Manners of Laughing

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What is the manners of laughing in islam? What is etiquette laughter in islam?

“Do not laugh too much! Because laughing too much kills the heart.” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 2)

Laughing is usually a way of reflecting inner happiness, tranquility, and esthetic feelings. Laughing when it is appropriate is a natural and positive attribute. What is not natural is not to laugh when it is necessary or to exaggerate laughing and not to be able to control it. In other words, laughing when it is necessary and as much as it is needed is very important for proper manners. It is necessary for us to look into the practice of our excellent Exemplar, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), in order to learn the balance in this matter. It is narrated by Aisha (r.anha):

“I never saw Allah’s Apostle laughing loudly enough to enable me to see his uvula, but he used to smile only.” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 46/2)

Jarir b. Abdullah (r.a.) narrated: “The Prophet did not screen himself from me (had never prevented me from entering upon him) since I embraced Islam, and whenever he saw me, he would receive me with a smile.” (Bukhari, Adab, 68)

Another report narrated by Abdullah b. Harith (r.a.) is as follows: “I have never seen a person smile more than the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 10)

As it is deduced from these narrations, the Prophet (pbuh) often had a smiling face. In other words, he would not usually show his grief even during his most troubled times and so did not sadden those around him. When he met with someone he loved, his smiling and happiness would double.

On the other hand, there are some reports that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sometimes smiled so much that his uvula could be seen.

For instance according to a narration by Aisha, mother of the believers, the people complained to the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) of the lack of rain, so he gave an order for a pulpit. It was then set up for him in the place of prayer. He then gave a short sermon and prayed to Allah for rain. Allah then produced a cloud, and the storm of thunder and lightning came on. Then the rain fell by Allah’s permission, and before he reached his mosque streams were flowing. When he saw the speed with which the people were seeking shelter, he (pbuh) smiled till his back teeth were visible. (Abu Dawud, Istisqa, 2)

Abu Dharr (r.a.) reported that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:

“I know the last of the inhabitants of Paradise to enter it and the last of the inhabitants of Hell to come out of 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 a day you did so and so and on such and such a 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 say: My Lord! I have done things I do not see here.

I, indeed, saw the Messenger of Allah laughed till his front teeth were exposed. (Muslim, Iman, 314)

We see that Allah’s Apostle laughed in another incident narrated by Abdullah b. Mas’ud (r.a.): Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:

“I recognize the last of the inhabitants of Fire to be taken out thereof. A man will come out of it crawling. It will be said to him:

“Go and enter Paradise. He would go there to enter Paradise, but would find persons who have already occupied all its apartments. It would be said to him:

“Do you recall the time when you were in the Hell? He would say:

“Yes. It would be said to him: Express any desire. And he would express the desire. It would be said to him:

“For you are that which you desired and ten times of the world. Then the man would say:

“Dear Lord! Are You making a fun of me, though You are the King?”

I saw the Messenger of Allah laughed till his front teeth were visible.(Muslim, Iman, 308; Tirmidhi, Jahannam, 10)

What we understand from the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) is that we need to have a smiling face. It is also obvious that laughing is natural before a pleasing behavior or a joyful incident; however to exaggerate laughing and to make and attend programs such as stand up comedy shows to laugh for hours are not appropriate behaviors. Because laughing too much is not a sign of humorousness, being funny, or having a smiling face but being unaware of Allah the Almighty. Indeed the Prophet (pbuh) said in this respect:

“Do not laugh too much! Because laughing too much kills the heart.” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 2) Thus, he attracted our attention to this reality. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) even recommended us to prefer crying over laughing by saying that “If you but knew what I know then you would have laughed little and wept much.” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 5/12) Exaggerated laughing is the result of unawareness of the Greatness of Allah. This is why Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an:

“Then let them laugh a little: they will weep much, as the reward of what they used to earn.” (al-Tawba 9; 82)

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

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