken in by Contention 39, which I agree with completely:

The challenge of modern Muslimness is to combine a confident dissent from the global culture with a sense of service and humility. Triumphalism is no less damaging to the soul than an inferiority complex. Where loyalty is to God, and love is for what humanity is called to become, the believer can combine pity for the monoculture’s shrunken victims with gratitude for God’s guidance.

Part of that gratitude and humility takes the form of a wise awareness that not everyone has the strength to be different. Human nature is conformist, and the monoculture increasingly demonises Muslim distinctiveness. Browbeaten Muslims, anxious to please, are everywhere; they are no use to their communities, or, ultimately, to their hosts, since they cannot function as healers, but only a chorus of frightened eulogist. Allah is testing us through them; and the only successful response to this test is to be forgiving, and to try and find an ointment for the scars inflicted by the melting-pot, as it grows hotter, year after year.[1]

What confuses me is how different your statements here are to your participation in #HappyMuslims, as well as your recent clarification on the matter. A few things immediately stand out to me in the latter, which raises the question as to whether or not you’ve changed your position since the writing of Contentions, or contradicted yourself. The first issue I have may seem minor, but I feel it is difficult to ignore. You admit quite openly that:

I have no tie myself to this video, not having known the song or even heard of the singer before the final version appeared, or played any role in its editing. I did not know what it was! I appeared to be ‘happy’ in my own way, not in the way of the others, however that may be judged.[2]

This is startling, in that your previous writing and speeches exude a profound sense of disciplined planning and knowledge. While I am certain no one will judge you for being “happy” — and I find it interesting that you would even think so — I am certain others will ask as to why you took part in something you had absolutely no knowledge of. I’m also confused as to how you were convinced to give your image and indirect support to those whom you knew little about regarding their intentions — or more importantly, their concept of haya, which you also openly opposed when you said:

There is much in the video that I would personally take issue with, as the kind of conservative who values the hadith, so quintessentially Muslim, that insists that ‘every umma has a particular quality, and the quality of my umma is modesty.’ (Ibn Majah) Gravamen and public restraint are surely part of the charm of Islam. In an age of unrestraint, we need to consider carefully the ways in which our traditions of modesty, for both genders, might be used as instruments by which a sad humanity can be called back to the truth. Modesty should not obstruct da’wa, but should facilitate it.[3]

I do not mean to point these things out as a means to make a cheap shot. My intentions rather are to ask you how your lack of knowledge on the matter and your future condemnation of much of what was in the video itself — now also a vindication for many people who opposed the project — is related to the above quote in your Contentions. You call on us all to reject the monoculture  and to be brave in the face of conformity. You also ask us to have mercy on many of those who lack the courage to do so– but you never say to join them, or “sit with them” in such a way as to vindicate their methods. The creators of #HappyMuslims used your image and your name for just that, and they saw themselves as “right” and their methods as productive. Why? Especially after you have said of such people that “they are no use to their communities, or, ultimately, to their hosts, since they cannot function as healers, but only a chorus of frightened eulogist.” [4]

I agree with you my respected Shaykh that these people deserve our mercy, our forgiveness, and our guidance for giving in to the monoculture, but I’m afraid I don’t understand why you’ve allowed them to include you in it and still do.


[1] Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Commentary on the Eleventh Contentions (Cambridge: Quilliam Press, 2012), 68.




12 Comments on “Supporting #HappyMuslims?: A Letter to Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

  1. Seriously dude, you are a smart guy. Why are you getting totally hung up on this rather minor thing?

    Tim Winter is not the first guy to end up as part of something online without knowing what he was getting into.

    Any non-Muslim or lay Muslim watching this whole furore over what is frankly, not a particularly lurid or erotic video, would think that we are a bunch of nit-picking superficialists.

    Even I’m thinking that if I do something minor like bopping along to a tune with my wife, I will get the third degree for it from even people like you and Winter, who for God’s sake I hoped knew better. Goes to show, you can’t teach wisdom, only knowledge.

    If there was a Nobel prize for making mountains out of mole-hills…

    • Asalaamualaikum dude mmmclmru,

      Thank you for your response. I was hoping you might comment on the “elitist” nature of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s views on those who fall in to the monoculture, despite him being used by those who supported this video as some vindication for their project.

