Joking in Islam


The very caption (sought for in Google SEO) is somewhat unusual, but, I may cover whatever has been directed to us by the Shariah, as regards to the ‘joking’(humour and satire) therein. This is inappropriate to think that like several other religions, Islam, too, offers a limited way of life. Rather, it is the whole code of life, covering every humanly requirement and yes, it also teaches us about ‘joking’. So, no presumption about ‘joking’ in Islam is right.

While tracing the existence of ‘joking’ in the life of Holy Prophet, we come to know the very etiquettes of entertainment, as well. The Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad has not left any page blank in the book of life, in terms of guidance in any matter; from the formal worship lessons to the precautions in the times of war, from dress-code to public appearance, from marital life to the attitude towards servants, maids & slaves; from literature to history and from politics to the commentary over the verses of Holy Qur’an. His Sunnah has provided the beacon-light in each & every matter for the past 1500 years and shall continue to do so for all times to come, since his role has been proclaimed as the Role-model for Muslims. Frankly speaking, it is the so-called Ummah which rarely seeks guidance from his glittering teachings; otherwise, there are countless precedents when some non-Muslim would find it worthwhile to resolve any individual or collective issue. Hence, if one want to learn how to create some lighter moment, making fun out of anything, how to respond to joking, there are several traditions of Hadith that would certainly guide him.

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The golden words and deeds of our Holy Prophet also include direct and indirect guideline on ‘joking’ (humour& satire). I may quote a few examples, hereunder:

  • It is reported in the true traditions of Hadith that Hazrat Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) was eating dates, while his eyes were infected. The Last Messenger of Allah showing his astonishment asked as to why he was eating dates, when he was suffering from eye-infection. It means doing so is harmful. Hazrat Ali replied in a humorous manner: ‘Ya Rasulallah (O’ the Apostle of Allah)! I am eating dates from mouth (which is not infected). That made the Holy Prophet Point here: He didn’t scold his cousin-cum-son-in-law for such a statement. It means if some words are uttered promptly, jokingly in such a manner and don’t harm to anyone, it’s allowed. This is the presence of mind that compels the audience to laugh.
  • Once, an old lady appeared before the Holy Prophet and asked him to give her a camel. He replied, ‘I would give you a calf (baby) of cow (female) camel, rather’. She was stunned at this unusual reply and insisted upon having a camel. Then, the Holy Prophet would smilingly tell her, ‘Every bull (male camel) is the calf of a cow camel, himself’. That shows how one can use intellect to entertain someone, without telling a lie. That’s the right way of joking!
  • According to another true Hadith, another old lady approached to the Holy Prophet and asked if the old women would enter into Heaven. He responded in negation which eventually worried her and it was as if she was about to cry. When she again questioned, the Beloved Apostle of Allah smilingly told her that every woman entering into Heaven would then be in her youth. That is what called WIT. It’s all word-craft, with hidden meaning.So, you can try this sort of joking, as well.
  • The Holy Prophetdid also like to make fun out of anything that would otherwise not make anyone angry.
    As reported in the traditions of Hadith, once he was enjoying a tasteful meal time with juicy dates. Joined in the middle was none other than HazratAli (May Allah be pleased with him). The Holy Prophet reportedly asked him if he had eaten more dates than anyone in the gathering, as he (and/or others) might have shiftedkernels of their already eaten dates in front of HazratAli, enhancing the little heap to a considerable height.
  • I’d also gone through this tradition, but, I’m afraid I’m not able to produce its reference. It goes like this: Once, Hazrat Ali was accompanied by his two seniors, Hazrat Abu-Bakr As-Siddique and Hazrat Umar Farooque and they were going somewhere (May Allah be pleased with them all). In fact, the 3rd Righteous Caliph was in the middle. Suddenly, Hazrat Umar Farooque, showing his wittiness, said, ‘O’ Ali, you are just like the (Arabic letter), Noon in the word, LANA (Meaning ‘for us’)’. Actually, this pointed to his being short in height. Hazrat Ali, reportedly replied to the tall elder, ‘So, when that Noon is removed, you would be LA (Meaning No, nothing).Though, not authenticated, this shows the spontaneity by the great companion of the Holy Prophetﷺ.
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The topic has been covered by some research-oriented authors in Arabic and Urdu, but, still this is not so commonly known. That’s why, this humble writer has only tried to pen and publish the same for the knowledge of all concerned.

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