La Tahzan Wa La Khauf

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'Sport' in the Hadith

'Sport' in the Hadith

The term 'sport' is used to denote the activities which the Holy Prophet (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) encouraged, such as archery, swimming, horse-riding, etc. The reason for this will be explained later.

(a) Horse Riding

Allâh (Azza wa jall) says in the Holy Qurân: "And (He created) horses, mules, and donkeys for you to ride and as an adornment...(Al Quraan 16:8)

Uqbah bin Âmir reported that the messenger of Allâh (Azza wa jall) said: Everything with which a man plays is unlawful except his shooting with arrows, and his training his horse, and his sporting with his wife; and verily these are of the truths. (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawoo,Ibn Majah)

The Holy Prophet (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: "There is blessing in the forelocks of horses."(Ahmad)

(b) Archery

Hazrat Uqbah Bin Âmir (Radiallâhu anhu) also narrates that he heard Rasulullah (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) saying:

"Whoever gives up archery after having learnt it, is not of us..."(Muslim)

On another occasion, the Prophet (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) once passed by a group of his Companions who were competing in archery. He encouraged them saying, "Shoot and I am with you."(Bukhari)

(c) Swimming

Hazrat Ibn Umar (R.A) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) said: "Teach your sons swimming and archery and teach your daughters sewing."(Baihaqi)

With regard to the participation of the Sahaba in the above activities, the jurists write:

a. "Anything done simply for futile pleasures or merely 'for fun' has no basis in Shariah as every action of a believer is orchestrated by the supreme command of Allâh and orientated towards attaining His pleasure only. And it is the culmination and perfection of faith wherein the servant attains pleasure only in fulfilling the command of His Master and his heart ingests and aspires at all times to ascertain the command of Allâh. When this becomes second-nature within man, then all his pleasures are converted and directed accordingly.

Hence, the encouragement of Rasulullah (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) to the Sahaba and their participation in such activities was not to appease their personal motives or to derive any worldly pleasures thereby, but to gain the pleasure of Allâh and strive to fulfil His command and physically and mentally prepare for the propagation thereof in every way possible, even though it meant laying down their lives for it, which they practically demonstrated to mankind."

b. "The racing, wrestling and archery which Rasulullah (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) encouraged should not be viewed as sport in the way people of this time understand sport. Since these were activities associated with Jihad, he encouraged them."

c. "Their primary objective was to prepare themselves for Jihâd and the worldly benefits were secondary."

d. "For this, on the basis of Hadith, the Ulema have stated that horse-racing, donkey-racing, mule-racing and human race competitions should be held with the intention of preparing for jihad. This is mustahab (praiseworthy) and for this, one will be recompensated. Similarly, sword-fighting, archery and in today's times, practising with modern weapons like firearms, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, tanks, submarines, planes, etc. on land, sea and air, and the time and money spent on them will gain recompense, provided the intention is for jihad. If such exercises and competitions are held and prizes are given so that people are more and more induced to be ready for defending and protecting their religion and country, or one-sided bets are offered, it is all permissible; i.e. he who completes the race first or excels others in a competition will be given a prize. However betting from both sides is not permissible, it is haram."(8)
(d) Footracing

The Prophet (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) himself raced with his wife. Hazrat Ayesha said: "I raced with the Prophet (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) and beat him in the race. Later when I had put on some weight, we raced again and he won. Then he said, 'This cancels that', referring to the previous occasion."(Ahmad, Abu Dawood)

Regarding this Hadith the jurists write:

a. "The Hadith regarding Nabi's (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) race with Hazrat Aishah (R.A) cannot be cited as a basis for encouraging sport because in his entire life, Rasulullah (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) raced with her only on two occasions. When he did so, he instructed the others to leave the place so that the race could take place in privacy."

b. "The Hadith relating that Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) ran a race with Hazrat Aishah R.A. once while they were on a journey wherein Hazrat Aisha R.A. outshone Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) and sometime later wherein Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) beat her to the draw was a manifestation of the affectionate bond of love that existed between them and how matrimonial rights should be conducted as discussed under the chapter of Conjugal Rights and Intimacy between husband and wife in the books of Hadith. And this is actually a practical demonstration of another Hadith wherein Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) had reiterated:

'Every such engagement of man which entails play and amusement is null and void except archery, training one's horse and playing with one's wife, for these things constitute righteousness.' "

c. "As for the race with Ayesha (Radiallâhu anha), this is narrated only by her and no other Sahâbi (Radiallâhu anhu). This makes it obvious that this was in absolute privacy. Actually this race was not in the form of some sport. Rather, it was more in the form of playfulness and a manner of mirthful activity as is common in a healthy husband and wife relationship. If one practices this sunnah in the same manner (i.e. in absolute privacy) with one's wife, by all means. However, it cannot be used to justify the indulgence in modern day sports.
(e) Wrestling

The Prophet (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) once wrestled with a man called Rukanah who was well-known for his strength, throwing him down more than once. (Abu Dawood).

This Hadith has been explained as follows:

"The Hadith mentioning Rasulullah's wrestling with Rukanah is not encouragement for sport because the event took place at the request of Rukanah who wanted to ascertain whether Muhammed (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) was a Nabi or not. Rasulullah's victory over Rukanah was by way of Mu'jizah. This Hadith is not an encouragement for sport."

Relaxing the Mind and Body

At the outset, it is important to outline the Islamic stance on relaxation. With regard to relaxing the mind and body, there seems to be a general consensus amongst the different Ulama. The following are the views of four prominent South African jurists:

a. "Says the Qurân: 'Undoubtedly it is only through the Remembrance of Allâh that the hearts find contentment and satisfaction.' Ar-Ra'ad verse 28.

Says the Hadith: 'And your body also has a right over you." Bukhari

Hence to relax the body and mind and to maintain its physical well-being has been acceded to in Shariah, however, remaining within the limits of Shariah thereby and without exceeding the bounds and not engaging in any such activity which will make one unmindful and heedless of Allâh."

b. "Islam recognizes that Allâh has created human beings with needs and desires, so that, as they need to eat and drink, they also need to relax. The following incident substantiates that in Islam there is a time and place for everything permissible. Hazrat Hanzalah (R.A) states: Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A) met me and asked, "How are you, Hanzalah?" I replied, "Hanzalah has become a hypocrite." He said, "SubhanAllâh! What are you saying?" I replied, "When we are with Allâh's Messenger (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam), he mentions the Fire and the Garden until it is as if we can see them. But when we leave Nabi's (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) company and play with our wives and children or busy ourselves with our properties, we forget much." Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A) said, "By Allâh, I have experienced the same thing." He and I then went to visit Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) and I said, "O Messenger of Allâh (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam), when we are with you, you talk about the Fire and Garden until it is as if we can see them. Then we go out and play with our wives and the children and deal with our properties, and we forget much. Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) then said, "By Him in Whose Hands is my soul, if you were to continue at the same level at which you were when with me in remembering Allâh, the angels would shake hands with you when you are resting and when you walk about, but, O Hanzalah, there is a time (for this) and time (for that)." He repeated this phrase three times. (Mishkat pg.197-198)

Hazrat Ali (R.A) said: "Minds get tired as do bodies, so treat them with humour" and "Refresh your minds from time to time, for a tired mind becomes blind."

Pastimes are permissible provided that they provide the participant with relaxation and exercise and at the same time none of the laws of Shariah are compromised eg. dress, intermingling of sexes, gambling and betting etc."

c. " terms of the Shariah, it is permissible for Muslims to relax the mind and body provided it does not interfere with the basic obligatory and compulsory Islamic duties placed upon him/her. However it is declared Makrooh (abominable) in Shariah to engage in meaningless pastimes."

d. "Relaxing the body and mind are not just permissible; they are a requirement. The reason is obvious. With a refreshed body and mind one can engage in one's object more earnestly. However, the relaxation must not be in such a way which results in transgression of the laws of Shariah or in diversion from one's object of life.

Prohibited Sports

A number of sports have been explicitly prohibited by the Qurân and Hadith. These include:
a. Playing with dice

The Prophet (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: "He who plays with dice is like the one who handles the flesh and blood of swine."(Muslim, Abu Dawood, Ahmad)
b. Games of Chance and Card - playing

Abdullah bin Amr reported that the messenger of Allâh (Azza wa jall) prohibited intoxicants, games of chance, card - playing and Gabairah (a kind of wine).(Abu Dawood)


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