      Do take care.

    • Allah’s peace, mercy and guidance may be with you

      Fitna is the expertise of satan “may he be toasted a billion times” every day for eternity. don’t despise the least of Muslims because Allah “The Most Glorious” loves him.. but who is a Muslim? An arrogant person is never a Muslim, a cruel person is never a Muslim, a hateful person is never a Muslim even if they pray a hundred times a day. A Muslim is someone which Allah “The Most Kind” loves, and Allah “The Most Exalted” doesn’t like arrogance, cruelty, aggression and hatefulness. Those are details in some perceptive creatures like us choose to do. The good news is that we can change if we’re reading this.

  2. Certainly a needed response. I do hope Dr Winters reads and hopefully will have a response.
    Funny thing is that the retarted video is hinging on Dr Winters appearance lol
    Let’s ignore that a misogynstic rapper is supplying the music and the video does have feminists, rather hypocritical ones in it

    I was listening to acdc while I was running the other day and then after that some good old motley Crüe but I never made it “hey I’m a Muslim and I’m doing that ?”
    I just did and went on my merry way and did not hashtag Muslim on it.

    This video was a calculated effort to stimulate a response from the exact people that gave the response so no love lost there or should I say happiness

    btw when will you bring more stuff from dr Abdul Sufi ?

  3. I’m gone to tell my little brother, that he should also pay
    a quick visit this blog on regular basis to take
    updated from most recent reports.

  4. Allaah’s blessings, mercy and peace be with you.. Allah’s prayers and peace on our beloved Master and Prophet Muhammad Ibn AbdullAAh and his loved ones


    Thank you for that article because if it weren’t for you i wouldn’t have noticed that “Happy British Muslims” video. I stumbled upon your article while researching the latest news on Shaykh Abdal Hakim.

    Contradiction: there’s none that the Shaykh has done. He accepted to take part in a video depicting British Muslims smiling and in a happy mood. If you want to consider that contradiction than you’ll be considering our beloved Prophet contradictive during the numerous biographical “hadith” instances when he made jokes, played and had a good time with Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, Abu Bakr, Aisha and many others Allah’s blessings and mercy upon them all, and he did it Just for the sake of fun and lightness.. and that was during times of persecution and wars. Not during the battle, but during those years.

    Humility: “Humility” should counter-balance the “scandalous” in general and ongoing conditions of the times, perfectly, to be a role model of innocence and accountability to the scandalous. Otherwise, if “Humility” weighed too much it will fall into eccentricity and that is not equilibrium, an equilibrium which Monotheism and its final call in Islam is all about. Why do you think you are supposed to have humility? Allah “The Most Exalted Most Superior” isn’t affected by whether i have humility or I am a total dog. Humility is to serve us and our purpose as a community, and I’m not talking about Muslims only but about the human kind as a gifted community. It I a vital part of “daawa”. To be a role model for the non-believer, is a sign of wellness in your soul and in your mind, due to your faith and worship to Whom that Made Existence and you in it. Humility is not a practice; it is a natural and spontaneous result of your knowledge and admiration in Allaah “The Most Glorious”. So in times where satan “may he be cursed” is driving the masses to extremely flagrant ignorance, Muslims are naturally countering that balance by spontaneously hyping it up a notch and that is permitted, showing that happiness is not the trademark of the immoral. This does not mean that those Muslims are going along with satan “may he be torched eternally”. Be careful brother and reflect wisely and follow what has a peaceful effect on you. Don’t theorize your faith too much, keep room for your soul to express its cheerfulness, it is happy because it feels safe, and always remember that it is not the rat satan “may he be incinerated eternally” who has created happiness, it is our Maker, Allaah “The Most Exalted the Most Kind” who so kindly gave us happiness.

