The Lighter Side in Hadith

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Since Islam is defined as way of life the scope of Islam and life should be fully convergent. As Islam is based on human nature, it also fully takes into account that nature, in its entire dimension. As a reflection of many different types of extremities among us as Muslims, some have divorced Islam in search of their jest and fun. Others, due to their "love" for Islam, have purified Islam and their life from any humorous dimension: So, no fun or humor. 

The latter group is petrified by a reminder from the Prophet Muhammad , "O followers of Muhammad! By Allah, if you knew what I know, you would weep much and laugh little." [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, #627]

The unintended impact of this Hadith has been that we forgot to have a sense of humor altogether. Indeed, the more religious we are, the less we laugh. On top of this, I have observed that the more religious and scholarly Muslims are, their faces are stiffer, even when they have their pictures taken. Life is more than just weeping and crying. There might be some proportionality, but there is plenty of lighter dimension of life as well. So, go ahead, cry a little, laugh a little.

The Prophet usually had a very friendly, inviting disposition. He smiled, and laughed as situations "naturally" warranted. Just like he did not try to artificially induce tears in his eyes, he did not suppress his laugh during situations that were humorous.

Those Hadith that indicate Prophet's smile or laugh are very special to me, as those Hadith lightens me up when I need a little lift. Those Hadith also brightens my day every so often.

There are also valuable lessons to be learned from these Hadith. Taking life and Islam with a balanced dose of jest is what the Prophet - ordered.

The first few sayings of the  Prophet below are to give you an idea about the Prophetic perspective in this regard. This collection is not necessarily to make you laugh your heart out, but merely to introduce that sense of humor is quite integral to our human life and so is also to us as Muslims.

1. The Prophet used to smile, rather than laugh ...

He generally used to smile rather than laugh Aisha, wife of the Messenger of Allah said: I never saw the Messenger of Allah laugh fully to such an extent that I could see his uvula. He would only smile, ... [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #5079] [Note: Whether he smiled or laugh depended on the situation as illustrated by the Hadiths quoted below.]

2. The Prophet's smile and companions' laughing sessions ...

Narrated Jabir ibn Samurah: Simak ibn Harb asked Jabir ibn Samurah, "Did you sit in the company of the Messenger of Allah?" He said: Yes, very often. He (the Prophet) used to sit at the place where he observed the morning or dawn prayer till the sun rose or when it had risen; he would stand, and they (his Companions) would talk about matters (pertaining to the days) of ignorance, and they would laugh (on these matters) while (the Prophet) only smiled. [Sahih Muslim, #1413]

3. Go ahead make your dear ones feel good!

Narrated Hadhrat Fatima , The Prophet told me something secretly (during his fatal illness) and I laughed. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, Chapter 68 on smiling and laughing]

4. You should be jestful with your family!

Narrated Ibn Mas'ud: "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"]

5. The Prophet used to laugh too; sometimes till his front teeth were exposed...

Hadhrat Abu Dhar reported that the Prophet said: "I know the last of inhabitants of Paradise to enter it and the last of the inhabitants of Hell to come out it. He is a man who would be brought on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said: Present his minor sins to him, and withhold from him his serious sins. Then the minor sins would be placed before him, and it would be said: On such and such day you did so and so and on such and such day you did so and so. He would say: Yes. It will not be possible for him to deny, while he would be afraid lest serious sins should be presented before him. It would be said to him: In place of every evil deed you will have good deed. He will (then) say: My Lord! I have done things that I do not see here." I indeed saw the Mesenger of Allah laugh till his front teeth were exposed. [Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, #365]

6. Sometimes laughing is just not right...

Narrated Aisha: Some young men from the Quraysh visited Aisha as she was in Mina and they (audience) were laughing. She said: What makes you laugh? They said: Such and such person stumbled against the rope of the tent and he was about to break his neck or lose his eyes. She said: Don't laugh for I heard Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) saying: If a Muslim runs a thorn or (gets into trouble) severe than this, there is assured for him (a higher) rank and his sins are obliterated. [Sahih Muslim, #6237]

7. The Prophet's kiddy talk!

Narrated Anas bin Malik , The Prophet used to mix with us to the extent that he would say to a younger brother of mine (he had a bird called Umair), "O father of Umair! What did do the Nughair (a kind of bird)?" [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, #150]

