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Author Topic: Transgressional jokes and Islam  (Read 229 times)
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« on: Dec 05, 2013 03:58 AM »


Assalamu alaykum!

I just had a very interesting conversation with an ethnographer about the nature of jokes. One thing that he observed, and was surprised by, was the number of 'transgressional jokes' made on a super-international campus, with loads of diversity of students. By this he meant jokes that border on 'racist' jokes.

For example, last year, in one of his classes, he observed that one boy called out to one of his Arab friends, "What's up, terrorist?" jokingly, and the Arab guy jumped into the classroom, flashed open his jacket and yelled "BOOM! Who's laughing now?" (like he had just blown up the classroom)

It was a hilarious joke in the context that it was made, in that it wasn't considered offensive at all - even though the subject dealt with was a very serious one, that of terrorism. The ethnographer theorizes that the reason that these jokes can be funny is some situations and fantastically offensive and racist in other situations, is based on 'groups' - if you're an accepted part of a group, then you can make these jokes. For example, the Arab guy was very close friends with the dude who said 'What's up, terrorist?' and thus he had permission to make that kind of joke, understanding that it would hurt no one.

I mean, I'm sure that we've all laughed at our share of Muslim airport jokes, and dryly said "There's a bomb under my hijab".

So my question is, what should we as Muslims think of this? What do you guys theorize?
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 05, 2013 11:38 AM »

Umm wow, I kinda don't think that joke between the students is funny. I think sometimes humor is a way to get out of tension/stress. Muslims are under a lot of tension/stress/scared at the airport so they 'joke' about the situation to dispell it or to try to make it seem like everythings ok.

The other thing ppl do is take deragatory terms and try to make it their own in defiance of it's use by others... ie black ppl calling each other 'nigga' etc.
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 05, 2013 03:59 PM »

Umm wow, I kinda don't think that joke between the students is funny. I think sometimes humor is a way to get out of tension/stress. Muslims are under a lot of tension/stress/scared at the airport so they 'joke' about the situation to dispell it or to try to make it seem like everythings ok.

The other thing ppl do is take deragatory terms and try to make it their own in defiance of it's use by others... ie black ppl calling each other 'nigga' etc.

See, that's what I mean - to other people they're like 'ummmm WHAT??' but in the context, if you knew the guy, it was a funny joke.

I guess that what I was thinking is, is making that kind of joke 'okay'?
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 05, 2013 04:03 PM »

In the context you describe, I think it is very funny.

It is also a metaphorical two fingers to those who'd label us terrorists, a very serious slander against us. If we can turn around and laugh and make others laugh with us it has less power as a fearful label and exposes it and those who would label us as such to the ridicule they rightly deserve.


And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 10, 2013 10:56 AM »

Islam permits only that kind of jokes, which are harmless both physically and mentally, thus intention behind joking should be pleasing rather than disturbing.
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