The Etiquette of Joking 

The Etiquette of Joking 

Author: Sa’id Ya’i 

Are you someone who loves to joke? Or the contrary, you are a very serious person who dislike joking? Are you someone who laughs a lot, or one who prefers not to? 

Allaah created human being will all its character and behaviour, thus, we can’t entirely blame anyone who loves to joke and laugh. It is because laughing is the natural part of men, which they do not share with animal. Have you ever find an animal that can laugh? Honestly, I’ve never encountered such animal. Even if it is possibly exist, this phenomenon is a rarity which can only happen once in a while, and in certain occasions. 

The Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- once gave Abu Hurairah -may Allaah be pleased with him- some advices, among which are:

(( وَلاَ تُكْثِرِ الضَّحِكَ, فَإِنَّ كَثْرَةَ الضَّحِكِ تُمِيتُ الْقَلْبَ.))

“Do not laugh in excessive, for excessive laugh will kill the heart.” [1] 

Have the Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- never laugh? The Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- did laugh. There are many hadith that indicate that he laughed occasionally, among which is what narrated from ‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ud – may Allaah be pleased with him- in a long hadith that is categorized as hadith qudsy. It is told that in it, Allaah The Exalted said to a son of Adam, 

(( يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ مَا يَصْرِينِى مِنْكَ, أَيُرْضِيْكَ أَنْ أُعْطِيَكَ الدُّنْيَا وَمِثْلَهَا مَعَهَا؟))

“O son of Adam, I wont hinder you from what you wish. Would you be please, if I bestow upon you, the world plus another one like it ?,” 

The son of Adam said, 

(( يَا رَبِّ أَتَسْتَهْزِئُ مِنِّيْ وَأَنْتَ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ؟))

“O Lord! Are you mocking me, whereas You are The Lord of the Universe?,” 

Then Ibn Mas’ud laughed and said, “Why don’t you ask me why did I laugh?,” So his pupils asked him, “Why did you laugh?,” He replied, “This is how the Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- laughed. The companions asked him, ‘Why did you laugh, O Allaah’s messenger?,’ He replied, 

(( مِنْ ضِحْكِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ حِيْنَ قَالَ أَتَسْتَهْزِئُ مِنِّيْ وَأَنْتَ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ؟ فَيَقُوْلُ إِنِّيْ لاَ أَسْتَهْزِئُ مِنْكَ وَلَكِنِّيْ عَلَى مَا أَشَاءُ قَادِرٌ.))

‘Because of the laugh of the Lord of the Universe when he heard (son of Adam) said, ‘Are you mocking me? Whereas You are the Lord of the Universe?,’

Then Allaah said, “Verily, I didn’t mock you, but I’m able to realize everything that I want.” [2] 

In the hadith above, The Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- forbade anyone to laugh excessively, not to laugh. But Excessive and over the top laugh that contains insult is the one that is forbidden. The Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- also joked, as revealed in a narration recounted by Abu Huraira -may Allaah be pleased with them-, that the companions once told the Messenger of Allaah be upon him – 

( يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ ، إِنَّكَ تُدَاعِبُنَا )

“O Messenger of Allaah, Indeed you often tease us.”

He replied, 

(( إِنِّيْ لاَ أَقُوْلُ إِلاَّ حَقًّا.))

“Indeed, I do not say anything except the truth.” [3] 

Among the jokes that the Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- jested with his companions were these two hadith below: 


عَنْ أَنَسٍ أَنَّ رَجُلاً أَتَى النَّبِىَّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فَقَالَ: ( يَا رَسُوْلَ اللَّهِ احْمِلْنِى.) قَالَ النَّبِىُّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم-: (( إِنَّا حَامِلُوكَ عَلَى وَلَدِ نَاقَةٍ )). قَالَ: (وَمَا أَصْنَعُ بِوَلَدِ النَّاقَةِ؟) فَقَالَ النَّبِىُّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم-: (( وَهَلْ تَلِدُ الإِبِلَ إِلاَّ النُّوقُ.))

