When it comes to the topic of April Fools Day, the first thing I ask myself, why would one begin a month with lying to people? The aim of this month’s article is to act on the hadith related by Muslim: ‘The religion is good advice’ where it will entail the origins of April fool’s day and why Muslims are prohibited to celebrate it in Islam. Every article written for me by me first and foremost before you.
The Origins of April Fool’s Day
There are many theories that exist in regards to the origins of April Fool’s Day. One of the sources suggests that the ancient cultures celebrated New Year’s Day on the 1st of April. In 1582, a Pope by the name of Gregory XIII requested a new calendar which today is called the Gregorian Calendar to replace the previous Julian Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar consisted of rearrangement of the months and transferred the New Year’s Day to 1st January. However, in other countries in Europe, such as France, many people rejected this idea of changing the date of New Years day whilst others were not aware of the changes made. Thus, they continued to celebrate it on the 1st April. They were mocked, sent on fool’s errands and were tricked into believing something false.
The French termed this day as ‘Poisson d’Avril’ which translates as ‘April Fish’. Many French children occassionally stuck an image of a fish on the back of their friends and cried when they were caught.
Another historical source suggests that April Fools corresponds to the Hindu festival of Holi. The celebration takes place in March and originally lasted for 5 days. However, today, it is celebrated within a space of two days. The first day, bonfires are lit whereas the second day coloured powder and/or water is thrown over each other. In relation to the story of Holi, a prince called Prahlad worshipped Vishnu; whom Hindus believe is the supreme God. Prince Prahlad was persecuted by the demoness Holika; where the name Holi is derived from who tried to kill Prince Prahlad with bonfires. However, despite being immune to fire she consumed all the flames and Prince Prahlad was not hurt. Thus it is a celebration of defeating evil.
Other sources revealed that it was related to the fall of the Muslim empire in Spain specifically Granada. The Christian armies wanted to get rid of the Muslims. They setup a cunning plan where they told the Muslims who resided there that they could leave their homes and sail away safely and peacefully in ships that resided on the quayside. The Muslims did not believe at first and wanted to check the ships to make sure everything was okay. When they were satisfied they made preparations to leave. However, on the 1st of April, the Christian armies fired their homes and the ships and killed all the Muslims including women and children. Thus, according to this source, it is celebrated on this day in Spain and other countries for their success.
Looking at the above theories, celebrating this day has no basis in Islam. Why I say that? Hmm. Islam is clear and Allah (God) subhanahu wa taala has given us the Quran and Sunnah as our guide. We should not ‘adhere’ or ‘adapt’ ourselves into things we know is not mentioned there; just because we live in a particular place such as the West. It is not about ‘being strict’. It is about using our initiative and asking ourselves; is it worth doing something we know it is not right? For Allah subhanahu wa taala says in the Glorious Quran:
“And whosoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follow other than the believers way, We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in the hell -what an evil destination (4 : 115)
As our Beloved Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam said:
‘Whoever imitates a people is one of them’
So why is tricking people considered wrong?
Tricking people into believing something that is false is lying. Simple. Lying is one of the worst sins in Islam and comes under the category of ‘major’. When one is telling the truth, he is doing something that Allah subhanahu wa taala will be pleased with. However when one person lies, Allah becomes angry. This can be stressed in the following hadith:
Three (are the persons) with whom Allah would neither speak nor would He absolve them on the Day of Resurrection: the aged adulterer, the king who lies and the proud beggar.
Islam has taught mankind to be honest and not lie where Allah subhanahu wa taala says in the Quran:
“Truly, Allah guides not him who is a liar, and a disbeliever.” [Surah-Zumar 39:3]
Ibn Mas’ud radi allahu anhu narrated from the Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam said: “Truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man keeps on telling the truth until he is written with Allah as Siddiq (a truthful person). Kadhib (lying) leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to hell-fire. A man keeps on telling lies until he is written with Allah as a liar.”
Okay, does that mean joking is prohibited?
No. A man said to Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah (may Allah be pleased with him), “Joking is not right, it is to be denounced.” He replied, “Rather it is Sunnah, but only for those who know how to do it and do it at the appropriate time.”
Thus it is about stricking a balance for as an ummah we need to unite to increase the love between us and have fun, but we should also focus on our purpose in life for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If you knew what I know, you would laugh little and weep much.”
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked, “Did the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) laugh?” He said, “Yes, and the faith in their hearts was like mountains.”
Okay, so how would I know if my joke is permissible?
Here are the top 6 questions to ask yourself wrapped up with evidence from the Quran and Sunnah.
Quran says: “If you ask them (about this), they declare: ‘We were only talking idly and joking.’ Say: ‘Was it at Allaah, and His Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger that you were mocking?’Make no excuse; you disbelieved after you had believed” [al-Tawbah 9:65-66]
This is also linked to making fun of some Sunnahs such as wearing the beard, hijab, shortening of one’s garments; for Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen said in al-Majmoo’ al-Thameen, 1/63:
“The matters of Divine Lordship, Prophethood, Revelation and religion are sacred matters which are to be venerated. It is not permissible for anyone to show disrespect towards them, whether by mocking them to make others laugh or to poke fun at them. If anyone does that, he is a kaafir, because this is indicative of his disrespect towards Allaah and His Messengers, Books and Laws. Whoever does that has to repent to Allaah for what he has done, because that is a kind of hypocrisy. So he has to repent to Allaah, seek His forgiveness, mend his ways and develop fear of Allaah, veneration towards Him and love for Him in his heart. And Allaah is the Source of strength.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Woe to the one who tells lies to make people laugh, woe to him.” [Narrated by Abu Dawood]
It was narrated that Abu Layla said: “The companions of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that they were travelling with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and a man among them fell asleep. Some of them got a rope and tied him up, and he got scared. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.’” [Narrated by Abu Dawood].
Quran: “O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it to insult one’s brother after having Faith” [al-Hujuraat 49:11]
According to Ibn Katheer, this means that when someone is looking down/belittling or making fun of them. It is haram and is one of of the characteristics of the hypocrites.
Hadith in relation to mocking: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Do not express malicious joy towards your brother’s misfortune, for Allaah may have mercy on him and you may be stricken by the thing you made fun of.” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi].
Hadith in relation to remarks: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Muslim is the brother of another Muslim, he does not wrong him, let him down or look down upon him. Taqwa (piety, awareness and fear of Allaah) is here” – and he pointed to his chest three times – “It is sufficient evil for a man to look down upon his Muslim brother. Every Muslim is sacred to another Muslim, his blood, his property and his honour.” [Narrated by Muslim]
Hadith in relation to backbiting: Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “[Backbiting is] your mentioning about your brother something that he dislikes.” [Narrated by Muslim]
Joking too much opposes the serious nature of the characteristic of the believers.
Imaam al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The kind of joking which is forbidden is that which is excessive and persistent, for it leads to too much laughter and hardening of the heart, it distracts from remembrance of Allaah, and it often leads to hurt feelings, generates hatred and causes people to lose respect and dignity. But whoever is safe from such dangers, then that which the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do is permissible for him.”
Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas said: “Set a limit to your jokes, for going to extremes makes you lose respect and incites the foolish against you.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not laugh too much, for laughing too much deadens the heart.” [Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7312]
“O Allah! Show us the truth as truth so that we may follow it, and show us falsehood as falsehood, so that we may abstain from it.” Ameen.