8. Asking the Prophet for a camel

Anas said: A man came to the Prophet and said: O Apostle of Allah! give me a mount. The Prophet said: We shall give you a she-camel's child to ride on. He said: What shall I do with a she-camel's child? The Prophet replied: Do any others than she-camels give birth to camels?" [Sunan Abu Dawood; Vol. 3, # 4980; also #4981; #4982]

9. The tale of a stubborn animal...

Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib: Ali ibn Rabi'ah said: I was present with Ali while an animal was brought to him to ride. When he put his foot in the stirrup, he said: "In the name of Allah." Then when he sat on its back, he said: "Praise be to Allah." He then said: "Glory be to Him Who has made this subservient to us, for we had not the strength, and to our Lord do we return." He then said: "Praise be to Allah (thrice); Allah is Most Great (thrice): glory be to Thee, I have wronged myself, so forgive me, for only Thou forgivest sins." He then laughed. He was asked: At what did you laugh? He replied: I saw the Apostle of Allah do as I have done, and laugh after that. I asked: Apostle of Allah , at what are you laughing? He replied: Your Lord, Most High, is pleased with His servant when he says: "Forgive me my sins." He knows that no one forgives sins except Him. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 2, #2596]

10. What is there to laugh about a good use of Qur'anic logic ...?

Amr ibn al-As said: I had a sexual dream on a cold night in the battle of Dhat al-Salasil. I was afraid, if I washed/bathed I would die. I, therefore, performed Tayammum and led my companions in the dawn prayer. They mentioned that to the Messenger of Allah,  He said: 'Amr, you led your companions in prayer, while you were sexually defiled? I informed him of the cause which impeded me from taking a bath. And I said: I heard Allah say: "Do not kill yourself, verily Allah is merciful to you." The Messenger of Allah laughed and did not say anything. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 1, #334]

11. The laugh at the case of an unyielding hapless chap ...

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

12. A Dollyy conversation and a hearty laugh!...

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: When the Apostle of Allah arrived after the expedition to Tabuk or Khaybar (the narrator is doubtful), the draught raised an end of a curtain which was hung in front of her store-room, revealing some dolls which belonged to her.

He asked: What is this? She replied: My dolls. Among them he saw a horse with wings made of rags, and asked: What is this I see among them? She replied: A horse. He asked: What is this that it has on it? 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: Thereupon the Apostle of Allah laughed so heartily that I could see his molar teeth. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #4914]

13. A drunken tale ...

Ibn Abbas said: The Prophet did not prescribe any punishment for drinking wine. Ibn Abbas said: A man who had drunk wine and become intoxicated was found staggering on the road, so he was taken to the Prophet . When he was opposite Al-Abbas' house, he escaped, and going in to Al-Abbas, he grasped hold of him. When that was mentioned to the Prophet , he laughed and said: Did he do that? and he gave no command regarding him. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #4461]

14. A pillow talk...

Adi bin Hatim said: When the verse 'Until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread' was revealed, I took a white rope and a black rope, 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 Apostle of Allah. He laughed and said: Your pillow is so broad and lengthy; that (what is being referred to) is blackness of night and whiteness of day." [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 2, #2342]

15. Troublesome thoughts?

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: AbuZumayl said: I asked Ibn Abbas, saying: What is that I find in my breast? He asked: What is it? I replied: I swear by Allah, I cannot speak about it. He asked me: Is it something doubtful? and he laughed. He then said: No one could escape that, until Allah, the exalted, revealed: "If thou went in doubt as to what we have revealed unto thee, and ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee." He said: If you find something in your heart, say: He is the first and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent, and He has full knowledge of all things. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #5091]

