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An Islamic perspective: Joking Around (10)

An Islamic perspective: Joking AroundJoking around is considered to be bad in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Avoid arguing with your brethren and abstain from excessive joking around."

Prophet Muhammad (saw) also said: "I tell jokes, but never excessively tell jokes and never say what is not right."

Prophet Muhammad's (saw) Jokes:

Prophet Muhammad (saw) told some nice jokes. As an example, consider the following. One day an old lady went to see Prophet Muhammad (saw). Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "An old lady does not go to Heaven." The old lady started to cry. Then Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "On that day you will not be old. You will be young." Allah (SWT) said the following in Noble Qur'an: "We have created (their Companions) of special creation, and made them virgin - pure (and undefiled)." [Sura Al-Waqiah 56:35-36]

Imam Ali (as) said: "Jokes that make you laugh will take away the intellect and make you look bad."

Imam Sajjad's (as) views on Clowns:

A clown once pulled off Imam Sajjad's (as) cloak. Imam Sajjad (as) did not say anything. The people followed the clown and took back the cloak. They brought it back and put it on Imam Sajjad's (as) shoulder. Imam Sajjad (as) asked: "Who did that?" The people said: "It was a clown who makes the people laugh." Then Imam Sajjad (as) said: "Tell him that there is a day for Allah (SWT) in which those who waste their life and make others laugh will not gain anything but loss."

11 - Making Fun of others:

Scholars in ethics have considered making fun of people as one of the factors that corrupt the tongue. Allah (SWT) said in the following verse of Noble Qur'an: "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." [Sura Al-Hujraat 49:11]

The first principle referred to in this verse is respecting the Muslims. Muslims should respect each other in social encounters. Materialists have a different world outlook than Muslims. Materialists respect one for his physical beauty and financial stability, but Muslims respect man's moral values. In the above verse, making fun of others is forbidden. Men are unaware of each other's inner thoughts and feelings. It may be that an ugly man has a very beautiful character. He might be made fun of for his looks, but if others knew him well they would never make fun of him. That is why it is not allowed to make fun of anyone and it is forbidden to make fun of the crippled.

An Islamic perspective: Making Fun of others (A Feast for Clothes):

Making Fun of others (A Feast for Clothes)Once upon a time in the Iranian city of Shiraz, there lived the famous poet Sheikh Saadi. Like most other poets and philosophers, Sheikh Saadi was not a rich man. He led a very simple life. A rich merchant of Shiraz invited Sheikh Saadi along with a lot of other big businessmen of the town on the occasion of his daughter's marriage which was to be a grand affair. Sheikh Saadi accepted the invitation and decided to attend.

On the day of the wedding, the host and his family were receiving the guests at the gate. They were ushering all the guests towards the dining hall. All the rich people of the town attended the wedding. They had come out in best of their attires. Sheikh Saadi wore simple clothes which were neither grand nor expensive. He waited in a corner for someone to approach him but no one gave him as much as even a second glance. Even the host did not acknowledge him and looked away. Seeing all this, Sheikh Saadi quietly left the party and went to a shop from where he could hire clothes. There he chose a richly brocaded dress which was embroidered in gold on the margins. He selected a fancy turban and a waist-band to go with it. As he put on the hired dress and looked into the mirror, he found himself a changed person.

With this, Sheikh Saadi entered the dining hall and this time was welcomed with open arms. The host embraced him as he would do to an old friend and complimented him on the clothes he was wearing. On seeing Sheikh Saadi, host said? And here comes our favorite poet. What took you so long, friend? We have been waiting for you for ages! How good of you to have come. The gathering surely would have been incomplete without your gracious presence! Sheikh Saadi did not utter a word and allowed the host to lead him to the dining room where other guests had assembled. Tasty dishes had been laid out on grand carpets. Sheikh Saadi was offered a seat with soft cushions. The food was served in fine crockery and cutlery made out of silver.

