Is Life Fair?


  Humour and Our Prophet (Peace and Blessing Be Upon Him) 

Islam is a complete way of life and a complete life is made up of sorrow and happiness, test and result, good and bad and both aspects of life with all its dimensions. Life cannot be one sided. There cannot be happiness only, nor can there be sorrow only in one’s life. So is the case that when we think of an Islamic life, we rightfully think that it should be balanced with both heavier and lighter moments and of course an Islamic life is comprehensive span of time spent on this earth encompassing every aspect of life.


By mistake we have portrayed an Islamic life in our books and discussions so dreadfully that now people think that religiousness means too much of sincerity to the extent that it makes your life dry. Sincerity in Eeman has been portrayed as death of all happiness and amusement in life. We think that there is no fun, no humour, no lighter moments any way in a Mumin’s life, if one is a true Mumin. So is the case that Islamic life is now equivalent to a suffocative room.


when we look into the life of our beloved Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) we find that indeed there are lighter moments in his life. On one side while he was sincere-most human being , he also had his share of jokes, light humour in his life. Indeed this humour was also subjected to principle and limit. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) did some joke, but he never said anything except the truth. We need to learn from his examples how to jest and create humour in our daily life. While studying the life of Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) normally we only emphasize on the sincerity and his seriousness about life and life hereafter but we forget to see the lighter moments of life and the humour he generated from truthful events. Today we shall look into this subject only. First of all just have a look at the following Ahadith.

A companion of Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) Muhammad named Abdallah bin Harith (Radhi Allahu Anhu) said, I have not seen anyone smiling more than the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) of Allah.
Do you remember one hadith produced in Bukhari as the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) was asked by his companions : “You are joking with us.” He said, “But I never say anything but the truth.”[Authentical ly reported in Sahih Bukhari]

Jabir ibn Samurah (Radhi Allahu Anhu) reports: “When the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) offered dawn, or Fajr, prayer he would sit with his companions until sunrise. They would sit and might mention some aspects of life in pre-Islamic days, and laugh. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) used to smile when they laughed.” (Related by Muslim, Al-Nassaie and Ahmad).

The accounts given in the books of hadith and sirah are as follows:-

The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) used to joke with the small child of one of the Sahabah, a boy called Abu ‘Umayr, who had a small bird he used to play with.One day he saw the child looking sad, so he said, “Why do I see Abu ‘Umayr looking sad?” The Sahabah told him, “The nughar [a small bird, like a sparrow – author] which he used to play with has died, O Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam).”The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) began to gently joke with the child, saying, “O Abu Umayr, what happened to the nughayr?” [Nughayr: diminutive of nughar. – author. In Arabic, this is a play on words, because of the rhyme between the boy’s name and that of the bird. -Translator. This story was reported in Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/149]

A man came to the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) to ask him to give him a beast to ride. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) jokingly told him, “I will give you the offspring of a she-camel to ride.” He said, “O Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) , what will I do with the offspring of a she-camel?” The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) said: “Are riding-camels born except from she-camels?” [Reported by Imaam Ahmad, Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi, with a Sahih isnad.]

Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal reported from Anas (radhiallahu `anhu) that there was a man from the desert people whose name was Zahir. He used to bring gifts from the desert to the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) and in return the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) would provide him with whatever he needed when he went out to fight. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) said, “Zahir is our man of the desert, and we are his town-dwellers. ” The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) loved him very much, and he (Zahir) was an ugly man. One day the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) came to him whilst he was selling some goods. He embraced him from behind. The man could not see him, so he said, “Let me go! Who is this?” Then he turned around and recognized the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam), so he tried to move closer to him once he knew who it was. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) started to say, “Who will buy this slave?” Zahir said, “O Prophet
(Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) , you will find me unsellable.” The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) said, “But in the sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) you are not unsellable,” or he said, “But in the sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) you are valuable.”

An old woman came to the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) and said: “O Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam), pray to Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) that I will enter Paradise.” He said jokingly, “O Mother of So-and-so, no old women will enter Paradise.” The old woman went away crying, so the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) said, “Tell her that she will not enter Paradise as an old woman, for Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) says: (We have created [their Companions] of special creation, and made them virgin-pure [and undefiled]) [Quran 56:35-36].” [Reported by al-Tirmidhi, it is hasan because of the existence of corroborating reports.]

