Monday, July 23, 2012

Days of Mercy: Part 3: Jokes

We're now in the 4th day of Ramadhan, meaning, we're still in the period of the days of mercy.

This month should also be used in being merciful towards others. Being merciful towards others is not only about giving sadaqa'/sedekah and other forms of material charity to those in need. We sometimes forget that being merciful towards others is also about how we treat them. It is very common these days that our interactions with our family and friends often includes jokes and laughter. It is a common misconception among non-believers that Islam frowns upon having fun. This is not at all true. Jokes and having fun in Islam is permissible as long as we abide the etiquettes for both.

In this post, I'll elaborate on the etiquettes of making jokes with reference to the verses of the Quran and to the hadeeths of our Holy Prophet (PBUH).

1. The jokes should not be making fun of Islam

In joking, we really need to take extra caution not to make fun of the verses of the Quran, the hadeeths of our prophet, or the fundamental teachings of Islam.

Allah says:

وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ إِنَّمَا كُنَّا نَخُوضُ وَنَلْعَبُ ۚ قُلْ أَبِاللَّهِ وَآيَاتِهِ وَرَسُولِهِ كُنْتُمْ تَسْتَهْزِئُونَ

لَا تَعْتَذِرُوا قَدْ كَفَرْتُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنْ نَعْفُ عَنْ طَائِفَةٍ مِنْكُمْ نُعَذِّبْ طَائِفَةً بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُجْرِمِينَ

“If you ask them, they declare: ‘We were only talking idly and joking.’ Say: ‘Was it at Allah, and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking? ’Make no excuse; you disbelieved after you had believed” (Surah al-Tawbah 9:65-66)

Most Muslims will be cautious enough to not make fun of Quranic verses or hadeeths. However, there are times when we get carried away with our jokes till we make fun of other aspects of Islam such as the dresscodes of our fellow brothers and sisters.Here it must be noted that the beard of our Muslim brothers and the hijaab, niqaab and jilbab worn by Muslim sisters should not be made fun of. I'm aware of Muslims calling other Muslims 'kolot'/ old-fashioned because of their hijaab and abayas. What these Muslims are insulting here is not the fashion trend, rather, they are actually insulting Islam itself.

2. The jokes should not be on something that is Haraam in Islam.

Islam has made haraam some food and drinks, manners of conduct in life and various other things listed in the Quraan and Hadeeth. While we may be careful in avoiding all of these, we sometimes forget that joking about them is not actually permissible in Islam. Thus, we shouldn't say things like 'She must be 'high'' or 'I feel so drunk' even if we only intend them as a joke.

3. Being truthful

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Woe to the one who tells lies to make people laugh, woe to him." (Narrated by Abu Dawood).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, warning against this kind of behaviour which some jokers are accustomed to: "A man may say something to make his companions laugh, and he will fall into Hell as far as the Pleiades because of it." (Narrated by Ahmad).

Both the hadeeths above highlight the severity of telling lies even if it is intended to be a joke. Speaking only the truth and avoiding lies is one of the things highlighted in Islam. Thus, we should make full effort to express only the truths. Besides, telling a lie about another person can turn into a fitna and spreading fitna is a heavy sin.

4. Don't make fun of others

This is something that we often forget. A lot of times, in joking, we make fun of others or call them names. As Muslims, we need to ensure that the jokes we make do not in any way hurt another person's feelings.

Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِنْ قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَنْ يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِنْ نِسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَنْ يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ ۖ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ ۚ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

“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” (Surah Hujuraat 49:11)

This is a forbidence from Allah himself. So, the next time we make a joke, lets think before we speak so that our words do not result in the picture below

5. Never scare another person

Rasulullah (SAW) said: ‘It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.’” (Abu Dawud).

This means that it is not permissible to stand in a dark corner and suddenly go 'Boo!' to frighten our friend. This also applies to some of the reality tv shows these days which make a joke of scaring people in various ways such as pretending to rob or kidnap someone.

6. Joking should not involve backbiting

This means that we shouldn't make a joke about a person while he/she is not there as this could count as backbiting and backbiting is a major sin.

The above points are not exhaustive and there re still points which i haven't mentioned and elaborated. For further reference please refer to these 2 useful sites

Joking with family and friends is a good theraphy to take away our stress and to lighten our hearts. If we do this in accordance with Islamic teachings, insyaAllah we will not be committing any sin unknowingly. In taking care to not make fun of Islam, we are expressing our respect and obedince to our religion. And when we take caution to not hurt others while joking, we can strengthen or at least maintain the ukhuwah and relationship between us. Is it worth it to hurt another person just to give ourselves a laugh? Imagine if we are the ones being laughed at. How will we feel?

Also, we need to take note of thie last point (last only in my post..actually there are more points)

7. Do not joke or laugh excessively

Rasulullah (SAW) said: “Do not laugh too much, for laughing too much deadens the heart.” (Sahih al-Jaami)

Imaam al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: "The kind of joking which is forbidden is that which is excessive and persistent, for it leads to too much laughter and hardening of the heart, it distracts from remembrance of Allaah, and it often leads to hurt feelings, generates hatred and causes people to lose respect and dignity. But whoever is safe from such dangers, then that which the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do is permissible for him."

A dead heart will find it hard to focus on ibadaah and in the remembrance of Allah. A dead heart will also face difficulties in accepting new knowledge. Thus, it is often said that the jokes we make should be like the salt we put in our food which is very little in quantity.

If we feel that our hearts are hard or even dead, bring it back to life by controlling the jokes we make and engagge in besides increazing our Dhikr and remembrance to Allah SWT. Let's use this blessed month to continuously improve various aspects of our lives. And let's try to be consistent in our efforts. Ramadhan can be made as the starting point for such changes. May Allah continuously guide us and accept our deeds.

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