16. A joyous dream....

Prophet's dream of a sea voyage and a women's request Anas bin Malik said: Umm Haram, daughter of Milhan, sister of Umm Sulaim, narrated to me that the Apostle of Allah took a midday nap with them. He then awoke laughing. She said: I asked: O the Messenger of Allah , what made you laugh? He replied: I saw some people who were sailing in the midst of the sea like kings on thrones. She said: I said: O the Messenger of Allah, beseech Allah that He may put me among them. He replied: You will be among them. She said: He then slep and awoke laughing. She said: I asked: O the Messenger of Allah, what made you laugh? He replied as he said in the first reply. She said: I said: the Messenger of Allah, beseech Allah that He may put me amongst them. He replied: You will be among the first. Then Ubadah b. al-Samit married her and sailed on the sea on an expedition, and took her with him. When he returned, a riding animal was brought near her to ride, but it threw her down. He neck was broken and she died. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 2, #2484]

17. Sneaking up on little Anas as a party spoiler...

Anas said: The Apostle of Allah was one of the best men in character. One day he sent me to do something, and I said: I swear by Allah that I will not go. But in my heart I felt that I should go to do what the the Messenger of Allah had commanded me; so I went out and came upon boys whe were playing in the street. All of a sudden the Messenger of Allah, who had come from behind, caught me by the back of the neck, and when I looked at him he was laughing. He said: Go where I ordered you, little Anas. I replied: Yes, I am going, the Messenger of Allah! Anas said: I swear by Allah, I served him for seven or nine years, and he never said to me about a thing which I had done: why did you do such and such? nor about a thing which I left: why did you not do such and such? [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #4755]

18. A subtle practical humor?

The Prophet smiled at a son's resemblance to his father Abu Rimthah said: I went to the Prophet with my father. The Apostle of Allah then asked my father: Is this your son? He replied: Yes, by the Lord of the Ka'bah. He again said: Is it true? He said: I bear witness to it. the Messenger of Allah then smiled for my resemblance with my father, and for the fact that my father took an oath upon me. He then said: He will not bring evil on you, nor will you bring evil on him. The the Messenger of Allah recited the verse: "No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another." [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #4480]

19. No laughing mater! The unusual command to make parents laugh...

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As: A man came to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) and said: I came to you to take the oath of allegiance to you on emigration, and I left my parents weeping. He (the Prophet) said: Return to them and make them laugh as you made them weep. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 2, #2522]

20. A romantic giggle?

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Apostle of Allah married me .... When we came to Medina, some women came. According to Bishr's version: Umm Ruman came to me when I was swinging. They took me, made me prepared and decorated me. I was then brought to the Apostle of Allah , and he took up cohabitation with me..... She (Umm Ruman) halted me at the door, and I burst into laughter. [ Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, # 4915]

21. A sneaky retaliation to the jestful Prophet

Narrated Usayd ibn Hudayr,: AbdurRahman ibn AbuLayla, quoting Usayd ibn Hudayr, a man of the Ansar, said that while he was given to jesting and was talking to the people and making them laugh, the Prophet poked him under the ribs with a stick. He said: Let me take retaliation. He said: Take retaliation. He said: You are wearing a shirt but I am not. The Prophet then raised his shirt and the man embraced him and began to kiss his side. Then he said: This is what I wanted, Apostle of Allah! [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #5205]

22. Laughing teeth?

Narrated Abbas ibn Mirdas: The Apostle of Allah laughed AbuBakr or Umar said to him: May Allah make your teeth laugh! He then mentioned the tradition. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #5215]

23. A Playful suggestion from the Prophet?

Narrated Jabir: My father died and left behind seven or nine daughters, and I married a woman. The Prophet said, "Did you get married, O Jabir?" I replied, "Yes." He asked, "Is she a virgin or a matron?" I replied, "She is a matron." He said, "Why didn't you marry a virgin girl so that you might play with her and she with you (or, you might make her laugh and she make you laugh)?" I said, "My father died, leaving seven or nine girls (orphans) and I did not like to bring a young girl like them, so I married a woman who can look after them." He said, "May Allah bestow His Blessing on you." [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, #396]

24. O Allah! Are you joking?

Narrated 'Abdullah: The Prophet said, "I know the person who will be the last to come out of the (Hell) Fire, and the last to enter Paradise. He will be a man who will come out of the (Hell) Fire crawling, and Allah will say to him, 'Go and enter Paradise.' He will go to it, but he will imagine that it had been filled, and then he will return and say, 'O Lord, I have found it full.' Allah will say, 'Go and enter Paradise, and you will have what equals the world and ten times as much (or, you will have as much as ten times the like of the world).' On that, the man will say, 'Do you mock at me (or laugh at me) though You are the King?" I saw Allah's Apostle (while saying that) smiling that his premolar teeth became visible. It is said that will be the lowest in degree amongst the people of Paradise. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, #575]

