Do Muslims have a sense of humour?

It's a secret that needs to be let out: Muslims have a deep-rooted sense of humour and they are not afraid to use it. But there are rules

It's a secret that needs to be let out: Muslims have a deep-rooted sense of humour and they are not afraid to use it. Let's get these important points out of the way first. Muslims laugh at jokes too but we don't laugh at insults and rude comments dressed as jokes.

There isn't any place either for dressing up prejudice, aggression or sheer ignorance as comedy. We are all too familiar with people who after making a terrible joke, then they throw up their hands to say: "What? You can't take a joke?" Comedy is not a clever way to be rude or offensive. We can see straight through that.

While wearing a pink headscarf one woman was asked: "Why do Muslim women wear black all the time?"

A rather baffling question that is often put to Muslims - who generally belong to quite sociable communities - is: "If you don't drink, how do you meet people?"

And what is one to make of the question: "Is it true that light green is the official colour of Al Qaeda?"

Perhaps my favourite of all time, is: "Now that you're engaged, will you have a forced marriage?"

These questions project such a one-dimensional, stereotypical understanding of Muslims that it is hard not to laugh. But we don't. And that's probably why some people think we are so serious and earnest all the time.

Islam came to guide people to the best of character by exerting self-control, so having fun does mean we’re not ‘gloomy’ and seen as ‘miserable’ like some people think, however here are some protocols, guidelines and limits we observe as Muslims when having a sense of humour:

1) We don't insult anyone with our jokes.

Allah says: “O you who 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. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (Al-Hujurat 49, Verse 11)

This verse reflects the importance of being mindful of what you say even whilst you have a banter and joke with others.

2) We don’t frighten anyone as a joke.

We’ve all played a trick on a friend or two at one point perhaps creeping up on them in the dark, however we as Muslims refrain from casting fear into peoples’ hearts.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “It is not lawful to any Muslim to frighten another Muslim.” (Ibn Hajar)

3) We don’t lie to make people laugh

Sometimes, in our attempts to humour others one can fall into the trap of shaytan by exaggerating or telling false tales however it is forbidden to lie in Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) instructed us to be truthful in making people laugh.

4) We don’t joke or laugh excessively

Unfortunately we are often culprit to this type of behaviour in a world which teaches us to ‘live in the moment’ however we can be so excessive in our laughter or joking that we lose sight of reality. I am not suggesting we all should not have a laugh, but to avoid losing focus of the fact that this life is temporal and ultimate joy is in the Hereafter.

Excessive laughter also hardens the heart and whilst it’s not forbidden to be happy, cheerful, or joyous and have a good time, remember your elation should be in moderation.

5) The best laugh is a big smile

This is a principle that can be derived from the Prophetic seerah. And as we have been taught in many ahadith that we should: ”Never disdain a good act even a small one, even if meeting a friend of yours with a smiling face” (Muslim)

So next time when you are with your Muslim friend, remember something as simple as a smile can make them light up.

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