Humour in Islam

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Humour in Islam refers to the act of doing things that are considered humorous under the guidelines set by the Quran and Muhammad.[1][2]

Islamic sources on humour[edit]

Laughter, fun, and joking are permissible in Islam provided guidelines from the Quran and ahadith are followed. For humor to be in accordance with Islam, the joke should not be blasphemous and should be within the limits of adab (manners).[1]

Muhammad al-Baqir's Hadith about humour


1) The Prophet used to smile, rather than laugh. Aisha, wife of the Prophet Muhammad narrated:

"I never saw the Messenger of Allah laugh fully to such an extent that I could see his uvula. He would only smile."

— Sunan Abu Dawood Volume 3, Book 41: Kitab Al-Adab (General Behavior), Hadith Number 5079;[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73: Kitab Al-Adab (Good Manners and Form), Hadith Number 114.[4]

2) The Prophet's smile and his companions' laughing sessions. Jabir ibn Samurah narrated:

Simak ibn Harb asked Jabir ibn Samurah, "Did you sit in the company of the Messenger of Allah?" He said: Yes, very often. He (the Prophet) used to sit at the place where he observed the morning or dawn prayer till the sun rose or when it had risen; he would stand, and they (his Companions) would talk about matters (pertaining to the days) of ignorance, and they would laugh (on these matters) while (the Prophet) only smiled.

— Sahih Muslim, Book 4: Kitab Al-Salat (Book of Prayers), Chapter 92, Hadith Number 1413.[5]

3) Aisha also narrated:

The Prophet in his fatal illness, called his daughter Fatima and told her a secret because of which she started weeping. Then he called her and told her another secret, and she started laughing. When I asked her about that, she replied, "The Prophet told me that he would die in his fatal illness, and so I wept, but then he secretly told me that from amongst his family, I would be the first to join him, and so I laughed."

— Sahih Muslim, Volume 4, Book 56: (Virtues and Merits of the Prophet and his Companions), Hadith Number 819.[6]

4) The Prophet encouraged to be jestful with your family. Ibn Mas'ud narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said;

"Mix with the people on the condition that your Deen is not jeopardized, and be jestful with the family."

— Sahih al-Bukhari, Chapter 81: To be cheerful with the people.[7][8]

5) Abu Dharr al-Ghifari narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said;

"...I indeed saw the Messenger of Allah laugh till his front teeth were exposed."

— Sahih Muslim, Book 1: Kitab Al-Iman (The Book of Faith), Chapter 83, Hadith Number 365.[9]

6) The Prophet discouraged laughing at inappropriate times. Al-Aswad ibn Yazid narrated:

Some young men from the Quraish visited Aisha as she was in Mina and they were laughing. She said: "What makes you laugh?” They said: Such and such person stumbled against the rope of the tent and he was about to break his neck or lose his eyes. She said: “Don’t laugh for I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: If a Muslim runs a thorn or (gets into trouble) severe than this, there is assured for him (a higher) rank and his sins are obliterated."

— Sahih Muslim, Book 32: Kitab Al-Birr was-Salat-I-wa'l-Adab (The Book of Virtue, Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Relationship), Chapter 12, Hadith Number 6237.[10]

7) The Prophet encouraged jokes about the truth. Abu Hurairah narrated that;

When some of his companions said to Prophet Muhammad: "O Prophet Muhammad, yet, you also joke with us!" He replied: "Yes, I do. But I only tell the truth."

Prophet Muhammad said:

"A man may say something to make his companions laugh, and he will fall into Hell as far as the Pleiades because of it."

8) The Prophet discouraged lying to make people laugh[14]

"Woe to the one who speaks and tells lies in order to make the people laugh; woe to him, woe to him."

— at-Tirmidhi, Hadith Number 2315; Sunan Abu Dawood, Hadith Number 4990.[15][16]

9) The Prophet discouraged frightening anyone as a joke.

Once when travelling, one of the sahabah fell asleep, the others got some rope and tied him up. The man woke up and was frightened so Prophet Muhammad said: "It is not lawful to any Muslim to frighten another Muslim."

10) The Prophet discouraged joking or laughing excessively.[17]

Prophet Muhammad said:

"Do not laugh too much, for laughing too much deadens the heart."

— Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7312; al-Tirmidhi, 2305; Ibn Majah, 4193

Muhammad discouraged backbiting and inappropriate language:

"(Backbiting is) your mentioning about your brother something that he dislikes."

— Sahih Muslim, Book 32: (The Book of Virtue, Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Relationship), Chapter 18, Hadith Number 6265.[18]

"The Muslim does not slander, curse, speak obscenely or speak rudely."

Jokes of Muhammad[edit]

Muhammad is reported by Tirmidhi to have said: "Why are there no old women in heaven? Because they become young girls when they get there."[20][21]

Other instances include man who came up to Muhammad to ask him to give him a beast to ride. The Prophet jokingly told him, "I will give you the offspring of a she-camel to ride." He said, "O Messenger of Allah, what will I do with the offspring of a she-camel?" The Prophet said: "Are riding-camels born except from she-camels?" (Reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi, as Sahih).[21]


The Prophet's companions would limit jokes, joke at appropriate times, and be cautious of joking.

