Islamic law regarding sports and entertainment

Islam has given due importance to sports and entertainment. Islam is a practical religion and as such it does not ignore any genuine human requirement. The Prophet of Islam Muhammad (peace be upon him) liked happiness and disliked grief. In this connection, the following tradition has been reported in Abu Daud, a famous book of tradition of the Prophet of Islam:

"O Allah! I seek refuse in you from distress and grief."

Accordingly there is no harm if a person entertains himself to relax his mind or refresh himself with some permissible sports or play with his friends. However, so sport, which obstructs or hinders religious obligations is permissible in Islam. Racing, wrestling, archery, spear-play, horse riding and hunting are some of the sports in which the Prophet (Sm) and the companions of the Prophet (Sm) used to participate.  Of course, many other new types of sports and games have been introduced after the advent of Islam. All these sports and games can be treated as permissible in Islam if such sports or games do not involve anything which is prohibited in Islam, such as betting of money, undue mixing of the sexes, etc. 

Any sort of game played with money, which has an element of gambling, is prohibited in Islam. Playing cards with money is therefore not permissible is Islam. Similarly, playing backgammon while betting with money is also prohibited in Islam. As regards playing chess, which is a popular game, the opinion of jurists concerning it varies. Some of the companions of the Prophet (Sm) and some of the second-generation scholars, such as Ibne-Abbas, Abu Hurairah, Ibne Shirin and Said Bin Al-Musayyib upheld the permissibility of chess. They have interpreted the traditions against chess as applicable when played with money. (Ref. "The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam"; by Yusuf Al Qaradawi). 

Islam also permits humour and jokes in proper proportion. The Muslim is, however, forbidden to joke and laugh about other people's values and honour. Allah says, 

"O you who believe! Let not some mock at other people; it may be that they are better than you." (49:11)

It is also not permissible for Muslim to cut jokes on what is untrue in order to make people laugh. 

As regards singing and music, Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in his book "The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam", after a discussion of the traditions of the Prophet has concluded as follows:

"Islam permits singing under condition that it must not be in any way obscene or harmful to Islamic morals. There is no harm in its being accompanied by music." (Ref. First edition of "The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam" by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, page-300).

He has, however, mentioned the following limitation to be observed in the matter of singing:

  1. The subject matter of songs should not be against the teachings of Islam; 
  2. The singing must not be accompanied by suggestive sexual movement; 
  3. There should not be excessive involvement in singing; 
  4. It must not accompany any other harmful activity, for example drinking wine. 

There is however differences among scholars as regards permissibility of singing and music. 

As regards movies Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has given the following opinion on the basis of teachings of Islam Movies may be regarded as permissible and good, in fact, desirable if the following conditions are met:

First: The content must be free of sin and immorality indeed, of anything, which is against the Islamic beliefs, morals and manners. Portrayals, which excite sexual desire or greed, glorify crime, or propagate deviant ideas, false beliefs, and the like are Haram, and it is not permissible for the Muslim to watch or to encourage them.  Second: The enjoying of movies should not result in the neglect of religious obligations or worldly responsibilities. The five times daily prayers constitute the foremost of the religious obligations; hence it is Haram for the Muslim to miss any prayer, for example, salat al-Maghrib in order to enjoy movie. Allah Ta'la says,

"Then woe to the worshippers who are neglectful of their prayers." (107:4-5)

From the foregoing discussion it is evident that Islam has given due importance to entertainment and sports. However, Islam has put limitations on entertainment and sports and has freed these from indecencies, excesses and harmful practices.

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