Etiquettes of Humour
Islam is not austere or gray. It appeals directly to our senses and our human nature withholding a balance between when to be serious and when to lighten up. As Muslims we are also commanded never to hurt or harm anyone in our quest to have fun and a good time. Conversely, Islam wants its followers to have light heartedness and a sense of humour, which make a person good-natured and likeable and will enable him to win people’s hearts.
Engaging in light-hearted humour revives the soul and brings comfort and relaxation to it. Light-hearted wit is also among the practice of the Prophet and the pious predecessors. However, there are certain things we should keep in mind when being humourous…
We sometimes scare people by playing pranks on them. While we might find it amusing, it can be a traumatic experience for the person who is being pranked. Many times it happens where a person is pranked by a fake rubber snake or we jump out from the corner and scream in a dark room etc.
Such pranks might seem funny but we need to realize that some people are naturally very sensitive and it really scares them. For that few moments they are experiencing huge amounts of difficulty and, in some cases, it could affect their heart and cause other medical complications. A Hadith of Nabi S.A.W. states…
لاَ يَحِلُّ لِمُسْلِمٍ أَنْ يُرَوِّعَ مُسْلِمًا
“It is not lawful for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.” [Abu Dawud]
Sometimes while being humourous, we don’t realize that we are backbiting. A joke is considered backbiting when we joke about a person in his absence, such a joke that if he finds out about it, he won’t like it. This happens many times when we recall old memories with friends and an embarrasing incident form the past is brought up about someone who is not present there.
Sometimes we make a joke in a group and then stand behind a person and wink to the others to signal that the joke is directed at the person who we are standing behind. We should keep in mind that this is also considered as backbiting because even though the person is present in the group, he is not aware of the wink.
The humour of Nabi S.A.W. did not involve scaring people or backbiting.