It’s among the most traumatic experiences that some Muslims can have. Yet so many of us go through it: in this day and age, there’s a high likelihood that you, or someone you know, could be exposed to someone who is making jokes about your religion.
When this happens, it’s important to remember to remain calm, first and foremost. For one thing, Allah is very busy and it’s possible that He may not even have heard what was being said about His religion, so there is probably no need to panic.
But even if Allah DID hear the jokes, remember that He’s got lots of ways of dealing with people like that. He could totally start messing with the life of the person who was making the jokes. For example, Allah could:
- Make the person lose their job
- Start putting homosexual feelings in their brains so they feel all conflicted about their sexuality and gender identity
- Fix it so all their houseplants start dying mysteriously
- Depress the ratings of all their favorite TV serial dramas so that they get cancelled before resolving the plot
In other words, Allah’s got a lot of tools in His toolkit. And if even if He can’t teach them their lesson in this life, he can always send them to Hell in the Eternal Life after this. So the point is, if someone is making jokes about Islam, there’s no reason to feel you are losing control over the situation.
Instead, here’s what you can do:
- Think about what they’re saying and why they’re saying it. Many sects of Islam are aberrations from the one true Islam that Allah made for you in the Qur’an, and it’s possible they are just making fun of one of the deviant sects in order to drive people back to the true Islam.
- If you think they need to be told, maybe tell them in a respectful way why you are offended, or maybe even make a clever joke back at them that is good-natured.
- You could always just walk away and leave them alone. Though this is a bit of a gray area in Islam, some scholars believe that it is okay to let people express their opinions, that it is simply a matter between them and Allah. You could simply ignore the people that are saying things you don’t like, and if they are really misguided, pray that Allah guides them.
- Remember the several hadith that show how the Prophet (peace be upon him) would tolerate insults (note: definitely ignore weak hadith like the story of Asma bint Marwan). Instead, think about the stories in which the Prophet would exercise restraint.
- Remember that in the Muslim world today, freedom of speech is no laughing matter. Of course, nobody wants to criticize people’s religion, everyone has a right to believe what they want. But sadly, in the Muslim world, Islam is actually used to silence people who also want to believe what they want. Believe it or not, people get put in jail or even killed, just for saying the wrong things about Islam. “Joking” about problems like this is seen by some to be one of the most effective ways to challenge them. It’s about fighting for freedom for all people- Muslims included- to practice their religion the way they want, without being told what they can and cannot do, say, or believe.
Following the above guidelines will help, but it’s still possible to make mistakes. Here are some ways to tell quickly if you’ve gone off track:
- If you find yourself using the words “fuck,” “bitch,” “sisterfucker,” “pussy,” “ass-rape,” or any one of a number of other similar terms (except in very rare cases), you have probably taken your argument in the wrong direction.
- If you find yourself speaking about the other person’s mother in a derogatory way; casting irrelevant aspersions on their potential homosexual impulses; or implying that they suffer from a serious medical condition in a way that insults people who really have that condition, you may have also chosen a questionable avenue of attack.
- If you find yourself feeling, in your gut, a deep feeling of anger and hatred, coupled with the knowledge that you would do anything, including lying about or ignoring simple facts, in order to humiliate or shut the other person up, then this may not be the best approach to the discussion.
- If you find yourself plotting to murder the person making the jokes, you probably taken things too far. This is not common of course, but it is unfortunately common enough where it needs to be mentioned.
“But They Are Saying Lies About Islam!”
This is perhaps one of the most challenging issues to deal with in this genre of discourse. Many times, the jokes people will be making may sound “untrue” to you. Sometimes, the jokes ARE untrue, or at the very least, perhaps based on untruth or exaggeration. When this happens, it is important to remember that maybe these people may simply have been given misinformation. Or perhaps you yourself are basing your assumptions on misinformation. Keep a cool head- even when people are saying lies about Islam.
Of course, many millions of Muslims are wonderful people who are more than aware of these tips and tricks, and who employ them seamlessly in their daily interactions. Millions of Muslims are made into positive people by Islam, and they are either not affected by jokes about their faith, or at worst are only mildly annoyed or briefly disgusted by them, and move on. They put up with the these jokes they find distasteful, just like millions of non-Muslims have to put up with Muslims who talk about their religion being the “only one that’s true, while all others are false.”
But for those Muslims who still struggle with this problem of reacting appropriately when jokes are made about their religion, we hope these guidelines will come in handy. Good luck!