The Companions’ Sense of Humor
Qarrah said: That he asked the Ibn Sirin if the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) played jokes on one another. At this, he said, “They too were human beings and nothing else.” [Al-Haythami vol. VIII, p. 89]
Awf ibn Malik Ashjai said that at the time of the battle of Tabuk he went to see the Prophet (PBUH). At that time, the Prophet was sitting in a small round shaped tent of leather. Awf saluted the Prophet and he returned the salutation. He further asked him to come into the tent. At this Awf said, “Should I come in, the whole of me?” The Prophet said, “Yes, come in the whole of you.” Then he entered the tent. [Abu Dawud, Al-Bidayah vol. VI, p. 46]
[Walid ibn ‘Uthman ibn Abu’l-Aliyah says that Awf had said this because of the smallness of the tent (op cit)]
Abu Malikah said that once ‘A’ishah uttered some humorous words before the Prophet (PBUH). At this, ‘A’ishah’s mother said to the Prophet, “O Messenger of Allah! Some of the pleasantries of this tribe trace their origin in the tribe of Kinanah.” At this, the Prophet said, “This tribe itself depends on our humour.” [Al-Bukhari, Chapter of Adab (Manners) p. 41]
Bakr ibn ‘Abdullah related that the Companions m of the Prophet (PBUH) used to throw melons on one another by way of a joke. But they became valiant when faced with the realities of life or its hardships. [Al-Bukhari, Chapter of Adab p. 41]
Rabiah ibn ‘Uthman said that a certain Bedouin came to the Prophet (PBUH). He seated his she-camel outside the Holy Mosque and himself went inside to meet the Holy Prophet. Some of the companions of the Prophet said to Nuyman ibn ‘Amr al-Ansari, “If you slaughter this she-camel and satisfy your hunger, the holy Prophet will pay its penalty.”
The narrator says that very soon Nuyman slaughtered the she-camel. When the Bedouin came out of the Mosque and saw all this, he began crying out, “O Muhammad! Someone has slaughtered her.” The Holy Prophet came out and asked the people who had done that.
The people told him that Nuyman had done that. Now the Prophet went out in search of him. He found Nuyman in the house of Dabah daughter of Zubayr ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib. He had hidden himself in a cell and had put branches and dry barks and leaves of the date tree over his body.
Someone cried out that he had not seen him. But this very man pointed to the place where Nuyman was hiding. The Prophet took him out from there and his face was covered with dust and leaves of the date tree. The Prophet asked him who had asked him to do that. He said, “O Messenger of Allah! These very men who had told you about my whereabouts had asked me to do that.”
The Holy Prophet began removing the leaves and barks from his head and face and remained laughing. The narrator says that later on, the Prophet paid the price of the she-camel to that Bedouin. [Al-Istiab, vol. III, p. 575 and Al-Isabah vol. III, p. 570]
Umm Salamah said that Abu Bakr went to the city of Busra on a trade mission. With him were Nuyman and Suwaybit ibn Harmalah, and both were the two who had fought in the battle of Badr. Suwaybit was in charge of the provisions of the caravan. Nuyman asked him to give him food. At this Suwaybit said, “Wait a little and let Abu Bakr come.” Nuyman was a witty and humorous fellow. He went to a group of men who had brought beasts of burden. He said to them, “Will any of you purchase a slave?” They replied in the affirmative.
Nuyman said, “That Arab slave is a plausible fellow and it is just possible that he might say that he is not a slave. If you leave him because of his words then blame me not, and break not the deal.” Those traders agreed to this. These men purchased him for ten she-camels. Nuyman brought the she-camels and pointing towards Suwaybit, he told them that that was the slave. The traders said, “We already know that you will say this,” (i.e. that he was not a slave). Now the traders tied Suwaybit by his neck and wanted to take him to their place.
In the meantime, Abu Bakr came there, and he was informed about all of this. Abu Bakr and his companions went to those merchants and returned them to their she-camels. Thus they bought back Suwaybit. Later on when the Prophet was informed about this incident, he laughed. The Prophet and his Companions continued laughing over this incident for the whole year. [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tayalsi, Al-Isabah, vol. II, p. 98, Al-Istiab, vol. II, p. 126 and vol. III, p. 576]
Adopted with editorial adjustments from Hayatus-Sahabah (The Lives of the Companions).