SA’s Indian Muslims need to check themselves before going after Joey Rasdien


Comedian Joey Rasdien was dragged by Muslims on social media this weekend after making a controversial comment during a comedy set at the Ilm Arts Festival, which took place at the Sandton Convention Centre on Saturday.

In his set Rasdien questioned how Abu Hurairah, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, wrote more than 40 000 narrations attributed to the prophet in just two years. Narrations of incidents from the prophet’s life, or hadith, are a central part of Islamic belief.

“There’s 365 days in a year which makes it 740 days in two years which gives you 1 440 minutes per day, plus you must sleep. How can you write forty thousand hadiths in two years?” he asked the scholars in the audience.

After he’d moved on and began addressing a woman in the audience about how his penis only looked bigger from below because of the error of parallax, a man started shouting expletives at Rasdien, telling him to stop talking about Abu Hurairah. Rasdien apologised, and then his set was cut short and he left the stage.

Internet “muftis were quick to condemn Rasdien. One Facebook user said Rasdien should be banned from all Muslim events. “It was not a joke, it was backbiting and insulting. Something you’d expect from the enemy of Islam.” Another user said Rasdien “should be stoned”. And the backlash only grew from there, and got uglier.

On Sunday, following the backlash, Rasdien apologised​ unreservedly​ for comments he’d made during the set. “As a Muslim comedian I hold myself to the same set of standards expected of a Muslim in any other walk of life. It is our character and behavior that must be unimpeachable.”

But let’s rewind to Rasdien’s set before it was disrupted and look at what this incident really illustrates.

First, just before his hadith comment, Rasdien made a comment to an older woman in the audience about the size of his penis by making a biryani analogy and referring to the error of parallax. FYI Joey, women don’t need cooking metaphors to understand scientific concepts. So why were the audience members who were angered about Rasdien’s question not also angered about his gross, sexist comment to an elder? Could it be that sexism has been so normalised in the Muslim community that it barely registers when we hear it?

Second, people seem to have forgotten that, as part of his joke, Rasdien asked a simple question of the scholars present. He warned the audience it would be controversial. He wanted to know how it was possible to write down so many hadith in such a short time. Don’t pretend you haven’t done the math yourself since this incident went viral. He had a question and wanted an answer – is that not okay? His fellow Muslims should have called him in rather than calling him out. If they had an answer to his question, they should have simply answered in a rational way instead of resorting to personal attacks.

Third, the racism. There are still those among us who think the only real Muslims in South Africa are Indians. Rasdien is coloured. That is his race. His faith is Islam. But several internet commenters used racist terms to refer to Rasdien, said he made jokes about the prophet’s companion because he was coloured, and accused him of being on tik. People may have been offended by Rasdien’s question but did they have to immediately respond with racism?

And fourth, the sectarianism. Rasdien was accused of being influenced by Shiasm because, “they are masters of disrespecting the sahabah [prophet’s companions] and our nabi [prophet]”. So much for religious tolerance.

Joey Rasdien may have ruffled some feathers at the weekend, but right now South African Muslims need to take a good look inward before they resort to name-calling, and denouncing a comedian for asking a question.

Featured image via Joey Rasdien on Facebook
  1. Exmoose says

    Great article! I saw how people brushed off his sexist joke and carried on. It wasnt explicitly sexist since it was part of the jole but it definitely highlights how ingrained sexism is in muslim society. And I feel he definitely cut his joke short realising the crowd wasn’t with him. I expect he may have ended saying accorsing to the math he was collecting a hadith every 26 minutes without sleeping! He likely would have said he hinself is lazy and it seems crazy that a scholar would be that dedicated. Which is actually a good thing! He would be saying that a scholar worked hard. Personally Id like to think thats the tone he was going for.

    Muslim people get so irate but they dont even have enough knowledge to know that skepticsm with hadith is logical because of contraditions. Im exmuslim (so I dont really take much stock for hadith at all) but Id say most muslims follow the quraan and are then neudged in yhe right direction by hadith. No one seems to be willing to think critically about these things but they jump at an opportunity to prove their holier than thou status on social media. Take a step back and be humble

  2. Arthur Charles says

    How is it that people whose first words to each other are: “PEACE BE UNTO YOU” can say, insinuate and purpose this manner of vitriol against a fellow human being in this manner.

