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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Etiquettes of Joking….from an Islaamic Perspective

By Asma bint Shameem


As the Imam got up after Friday prayers, he announced to the people:
"I have good news and bad news. The good news is, Alhamdulillaah, we have enough money to pay for our new building project. The bad news is, it's still out there in your pockets!

Some people think that there is no place in Islaam for laughs and jokes like these, that Islaam is all about seriousness and harshness, and the one who does joke or ‘lightens up’ a bit, is crossing bounds. And on the other hand, there are some, especially our youth, who actually DO go beyond bounds in their joking and having ‘fun’. They cross all limits, carry things too far and don’t know what is appropriate and what is not.
Actually, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Alhamdulillaah, our religion is perfect and it has set guidelines for everything, in every walk of life. Following the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) is the key to everything and it shows us that the Prophet (pbuh) used to smile and joke with his companions:
A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said:
“Give me an animal to ride on” the Prophet (pbuh) replied: “I will give you the son of a female camel”. The man said with astonishment: “What could I do with the son of a female camel?” (thinking that he would be given a camel too small to ride). Thereupon, the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) replied: “What do female camels deliver except camels?” (i.e., that every camel, even if it is fully grown, is the product of a female camel!). (Abu Daawood & Tirmidhi).
However there are certain guidelines to follow, according to the Sunnah, when it comes to joking, laughing and having fun.

1) MAKE SURE you don’t make fun of any aspect of Islaam:
Jokes should not involve verses from the Qur’aan, hadeeth, or any of fundamentals of Islaam. Unfortunately, some people tell jokes about the verses of the Qur’aan, Prophets, angels, or they make fun of the Hijaab, the beard, etc. This is the most dangerous as it can make a person a Kaafir, EVEN IF YOU ARE ONLY JOKING.
Shaikh Al-‘Uthaymeen said: “One who mocks Allaah, His verses, His signs or His Messengers is a disbeliever because this action nullifies belief.”
And the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“A slave (of Allaah) would utter a word, without paying attention to it, which would result in him going down into the Hellfire further than the distance between the east and the west.” (Muslim).
So the sister in the Niqaab is NOT A NINJAA and the brother who shortens his pants or lengthens his beard is NOT A NERD!
“If you ask them, they declare: ‘We were only talking idly and joking.’ Say: ‘Was it at Allaah, and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking? ’Make no excuse; you disbelieved after you had believed” [al-Tawbah:65-66]

2) NEVER joke about something that is HARAAM:
Some people, especially the youth living in the western society tend to take the things that are Haraam too lightly and something to joke about. For example, they make jokes about a person being GAY or being ‘high’, having committed zinaa, etc.
Subhaan Allah! We forget that these are things among the worst in the sight of Allaah and bring on Allaah’s wrath and curse and are certainly NOT things to joke about.

3) Say ONLY that which is true:
The Prophet (pbuh) used to joke but he would only speak the truth.
Someone asked the Prophet (pbuh): “Do you joke with us?” He (pbuh) replied: “I do, but I only say that which is true” (Tirmidhi & Bukhaari--Adab al-Mufrad)
If it involves lying and making up stories, then it is not allowed.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Woe to the one who speaks and tells a lie in order to make the people laugh at it. Woe to him. Then again, woe to him." (Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i)

4) Don’t make jokes to make ‘FUN’ of people:
Be careful that your joking does not hurt anybody’s feelings or harms them in any way. So don’t make those snide remarks or wink behind their backs.
“O you who believe! Let not a group ridicule another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it to insult one’s brother after having Faith” [Hujuraat:11]

5) Don’t laugh if someone slips or falls or is afflicted with something:
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Do not express malicious joy towards your brother’s misfortune, for Allaah may have mercy on him and you may be stricken by the thing you made fun of.” (al-Tirmidhi).

6) Never scare anybody while joking or otherwise:
The Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) said: ‘It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.’” (Abu Dawood).

7) Joking should not involve backbiting:
Don’t ever joke about others when they are not there, even if you ‘think’ they wouldn’t mind, as it would involve backbiting.
“[Backbiting is] your mentioning about your brother something that he dislikes.” (Muslim)

8) Beware of excessive laughing and joking:
Don’t be like the one who jokes ALL the time. The amount of joking should be like the amount of salt in one’s food, as too much laughing and joking makes the heart hard, distracts one from the remembrance of Allaah and makes you lose respect.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Do not laugh too much, for laughing too much deadens the heart.” (Saheeh al-Jaami)
‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: “Whoever laughs too much or jokes too much loses respect, and whoever persists in doing something will be known for it.”

9) Choose appropriate time and place for your jokes:
Some people don’t appreciate the time or place for joking and do so indiscriminately.
There is a time and place for everything. For example, what might be amusing at a picnic or at the dinner table might not be so amusing in the middle of a Halaqah.
Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah said, “….. it (joking) is Sunnah, but only for those who know how to do it and do it at the appropriate time.”

10) Use appropriate language:
Some people resort to immoral or obscene language when joking around, even though under ‘normal’ circumstances they would not even think of using such words.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “The Muslim does not slander, curse, speak obscenely or speak rudely.” (Tirmidhi--saheeh by al-Albaani).

11) Acknowledge people’s status
Some people may joke with everyone indiscriminately, but scholars and the elderly have special positions and rights, so you have to be aware of the character of the person with whom you are dealing. You should also not joke with people whom you do not know or who won’t understand, or it may lead to unpleasantness.
‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez said: “Fear joking, for it is folly and generates grudges.”
Thus we see that Islam is not against jokes. Good humor is part of Islam and Islam does not go against this because it is typically a part of human nature. A Muslim should develop a positive and optimistic personality, and not a gloomy and pessimistic one that is negative towards life.
However, moderation is the key, and it is what distinguishes Muslims from others. We don’t go overboard in our jokes and humor, (or in anything else, for that matter) and if we follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), and his guidance, we will certainly not get lost.

"O you who believe! Be patient, and excel in patience, and remain steadfast and fear Allah, that you may be successful." [3:200)

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