One of the ahadith that reflects the Prophet’s (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) sense of humor and enjoyment of fun is the report that Imaam Ahmad gives from ‘A’ishah who said: “I went out with the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) on a journey. At that time I was a young girl and was quite slender. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) told the people, ‘Go on ahead,’ so they went ahead, then he said to me, ‘Come, let us have a race.’ So I raced with him, and I won. He let the matter rest until I had gained weight. Later, I accompanied him on another journey. He told the people, ‘Go on ahead,’ so they went ahead. He said to me, ‘Come, let us have a race.’ So I raced with him, and he won. He began to laugh, and said, ‘This is for that.”‘

Imam Ahmad from Umm. Salamah (radhiallahu `anha). Abil Bakr (radhiallahu `anhu) went to do business in Busra, and with him were Nu’ayman and Suwaybit ibn Harmalah (radhiallahu `anhuma), both of whom had been present at Badr. Suwaybit was in charge of food on the journey, and Nu’ayman said to him, “Feed me!” Suwaybit said, “Not until Abu Bakr (radhiallahu `anhu) comes.” Nu’ayman was a fun-loving man with a sense of humor, so he went to some people who had brought livestock with them, and said, “Will you buy a sturdy Arab slave from me?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “He has a big mouth, and he may tell you that he is a free man. If that means that you do not want to take him, then forget the matter, and do not cause trouble for me with him.” They said, “No problem, we will buy him.” So they bought him for ten young she-camels. Nu’ayman brought the animals back, and told the people: “There he is!” Suwaybit said: “I am a free man!” They said, “He has already told us all about
you,” and put a rope around his neck and led him away. Then Abu Bakr came, and was told what had happened. He and his companions went and returned the animals and took Suwaybit back. They told the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) what had happened, and he and his Sahabah would laugh about the story for a year afterwards.

A Bedouin came to the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam). He entered the mosque and left his camel in the courtyard. Some of his Companions said to Nu’ayman ibn ‘Amr al-Ansari, who was known as al-Nu’ayman: “If you slaughter it, we will eat it, because we want to have some meat, and the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) will pay for it.” So al-Nu’ayman slaughtered it. Then the Bedouin came out and saw his saddle, so he shouted, “They have slaughtered my camel, O Muhammad!” The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) came out and asked: “Who did this?” They said, “Al-Nu’ayman. ” So he went looking for him, and found him at the home of Duba’ah bint al-Zubayr ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib (radhiallahu `anha), where he had hidden in a ditch and covered himself with palm branches and leaves. A man pointed to where he was and said, loudly, “I have not seen him, O Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam).” The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) brought him out of the ditch, and his
face was dirty from where the leaves had fallen on him. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) asked him, “Why did you do that?” Al-Nu’ayman said: “The ones who told you where I was, O Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam), are the same ones who told me to do it.” The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) (sallallahualayhe wa sallam) began wiping his face and laughing, then he paid the price of the slaughtered camel. [See Hayat As Sahabah, 3/154, 155]

Anas ibn Malikreports: “A Bedouin called Zahir ibn Haram used to visit the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) bringing him gifts from his desert area. When he was about to leave, the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) would give him a good supply. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) once commented:‘Zahir is our man from the desert and we are his urban people.’ The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) loved him, but Zahir was rather ugly in appearance. One day the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) came on him as he was selling his stuff. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) held him from the rear, while Zahir could not see him. He said to him: ‘Let me go! Who are you?’ He then turned his head and recognized the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam). He tried his best not to press his back against the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam)’s chest. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) said loudly: ‘Who will buy this slave?’ Zahir said: ‘Messenger
of God! You will find me unsaleable.’ The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) said to him: ‘But with God, you are not unsaleable. As God’s slave, you are highly valued.’”(Related by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi and Abd Al-Razzaq). Hanzalah Radhiallahu anhu reports-Abu Bakr met me and asked, ‘How are you, Hanzalah?’ I replied, ‘Hanzalah has become a hypocrite.’ He said, ‘Glory to Allah! What are you saying?’ I replied, ‘When we are with Allah’s Messenger, he mentions the Fire and the Garden until it is as if we can see them. But when we leave the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam)’s company and play with our wives and children or busy ourselves with our properties, we forget much.’ Abu Bakr said, ‘By Allah, I have experienced the same thing.’ He and I then went to visit the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) (peace be on him), and I said, ‘O Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam), Hanzalah has become a hypocrite.’ He asked, ‘And how is that?’ I replied, ‘O Prophet (Sallallaahu
alaihe wasallam), when we are with you, you talk about the Fire and the Garden until it is as if we can see them. Then we go out and play with our wives and children and deal with our properties, and we forget much.’ The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) then said, ‘By Him in Whose hand is my soul, if you were to continue at the same level at which you were when with me and in remembering Allah, the angels would shake hands with you when you are resting and when you walk about, but, O Hanzalah, there is a time (for this) and a time (for that).’ He repeated this phrase three times. [Reported by Muslim]

