Islamic Sufism Spirituality

a Humorous part of Prophet Muhammad PBUH personality

Posted on: June 28, 2008

When people mention the Prophet (peace be upon him) they tend to think that he was always very serious and that he never spoke in jest or laughed at a joke. They hardly expect him to speak to someone jokingly or to act merrily. Yet the Prophet was relaxed, happy, and liked to spread a feeling of ease and happiness among his community. He also appreciated a funny remark.

Abu Hurayrah reports: “The Prophet was speaking to some people and a Bedouin was present. He mentioned that a man from among the dwellers of heaven asks God’s permission to plant (an area in heaven). The Lord asks him: ‘Are you not having everything you want?’ The man says: ‘Yes, indeed. But I do like to plant.’ As he plants, little time passes before it all shoots out, gets ripe, is harvested and then packed in heaps as big as mountains. God says: ‘You, human being! Take all this, as nothing will satisfy you.’ The Bedouin said: ‘Messenger of God! This man making this request must be from the Quraysh or from the Ansar. They are the people who plant, while we Bedouins do not.’ The Prophet smiled.”

The Prophet’s smile was because the Bedouin wanted to dissociate himself from a man in heaven wishing to plant an area of it when he has all that he wished for. The denial takes a logical pattern with the Bedouin disclaiming any relation to such a person who wishes to do in heaven what he used to do on earth. Since Bedouins do not plant anything, moving from place to place, it would be unlikely that any one of them should make such a request in heaven. Hence, he said to the Prophet that the man must belong to the Quraysh or to the Ansar, both of whom were settled people in their cities. They were the ones who had their cultivation and may wish to have it in heaven. This intelligent comment brought a smile to the Prophet’s face.

Anas ibn Malik reports: “A man asked the Prophet to give him a mount. The Prophet said to him: ‘I will give you a she-camel’s son.’ The man said: ‘What use do I have for a she-camel’s son?’ The Prophet said: ‘What camel is not born to a she-camel?’” (Related by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad). Here we see the Prophet making a joke, as he tells the man who requests a mount that he would give him a she-camel’s son. The man takes it literally and thinks that the Prophet is giving him only a young camel that is not fit to travel any distance carrying a man on his back. But the Prophet explains that every camel is the son of a she-camel.

The Prophet even made practical jokes. Anas ibn Malik reports: “A Bedouin called Zahir ibn Haram used to visit the Prophet bringing him gifts from his desert area. When he was about to leave, the Prophet would give him a good supply. The Prophet once commented: ‘Zahir is our man from the desert and we are his urban people.’ The Prophet loved him, but Zahir was rather ugly in appearance. One day the Prophet came on him as he was selling his stuff. The Prophet 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. He tried his best not to press his back against the Prophet’s chest. The Prophet said loudly: ‘Who will buy this slave?’ Zahir said: ‘Messenger of God! You will find me unsaleable.’ The Prophet 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).

Because of the high position the Prophet has in our hearts we can hardly imagine him making a practical joke like anyone of us could make with his friends. Yet here we see the Prophet doing what we would do, coming on someone from behind, taking him with both hands to make him unable to move. The man did what is normal in such a situation demanding his release and trying to find out who is playing a joke on him. But when he recognizes the Prophet he does not want to make any move that may cause any inconvenience to the Prophet. The Prophet carries the matter further and says jokingly that he is selling the man as a slave. Here we should note that the Prophet always said the truth, even when he joked. In this instance he meant that Zahir was God’s slave, or servant. Zahir responded to the Prophet’s joke and said that he would not fetch a high price, perhaps referring to his ugly looks. But the Prophet reassures him that his position with God is a good one.

On another occasion the Prophet joked with an old woman who asked him to pray for her to be admitted into heaven. The Prophet said: ‘No old woman will ever enter heaven.’ The woman turned away crying. The Prophet said to those nearby: ‘Tell her that no woman goes into heaven as an old woman.’ He then read the Qur’anic verses: ‘We shall have brought them into being in a life renewed, having resurrected them as virgins.’ (56: 35-36)

We need to remember that whenever the Prophet joked, he always said the truth. Never did the Prophet say a lie in earnest or in jest. When this old woman requested him to pray for her that she would be in heaven, he jokingly said to her that old women do not go into heaven. The woman thought that because she was old, she would never be in heaven. That was something to cause her to cry. But the Prophet did not wish to leave the woman in distress. He sent after her someone to tell her that his statement meant that no woman advanced in years would enter heaven in that condition. She would be resurrected in her prime of youth and enter heaven as a youth in her prime.

Ahmad reported that ‘A’ishah said: “I went out with the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) on a journey. At that time I was a young girl and was quite slender. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) 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.”‘

Joking to reform the companions:

Khawwaat Ibn Jubayr Al-Ansaari was sitting with some women from the tribe of Banu Ka’b on the road leading to Makkah, listening to their talk. The Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) came across him there and asked him: “O Abu Abdullaah, what are you doing sitting with these ladies?” He replied: “I lost my camel and came looking for it” (as a false excuse). The Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) left him and went to take care of some affairs. After a while he (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) returned and teased him saying: “O Abu Abdullaah, has your camel given up running away from you yet?” Khawwaat said: I was embarrassed and kept silent, and was avoiding him after that (because the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) realised that Khawwaat was just trying to justify his sitting with the women), until we went back to Madeenah when he saw me in the Masjid while I was praying, so he (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) sat down next to me waiting for me to finish my prayer. Due to this, I prolonged my prayer, he (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Don’t prolong your prayer as I awaiting for you.” So I finished my prayer, then he said teasing me again: “O Abu Abdullaah, has your camel given up running away from you yet?” I was embarrassed and kept silent, so he stood up and left and I kept avoiding him until one day he (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) saw me while he was riding his donkey and said: “O Abu Abdullaah, has your camel given up running away from you yet?” So I replied: “I swear by Him Who sent you with the truth, my camel has never run away from me since I became a Muslim!” (i.e., confessing to his sin which the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) was trying to teach him to do by his joke) so the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar, O Allaah, guide Abu Abdullaah.” After this, Khawwaat Ibn Jubayr Al-Ansaari became a much better Muslim.


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