Joking about Islam

Blasphemy is punishable by prison and even death in many Muslim countries. Muslims take their religion as the most sacred and consider it as a correction of previous religions, especially Christianity and Judaism.

In Morocco, there are plenty of jokes about Islam ranging from those concerning some Muslim priests who are portrayed as greedy and sexual abusers of women and children and ignorant of the religion they preach. There are jokes about Christians converting to Islam as there are jokes about the doomsday/ Judgment Day. There are jokes about the Islamists.

Last year two Moroccan journalists from Nichane magazine were brought to trial for publishing Moroccan jokes on religion for which WHYS dedicated a part of its show .

Muslims in general are very sensitive about the way they are portrayed in Western media, especially US media which they consider as monopolized by the Jewish lobby. Currently, Holland and Denmark are in the media because of the way Prophet Mohammed and the Koran are portrayed in their media.

For the Shiites, Caliph Ali and his two sons Hassan and Hussein are sacred. I don’t know what can happen to a Sunni if he jokes about them, let alone a non-Muslim.

Muslims learn from their birth the sacredness of their religion. A mosque is a sacred place that one should get into barefoot. They should invoke Allah in every daily gesture or activity as when eating and starting work. Different parts of the day should be started with one of the five daily prayers, the first starts at dawn and the last two or three hours after sunset. Some spend even one third of the night praying. So it’s no wonder if many Muslims get upset when they hear a joke about their religion, especially from someone who doesn’t hold their faith.

In private, many Muslims tell dirty jokes as well as jokes about their religion. But it is the suspicion of the intention of the other that makes them angrily responsive. In France there are plenty of jokes about the Arabs, especially the North Africans.

Refraining from telling jokes about the religion of the others seems impossible. It‘s the behaviour of some Muslims that sparks such jokes or perhaps the differing perceptions the others for whom Muslim beliefs don’t make sense. Muslims can’t stop jokes about them in countries where there is freedom of expression as in their country they can make jokes about Jews and Christians. The best Muslims can do is to ignore jokes about them, take them lightly or invent their own jokes about those who make jokes about them. Responding to joke with a joke can be a good way of making things not always look like a joke. It will make everyone think seriously how to make the best jokes.


  1. Looney said,

    April 5, 2008 at 3:49 am

    There certainly is a culture gap here. I grew up with some teachers making fun of Christianity in class. The American’s and English are also known for some of the most extreme sorts of humor. It is hard to accept that certain things are off limits, although I was taught as part of my Christian upbringing that we need to be careful about joking.

    In some ways, this is a good reminder that civilized people do need a higher standard and should avoid making fun of others.

  2. Abdelilah Boukili said,

    April 5, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    You are right Looney.
    Some Muslims make a jokes of themselves when they overreact to jokes about them. But as you said there should be mutual respect between different cultures. Joking about one another shouldn’t turn into a childish tat for tat.

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