Umar ibn al-Khattab narrated that;

"Whoever laughs too much or jokes too much loses respect, and whoever persists in doing something will be known for it."

— [17]

Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas said;

"Set a limit to your jokes, for going to extremes makes you lose respect and incites the foolish against you."

— [22]

A man said to Sufyan ibn `Uyaynah, "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."

Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz said;

"Fear joking, for it is folly and generates grudges."

— [23]

In al-Adab al-Mufrad, Bukhari reports from Bakr ibn 'Abdillah who said: "The Companions of the Prophet used to throw melon-rinds at one another, but when the matter was serious, they were the only true men."[21]


"That it is He Who granteth Laughter and Tears."

— Qur'an, chapter 53 (An-Najm), Verse 43.[24]

"O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong."

— Qur'an, chapter 49 (Al-Hujurat), Verse 11.[27]
  • The Qur'an discourages mocking Islam.[8][25]

"If thou dost question them, they declare (with emphasis): 'We were only talking idly and in play.' Say: 'Was it at Allah, and His Signs, and His Messenger, that ye were mocking?' Make ye no excuses: ye have rejected Faith after ye had accepted it. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you, for that they are in sin."

— Qur'an, chapter 9 (At-Tawba), Verse 65-66.[28]

Classical treatise[edit]

Al Jihaz wrote a ‘Treatise on seriousness and playfulness.’ Ibn Qutaybah observed that early Muslims did not dislike joking. Writing in his Akhbar al hamqa ("History of Fools") the classical scholar Ibn al-Jawzi commented, "Humor serves as a much needed natural relaxation, and is approved for this purpose by many statements of Prophet Muhammad and the early Muslims."[2]

Recent trends[edit]


Since 9/11, there has been an increase in the number of Muslim comedians and humor festivals.[29] Prominent Muslim comedians include Azhar Usman, Ahmed Ahmed, and Dean Obeidallah.[1] Azhar Usman blames the media for misrepresenting humor in Islam. "The fact is that within Muslim culture there is a strong tradition of storytelling, joking and laughing. The relationship between Islam and comedy goes to the roots of the religion."[1] However, American comedian Mohammed Amer asserts that it is Muslims who have made a “terrible job” of communicating with the outside world.[20]

In 2017, in response to the "Real Housewives of ISIS", a parody of "Real Housewives" broadcast by BBC2 show Revolting, there was widespread outrage and hilarity on the idea on Facebook.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Khan, Yasmeen (20 November 2007). "Does Islam have a sense of humour?". BBC. BBC. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b "BBC Comedy Sketch 'Real Housewives of ISIS' – A Muslim View". About Islam. About Islam. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  3. ^ Sunan Abu Dawood, 41:5079
  4. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 8:73:114
  5. ^ Sahih Muslim, 4:1413
  6. ^ Sahih Muslim, 56:819
  7. ^ Farooq, Mohammad Omar (June 3, 2011). "The Lighter Side in Hadith". IslamiCity.Com. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Hadith Humor collection". globalwebpost. Archived from the original on November 23, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  9. ^ Sahih Muslim, 1:365
  10. ^ Sahih Muslim, 32:6237
  11. ^ "Jokes and Humor of Prophet Muhammad". Last Prophet. March 5, 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  12. ^ a b al-Qaasim, ‘Abd al-Malik. "Conditions of permissible joking". Islam Question and Answer. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  13. ^ a b al-Qaasim, ‘Abd al-Malik. "What are the conditions for joking to be permissible?". Islam Question and Answer. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  14. ^ a b c El-Shaf’ei, Ahmad (April 28, 2011). "Sense of Humour in Islam". Productive Muslim. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  15. ^ Sunan Abu Dawood, 41:4990
  16. ^ Al-Munahhid, Muhammad S. "Ruling on creating a humour application for Facebook". Islam Question and Answer. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Rule of joke". Fukaaha. Archived from the original on January 23, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  18. ^ Sahih Muslim, 32:6265
  19. ^ "Etiquettes of joking". Luton Muslims. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Two mullahs went into a bar…". The Economist. The Economist. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  21. ^ a b c "The Prophet's Sense of Humour". TurnToIslam. TurnToIslam. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Rules of Joking in Islam". Islam,ru. 16 March 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  23. ^ "Laughies". CII Youth Foundation. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  24. ^ [Quran 53:43]
  25. ^ a b "Humour in Islam". New Muslims. June 3, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  26. ^ "Mockery is a disease from Jaahiliyyah". Islam web. November 2, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  27. ^ [Quran 49:11]
  28. ^ [Quran 9:65–66]
  29. ^ "Warning: Muslims have a sense of humour and we'll be using it". The National. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  30. ^ Dhunna, Asad (6 January 2017). "As A Muslim Should I Be Offended By 'Real Housewives Of Isis'?". Opinion. Huffington Post. Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 January 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Shah, Idries. (1978). Special Illumination: Sufi Use of Humour, outlining the jokes' dual function as humour and teaching stories.
  • Shah, Idries. The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin, illustrated by Richard Williams
  • Shah, Idries. The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin, illustrated by Richard Williams.
  • Shah, Idries. The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin, illustrated by Richard Williams and Errol Le Cain
  • Qishtayni, Khalid. (1985). Arab Political Humour

External links[edit]