Shaykh Saalih al-Fowzaan: Comedy, Jokes and Humor in Da’wah

After recognizing the many serious statements of disbelief found in the teachings of Yusuf Estes over the last ten years, it is also important to be aware of his corrupt approach to giving da’wah (inviting others to Islam), as an inappropriate approach could only lead to further corruption of the message itself.

As Yusuf Estes is well known for his comedy routines that he believes are an essential part of his da’wah work, Muslims need to know clearly that while honest humor (in its place) is permissible in Islam, it was not the method of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace) when inviting people to Islam or offering religious reminders.

While the scholars of Islam warn against resorting to comedy in da’wah and remind us to be serious when inviting people to Islam and reminding our Muslim brothers and sisters about their Religion, Yusuf Estes, on the other hand, claims that humor is necessary for him in his da’wah because, as he understands:

  • It allows him to know the level of English fluency of his audiences.
  • It helps to soften people up before he gives them “the medicine”. (He believes he is similar to a doctor administering medicine to correct people’s Islam.)
  • Today’s audiences are so used to watching TV, without humor they will not attend.
  • The audiences might insult Islam if they are not entertained well enough.

Source: This YouTube video (from his Malaysian 2008 tour)

Let us now turn to one of the scholars of Islam as he explains the proper methodology of giving da’wah.  Here is Shaykh Saalih al-Fowzaan (may Allah preserve him) on this important issue:

Question:

May Allah give you good, the questioner says: Is it from the means of da’wah to utilize comedy and making people laugh in order to capture their hearts towards the religion? What is the correct method? May Allah reward you with good.

Shaykh Saalih al-Fowzaan’s Answer:

Da’wah is not by way of jokes, clowning and humor. Da’wah is by the Book and the Sunnah and preaching, it is not by humor or making the people laugh or things like this. This is not from kindness. Perhaps someone will say this is from kindness. Kindness is not joking that leads to comedy. This is from the things that trivialize the status of the caller. If they see him jesting, clowning and so forth, he will diminish in their view. He will become like a comedian, he will not be a caller to Allah. He will become like an actor. These things trivialize the significance of the call and the status of the caller. The person should give da’wah in a serious manner, on the way of the Book and the Sunnah. And it does not appear in the Book and the Sunnah that comedy and joking is from da’wah to Allah the Exalted. Allah said to His Prophet:

{125} ادْعُ إِلَى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُمْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. (Soorah An-Nahl 16:125)

With wisdom, means with knowledge; and putting the affairs in their proper places. You speak to the ignorant person with that which he will understand; you speak to the learned person with that which he will understand. You address the leader in a manner which is befitting. Every person is addressed in a manner which is suitable for him. This is from wisdom.

Also wisdom is knowledge, thus do not give da’wah while you are ignorant.

And beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. Comedy is not included in this. Joking has not come as a means of da’wah. This trivializes the significance of the da’wah, and this diminishes the status of the caller; and he will become cheap in the eyes of the people, because he is shameless and distasteful. Thus we do not invent things in the da’wah that are not from its methodology.

[Answer translated by Rasheed ibn Estes Barbee – may Allah reward him well]

It should be noted that the words of Shaykh Saalih al-Fowzaan above are about truthful jokes, not lies.  As for lies told to make the people laugh, then we have a very serious warning from our Messenger (may Allah raise his rank and grant him peace):

ويل للذي يحدث فيكذب ليضحك به القوم، ويل له، ويل له

 “Woe to the one who tells lies to make the people laugh, woe to him, woe to him.” [Saheeh, Aboo Daawood #4990]

The issue becomes more complex with lying involved, a serious violation of basic Islamic manners classified as a major sin due to the language of this hadeeth.

Much of the humor of Yusuf Estes involves lies, like his common “misreading” of the first question: “Sheikh, why do you look so cute on TV?”  This does not appear on the paper, yet he reads this instead of the real question, and then says, “Oh, I must have read the question upside-down!”

Examples: [1][2][3][4][5][6] – [7] – [8] – [9]

[10] Japan (Oct. 2012)

[11] ICNA Convention (Dec. 2012)

[12] During an ‘Eed khutbah!

Did you understand the “Which side of the room did this come from” part of the joke?  This is a jestful insinuation that the men at the event might be homosexuals who are physically attracted to him!

And here is a sample of a typical comedy routine involving a series of “Joha” jokes.  After openly admitting that the stories are false events that never happened, he goes on to tell them as stories anyway: [Click here]

And here is one of the results of taking the da’wah to Islam as a big joke, the conclusion of Yusuf Estes’ da’wah tour in Malaysia (2008):

[ Click here ]

“…This diminishes the status of the caller; and he will become cheap in the eyes of the people, because he is shameless and distasteful…” – Shaykh Saalih al-Fowzaan

If you are disturbed that someone represents Islam in this way, then please make sure you have read about the kinds of deviation in basic Muslim beliefs that could lead to such a shameless and disgraceful approach to da’wah:

Yusuf Estes and the Quran (Version 2.0)

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