    1. Muhammed says

      this is so true, as a Muslim myself your statement PEACE BE UNTO YOU rings so true

  3. Anonymous says

    Firstly, every comedian makes sexist jokes so I don’t see why anyone would have a knee jerk reaction to that.
    Secondly, there is a time, place and manner in which to pose questions and this was most definitely not a question but rather a deliberate statement of his misunderstanding of Islam. And regarding doing the math ourself, the actual figure was 5374 hadith and not 40000 as he so tragicly misquoted.
    With regards to your fourth point, I do not understand why you would defend shias when their entire faith is based upon rejecting the companions of the Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.

    I honestly have not read such a poorly written and pointless article in a long time. You should not write articles regarding topics you have such limited knowledge of.

    It is interesting how you have ignored the fact that he took a sharp stab at the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) marriage to our mother Hadhrat Ayesha Radhiyallahu Anhaa.

    1. Exmoose says

      He “took a stab” by stating facts…he married what (even with impossibly liberal interpretations of hadith) would be classified as a minor (8 as I was taught in madressa but Ive seen people argue up to 14 with flimsy arguments). Do you dispute that? Does it make you uncomfortable to admit? Times were different yes, but personally I kinda wish Allah had the foresight as to how that would be viewed in societies that have the stance (and pretty sound justification if you ask me) as to why marrying minors is a criminal act.

      And us peeps from sunni backgrounds tend to discredit and demonize Shias blindly. Because they believe something different from you? Really? Remember surah kauthar? They are human beings with families and lives. They exist in this world where they are a minority in what everyone else sees as the muslim world but then are hated for that by most sunni people. Just for the family they were born into? Do you really think every shia is plotting to take down sunni islam (Id like you to also take a moment and relaise how POLITICAL that makes your religion).

      Joey was definitely talking to the wrong audience amd I dont know where he got his figure from. I would recommend that at this point you for a second did think about the math but also pause and think about the rate Abu Hurairah recorded hadith compared to the other sahabah.

      ( And to mods – Im being respectful here not attacking him with lies or trying to convert peeps- just like to use this opportunity to get people to think critically about islam. If you can do that and still retain your Deen, fantastic! But we shouldn’t be shying away from criticism of religion. Without critique you leave tons of space for false narratives. If you look at the great islamic thinkers of the past you’ll see that they were open to it.)

      1. Ahmed says

        I quote you “but personally I kinda wish Allah had the foresight ”
        think about what you just said right there….

      2. Anon says

        No I do not dispute it and it does not make me uncomfortable in the least! This was the greatest of all creation and every single action of his was inspired by Allah.

        And yes I do have intense hatred for every Shia because their entire religion is based upon hatred of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

        If you studied the life of Abu Hurairah (R.A) you will realise that this is not impossible for a man of his calibre.

  4. Mackno34 says

    To Anonomous

    Who is Abu Hurayra any way?

    Islamic history books have enough about him to support the commandment in the Quran to accept no hadiths but the Quran. See Quran 7:185, 45:6, 77:50, 39:23, 50:45……etc.

    Abu Hurayra, came from Yemen in the seventh year of Hijra and converted to Islam. He stayed in the company of the Prophet Muhammed less than two years. He narrated more than 5000 hadiths, about 5374 hadiths, from this two years company, (Compare this with the few hadiths narrated by Aisha, Abu Baker, or Omar after very long company of the prophet) .

    1. Abu Hurayra narrated 5374 hadiths
    4. ‘Aisha Umm al-Mu’minin, 2210 hadiths
    10. Umar Ibn al-Khattab, 537 hadiths
    11. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, 536 hadiths
    31. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, 142 hadiths

    First number indicates rank among all of those who narrated hadiths,…second number indicates number of Ahadith given. Compare the numbers of Hadiths given by Abu Baker by that of Abu Hurayra while keeping in mind that Abu Baker accompanied the Prophet for about 23 years, while Abu Hurayra accompanied the Prophet for less than 2 years. 142 hadiths for 5374 hadiths.