25. An entertaining donkey at the Prophet's service?

Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab: During the lifetime of the Prophet there was a man called 'Abdullah whose nickname was Donkey, and he used to make Allah's Apostle laugh. The Prophet lashed him because of drinking (alcohol). And one-day he was brought to the Prophet on the same charge and was lashed. On that, a man among the people said, "O Allah, curse him ! How frequently he has been brought (to the Prophet on such a charge)!" The Prophet said, "Do not curse him, for by Allah, I know for he loves Allah and His Apostle." [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, #771]

26. A Wholesome joke!

Awf b. Malik al-Ashja'(note: he was a rather robust person) said: I came to the Apostle of Allah at the expedition to Tabuk when he was in a SMALL skin tent. I gave him a salutation and he returned it, saying: Come in. I asked: The whole of me, Apostle of Allah? He replied: The whole of you. So I entered. [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #4982]

27. Prophetic fun - What am I saying?

Anas said: A man came to the Prophet and said: Apostle of Allah! give me a mount. The Prophet said: We shall give you a she-camel's child to ride on. He said: What shall I do with a she-camel's child? The Prophet replied: Do any others than she-camels give birth to camels? [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #4980]

28. "Two ears" address!

Anas said: The Prophet addressed me as: O you with the two ears! [Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 3, #4984]

29. Prophet's GLASSY talk!

Narrated Anas bin Malik : The Prophet came to some of his wives among whom there was Um Sulaim, and said, "May Allah be merciful to you, O Camel-driver! Drive the camels slowly, as they are carrying glass vessels (comparing women due to their tenderness and vulnerability)!" Abu Qalaba said, "The Prophet said a sentence which, had anyone of you said it, you would have admonished him for it." [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, #170] [Of course, not every one has a sense of humor!]

30. The Prophet's DUSTY talk!

Narrated Sahl bin Sa'd: There was no name dearer to Ali than his nickname Abu Turab (the father of dust). He used to feel happy whenever he was called by this name. Once Allah's Apostle came to the house of Fatima but did not find Ali in the house. So he asked, "Where is your cousin?" She replied, "There was something (a quarrel) between me and him whereupon he got angry with me and went out without having a midday nap in my house." Allah's Apostle asked a person to look for him. That person came, and said, "O Allah's Apostle! He is sleeping in the mosque." So Allah's Apostle went there and found him lying. His upper body cover had fallen off to one side of his body and so he was covered with DUST. Allah's Apostle started cleaning the dust from him, saying, "Get up, O Abu Turab! Get up, Abu Turab!" [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, #297]

31. Brotherly exchange of words!

Narrated 'Uqba bin Al-Harith: I saw Abu Bakr carrying Al-Hasan and saying, "Let my father be sacrificed for you; you resemble the Prophet and not 'Ali," while 'Ali was laughing at this. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, 93]

32. The tale of a wonderful host!

Narrated Abu Huraira: A man came to the Prophet. The Prophet sent a messenger to his wives (to bring something for that man to eat) but they said that they had nothing except water. Then Allah's Apostle said, "Who will take this (person) or entertain him as a guest?" An Ansar man said, "I." So he took him to his wife and said to her, "Entertain generously the guest of Allah's Apostle " She said, "We have got nothing except the meals of my children." He said, "Prepare your meal, light your lamp and let your children sleep if they ask for supper." So she prepared her meal, lighted her lamp and made her children sleep, and then stood up pretending to mend her lamp, but she put it off. Then both of them pretended to be eating, but they really went to bed hungry. In the morning the Ansari went to Allah's Apostle who said, "Tonight Allah laughed or wondered at your action." Then Allah revealed "But give them (emigrants) preference over themselves even though they were in need of that And whosoever is saved from the covetousness Such are they who will be successful." (59.9) [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 5. #142]

NOW, assuming that laugh and sense of humor go together, does even Allah have a sense of humor? He is going to laugh or is He going to have the last laugh? Allah is going to laugh? Come on now! A blasphemous statement? Don't take my word for it; read the next Hadith yourself!

