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Monday, January 16, 2006

The Importance of Laughter is No Joke!!

by Michelle Al-Nasr
Al-Jumuah Magazine

There is nothing funny about a home without laughter, in fact, it can
be downright dreary. Allah has blessed us with the ability to relieve
our stress and enjoy our time in this life with laughter and smiles.

However, sometimes when we immerse our lives in Deen, laughter is a
component in our lives that is often the first to go.

Maybe it is because laughter is associated with "fun" and sometimes -
especially if one is a convert- "fun" can be associated with
haraam...and upon conversion we want to thoroughly rid our lives of anything that
could be construed as "haraam" or even things which are somewhat
questionable.

Well, if the latter sounds like you - then it is time to wipe that
frown off your face and unclench your eyebrows. I have got some great news:
you don't have to worry; you can laugh and still be Muslim.

So, you want evidence, okay here it is. You may wonder, especially (and
unfortunately) since laughter is a topic not often touched on in study
circles and lectures- did the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and
his Companions laugh and joke? Well, the answer is: Yes! In fact, the
mannerism of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was such that he
was known to always carry a smile on his face. Masha'Allah! And
although the Companions were amongst the most pious of people, they had
wonderful sense of humor and were known to play innocent jokes on one
another.



Some Hilarious Illustrations

One of the examples of the Companions of the Prophet(salAllahu alayhi
wasalam) who often pulled pranks that invoked the laughter of the
Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was An-Nuayman Ibn Amar (radiAllahu anhu).
In fact, he was quite the jokester of his time, instigating many
hilarious situations for the sole purpose of inciting all to laugh at his
antics.

On one occasion An-Nuayman went to the market and saw some food being
sold which appeared to be tasty and delightful. He ordered some and sent
it to the Prophet, sallallahu alaye wa sallam, as if it were a gift
from him. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was delighted with the
food and he and his family ate of it.
The vendor of the food then came to An-Nuayman to collect the price of
it and An-Nuayman said to him, "Go to the Messenger of Allah, it was
for him. He and his family ate it."
The vendor then went to the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam).
Puzzled, he, (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) asked An-Nuayman, "Didn't you give it
to me?"
"Yes!" said an-Nuayman, "I thought you would like it and I wanted you
to eat some of it so I had it presented to you. But I do not have any
money to pay the merchant for it. So, O Messenger of Allah, you pay him!"
The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) had a good laugh and so did his
Companions. The laugh was at his expense, literally, for he had to pay
the price of the unsolicited gift. An-Nuayman felt that two benefits
came out of the incident: the blessed Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa
sallam, and his family ate food that they enjoyed and the Muslims had a good
laugh.

Ibn Umar was asked, "Did the Companions of the Prophet (salAllahu
alayhi wasalam) laugh?" He replied, "Yes, and the faith in their hearts was
like mountains."

And additionally, the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) upon seeing
the doll of Aisha (radiAllahu anha) - a horse with wings - burst into
laughter.
[Abu Dawud].

So we see from all of these wonderful examples, that laughter was
indeed a part of life - even for the pious.



Our Deen Is Not A Laughing Matter

Although laughter is important, I would like to point out that there
are limits to the content of our humor - we must draw the line when it
comes to poking fun at our Deen in any way. As Allah, subhanahu wa
ta'ala, says clearly, "And if you ask them, they will surely say, 'We were
only conversing and playing.' Say: 'Is it Allah and His verses and His
Messenger that you were mocking?' Make no excuse; you have disbelieved
[i.e. rejected faith] after your belief."
[9:65-66].

Ibn Taymiyyah also said regarding this matter, "Making fun of Allah,
His signs and His Messenger is equal to kufr (disbelief) and the one who
does that disbelieves thereby after he had believed."

We should also take care not to laugh at others, as Allah states in the
Qur'an, "O you have believed, let not a people ridicule [another]
people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other]
women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one
another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames."
[49:11].

Also, the Prophet (saAllahu alayhi wasalam) warned against mocking
people and hurting their feelings, because that is the path that leads to
hatred and grudges. He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "The Muslim
is the brother of another Muslim, he does not wrong him, let him down,
or look down upon him. Taqwa (piety, awareness and fear of Allah) is
here." He then pointed to his chest three times. "It is sufficient evil
for a man to look down upon his Muslim brother. Every Muslim is sacred to
another Muslim, his blood, his property and his honor.
[Muslim].

However, as much fun as it is to joke around, there should be no lies
involved. The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said,
"Woe to him who tells things, speaking falsely, to make people laugh
thereby. Woe to him! Woe to him!"
[Abu Dawud].

Finally, as in all aspects of our life, we should do everything in
moderation - including laughing and joking around. Excessiveness in any
regard is never a good thing.



Is Laughter Really All It Is Cracked Up To Be?

The obvious answer once again is: Yes! Subhan'Allah, it is amazing that
we can benefit so much from just a laugh - something that we all enjoy
doing! This is one of the vast blessings we have been given and must
acknowledge and appreciate.

Allah (subhanahu wa Ta'ala) is so Merciful to His Creation that He gave
us this wonderful outlet to express our happiness and even our
silliness.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the serious aspects of our
religion that we lose sight of the fact that even the most pious of the
Muslims - including the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) himself - enjoyed
a good laugh now and then.

Sadly, we often pass on that constant seriousness to our children and
that is no way to teach them to love Allah or their religion. We can
forget that children are just that - kids; and everyone, most especially
children, literally needs to laugh.

Islam is not a religion of rigidity; rather it is a religion of
moderation and social values with its foundation firmly upon Tawheed (The
Oneness of Allah). Humor is an integral part of those social values, and
can help bridge the gap between neighbors and serve as a much-needed
relief of the stresses in our lives.

Let us not forget to laugh - especially with our children because "it
is He who makes [one] laugh..."
[53:43]


So from now on, every time you get the giggles, remember that your
laughter is not forbidden, it is something sanctioned to you by your
Creator.
Remember that He is Al-Wadud, The Loving One, and that smile is on your
face because He put it there out of His great love for you. So don't
frown, instead be thankful and enjoy it!

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