CHICAGO – Joining the Chorus of happy dancing Muslims that extended form UK to Washington DC, Chicago Muslims have created a new version Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” to fight negative stereotypes of Muslims.
“This is a video about Muslims in Chicago being happy,” Rayyan Najeeb, a native of Milwaukee form Syrian and Palestinian roots who created the video, told Chicago Sun Times.
“It [counters the] stereotype that all Muslims are miserable and angry.”
Uploaded a week ago, Chicago happy Muslims video went viral after attracting more than 53,000 viewers on YouTube.
The four-minute clip aims to defy misperceptions about Muslims by featuring a diverse mix of Chicago Muslims dancing and clapping to Happy song.
The video also focuses on showing the diversity in the Chicago Muslim community, by featuring Muslims from the African-American, Hispanic, Arab, and other communities.
It also includes immigrants and US-born Muslims, some wearing and some not wearing Islamic headscarf or hijab.
“That was extremely important to me,” said Najeeb.
The video is not the first by Muslim communities in the west.
Earlier this month, videos depicting Muslims dancing to the viral song “Happy” hit the social media.
The British version, called “Happy British Muslims”, was the first video published, stirring controversial debates in some circles.
While many Muslims were elated by the video and wanted to copy it immediately, some said it violated Islam’s law or at least its spirit of modesty, particularly with women dancing and singing in public.
Others felt it was humiliating and unnecessary to prove that members of the planet’s second-largest religion are, in fact, happy.
Despite controversies, an appeal by the 22-year-old Najeeb to create a Chicago version of Happy Muslims was welcomed by hundreds of Muslims who scrambled to participate in the video.
Last week, Parades of happy Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” song has reached Washington, where groups of DC Muslims met to shoot their own version of the videos that went viral on social media, seeing them as a tool to offer a true image of Muslims.
As some Muslims criticized the “Happy Muslims” videos, the video’s young American producer asserted that the general feedback was a positive one.
“Lovin’ Happy Muslims of Chicago from Happy Muslim in London!!” Najeeb, who is a recent Northwestern University film graduate, cited one of the positive posts on the video.
He explained that: “In our tradition, there are different schools of thought and interpretations of the . . . teachings of the prophet.”
“I know what I believe in. I have teachers that I trust who also agree with my way of thinking.
“I’m very confident in the decision that I made and the direction I went with this video.”
Replying to one the critics Najeed wrote: “In an ideal world, we don’t have to worry about other peoples’ perceptions because other peoples’ perceptions would be accurate. But the reality is we don’t have a very good perception in the media.”
“Using . . . the Pharrell Happy [video] to reach across the world, basically showing that Muslims are happy is probably one of the best ways to counteract the negative media attention that Muslims get,” he added.
Praising the success of the Chicago version of Happy Muslims, Najeeb said: “My bottom line is I’m happy. We did strike a chord.”
“In our tradition, we believe that a smile is charity, that we get reward for it.
“It is a blessing being able to spread cheer.”
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