Refrain from laughter

News from Malaysia:

An Islamic mufti has warned Malaysian comedians against telling jokes that cause excessive laughter. According to the mufti, Islam urges emotional moderation and refrain from excessive laughter, crying, or other emotional expressions.

How hellish. I can honestly not think of anything more calculated to make life grim. Maybe a rule that all food should be devoid of flavor, or a rule that sex should be like doing sit-ups, but other than that…nothing. “Excessive” laughter is a great thing, and that which causes it is a great thing. (Ok not if you’re one of those horrible people who laugh when someone falls.) If Islam urges emotional moderation then Islam is badly wrong. I’ve always disagreed with the Stoics about this, too.

Islamic law is largely based on the hadiths, which are the written narratives of Mohammad and his early follower’s lives, and Sunnah, which refers to the life and example set by the Prophet Mohammad.

The ban against excessive laughter appears to come from a statement made by Mohammad stating: “Do not laugh too much, for excessive laughter kills the heart [spiritually].”

Because it’s impure, right? Purity is being calm and dull and stable. The hell with that.


  1. karmacat says

    Someone has way too much time on his hands. Unfortunately, there are people who will listen to this Mufti

  2. Jenora Feuer says

    Anybody else having flashbacks to ‘The Name of the Rose’? (The movie, at least. I’ll admit to not having read the book yet.)

  3. says

    Philosophical documents on laughter, religious statements and mandates forbidding laughter–all these provide instructions on how and when and how hard to laugh. They designate the proper attitude one should take toward laughter, because laughter is our last “sense” to capitulate to authority…

    … Imagine, then, being firmly seated in a position of authority and knowing that at any second the power to control and direct could be cut short by the lowliest peon–not with a Molotov cocktail or an Uzi automatic, but with riotous laughter…

    (Barry Sanders, from Sudden Glory: Laughter as Subversive History.)

    … I figure it should be entirely unsurprising, whenever ‘prophets’ or the authorities who try to reuse their creed to cement their own power attempt to forbid laughter. Read the work of the former, and you have to figure that was the first reaction of much of the audience; initially, at least, they have hope it works out, and they get enough people to buy the line together to get a certain critical mass going. But ongoing laughter no doubt worries them, even once this is achieved. And the ‘prophet’ and their first followers, if still alive, I figure, are likely to remember this reaction bitterly. It takes them back to a very different world, when they had to be far humbler in their demands.

    Religions prefer, I figure, therefore, generally to control it. Probably the only reason more of them don’t attempt so clumsily to ban it outright is this is a just a little too obvious. More subtle dissuasion will, however, do within communities, at least, once the creed is dominant enough. The rituals shall encourage a hushed, reverent attitude, or, if you are to smile, or perhaps holler or sing hallelujahs, it is to be done in a beatific, transcendent fashion. ‘Joyful’ may be okay. Leafing through the canon and cackling uproariously generally less so.

  4. says

    Define “excessive”, mufti. Because I was in pain from laughing too much at one comedy show I attended. Is that what you’re telling us, mufti? Did improv cause you pain too?

  5. John Horstman says

    How hellish. I can honestly not think of anything more calculated to make life grim. Maybe a rule that all food should be devoid of flavor, or a rule that sex should be like doing sit-ups, but other than that…nothing.

    Are you intentionally referencing things that our Republicans are trying to do?
    Regarding food:

    The law would restrict access to a whole range of commonplace ingredients. Some of the things that would be harder to buy for poor families who cook include “herbs, spices, or seasonings,” all nuts, red and yellow potatoes, smoothies, spaghetti sauce, “soups, salsas, ketchup,” sauerkraut, pickles, dried beans sold in bulk, and white or albacore tuna. (Cans of “light tuna” are allowed under the rules.)

    Emphasis mine.
    Regarding sex: plenty of attacks on abortion and contraception, and also the following.

    But parts of the Bible Belt still have so-called “obscene device” laws, including Alabama (where the sale of sex toys was outlawed in 1998 and Christian fundamentalists continue to defend that law). Texas had a ban on the sale of sex toys, but it was rendered unenforceable when a 5th Circuit ruling declared the law unconstitutional in 2008. In Sandy Springs, Georgia, a city ordinance has stated, in effect, that one needs a doctor’s prescription to acquire a sex toy.

  6. Helene says

    Emotional moderation in all things. Except anger, of course. Anger is fine. And killing.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    I like to imagine Zakaria rebuking members of Boko Haram or ISIS for enjoying themselves too much at a massacre.

  8. Omar Puhleez says

    Do not laugh too much, for excessive laughter kills the heart …

    So apparently said Mohammad. (PBUH)
    There have been some occasions when I have been laughing so much I have had tears running down my face. Re some situations I have been in, I only have to think of one and it all starts again. If I am driving I just have to pull over and wait till the tears stop flowing.
    At the end of any such laughing session, I always feel renewed, regenerated, refurbished and reconnected.
    Being guided by the Prophet (PBUH), I can only say that my heart must have died a thousand times only to be reborn, regenerated, reconditioned and reinvigorated.
    But I can understand a preacher like Mohammad (PBUH) not wanting his congregation to laugh. Because how would he keep them from crossing the line? How could he be sure they were all laughing with him, and none of them laughing at him?
    (PBUH anyway.)

  9. =8)-DX says

    All I have to say to that, is: “Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!”


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