It is narrated from Anas -may Allaah be pleased with him- that a man came to visit the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him-. He said, “O Messenger of Allah! Please lift me up (onto the camel’s back)!”. The Prophet -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- said, “Indeed, I will lift you up onto a camel’s foal.” The man said, “What do I do with a camel’s foal?,”. The Prophet -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- said, “Don’t the she-camels give birth to the camels?,” [4]  

He made a joke to him by calling his camel ‘a camel’s foal’. The man comprehended his joke by its literal meaning, however, isn’t all adult camel were the offspring of she-camel? 


عَنِ الْحَسَنِ قَالَ: أَتَتْ عَجُوزٌ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ -صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ-، فَقَالَتْ: (يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، ادْعُ اللَّهَ أَنْ يُدْخِلَنِي الْجَنَّةَ) فَقَالَ: ((يَا أُمَّ فُلاَنٍ، إِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ لاَ تَدْخُلُهَا عَجُوزٌ.)) قَالَ: فَوَلَّتْ تَبْكِي فَقَالَ: (( أَخْبِرُوهَا أَنَّهَا لاَ تَدْخُلُهَا وَهِيَ عَجُوزٌ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى يَقُولُ : { إِنَّا أَنْشَأْنَاهُنَّ إِنْشَاءً 0فَجَعَلْنَاهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا 0عُرُبًا أَتْرَابًا } )).


It is narrated from Al-Hasan -may Allaah be pleased with him-, he said, “An elderly woman came to the Prophet -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him-. The woman said, “O Messenger of Allaah ! Please pray to Allaah so that He will let me enter the Paradise!,’ The Prophet said, ‘O mother of such-and-such! Indeed, an old woman doesn’t enter the Paradise’. Upon hearing his remark, the woman went out weeping. The Prophet then said, “Tell her that she will not enter the Paradise as an old woman. (Because) verily, Allaah the Exalted decreed, “(35)“and their spouses We shall have brought them into being afresh, (36) and shall have made them virgins, (37) intensely loving and of matching age.” ( Al Waqiah/The Event).”[5] 

From these hadith, we can infer that the Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- did joke in certain occasions, however, his joke didn’t contain any lie, and was always telling the truth. People who are being too serious and constantly being rigid and inflexible, will find his life unbearably suffocating and boring. They are supposed to spice up their life with jokes in order to relieve the stressful condition. In contrast, people who are too fond of telling jokes, should better train himself to stay quiet and silent, and speak only on useful matters. 

A famous poet, Abul-fath Al-Busti[6], may Allaah have mercy on him- once said,

 أَفْدِ طَبْعَك الْمَكْدُودَ بِالْجِدِّ رَاحَةً             يُجَمُّ وَعَلِّلْهُ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ الْمَزْحِ

وَلَكِنْ إذَا أَعْطَيْتَهُ الْمَزْحَ فَلْيَكُنْ               بِمِقْدَارِ مَا تُعْطِي الطَّعَامَ مِنْ الْمِلْحِ


“Give rest for you serious and tough temper, 

Chill it and adorn it with little jokes, 

But if you give it jokes, make it as though 

You are about to sprinkle some salt on food 

As in food, which if it is without any salt it will taste plain and unpalatable, too much of that salt will also ruin its taste. 

Something that is done in excessive will likely bring impacts to the actual deed. 

Likewise is joking and laughing. If someone is joking and laughing excessively, that habit will cost him or her lots of bad impacts. Among the bad impacts suffered by joking and laughing excessively are: 

  1. The habit will deaden one’s heart, as the Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- had told his follower. If the heart is no longer alive, it will cause the person to be lazy in performing good deeds and obedience acts, think little of (committing) evil doing, his heart isn’t affected upon hearing the Qur’anic verses, his heart isn’t affected by various trials, calamities, and tests that Allaah the Glorified and Exalted afflicted upon him, he doesn’t fear the threat of punishment from Allaah, his love for the worldly pleasures will increase and he will prioritize it over the Hereafter, his heart will be restless, always in dejection, his evil acts will increase and be piling up, he won’t be able to recognize or to differential between good and evil acts, etc. [7] 
  2. The habit will occupy him, thus he will do useless deeds and will be void of grace and auhtority. Therefore, Imam Al-Mawardi -may Allaah have mercy on him- once said, 

وَأَمَّا الضَّحِكُ فَإِنَّ اعْتِيَادَهُ شَاغِلٌ عَنْ النَّظَرِ فِي الْأُمُورِ الْمُهِمَّةِ ، مُذْهِلٌ عَنْ الْفِكْرِ فِي النَّوَائِبِ الْمُلِمَّةِ.