A man broke his fast (intentionally) during Ramadan. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) commanded him to emancipate a slave or fast for two months, or feed sixty poor people. He said: I cannot afford that. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) said: Sit down. Thereafter, a huge basket of dates was brought to the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam). He said: Take this and give it as sadaqah/charity to the poor. He said: O Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam), there is no one poorer than I. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) thereupon laughed so that his canine teeth became visible and said: Then feed yourself (and your family). [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 2, #2386]

‘Aisha (Radhi Allahu anha) Radhiallahu anha (wife of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam)) was handling some dolls: What is this that it has on it? asked the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam). She replied: Two wings. He asked: A horse with two wings? She replied: Have you not heard that Solomon had horses with wings? She said that on hearing my reply the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) laughed so heartily that I could see his molar teeth. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #4914]

‘Adi bin Hatim said: When the verse ‘Until the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread’ regarding the timing for the morning prayer was revealed, I took a white string and a black string, and placed them beneath my pillow; and then I looked at them, but they were not clear to my. So I mentioned it to the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) of Allah. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) laughed and asked jokingly: Is your pillow is so broad and lengthy. What is actually referred to is darkness of night and brightness of day. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 2, #2342]

Awf bin Malik al-Ashja’ Radhiallahu anhu (who was a rather full-bodied person) said: I came to the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) at the expedition to Tabuk when he was in a small skin tent. I (poked my head into the tent and) gave him a salutation and he returned the greeting. I requested permission to enter and the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) (jokingly) said: Come in, the whole of you. So I entered. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #4982]


Remember that humour should be used as an instrument , not as a weapon.
Remember the Hadith -Some young men from the Quraysh visited the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam)’s wife ‘Aisha (Radhi Allahu anha) when she was in Mina and they were laughing. She said: What makes you laugh? They said: A person stumbled against the rope of the tent and he fell, almost injuring himself. She said: Don’t laugh at that, for I heard Allah’s Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) saying: If a Muslim is hurt to the extent of a thorn prick, there is assured for him reward and his sins are obliterated. [Sahih Muslim, #6237]
Remember that whenever the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) joked,he always said the truth. The Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) never said a lie not even in humour.
Aisha (Radhi Allahu anha), wife of the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) (p) said: “I never saw the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihe wasallam) laugh fully to such an extent that I could see his uvula. He would rather smile, …” [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #5079]

The Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihe Wasallam) is reported to have 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 on “To be cheerful with the people”]


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by adikbongsu on January 4, 2008 at 4:58 am

    Assalamu’alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    Subhanallah….I love this post 🙂
    Any info on our Prophet s.a.w. is very valuable indeed.

    Jazakillah khairan UmmAbdurrahman 🙂


  2. Posted by shariq on January 16, 2008 at 6:33 am

    assalaamu alaikum. just came across your blog. Maashaallah this is a very nice post and i really benefitted from it. Really enjoyed reading some of the instances of our prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam joking with his companions.


    your brother,


  3. Posted by Fahad on March 10, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Dear Readers,

    this piece HUMOUR AND OUR PROPHET has been originally written by brother KHALID BIN UMAR who is an excellent researcher and writer from India.I read it some yahoo groups in December 2007.


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