In the name of Allah, the Most-Merciful, the All-Compassionate

"May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon You" Praise be to Allaah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allaah from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allaah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allaah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.

Bismillah Walhamdulillah Was Salaatu Was Salaam 'ala Rasulillah As-Salaam Alaikum Wa-Rahmatullahi Wa-Barakatuhu

Book by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Excessive Laughter This is a problem that is widespread, especially among the youth. Someone asked:

Our gatherings with friends and colleagues are filled with too much laughter, and it goes to extremes. This phenomenon is becoming ever more widespread. What is the solution? In response, the solution to this problem has two aspects: theoretical and practical. The theoretical aspect may be further broken down into two points: Firstly, we should know how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) conducted himself when it came to laughter, and he is the best example in this as in all other things. It is reported in a saheeh hadeeth that his laughter was never more than a smile. (Reported by Ahmad in al-Musnad, 5/97; Saheeh al-Jaami, 4861). According to another hadeeth, he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to remain silent for long periods, and laugh little. (Reported by Ahmad in al-Musnad, 5/86; Saheeh al-Jaami, 4822). Aaishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: I never saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) laughing so heartily that his back teeth showed; he would only smile. (Reported by Abu Dawood, no. 5098). According to a saheeh hadeeth, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: Do not laugh too much, for excessive laughter kills the heart (i.e., spiritually) . (Reported by Ibn Maajah, no. 4193; Silsilah al-Saheehah, no. 506). According to another report, he said: too much laughter corrupts the heart. After knowing this, if a Muslim laughs to excess it is as if he is undertaking a journey that he knows will lead to his doom. This is the theoretical response to this problem, in brief. Before we turn to the practical aspects, we must point out that laughter is not haraam, and the Muslim is not expected to be dour-faced and stern and rigid. Laughter is something which is quite natural, and indeed Allaah says in the Quraan (interpretation of the meaning): And it is He (Allaah) Who makes (whom He wills) laugh, and makes (whom He wills) weep [alNajm 53:43] But the problem which we are discussing here excessive laughter has a number of bad effects, including the following: It makes gatherings explode with guffaws and echo with raucous laughter. The believers heart is spiritually corrupted by too much laughter, and he opens his mouth too wide, instead of being serious and of sound character. It leads to daaiyahs (Islamic workers) making people laugh as a means of winning them over and having an influence on them, or so they claim. What they do not realize is that people gather around them only for the sake of laughter, and they do not benefit from them at all. The problem is that some people use laughter as a safety valve or release from their stress and worries, resorting to an inferior means rather than what is better. I remember a young man who one day was suffering anxiety because he was behind in his studies, and was going through some family problems, and had other troubles as well. He went out of his house and bumped into a friend on the way, who asked him, Where are you going? He said: I am worried and stressed out, so I am going to see So-and-so, so he can make me laugh and forget my problems. He did not realize that his friends ability to make him laugh was like a drug which makes people forget while they are under its influence, but when it wears off, everything is still as it was before.