وَلَيْسَ لِمَنْ أَكْثَرَ مِنْهُ هَيْبَةٌ وَلَا وَقَارٌ، وَلَا لِمَنْ وُصِمَ بِهِ خَطَرٌ وَلَا مِقْدَارٌ.

“…As for laughing, if one makes it his habit and does it in excessive manner, it will cause him neglecting and forgetting the important things. He who does such in excessive manner will be void of grace and honor. And he who is famous for that will have no position and dignity.”[8] 

  1. The habit will create enmity though inadvertently, etc. 

Even to utter a joke needs some etiquettes. Therefore, it is appropriate for us to learn about those etiquettes. Among the etiquettes of joking are the following: 

  1. It shouldn’t contain any lies. 

The Messenger of Allaah -peace and prayer of Allaah be upon him- said, 

( وَيْلٌ لِلَّذِى يُحَدِّثُ فَيَكْذِبُ لِيُضْحِكَ بِهِ الْقَوْمَ وَيْلٌ لَهُ وَيْلٌ لَهُ.)

“Woe to those who speak and then tell lie to incite laughter from some people. Woe to him. Woe to him.”[9] 

Today, there are many people who work as a comedian. Unfortunately, most of them are unable to restrain himself from telling lies. Thus, it is better for them to find other job that is safe from all forbidden aspects. Likewise for the preachers who are fond of making people laugh; it is more proper for them to tell only truth, scientific facts that has reputable and valid references, in their sermon, 

  1. It shouldn’t contain any element of humiliation or derogation towards Islam. 

{ وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ إِنَّمَا كُنَّا نَخُوضُ وَنَلْعَبُ قُلْ أَبِاللَّهِ وَآيَاتِهِ وَرَسُولِهِ كُنْتُمْ تَسْتَهْزِئُونَ (65) لَا تَعْتَذِرُوا قَدْ كَفَرْتُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ إِنْ نَعْفُ عَنْ طَائِفَةٍ مِنْكُمْ نُعَذِّبْ طَائِفَةً بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُجْرِمِينَ (66) }

“Should you question them what they were talking about, they would certainly say: “We were merely jesting and being playful.”  Tell them: “Was it Allah and His revelation and His Messenger that you were mocking?” (65) , Now, make no excuses. The truth is, you have fallen into unbelief after having believed. Even if We were to forgive some of you, We will surely chastise others because they are guilty. (66)” (At Tawba/The Repentance: 65-66) 

Nowadays, there are many people who like to humiliate the Islamic teaching, and use it as their source of jokes. For example: they mock beard, and they insult anyone who maintain their beard, labeling them as ‘goat’; they mock veild and state that it is merely the clothes used by those who live in the desert; they insult the face cover (niqab) and dub it as the trait of terrorist; they mock those who let their ankle uncovered by the end of their trousers/garments, labeling it as people who are the victims of flooding, and so on. 

Based on the verses of At Tawba above, anyone who insult the Islamic teaching is under the threat of renouncing Islam, whether he or she realizes it or not. Therefore, we should never underestimate such dire matters. 

  1. It shouldn’t contain any elements of slandering and disparaging towards certain person, tribe, or nation 

{ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِنْ قَوْمٍ عَسَى أَنْ يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِنْ نِسَاءٍ عَسَى أَنْ يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِنْهُنَّ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ (11) }

“Believers, let not a group (of men) scoff at another group, it may well be that the latter (at whom they scoff) are better than they; nor let a group of women scoff at another group, it may well be that the latter are better than they.  And do not taunt one another,  nor revile one another by nicknames.  It is an evil thing to gain notoriety for ungodliness after belief. Those who do not repent are indeed the wrong-doers.” (Al Hujurat/The Chambers:11) 

  1. It is not allowed to steal other people’s possession, even by joking 

(( لاَ يَأْخُذَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ مَتَاعَ أَخِيهِ لاَعِبًا وَلاَ جَادًّا.))

