Bismillah, alhamdulillah wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah
After coming across so many stupid MSA videos, many of which made me laugh and many of which disgusted me and hearing the same stupid jokes about a certain brother Muhammad telling non-Muslim to call him “Moe” and after reading this article I can’t help but think why don’t we have a Fiqh for Humor?
There are few discussions out there on this (see here) pointing out the facts Sahabas pulled pranks here and there, but there is little detailing a concrete fiqh with all the dynamics it would include. I don’t know for a fact if the madhabs have discussed this, but generally, I don’t see much discussion of it. There are sensitivities and bitter arguments that have flared up in the past and I think it is because this is a very ambiguous area.
-Does the fact it makes me laugh make it permissible?
-If I laughed at something offensive is there something wrong with me?
-If comedy is so open to interpretation where can I draw the line?
-Does the fact I am poking fun at a shaykh and yet love him, make it OK for me to do so? Or should this be avoided at all costs? Is the fact he found it funny
-What constitutes unacceptable jokes? Racist jokes, Sexist jokes are clear enough as unfair to me, but what about in the domain of jokes relating to “Muslim” jokes?
-What are the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable humor?
-At what point does cultural boundaries and sensibilities of humor come into play? In the age of globalization, can rulings on humor be seen as more culturally influenced than fiqh? Does fiqh even apply then?
-If a joke is offensive or could be interpreted as offensive should we forego it completely?
-Where does humor fit in on Internet interactions?
-Should you stop a shaykh when he is making too many jokes? What about in dawah to non-Muslims? Is it really warranted and wise to make jokes?
-What role of hikmah and discretion should be applied to jokes?
-Is there a limit to how much humor we should have in our community? Where should it figure in our priorities?
-At what point is it just a waste of time?
-What would you call beneficial humor in building bridges? What would you call harmful humor? Do such distinctions exist?
-Is commentary needed with a comic act?
-Should considerations of the effect on the ego and nafs be included in any discussion on humor? For example, if I were to make this joke in a video would someone watching it then take it a step further and cross a line?
So perhaps, what we need are guidelines and not do’s and don’ts.
What would you think of this video? What could be potential benefits and drawbacks of this style of comedy? What about this video? Is Baba Ali getting a good message across make his jokes OK? Would you find it funny if say, an American soldier made this joke?
In the past, I’ve gotten into arguments with Hamzah Moin, of Maniac Muslim and called him “progressive” on some of the things he’s produced. We’re definitely not the best of pals, but he has good intentions even though some things are definitely offensive. In one clip, there is some homosexual stuff happening and this brother who himself has some homosexual problems and tendencies (although he is chaste and away from sinful habits) found it extremely and profoundly offensive. How much does that say for perspective and what can’t be interpreted as offensive?
Lastly, Sh. YQ’s article (or should I say Sh. iYQ -wink-) crossed some lines and I shared my thoughts in the comments. I should re-iterate, he is a happening, cool and cuddly shaykh, so this isn’t your classic soul-less refutation I’m spieling, just some analysis and nasiha because this is the first time I have encountered a devoted student of knowledge producing a comic work. So naturally, one must wonder, what it means for Muslims. You can read that here.
Context and awareness of ones role, considerations of what effect a joke or comment could have are vital. There is, clearly, a psychological component to the practice of humor. Perhaps, a symptom of our being so distant from the era of the Sahabas is our preoccupation with humor? So then perhaps the real question is not, why isn”t there a fiqh of humor…but why do we need it in the first place!? Why has humor occupied such a place in our community…what are we not doing that such a phenomenon has resulted?
Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, Ameen.