    But hey, not to say that in 20 years from now, when the typical ignorant goes to work, school and the supermarket wearing only underwear and topless will be the ignorant norm, that Muslims should go out with bikini skirts and showing bums. Humility and happiness can be expressed within modesty and by keeping up with fashion as we please. As our beloved Master Muhammad Allah’s blessings and generosity upon him occasionally expressed that Allah is The Most beautiful and created beautiful so we have to look neat and clean when we can but without arrogance. He wore beautiful garments and particular colorful ones on special occasions, also the “Sahaba” Allah’s blessings upon them all”. Fashion today has changed, I find it light when someone says it is the “Sunna” to wear long garments such as those robes that were popular in 7th century Mecca. If I like to wear 7th century fashion that is a personal taste and I admire that, but no, it is not the Sunna to follow a certain style / era of fashion. The Sunna is that whatever we wear it should combine modesty with other features that we may choose. The outcome can be anything as long as the final impression is considered conformist within the threshold to the “sunna” regarding modesty.

    Also, it is not advised as a Muslim to criticize a brother in public, it is considered backbiting. In which case you did it online towards Shaykhna and condemned him publicly as self-contradictory, in front of Muslims and un-believers alike. Next time I advise you to send personal emails or letters when discussing such views with him or others.

    The art on top of your page is messy and looks sad. Artwork of a well guided believer should reflect his/her inner peaceful essence and clarity.. like the Islamic arts in attractive calligraphy and geometric wonders we see in Masjids and other architectural and decorative items. Please put something beautiful which celebrates Allah’s creation.

    Allah’s guidance and mercy may be with you


    • Waalaykumasalaam,

      I’m afraid you didn’t actually read my post. First off, the contradiction is in the quote and his activity. You cannot at the same time believe that a culture of Muslims that tries to “fit in” is non-productive and then participate in something along those lines and think it productive. That’s the point.

      Second, this is not backbiting. It’s an open letter — much like you trying to advise me is not “backbiting”. You are openly criticizing me, much as I am doing the same to Shaykh Murad.

      Third, I appreciate your concerns for my blog and I understand that you believe it needs to be beautified. I agree with you that it could look better, but as of right now I find this style to be attractive for the general blogsphere.

  5. …I didn’t condemn you nor vilified you directly or personally. I gave my opinion about your views and that is very much different from judging you directly and in public as a self-contradicting person. I also tried finding a way to mail it to you personally but I couldn’t.

    Those were British Muslims as the title of the video suggests, some of them emigrants from different cultures and some are originally English. The song is in English and sung in a modern English cultural style. I agree with you that the producers chose a lousy personality of a singer, but it’s ok, I forgive them as long as the song itself is spotless lyrically. No body in the video is trying to fit it, at least this is not what I felt and I am specialized in the media field. This is “Daawa”, not fitting in, as I explained earlier concerning the flexibility of “Modesty” and “Humility” in regards of the conditions for the benefit of inviting the good hearted ignorant people into finding the authentic light of life. This video work is done according to the contemporary English culture of those Muslims. Previous “Daawa” approaches used to follow different methods matching different times, styles and cultures. “Daawa” is not calling people in to the culture of Islam. Islam is not a culture; it is a universal faith that absorbs any type of culture and then nurtures it with the essential spiritual facet of existence. The culture remains but it becomes a lesser part in that community’s order, leaving way for the real deal of life to be a priority, and adapting their cultural traditions according to the “Sunna” of Allaah The Most Generous and our beloved Prophet Allaah’s peace and blessings upon him. Our responsibilities as Muslims is to engage in nurturing one other rather than contradicting each other, at the end Allaah is the judge. We can’t all be identical in views and/or in culture and that is the beauty of the diversity which our Maker The Most Compassionate has revealed, but we can and must avoid smearing one another. We have to work into our collective unity towards Allaah The Most Precious. We can defame aggressors such as bokoharam or the Zionists or the ignorant dogs that are bombing or blowing innocent people up in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with suicidal attacks or with satanic drones etc… and cast them bravely as non-Muslims, aggressing dwellers of hell, as you did in your piece on bokoharam. Before judging we have to make sure whether the accused is or isn’t a Muslim according to their actions and intentions, if we conclude that he/she is a Muslim then a private correspondence is the way and never publicly. It is also exhausting for your inner peace, what exhausts your soul means you should stop it. Nothing in the way of Allah The Most Powerful is soul exhausting.

    Coming back to your wallpaper, I wait until you change it. You’re much sunnier than that. I can feel your kindness and good taste in your writing. Lets see a collage of something spectacular from your culture.

    Allaah’s mercy, peace and blessings may be with you brother


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