“It is not permitted for you to take the possession of your brother, be it jokingly or seriously.” [10] 

Even if it is just a joke, or a prank, like what is commonly known today, in Islam, we are not allowed to take other people’s possession in order to hide it thus confuses its owner. 

  1. It is not allowed to scare others.

(( لاَ يَحِلُّ لِمُسْلِمٍ أَنْ يُرَوِّعَ مُسْلِمًا.))

“It is not allowed for a muslim to scare other muslims.” [11] 

  1. It is not allowed to spend most of time just for joking. 

(( مِنْ حُسْنِ إِسْلاَمِ الْمَرْءِ تَرْكُهُ مَا لاَ يَعْنِيهِ.))

“One of indicators of islamic perfection (as a religion) in someone is leaving behind something that is not beneficial for him/her.” [12]

  1. It is not allowed to speak of something, or to do something, that violates the sharia rules, such as: mentioning the characteristics of a woman that is not lawful for him to others, deceiving, cursing, etc. 

These are some explanations regarding joke and laughter, of the despicable and the passable of it. Hopefully, we can practice this knowledge in our daily life. Amin. 



  1. Âdabud-Dunyâ wad-Dîn. ‘Ali bin Muhammad Ibn Habîb Al-Mâwardi. Tahqîq: Muhammad Karîm Râjih. Dâr Iqra’.
  2. Al-Bidâyah wan-Nihâyah. Abul-Fidâ’ Ismâ’îl Ibn ‘Umar Ibn Katsîr. Tahqîq: ‘Ali Syairi. Dâr Ihyâ’ At-Turâts Al-‘Arabi.
  3. Dzammu Qaswatil-Qalb. Al-Hâfidzh Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, and Muqaddimah (The Prologue) of its corrector, Abû Maryam Thâriq Ibn ‘Âtif hijâzi. Dâr Ibni Rajab.
  4. Dzammul-Hâwa. ‘Abdurrahmân Ibn Abil-Hasan Al-Jauzi. Tahqîq : Mushthafâ ‘Abdul-Wâhid.
  5. Al-Marâh fil-mizâh. Abul-Barakât Badruddin Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al-Ghâzi. Tahqîq: Bassâm Ibn ‘Abdil-Wahhâb Al-Jâbi. Dâr Ibni Hazm.
  6. Walâ tuktsiridh-dhahik, fainna katsratadh-dhahik tumîtul-qalba. Dr. Badr bin ‘Abdil-Hamid. (
  7. Etc, mostly have been mentioned in the footnotes. 


[1] Narrated by At-Tirmidzi no. 2305. Sheikh Al-Albâni said, “Hasan (good).” (See: Shahîh Sunan At-Tirmidzi.)

[2] Narrated by Muslim no. 310.

[3] Narrated by At-Tirmidzi no. 1990. Sheikh Al-Albâni said, “Shahîh (sound/valid).” (See: Ash-Shahîhah IV/304).

[4] Narrated by Abû Dâwûd no. 5000 and At-Tirmidzi no. 1991. Sheikh Al-Albâni said, “Shahîh.” (See: Shahîh Sunan Abu Daud and Shahih Sunan At-Tirmidzi).

[5] Narrated by At-Tirmidzi in his book, Syamâ-il-Muhammadiyah no. 240. Sheikh Al-Albâni said, “Hasan.” (See: Mukhtashar Syamâ-il and Ash-Shahîhah no. 2987).

[6] Âdabud-Dunyâ wad-Dîn page 319 and Al-Bidâyah wan-Nihâyah (XI/316)

[7] See: The Lowly State of A Hardened Heart. By: Said Yai. Majalah As-Sunnah.

[8] Âdabud-Dunyâ wad-Dîn page.321.

[9] Narrated by Abû Dâwûd no. 4990. Sheikh Al-Albâni said, “Hasan.” (See: Shahîh Targhîb wat-Tarhîb no. 2944).

[10] Narrated by Abû Dâwûd no. 5003. Sheikh Al-Albâni said, “Hasan.” (See: Shâhih Sunan Abî Dâwûd)

[11] Narrated by Abû Dâwûd no. 5004, Sheikh Al-Albâni said, “Shahîh.” (See: Shahîh Sunan Abî Dâwûd)

[12] Narrated by At-Tirmidzi no. 2317 and Ibn Mâjah no. 3976.


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