    Most of Abu Hurayra’s narrated hadiths are called the “Aahad” hadiths, i.e. hadiths only witnessed by one person, this one person was Abu Hurayra himself. ( where is the rule of two witnesses for the truth, disregarded for the sake of Abu Hurayra). Some of the Prophets companions (Sahaba) accused him of being a liar, telling lies about the prophet just to make up more hadiths and gain some status. Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, the second guided Khalifa threatened Abu Hurayra to send him to exile if he does not stop telling hadiths about Muhammed, he did stop until Omar’s assassination then started again.

    He kept telling hadiths to please the Khalifa of the Muslims then, all the time, including the time he lived in the royal palace of Muawaya in Syria. Abu Hurayra told his audience that he is telling them hadiths that if he ever mentioned when Omar was alive, he would be given several lashes.

    Abu Jaafar Al Iskafy mentioned that the Khalifa, Muawaya, chose some of the people, including Abu Hurayra to tell fabricated stories and hadiths about Ali Ibn Abu Talib, the Prophet’s cousin, to degrade him. Abu Hurayra lived in Mu’aawiyah’s royal palace then and served him including serving his political views. He produced some of the hadiths that demean Ali, insult him and at least make him in a lower grade to Abu Baker, Omar and Othman, only for the pleasure of Mu’aawiyah. Abu Hurayra’s stomach was more important than the trtuh, then.

    During Mu’aawiyah’s rule, many hadiths, with the help of Abu Hurayra were invented that support the view that the Imam or Khalifa, should be obeyed just like God or the messenger. Contradicting the rule of the Quran that all the matters should be democratic by consultation.(Do not forget that Abu Hurayra was living in the Khalifa’s royal palace at the time.) Many of the hadiths that were narrated by Abu Hurayra contradict other hadiths, including his own narrated hadiths and other people’s hadiths and contradict the Quran and contradict common sense.
    Abu Hurayra narrated hadiths after Kaab Al Ahbar, who was a Jewish convert who tried to explain the Quran by using the corrupted books of the Jews. He produced some of the most outrageous hadiths that is full of contradiction to the Quran, taken from false stories in the Torah. The Islamic historians told the story of Abu Hurayra after given the governorship of Bahrain by Omar, got very rich in two years, so Omar called him back and told him
    ” You, the enemy of Allah, you stole the money of Allah. I made you the Emir of Bahrain when you did not even have a pair of shoes, Where did you get all this money (400, 000 Dirham)?? ” The history indicates that Omar took 10, 000 Dirham from him.(Abu Huraura admitted for only 20, 000 Dirham)

    Abu Hurayra was the one accused most of fabricating hadiths. Aisha, the Prophet’s wife always accused him of telling inaccurate or incomplete stories and of fabricating hadiths that she never heard the prophet saying them.
    In the famous book “Taa’oueel Mukhtalaf Alhadith ” by Ibn Qutaiba Al-Dinory, the story of Aisha (the Prophet’s wife) telling Abu Hurayra; ” You tell ahadiths about the prophet Muhammed that we never heard them from him”
    He answered (as Bukhary reported); “You (Aisha) were busy with your mirror and make up” She (Aisha) answered him; “It is you who were busy with your stomach and hunger. Your hunger kept you busy, you were running after the people in the allies, begging them for food, and they used to avoid you and get away from your way, and finally you would come back and pass out in front of my room and the people think you were crazy and step all over you.”
    If we apply the supposedly rigid criteria used to select those who narrated hadiths, Abu Hurayra will be the first one to fail the test and his hadiths will be the first to be counted among the fabrications.

  5. Shabeer says

    *WHY, JOEY?*


    Joey Rasdien should not be equated to the journalists of the Jyllands-Posten. Although he knew the issue was controversial. Although he probably realized he would be hurting and offending. Although he should have known better than to let misinformation combine with gullibility.

    Would he have known that Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه was an honoured Companion of our Beloved Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم ?

