Sorry, Saudis. No April Fools’ for You

Mar 31, 2014 at 5:47 PM ET


To most, April 1 is a time for free laughs—a time to prank the ones you love. But for Islamic sheikhs, it’s a surefire way to get yourself barred from paradise; lying, according to the anti-April Fools’ Islamic rulings, is forbidden in Islam. So what are sheikhs to do, in the name of saving people from damnation? Band together on social media and combat the common evil of the April Fools’ joke, of course.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Tarefe, a prominent Saudi Arabian Islamic leader with more than 500,000 followers on Twitter, posted the tweet below: “This day is just like any other day, and lying in April is just as bad. Lying is the worst trait a person can have. A person cannot use it and escape, and a country cannot do it and survive.”

Sheikh Muhammed Salih al-Munajjid, another Saudi who curates a very useful website called Islam Q&A, published an English-language Fatwa: “Some people think that it is permissible to tell lies if it is in jest. This is the excuse that they use for telling lies on April 1 or on other days. This is wrong. There is no basis for this in the pure Sharia. Lying is haram [sinful], whether the one who does it is joking or is serious.”

Just to be clear, however: Lying is bad, unless a Muslim is lying to an unbeliever. Enter taqiyya and kitman. Taqiyya is an Arabic term that means Muslims can deny their faith to non-Muslims if it is in the interest of protecting themselves, or defeating said non-Muslims. Kitman, on the other hand, is lying by omission—usually for the same reasons as taqiyya. The Muslim Hadith (tradition) states, “Umm Kulthum said, ‘I did not hear him make an allowance regarding anything that people say except in three cases: in war, putting things right between people, and what a man says to his wife and a wife says to her husband.'” Takeaway: Go ahead and prank your wife.

Still, sheikhs are not as devoid of humor as you might think. In preparation for the giant day of lies, Sheikh Essam al-Assam played his own prank on YouTube in August. The video, called “Look at This April Fools’ Prank,” was really a lecture on why lying is punishable in Islam. We’ve submitted a query to Islam Q&A to find out what Islam’s policy is on misleading headlines.

Fear not, dear Saudis, there is a loophole. April Fools’ is all about pranks, and they don’t necessarily have to be lies. In the charming YouTube video below, a few guys from Saudi decided to play a prank on their friends by staging a drive-by shooting. (And they followed through.) No lies, no problem!