33. Does Allah have a sense of humor?

Narrated Abu Huraira: The people said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?" He replied, "Do you have any doubt in seeing the full moon on a clear (not cloudy) night?" They replied, "No, O Allah's Apostle!" He said, "Do you have any doubt in seeing the sun when there are no clouds?" They replied in the negative. He said, "You will see Allah (your Lord) in the same way. On the Day of Resurrection, people will be gathered and He will order the people to follow what they used to worship. So some of them will follow the sun, some will follow the moon, and some will follow other deities; and only this nation (Muslims) will be left with its hypocrites. Allah will come to them and say, 'I am Your Lord.' They will say, 'We shall stay in this place till our Lord comes to us and when our Lord will come, we will recognize Him. Then Allah will come to them again and say, 'I am your Lord.' They will say, 'You are our Lord.' Allah will call them, and As-Sirat (a bridge) will be laid across Hell and I (Muhammad) shall be the first amongst the Apostles to cross it with my followers. Nobody except the Apostles will then be able to speak and they will be saying then, 'O Allah! Save us. O Allah Save us.'

There will be hooks like the thorns of Sa'dan in Hell. Have you seen the thorns of Sa'dan?" The people said, "Yes." He said, "These hooks will be like the thorns of Sa'dan but nobody except Allah knows their greatness in size and these will entangle the people according to their deeds; some of them will fall and stay in Hell forever; others will receive punishment (torn into small pieces) and will get out of Hell, till when Allah intends mercy on whomever He likes amongst the people of Hell, He will order the angels to take out of Hell those who worshipped none but Him alone. The angels will take them out by recognizing them from the traces of prostrations, for Allah has forbidden the (Hell) fire to eat away those traces. So they will come out of the Fire, it will eat away from the whole of the human body except the marks of the prostrations.

At that time they will come out of the Fire as mere skeletons. The Water of Life will be poured on them and as a result they will grow like the seeds growing on the bank of flowing water. Then when Allah had finished from the Judgments amongst his creations, one man will be left between Hell and Paradise and he will be the last man from the people of Hell to enter paradise. He will be facing Hell, and will say, 'O Allah! Turn my face from the fire as its wind has dried me and its steam has burnt me.' Allah will ask him, "Will you ask for anything more in case this favor is granted to you?' He will say, "No by Your (Honor) Power!" And he will give to his Lord (Allah) what he will of the pledges and the covenants. Allah will then turn his face from the Fire. When he will face Paradise and will see its charm, he will remain quiet as long as Allah will. He then will say, 'O my Lord! Let me go to the gate of Paradise.' Allah will ask him, 'Didn't you give pledges and make covenants (to the effect) that you would not ask for anything more than what you requested at first?' He will say, 'O my Lord! Do not make me the most wretched, amongst Your creatures.' Allah will say, 'If this request is granted, will you then ask for anything else?' He will say, 'No! By Your Power! I shall not ask for anything else.' Then he will give to his Lord what He will of the pledges and the covenants.

Allah will then let him go to the gate of Paradise. On reaching then and seeing its life, charm, and pleasure, he will remain quiet as long as Allah wills and then will say, 'O my Lord ! Let me enter Paradise.' Allah will say, May Allah be merciful unto you, O son of Adam! How treacherous you are! Haven't you made covenants and given pledges that you will not ask for anything more that what you have been given?' He will say, 'O my Lord! Do not make me the most wretched amongst Your creatures.' So Allah will laugh and allow him to enter Paradise and will ask him to request as much as he likes. He will do so till all his desires have been fulfilled . Then Allah will say, 'Request more of such and such things.' Allah will remind him and when all his desires and wishes; have been fulfilled, Allah will say "All this is granted to you and a similar amount besides." Abu Said Al-Khudri, said to Abu Huraira, 'Allah's Apostle said, "Allah said, 'That is for you and ten times more like it.' "Abu Huraira said, "I do not remember from Allah's Apostle except (his saying), 'All this is granted to you and a similar amount besides." Abu Sahd said, "I heard him saying, 'That is for you and ten times more the like of it." [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, #770] 


Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq is currently the Head of Centre for Islamic Finance at Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF). He can be reached at


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