The Teacher's sense of Humor
it is well known that scientific subjects are of a harsh nature. they require mental and psychological attentiveness. students concentrate and utilize all their senses to absorb the scientific lessons instructed by the teacher. no matter how skillful and professional the teacher is, the minds of the students have certain capacities in receiving information. that is why it is important to incorporate humor in the class so that to avoid boredom that might arise due to the continual instruction of scientific subjects.
one of the benefits of using humor in classes from time to time is preventing weariness and tiredness. it relaxes the mind and senses after paying too much attention while listening to the teacher. humor is also good for the teacher to have some quick rest from teaching. it refreshes the mind and sharpens the senses to be able to receive more information. humor loosens the atmosphere of the class that might have been dry...etc.
imam an-nawawy said: “the condemned kind of joking is the excessive exaggerated one. too much laughing can harden the heart and keeps off doing dhikr (the rememberance of allah) and thinking in relgious duties and matters. many times it turns from joking to mocking which causes harms and grudges. it might also make the joking person look disrespectful and less in status. the kind of humour that is encouraged is what allah’s apostole (peace be upon him) used in gatherings to be smiling and kind to soften the hearts of listeners. it is a recommended sunnah (the prophet’s tradition). so, this kind of humour is what is recommended and higly needed among us.
imam ghazali says in his major work “ihyaa’ 'ulum ad-din” (the revival of religious sciences): if you can do what allah’s apostle (pbuh) and his companions did which is to joke without telling a lie or harm a heart, without exaggeration and using humor only in gatherings, then no problem with that. a great mistake is to take humor as a profession and exaggerating in telling jokes, and then the person mistakenly thinks he is following the prophets’ example.
it was reported that the prophet muhammad (pbuh) joked with his household and companions. we will mention here a number of these situations if allah wills:
- abu huraira-may allah be pleased with him- reported that they said: “messenger of allah, you make jokes with us!” he replied “except that i say nothing but the truth.” (at-tirmidhy and corrected by al albani)
- imam ahmad reported from anas- may allah be pleased with him- that there was a man from the desert people whose name was zahir. he used to bring gifts from the desert to the prophet (pbuh), and in return the prophet (pbuh) would provide him with whatever he needed when he went out to fight. the prophet (pbuh) said, "zahir is our man of the desert, and we are his town-dwellers." the prophet (pbuh) loved him very much, and he (zahir) was an ugly man. one day the prophet (pbuh) came to him whilst he was selling some goods. he embraced him from behind. the man could not see him, so he said, "let me go! who is this?" then he turned around and recognized the prophet (pbuh), so he tried to move closer to him once he knew who it was. the prophet (pbuh) started to say, "who will buy this slave?" zahir said, "o messenger of allah, you will find me unsellable." the prophet (pbuh) said, "but in the sight of allah the almighty you are not unsellable," or he said, "but in the sight of allah you are valuable." (at-tirmidhy and corrected by al albani)
- anas reported that once a man asked the prophet (pbuh) for an animal to ride. he replied that he would give him the baby of a she-camel to ride on. the man asked what he would do with a she-camel baby because of his weight. the prophet (pbuh) replied, "is there any camel which is not born of a she-camel?" (all camels are the babies of a mother camel, even adult camels). (at-tirmidhy and corrected by al albani)
- the positive effect of humor on easing the academic atmosphere and ending the boredom of students.
- not to exaggerate with joking so that things do not get out of control in the class which makes it useless and of no point to students.
- too much joking makes the person less in status and disrespectful.
- when we joke, we should only tell the truth and not to lie.
- not to offend or hurt any student while joking.