The Muslim should know better, and should treat worries and stress in the way prescribed by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). When something was troubling him, he would pray (Saheeh al-Jaami, 4703), and if something distressed him, he would say, Ya Hayyu ya Qayyoom, bi rahmatika astagheeth (O Ever-Living, O Eternal One, by Your mercy I seek Your help). (Saheeh al-Jaami, 4777). According to another saheeh hadeeth, when he was overtaken by worries and distress, he would say, “Ya Hayyu ya Qayyoom, bi rahmatika astagheeth. Allaahu rabbee wa la ushriku bihi shay an (O Ever-Living, O Eternal One, by Your mercy I seek Your help. Allaah is my Lord, and I do not associate anything with Him). (Saheeh al-Jaami, 4791). In the famous duaa to relieve stress and anxiety, he said: Allaahumma inni abduka, wa’bnu adbdika wabnu amatika… (O Allaah, I am Your slave, the son of Your slave, the son of Your maidservant This is a concept which has to be understood properly before we move on to a discussion of the practical ways of dealing with the problem of excessive laughter, which can be dealt with in the following ways: Remembering death, the grave, the Last Day and its reckoning, the bridge over Hell (al-siraat), the Fire, and all the other terrors of the Hereafter. The way to remember all these things is to read the texts that describe these scenes and to study the details and commentaries, as well as sitting with people who are ascetic (zaahid) and whose hearts are devoted to Allaah. Thinking about the situation of the Muslims and how they are suffering because they have strayed from their religion; they are behind in all fields of life, facing oppression, hardship and destruction, and subject to the plots of international conspiracies. When the Muslim thinks long and hard about this situation, it needs must have an impact on how much he laughs and cries. Feeling the weight of his great responsibility towards his ummah, which is need of huge efforts to save it from the danger of falling. If this becomes his main concern, he will start making active efforts to reform his family and friends, and his society, as much as he can. He will not have the time for cracking stupid jokes or for excessive laughter or trivial pursuits. Avoiding mixing with jokers who are well-known for making people laugh and trying to be funny, and keeping away from gatherings where they are present, whilst also trying to advise them and the people who sit with them. We have already referred to some Islamic workers who use the tactic of making people laugh as a means of winning people over, and in some cases the general public may say, Where is the shaykh who makes us laugh? We want the shaykh who makes us laugh! This is a step backwards, which we hope the ummah will avoid, because the Religion of Allaah is great and strong. Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings): “Verily! This (the Quraan) is the Word that separates (the truth from falsehood. And it is not a thing for amusement. [al-Taariq 83:13] and: Hold fast to that which We have given you [al-Baqarah 2:93]. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: If you knew what I know, you would laugh little and weep much, and you would go out to the hills, beseeching Allaah for help. If we really understood what is required of us, and what lies ahead, we would never even sleep peacefully. Resisting the urge to laugh as much as possible, as well as tying to stop others from laughing. There may be a gathering where the people are accustomed to laughing and chortling most of the time. So the Muslim must first suppress his own laughter, just as he suppresses a yawn, then he should advise the other people present and help them to control themselves. It takes a persuasive, determined and serious person to do this.

There is a lot of goodness in people, praise be to Allaah, and they are ready to respond to the one who wants to reform them and improve them. This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as telling them how bad it is to laugh and make others laugh, because it can lead to lies and falsehood when the comedian cannot find a true story to tell, so he makes up a tale from his imagination to make people laugh. This is the kind of person who was warned by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): Woe to the one who talks and tells lies to make people laugh woe to him, woe to him! (Saheeh al-Jaami, 7136). Changing the subject that led to the laughter, and introducing another, useful subject. If you see that the people have gone too far with their laughter, try to bring them to their senses, using a proper method, and introduce a serious topic and help them to make good use of their time, by reading a useful book, discussing an important topic, exchanging ideas, or suggesting some charitable project or other good work that Allaah likes and is pleased with. As a last resort, if you have done all that you can to advise them correctly, get up and leave the gathering, to protect yourself from corruption. and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another [al-Anaam 6:164 interpretation of the meaning].

