Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Are Muslims allowed to prank one another?
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
What is a Prank?
The definition of a prank is a practical joke or mischievous act. The world of pranks is boundless. Practical jokes range from the innocent prank with good intentions to bring someone into a group to malicious exclusion, bullying, and total humiliation. Other pranks include wasting food, such as filling an Oreo cookie with toothpaste, to spreading najasa (filth), such as putting cling wrap on a toilet seat.
A Muslim’s Behavioral Expectations
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales. Do not look for the fault of other people. Do not spy on one another, and do not practice Najsh (to offer a high price for something to allure another customer who is interested in the thing). Do not be jealous, and do not nurse enmity against one another. Do not sever ties with one another. Become the obedient worshippers of Allah Most High, and be brothers to one another as He commanded. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He should neither oppress him nor humiliate him. Godfearingness is here! Godfearingness is here!” He pointed towards his chest. “it is sufficiently evil for a Muslim to look down upon his Muslim brother. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith: his blood, wealth, and honor. Verily, Allah does not look to your bodies or faces, but He looks to your hearts and deeds.” [Muslim]
We understand from the above hadith that Muslims should be good to each other and treat one another in the way they would like to receive treatment. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) joked and had fun with his Companions without hurting anyone’s feelings, belittling them, or lying. See the links below for examples.
The Reward for Not Lying While Joking
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “guarantee a house in the surroundings of Paradise for a man who avoids quarreling even if he were in the right, a house in the middle of Paradise for a man who avoids lying even if he were joking, and a house in the upper part of Paradise for a man who made his character good.” [Abu Dawud]
Unfortunately, the basis of every prank is to catch someone off guard, laugh at them, or worse, play on their dislikes or weaknesses. Having been a victim of pranks myself, I can tell you that a joke inevitably humiliates one or at least brings about a feeling of vindictiveness in the victim who wants revenge. The cycle can go on forever. No matter how good one’s intention is or how bravely one puts on a smile, deep down, it hurts and embarrasses one.
Instead of Pranking, Befriend and Love Each Other
A Muslim’s top priority in life is to please Allah and color all of his actions to make them last for eternity. Disgracing a Muslim is quite the opposite of this aim and, frankly, doesn’t make the believers beloved to each other. Even if one’s intention is good, such as pranking one to bring him into a group, one should instead follow the Prophetic advice, may Allah bless him and give him peace. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “give gifts, and you will love one another.” [Al-Albani]
In conclusion, pulling pranks is not of the sunnah at all, nor befitting of a Muslim’ssbehavior with his brother, for it directly contradicts the command of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as seen above. Similarly, my father always told me that the best jokes were jokes that were not made at another’s expense. I have found this to be following the highest of refined character.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.