Tim Winter, Director of Studies for Divinity at Wolfson College and one of the most influential Islamic scholars in the country, has appeared in the viral YouTube video ‘Happy British Muslims’.
The video, which has over one million views, depicts British Muslims smiling and dancing to Pharrell Williams’s hit song ‘Happy’. Mr Winter, who is also known as Abdal Hakim Murad, appears during a brief pause in the music, holding a sign saying “I’m Happy”.
The Shaam Post, a Muslim newspaper, has since reported that Winter distanced himself from the viral hit. It suggested that he did not know its content, and quoted him as saying it is improper for Muslims to “jump around in that way”.
However, such reports have been dismissed as “not true” by The Honesty Police, the group of young Muslims who made the video.
Speaking to the Cambridge News, Mr. Winter said: “Some think that Muslims are all po-faced fundamentalists, but hardliners are a tiny fraction of the reality. So these young people have just opened up a window for everyone to see how they themselves experience their identity – a source of hope and happiness.”
The academic has attracted controversy in the past, after a video surfaced online which showed him claiming homosexuality was an “inherent aberration”. He apologised for the comments, and claimed he no longer holds those views.
A practising Muslim student at Cambridge, who does not wish to be named, had some reservations about the video and Mr Winter’s participation. He believed it “implied Muslims are happy despite their beliefs”, and that it failed to show that “following Allah is what makes Muslims happy”. He suggested that Tim Winter, as an influential Islamic academic, should make that clearer.