Is it Permissible to Play “April Fool”?
Q: The first of April is regarded as a day to play practical jokes on people. Generally a person is told something which perturbs or even shocks him. However he shortly thereafter realizes that what he was told is not true but it was rather a joke. According to the Shariah is it permissible to play such practical jokes on people?
Answer: This is a very pertinent question. Hence it is appropriate that it be dealt with in some detail. The aspect of playing practical jokes on the first of April is much more serious than what most people generally regard it to be.
Firstly, it must be understood well that to deliberately cause any inconvenience to anybody is totally haraam and a grievous sin, irrespective of how apparently trivial and insignificant it may seem. This is applicable even if the inconvenience was caused merely in jest and in a light-hearted manner.
Secondly, the practical jokes played on people involves lying. Speaking lies is also totally forbidden. Allah Ta’ala declares in the Glorious Qur’an: “The curse of Allah is upon the liars.” Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “Destruction to the one who speaks lies in order to make people laugh Woe unto him, woe unto him” (Abu Dawood). In another narration it is reported that: “A person is not a complete Believer until he forsakes lying in joking” (Kanzul Ummaal).
Making people “April fools” also involves one in the serious sin of khiyanah (deception). Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “It is a great khiyanah that you say to your brother something regarding which he believes you to be true but you are in fact lying to him” (Mishkaat). Another Hadith pronounces the declaration of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) thus: “The one who deceives us (Believers) is not from among us” (Mishkaat). These aspects alone make it apparent that engaging in “April fools” antics involves one in a host of major sins.
Imitating the Kuffaar
Over and above this is the fact that playing tricks is a custom of the Kuffaar. According to the Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopaedia, playing tricks on the first of April “is a custom among European people” (Vol. 2 – Pg. 263). The World Book Encyclopaedia records that the observance of April Fools Day began in France after the adoption of the reformed calendar by Charles IX in 1564″ (Vol. 1 – Pg. 557). Thus the aspect of tashabbuh (imitating) the kuffaar also becomes applicable. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “He who imitates a nation, he is from amongst them” (Mishkaat).
Hence when playing April fools tricks involves one in such serious sins, how can a person who claims to love Allah Ta’ala and His beloved Rasul (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) ever engage in it? If one has played such tricks in the past, one must sincerely repent and seek the pardon of those who were the victims of one’s tricks as well. Parents should also inform their children of the severity of playing April fools tricks on people and caution them against ever engaging in such antics.