Forty Prophetic Sayings in Forty Cartoons: Islam and Humor

This week our guest is a skilled artist, whose drawings not only make us laugh, but also cause us to stop and think. He has managed to go beyond the boundaries of the drawing, showing us the gravity of the Day of Judgment. With the weight of the world on his soldiers, he is hardworking, a veteran traveler on the road to the cities of Heaven. On this journey he carries drawings of 40 hadith in his saddlebag.

We talked to the artist Hasan Aycın from Turkey, who reflects every area of life in his intricate drawings, about the limits of humor, about the concepts of humor in the West and the East and the differences between the two, and about how Islam views humor.

ImageDo you think there should be limits to humor?

Of course there should be limits. We are creatures whose eyes gaze beyond the limits; this is the only way we can understand things. We conceive of everything as having limits, words, phrases, meanings, concepts...everything. Only Allah is without limits; everything other than Allah is limited, even the things we do. Can a being that is limited by their very nature embark on a limitless task? The actual question is what the limit of humor is, where should the limits be? If we are someone who is involved in humor then we need to think and examine what we have done to understand if it is for the benefit or detriment of mankind. Humor is something we produce. In our traditions we can judge whether something is halal (religiously permitted) or haram (religiously forbidden) by examining what has been put into it or by what good it has produced.

What is the basic difference between the concept of humor in the East and that of the West? What kind of comparison can be made?

In fact, when qualifying the East and the West, there are some basic values that need to be used, and these underline some basic differences. These differences are reflected in the mission that human beings are assigned in each culture, and subsequently the formation of the generations. Or rather, it should reflect this. I say it should reflect this because this is not something I see very often. This lack of mission must be the result of the degeneration, depreciation and gradual disappearance of Eastern values due to the supremacy of Western values.


What is the concept of humor in Islam?

It is not my place to say what the Islamic concept of humor is. But we can talk about what a Muslim's concept of humor should be. When considering the concepts of what Islam offers people, what it wants from people and what it promises them in return we should think not only about what Muslims should do in the future for the good, but what they have done up to now. In our drawings there is no comedy, no ridiculous laughing; however, one smiles at a lesson. A joke can be based on wisdom that strengthens the expression, a witty remark can be made, an anecdote can be related. Our ancestors stood next to beauty, bringing it to the fore, and covering up what was unsightly. In fact, this is the sunnah (practice) of Prophet Muhammad.

"Forty Hadiths, Forty Drawings" explains the Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad through sketches. These drawings make us think rather than laugh. Can you tell us what the aim of this work is?

There is a monthly magazine Birdirbir; the aim of this magazine is to acquaint children with our religion and help them to love it. At the beginning, this magazine asked me to make a drawing, a "cartoon" for hadiths, for every issue and I agreed. That is, this series wasn't originally my idea. But it attracted a lot of interest. Perhaps this interest caused the magazine to become enthusiastic, and they thought of completing the forty hadiths and publishing them altogether for Ramadan. They told me about what they had been thinking and the result was the "Forty Hadiths, Forty Drawings" album. If only there had been more time I could have done more.



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