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Malaysia: Islamic leader warns comedians not to make people laugh

Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria claims excessive laughter is “haram” or forbidden according to Islamic law. A mufti is an Islamic scholar trained to interpret and expound Islamic law.

According to Zakaria, Muslims are allowed to laugh, but not in excess. In other words, a chuckle is okay, but a prolonged, out-loud laugh could be considered haram.

Zakaria’s statements come after the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) issued guidelines stating that jokes told by comedians should be moderate and not cause excessive laughter. Zakaria supports Jakim and believes the guidelines are in line with Islamic law.

Zakaria also recently made waves for stating that there is no such thing as rape in marriage, and that wives must have sex with their husband.

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].”

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Islam also forbids slanderous statements and to speak “what is good, or remain silent.” Given that comedians often make people laugh at the expense of others, Muslim comedians could quickly find themselves in violation of Malaysia’s Syariah (Sharia) laws.

All Muslim Malaysians are required to follow both national laws, and Islamic-based Shariah laws. Sharia laws do not apply to non-Muslims, who are allowed to laugh to their heart’s content at comedy shows.

To be clear, Jakim has issued guidelines, not laws, and the implementation of Sharia law is left to Syariah courts, which are controlled by state governments and the royal family that heads each state.

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