Social Media

Religious Leader With Millions of Followers Issues a Fatwa On Facebook’s Laughing Emoji

In a viral video, he said using this emoji to mock people is “haram” or forbidden. Many reacted to it with the laughing emoji itself.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
Religious Leader With Millions of Followers Issues a Fatwa On Facebook’s Laughing Emoji
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2021 clearly isn’t the year for the laughing emoji. Gen Z already declared it as cheugy. But now, a religious preacher with millions of followers online has also declared it  “haram” - an act, food, drink or thought that is “forbidden” under Islamic law when used in certain contexts. 


Ahmadullah, a prominent Muslim cleric from Bangladesh who only goes by one name, has issued a fatwa or a ruling on a contended point of Islamic law, against people using the “Haha” emoji (which is basically Facebook’s version of the 😆 emoji) to mock other people. 

The religious leader, who has more than 3 million followers on Facebook and YouTube combined, posted a three-minute video on his Facebook page on how the laughing emoji was being used to mock people online, which is “totally haram” for Muslims. 

“If we react with haha emojis purely out of fun and the same was intended by the person who posted the content, it’s fine,” he said in the viral video. “But if your reaction was intended to mock or ridicule people who posted or made comments on social media, it’s totally forbidden in Islam.” 

He added that people must refrain from using this emoji in a hurtful context as it could hurt a Muslim, who “may respond with bad language that would be unexpected.” 

He did not elaborate what that response would look like or what “bad language” could entail.

He clarified further in a comment under his video that loosely translated to, “Entertainment is not prohibited in Islam. But your entertainment should not be the cause of other's pain.” 

He also went on to say, “The person you think is a funny person or you are joking, maybe he is better to Allah than you! Maybe he's on the wrong path right now, but one time he'll turn on the right path and you'll die in the wrong path!”


While Ahmadullah’s comment and the video itself can be taken with a pinch of salt, it’s important to note that the online world has only grown more toxic recently, leaving behind casualties in its wake. 

In fact, a recent Cambridge University study that analysed 2.7 million tweets and Facebook posts from  media outlets and political figures in the United States over five years, found that negative posts were twice as likely to be commented on than positive ones, and attracted more laughing emoji reactions. 

Maybe that’s why many of his viewers agreed with his intent of trying to spread positivity. Some of his followers insisted that they have used the “haha” emoji by mistake, but would be more careful in the future. 

But ironically, this viral video also has more than 1,200 “haha” emoji reactions. 

Ahmadullah is among a rising breed of clerics with social media clout and millions of followers who he preaches to online. He often appears on television for his commentary on religious and social issues, and also gains millions of views for his opinions online.  

It’s not uncommon for Muslim religious leaders to issue statements on morality about modern trends. In 2017, Indonesia’s highest Muslim clerical council issued a fatwa on fake news, following the spread of false information that fuelled ethnic and religious tensions in the region. A year before that, Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council declared vaping as forbidden for Muslims and issued a fatwa against it. 

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