The host led Sheikh Saadi by hand and himself served out the chicken soup and the fragrant rice to him. After this, something strange happened. Sheikh Saadi dipped the corner of his waist-coat in the soup and sprinkled some rice on it. Addressing the clothes, he said: This is a feast for you, you should enjoy it.

All the guests were now staring at him in surprise. The host said? Sir, what are doing? How can your clothes eat? And why should they? To this query, Sheikh Saadi very calmly replied: My dear friend, I am indeed surprised with the question coming from you?

Aren't you the same person who did not even throw a look at me when I came dressed in simple clothes? I can guess that it is my clothes and appearance that matter with you, not my individual worth. Now that I have put on grand clothes, I see a world of difference in reception here. All that I can now say is that this feast is meant for my clothes, not for me.

Al-Jahiz and the effect of making fun of others:

Al-Jahiz was an educated man who lived in the ninth century. Many books and writings have remained from him. He was a very ugly man. Al-Jahiz was always supported by the Abbasid Caliphs since he expressed his opposition to Imam Ali (as). One day he told his students that he was never belittled as much as he was done by a lady once. She had run across him once and asked him to follow her. She had taken him to a sculptor, and said to him: "That is it." Then she walked away. When he asked the artist what the story was, he was told that the lady had ordered the artist to make a sculpture of Satan. The artist had told her that he could only make the sculpture if he sees Satan. Then the lady had brought him in and shown him to the artist as a model for Satan.

An Islamic perspective: Divulging Secrets (12) Islam and Divulging Secrets

Islam and Divulging SecretsAnother factor that corrupts the tongue is divulging other people's secrets. This is considered bad in Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "When someone says something and goes away, what he said is left as a trust near the one who hears him." Prophet Muhammad (saw) also said: "What others tell you is entrusted to you."

Imam Hasan (as) has been narrated as saying: "It is an act of treason to divulge your brethren's secrets."

13 - Fake Promise:

One of the factors that corrupt the tongue is making fake promises upon which one does not act. Acting upon what you promise is one of the signs of divine men. We read the following in Noble Qur'an:

"O' ye who believe! Fulfill (all) obligations." [Sura Al-Ma'ida 5:1]

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Making promises is a part of religion."

Allah (SWT) has mentioned in Noble Qur'an Prophet Isma'il (Ishmael) to be strictly true to what he promised: "Also mention in the Book (the story of) Isma'il: He was (strictly) true to what he promised, and he was an apostle (and) a Prophet." [Sura Maryam 19:54]

14 - False swearing or Statements:

Lying is a great sin. It will result in the loss of one's honor. Many Qur'anic verses and traditions outline the wickedness of lying. Abu Sa'eed was quoted to have heard the Prophet Muhammad (saw) supplicate to Allah (SWT) as follows: "O' Allah! Please purify my heart from hypocrisy, purify me from acts of fornication, and purify my tongue from lying."

Imam Baqir (as) said: "Lying will destroy man's faith."

Imam Ali (as) said: "No man shall taste faith unless he avoids lying, be it serious or as a joke."

A man told Prophet Muhammad (saw): "O' Prophet of Allah (SWT)! Would a believer commit a sexual sin?" He (saw) said: "Maybe sometimes." The man asked: "Would a believer tell a lie?" Prophet Muhammad (saw) answered: "Never."

Allah (SWT) the Exalted said in Noble Qur'an: "It is those who believe not in the Signs of Allah that forge falsehood: it is they who lie!" [Sura An-Nahl 16:105]

It was quoted on the authority of Imam Hasan Askari (as): "All sins are stored in a house. The key to that house is lying." This implies that if one lies he will fall into sin.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "One only tells lies because of his feeling of being lowly."

On the other hand, honesty is rooted in a feeling of self-security and confidence. One day Hajjaj extended his sermon when he was lecturing on the pulpit. A man cried from the crowd: "It is time for prayer. Cut it short. Neither time will stop in respect for you nor will Allah (SWT) accept your apology." Hajjaj became upset about this open statement in public and had the man imprisoned. When the man's relatives went to see Hajjaj and told him that the man is insane, Hajjaj said that he had to confess to this fact himself. They went to see the man and told him to confess to being insane to be freed. The man said: "Allah (SWT) has created me healthy and intelligent. I am not mad. Why should I falsely confess to being insane?" Then Hajjaj was told about what the man said. Hajjaj respected his honesty and freed him.

