“Permissibility of Football” by Shaykh Ubaydullah Mubarakpuri
Shaykh Ubaydullah Mubarakpuri in his “Fatawa” v 5 p 32:
Q: What are the scholars of the religion saying on the topic: Zayd is saying that playing Football is allowed because many scholars of the religion play it, and Umar says that playing Football is not allowed as it is the game of the Christians and it is narrated in the Hadith: “Whoever resembles a nation, he is among them” (Abu Dawood) and in another Hadith: “The Jews and the Christians do not colour (their hair, beard ect) so oppose them” (Bukhari). What the author of “Tazkirah Ikhwan” wrote in this book in the translation of these 2 Ahadith indicates that playing Football is not allowed in any circumstance because the Muslims are so excited to play football that they don’t care about the religion or this world and they are walking like the Mushrik?
A: “First it is appropriate to clarify the meaning of this Hadith which is taken as evidence by the side declaring Football Haram for the Muslims. Allamah Ameer Yamani said in “Subul Salam” v 4 p 273: in the explanation of the Hadith “Whoever resembles a nation, he is among them”:
“This Hadith indicates that whoever resembles perverts (Fusaq) is among them, or imitates disbelievers or innovators IN ANYTHING IN WHICH THEY ARE PARTICULAR FROM CLOTHING, RIDING OR FORMS (HAY’AH)” (End of sh Yamani quote)
Now if the matter is among Shi’ar (sign, emblem, logo) of non Muslim nations or a sign of perversion and corruption, then it is Haram by the Sharee’ah and not permissible.
And if the matter is only a sign of non Muslim nation’s national sign or their country’s sign, then adopting it is harmful and against Maslalah (benefit) from the point of view of politics and civilization, as each country, nation, community, Mazhab, culture, and civilization have such characteristics which distinguish it form others and the life of this nation and culture is attached to these specific particularities. Hence Muslims should avoid non Muslim nations’ countries and national distinguished particularities and symbols.
But if the matter is not among their distinguishing particularities then THERE IS NO HARM OR PROBLEM IN CHOOSING IT, AND THIS IS NOT COUNTED AMONG BLAMED IMITATION.
Now we have to look at the status of Football, and it is evident that this game is not a religious or Mazhabi sign of English people, so one cannot declare it non permissible and forbidden from the religious point of view.
And it is an open reality that this game is not a Symbol of the English nation or civilization, rather it is merely a form or training and bodily exercise which they have thought about, like in our country different types of body training are frequent and only thought by us (in India). So like we have in our countries, to refresh the body and maintain health and strength and improve it, many athletic excercies, many forms of Dand, Banott, Dor (races), Gulli Bala (ball and stick), Kushti (form of wrestling), Kaloch Andazi and others, and there is no doubt in them being Mubah and permissible, so likewise any game by which the same purpose is attained is permissible and Mubah, whether its inventor is English or French or German or Italian or American or Chinese, rather such athletic exercises and training if they are with the intention of preparing for Struggle then they are recommended and bring reward…
The Prophet (saw) wrestling with Rukanah and putting him on the ground and laying him down, in front of him and according to his order Samurah and Rafi wrestled (in which Samurah laid down Rafi and won the wrestling and thus obtained the permission to join Jihad), the race horsing between companions, and many other similar events, we should ponder over them, and football, volley ball, hockey and other form of exercises are permissible or Mubah as long as there is no other preventive religious factor such as gambling, neglect of obligations of the religion, uncovering ect.
The matter is that in the same manner as the new European inventions such as telephone, TV, wire…radio, loud speaker, motorcycle, machine gun, poisonous gas and similar other inventions, their correct and permissible use is Mubah without any doubt, and there is no blameworthy resemblance in this, in the same manner adopting an exercise or a game is not a resemblance to the Christians, rather putting the use of such things in resemblance is an exaggeration in the religion and Tahrim of Halal which the Quran forbade.
Islam is a comprehensive Mazhab, a religion which will remain forever, it should cooperate with all countries and nations (sath dena he), in the same manner as vile and dangerous matters of non Muslim countries cannot be permissible, likewise their permissible and beneficial matters cannot be disallowed. Neither its circle is narrow such as narrow minded people think, nor it is that large as naturist and Mulhid think. The matter is that we should present Islam in its true and best form to others, without any shortcoming or exaggeration.
This is what is with me and Allah knows best
Written by Ubaydullah Mubarakpuri