Lack of sense leads to acts of foolishness, allowing them to mothball into comical
gags. Ibrahim Al-Nazzam was once asked, “What are the limits of foolishness?”
To which he replied, “You asked about that which has no limits.”
The art of humour is an intricate balancing act between folly and good judgement,
measure and discomposure. People of virtue have always enjoyed a chuckle and
hearty anecdotes, remaining positive towards them because they relax the mind
and comfort the heart from fatigue of contemplative thought. Even the joshing
nature of the Prophet (saw) is well-known, yet it was guided by a higher code of
conduct cognisant of personal and public responsibility.
Purposeful joking and jest brings benefit just as salt in food, ever careful not
to be excessive. Before you therefore, is an amusing classical text reflecting a
sharp departure from the usual scholarship for which the author is known for.
Compiled in the sixth century Hijri, this collection of irreverent and playful
sketches - derisive and cynical observations of mischievous people - are sure to
tickle your funny bone, albeit having a more sober purpose for the reader to
Imam Ibn Al-Jawzi compiled a book called ‘Al-Adhkiya’, in which he reported
entertaining stories of smart and intelligent people that would serve as
model examples; for indeed stories of brave men teach bravery. He then saw it
appropriate to collect stories of foolish people and simpletons too with the intent
to deliver three main purposes, namely: Mentioning examples of the foolish
entices a knowledgeable person to avoid the means of ignorance, ensuring it
doesn’t become an acquired attribute; To appreciate what Allah has granted us
of intellect and nobility, increasing our gratitude to Him; and as a means of
recreation for the hearts, for it’s important to allow some entertainment as they
tire just as bodies tire.
This abridged English rendering of ‘Akhbar al-Hamqa wal-Mughaffalin’ is sure
to lead you to constant laughter and smiles.