No Joking Matter Is This 1: It not should not involve any element of making fun of Islam. That is one of the things that nullify a person’s Islam. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“If you ask them (about this), they declare: We were only talking idly and joking. Say: Was it at Allaah, and His Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger that you were mocking? Make no excuse; you disbelieved after you had believed [al-Tawbah 9:65-66] Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Making fun of Allaah, His Signs and His Messenger is kufr (disbelief) and the one who does that disbelieves thereby after he had believed. The same applies to making fun of some Sunnahs, an action which is widespread, such as making fun of the beard and the hijaab, or of shortening one’s garment, etc. Shaykh Muhammad ibn ˜Uthaymeen said in al-Majmoo al-Thameen, 1/63: The matters of Divine Lordship, Prophethood, Revelation and religion are sacred matters which are to be venerated. It is not permissible for anyone to show disrespect towards them, whether by mocking them to make others laugh or to poke fun at them. If anyone does that, he is a kaafir, because this is indicative of his disrespect towards Allaah and His Messengers, Books and Laws. Whoever does that has to repent to Allaah for what he has done, because that is a kind of hypocrisy. So he has to repent to Allaah, seek His forgiveness, mend his ways and develop fear of Allaah, veneration towards Him and love for Him in his heart. And Allaah is the Source of strength. 2 : The jokes should only be 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). 3 : Not scaring people Especially those who are very energetic or strong, or who are holding a weapon or a piece of iron, or who take advantage of the darkness and people’s weakness to use that as a means of scaring and alarming them. It was narrated that Abu Layla said: The companions of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that they were travelling with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and a man among them fell asleep. Some of them got a rope and tied him up, and he got scared. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ˜It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.' (Narrated by Abu Dawood). 4 : Mocking people by winking behind their backs or making snide remarks People vary in their ability to understand things and in their characters. Some weak people, those who like to make fun of others and wink behind their backs or make snide remarks, may find a person to be an object of fun for them and the butt of their jokes Allaah forbid. Allaah has forbidden such behaviour in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): “O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at 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 [al-Hujuraat 49:11] Ibn Katheer said in his Tafseer: What is meant here is looking down on them, belittling them or making fun of them. This is haraam and is counted as one of the characteristics of the hypocrites. Some people make fun of a person’s appearance, manner of walking or vehicle. But there is the fear that Allaah may requite the one who makes fun of others because of that. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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. (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned against mocking people and hurting their feelings, because that is the path that leads to hatred and grudges. He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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 Allaah) is here and he 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 honour. (Narrated by Muslim) 5 : The jokes should not be excessive. Some people joke too much and it becomes a habit for them. This is the opposite of the serious nature which is the characteristic of the believers. Joking is a break, a rest from ongoing seriousness and striving; it is a little relaxation for the soul. Umar ibn Abd al-Azeez (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Fear joking, for it is folly and generates grudges. 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. 6 : Acknowledging people’s status Some people may joke with everyone indiscriminately, but scholars and the elderly have rights, so you have to be aware of the character of the person with whom you are dealing. You should not joke with ignorant people, fools or people whom you do not know. With regard to this matter, Umar ibn Abd al-Azeez said: “Fear joking, for it undermines chivalry and manliness. Sad ibn Abi Waqqaas said: Set a limit to your jokes, for going to extremes makes you lose respect and incites the foolish against you. 7 : The amount of joking should be like the amount of salt in ones food. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: Do not laugh too much, for laughing too much deadens the heart. (Saheeh al-Jaami, 7312) Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: Whoever laughs too much or jokes too much loses respect, and whoever persists in doing something will be known for it. So beware of joking, for it causes a person to lose face after he was thought of as respectable, and it brings him humiliation after esteem. 8 : It should not involve backbiting. This is a foul sickness. Some people think that they can talk about others, and say that this is by way of joking, but it is included in the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), [Backbiting is] your mentioning about your brother something that he dislikes. (Narrated by Muslim) 9 : Choosing appropriate times for joking. Such as when you are taking a trip in the countryside, or attending a party in the evening, or when meeting a friend, you may relax and enjoy some gentle anecdotes, nice stories or light jokes, in order to generate friendship and instill happiness in the heart; or when family problems are taking their toll and one of the spouses is angry, some gentle joking may relieve the tension and cheer people up. O Muslim, A man said to Sufyaan ibn Uyaynah (may Allaah be pleased with him), Joking is not right, it is to be denounced. He replied, “Rather it is Sunnah, but only for those who know how to do it and do it at the appropriate time. Nowadays, although the ummah needs to increase the love between its individual members and to relieve itself of boredom, it has gone too far with regard to relaxation, laughter and jokes. This has become a habit which fills their gatherings and wastes their time, so their lives are wasted and their newspapers are filled with jokes and trivia.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: If you knew what I know, you would laugh little and weep much. In Fath al-Baari it says: What is meant by knowledge here has to do with the might of Allaah and His vengeance upon those who disobey Him, and the terrors that occur at death, in the grave and on the Day of Resurrection) . Muslim men and women have to be inclined to choose righteous and serious friends in their lives, who will help them to make good use of their time and strive for the sake of Allaah with seriousness and steadfastness, good and righteous people whose example they can follow. Bilaal ibn Saâd said: ‘I saw them [the Sahaabah] jokingly pretending to fight over some goods, and laughing with one another, but when night came they were like monks. Ibn Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) was asked, Did the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) laugh? He said, Yes, and the faith in their hearts was like mountains. So you have to follow the example of such people, who were knights by day and monks (i.e., devoted worshippers) by night. May Allaah keep us, you and our parents safe on the Day of the Greatest Terror, those to whom the call will go out on that great Day: Enter Paradise, no fear shall be on you, nor shall you grieve [al-Araaf7:49 interpretation of the meaning]

Ruling on Joking in Islam There is nothing wrong with humorous talk and joking, if it is truthful, especially if it is not done a great deal. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to joke but he never said anything but that which was true. But if it involves telling lies, then it is not permissible, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: Woe to the one who speaks and lies in order to make people laugh; woe to him, woe to him. Narrated by Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa with a jayyid isnaad. And Allaah is the Source of strength.