    Would he have been aware that Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه transmitted not 40,000 ahadith, but closer to 2,000? The common figure of 5,000 plus refers to the amount of narrations transmitted from Abu Hurayrah in the Musnad of Baqi ibn Makhlad, and is inclusive of repetitions. Strip away the repetitions and you are left with around 2,000 narrations. So where would Joey have gotten a figure of 40,000 when the largest collection of hadith from ALL the Sahabah, which is the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, holds a grand total of less than 40,000 ahadith?

    Would Joey have known that Abu Hurayrah stayed very closely in the company of RasuluLlah صلى الله عليه وسلم for a period of roughly 1,400 days, in which there were something like 200 Jumu’ahs alone?

    Would he have been aware of Abu Hurayrah’s great eagerness to preserve as much of the Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم ‘s Sunnah as he could, and that the Nabi صلى الله عليه وسلم reciprocated by making special du’a and intervention to enhance his memory?

    Could he have known that Abu Hurayrah’s zeal for preserving the Sunnah continued even after the demise of RasuluLlah صلى الله عليه وسلم and that he would then even receive and transmit ahadith which he heard via other Sahabah?

    Would he have been conscious of the fact that most of the ahadith transmitted by Abu Hurayrah are in fact corroborated by other Sahabah?

    And does it mean anything to him that Allah describes those that come after the Muhajirin and the Ansar (and Abu Hurayrah was of the Muhajirin) as people whose du’a for those earliest of Muslims is, “Do not place in our hearts rancour against those who believe”?

    Joey Rasdien might not have been aware of all the above. So why should he not be equated to the Jyllands-Posten who purposefully set out to offend Muslims?

    Because, despite being a comedian and yes, an irreverent one at that, we will not believe that he intentionally and arrogantly set out to offend his fellow Muslims by trampling upon what is sacred and sensitive to them.

    Because, given the truth about the “information” he was previously exposed to, we know that he will not arrogantly cling to falsehood at all costs.

    But the greatest thing that will, in sha Allah, demonstrate the difference between Joey Rasdien and the Jyllands-Posten is that he will realize his error. And he will apologize.

    For such is the way of a Muslim.

    Mahajjah Institute

  6. Fathima says

    This article lightly touches on most issues. For Muslims, the highest offence will always be about people attacking Islam. On the platter that Joey served up of sexism, vulgar language and jokes about the religion, we all found more offence to his disrespect towards Islam.

    Of course we are against sexism, but that is not going to take centre stage in our rage. Importantly, we not going going to call Joey out publicly for that remark. We would tell him in private. That is the difference between a sexist remark & the importance we place on religion.

    Minority of the people will take it too far and resort to racism. We all ignore people like that, generally.

    However, I am very proud that Muslim South Africans are gutsy and intellectual enough to stand up publicly to defend Islam.
    It would be a sad day when we become blase or misled into disregarding Islam.

    None of us are exempt from criticism when such important matters are being raised. Our fairness is evident that EVEN though Joey is Muslim, he and any other Muslim or non-Muslim must respect Islam.

  7. Anonymouse says

    When are Muslims going to realize that there is no such thing as “moderate Muslims”. You either follow everything based on the holy book (like Isis do) or you reform the parts that are no longer relevant to society. Anything else just makes you a hypocrite. The Hadiths are to be included in the reform. There are some ignorant ideas in the Hadith canon that deserve no place in modern society. Islamic scholars have critically evaluated and engaged in rational discourse on all these as it relates to Islam. Who are these people to judge that no one can question anything ever while in the same breath saying only Allah can judge? Hypocrites.

  8. yusuf says

    And in the blink of an eye, we all fall into the trap of the Kufaar …..may Allah Almighty protect us all….Peace

  9. Move on says

    “Peace be upon you”??? Just mention one thing wrong of the faith n the muslims want to persecute you. Very quick to became violent, rude and abusive in retaliation. What happened to being humble and peaceful.

    This whole thing is out of control lol and yes I will laugh at you because one incorrect mention of the holy prophet or Islam and kaboom it’s war dude.

    Be humble and be faithful to God n allow others and their opinions. Whether correct or not God is the judge n not you. Go to mosque n read your Quran again especially about the life of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)

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