An Islamic perspective: Nameemah (Gossiping, Gossip) 15 Islam and Gossiping

Islam and GossipAllah (SWT) the Exalted said in Noble Qur'an: "O' ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it. But fear Allah: For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful." [Sura Hujurat 49:12]

Gossiping will also corrupt the tongue. The act of gossiping is bad since both the speaker and the listener are attacking a defenseless person. It is as if one eats the flesh of his dead defenseless brother and the other one attacks one who is not present there to defend himself. Four points are stressed in the Noble Qur'an in this regard:

(1) - Muslims and brothers in faith are just like our brothers.

(2) - A Muslim's honor is just like his flesh.

(3) - Gossiping behind his back to hurt his honor is like eating his flesh.

(4) - The fact that he is absent and is unable to defend himself is similar to him being dead. It is not right to attack a dead defenseless person.

That is why Imam Ali (as) has said: "Gossiping is done by weak people."

The second verse from Noble Qur'an regarding this issue is: "Those who love (to see) scandal published broadcast among the Believers, will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: Allah knows, and ye know not." [Sura Al-Noor 24:19]

Man is a social creature and the society in which he lives is like his house. He should safeguard it just as he safeguards his house and prevent the influence of any corruption into the society. Islam seriously fights whatever corrupts the society. Gossiping is also seriously fought with because it unveils hidden flaws. Islam does not like this and instructs people to cover up each other's faults.

The third verse from Noble Qur'an regarding this issue is: "Allah loveth not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done; for Allah is He who heareth and knoweth all things." [Sura An-Nisa 4:148]

We must realize that any form of evil in public speech has been forbidden here. Thus gossiping is forbidden.

The fourth verse from Noble Qur'an in this regard is as follows: "Woe to every (kind of) scandal-monger and backbiter." [Sura Al-Humaza 104:1]

Some commentators have said that this verse was revealed about al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah who used to gossip behind Prophet Muhammad's (saw) back and made fun of him up front.

16 - Gheebat, Gheebah (Backbiting):

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Do you know what is meant by Gheebat (Backbiting)?" Companions said, "Allah (SWT) and His Messenger know best." Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, "To say something about your brother which he dislikes." One asked, "Even if what I say is true about my brother?" Prophet Muhammad (saw) replied, "If such defects you say are true about him, then you have backbitten him, and if he doesn't have what you say, then you have committed Tohmat, Buhtan (slander) against him."

Hence, it is not allowed to talk about somebody in his/her absence, even if what was narrated was true. If it was not true, then it would be a bigger sin and it is called Buhtan (false accusation).

Allah (SWT) the Exalted made it clear in Noble Qur'an that defaming another Muslim in his/her absence is like eating the flesh of one's dead brother (49:12), which obviously, everybody hates. Hence, it is the most dreadful sin. Note that if the person is present, he/she may have a chance to defend himself/herself, although everybody does not have the courage to defend themselves in these circumstances. If, however, he/she is defamed in his/her absence, the damage is deep and somewhat permanent.

Not just only can the tongue be used to backbite. The same effects and results can also be done with the eyes, hands and other physical movements. An example would be to imitate someone who is limping in order to insult him/her.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "Backbiting is a worse sin than adultery." It is further explained in a saying of Prophet Muhammad (saw): "Allah (SWT) the Exalted may forgive a person if he/she repents after committing adultery. However, Allah (SWT) the Exalted will not forgive the one who backbites, till his/her victim forgives him/her."

"If people talk behind your back - what does that mean? It simply means that you are two steps ahead of them."

Effects and Results of Controlling, Taming and Corruption of the Human Tongue in Islam

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Islamic Moral Stories is designed by Akramulla Syed Last Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2016