The sport of Football:
Defining the sport:
This sport has four factors: Two competing teams each consisting of eleven players; a rectangular shaped field of specified dimensions; A ball; And three officials, consisting of one referee on the field and two linesmen who flank each side. The two teams compete to score the highest number of goals points by entering the ball into the opponent’s goal, and the winner is the team with the highest number of goals. The game consists of two halves, each forty-five minutes in duration with a fifteen minute break in between.
The history of this sport:
This sport as a contest during which each team tries to score more goals than the opposing one goes as far back as the celebrations which used to take place in Egypt and other ancient civilisations. In China for example, one writer reports that soccer was played in the year 5000 BC and that it was played with a ball filled with hair. The Greeks later gave this sport the name ‘Harbistom’. After this, the Romans played this sport all over their empire and it spread to England through the Romans and fascinated the English people.
At the end of the twelfth century CE football matches were held in England on Tuesdays, and after a few years, Tuesday became a regular festival of football in England and an official holiday. People would gather to watch the games and the Lord Mayor of London would kick the ball to start the game.
The city of Chester was among the cities which were famous for their Tuesday games and it is said that the games were held specifically on this day in memory of one Tuesday in the year 217 CE when the locals expelled the Romans from that city.
During the nineteenth century, two factions appeared in the sport; one wished to involve the use of hands in the game, whilst others did not. This eventually led to the creation of two separate games; one is commonly known as football, or soccer, and the other is rugby. After this, the rules and regulations of the game of football were set in the cities ofLondon and Cambridge.
Today, there are more than one hundred and thirty countries as members of ‘FIFA’, the International Football Federation, which was established on the 21st of May 1904 CE inParis, France. This organisation initiated what is known as the ‘World Cup’ on the thirteenth of August 1930 CE in Uruguay, and this tournament takes places once every four years. There are also many other tournaments which take place in different parts of the world, such as the European Championships which was established in 1958 CE to compete against the World Cup.
The Islamic ruling regarding football:
In Islaam, all matters that are not in the category of worship, or Ibaadah, are permissible, unless there is specific evidence from the Islamic texts that would render them prohibited. In fact, such matters could even be recommended if it strengthens the Muslim due to his participation in it. Islaam actively encourages the practice of everything that would strengthen the body in order to be constantly prepared for Jihaad. Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “A strong believer is better and dearer to Allaah than a weak believer, and there is goodness in both”(Muslim).
Ibn Taymiyyah, said: “If playing with a ball (whether on horseback (polo) or with the feet) is beneficial to the horse or the person, by keeping the person or the horse in shape and as a way of preparing for Jihaad, then it is good. Otherwise, if it is harmful (to either), then it is forbidden.”
It is clear that football tournaments and competitions which have prizes involved are not permitted Islamically and that the money gained from them is considered ill-gotten. It is not a sport which is useful in a war, nor is it a preparation for Jihaad. Moreover, this sport in its current form destroys the very foundation of loyalty and disavowal which our religion stands upon. Due to this sport, the Muslims develop love for the disbelieving players and imitate them. Also, this sport acts as a tranquilizer for the Muslim nation which numbs their senses to the current reality of their situation. The enemies of Islaam have huge set budgets and spent lots of money on this sport in order to divert the Muslim nation from its preparation for Jihaad and therefore the actual performance of Jihaad has become distant in their minds. If the Islamic scholars have ruled unlawful the setting prizes for sports which do not help in the preparation for Jihaad, then what would they say about a sport which actually hinders them from preparing for and performing Jihaad?
The evil consequences of sporting competitions:
The sport of football has developed over last few centuries from being a means of keeping physically fit into an activity that is full of Islamic prohibitions and forms of Jaahiliyyah(pre-Islamic ignorance) as well as moral deviation and ideological deformation. The following points highlight some of these prohibitions and expose the deviations and deformations:
1) Causing Muslims to love, glorify, esteem and honour disbelievers:
One of the most dangerous consequences of these contests is the breaking and dissolving of the barrier of disavowal between Muslims and disbelievers which is the most important base of belief.
These contests aim to eradicate the Muslim’s hatred towards the disbelievers, the hatred which is a natural result of the disbeliever’s enmity towards the Muslims and their fighting against them using all available means. What is even worse than this is when the Muslims begin loving, esteeming, praising, admiring, glorifying and exalting the mention of the disbelievers. They even become angry if anyone dispraised these disbelievers whom they admire and love and go out of their way to get their shirts, autographs, or even a hand-shake
Some Muslims hang pictures of these disbelieving football stars in their houses and cars and even on their bodies in the form of tattoos; others would go as far as carrying these disbelieving players or coaches on their shoulder.
‘Aa’idh Ibn ‘Amr , may Allaah be pleased with him, was with Abu Sufyaan, who was not a believer at that time, on the day the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallamconquered Makkah to meet the Prophet. As they approached, some of the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Here comes Abu Sufyaan and ‘Aa’idh Ibn ‘Amr.” Thereupon, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “No, rather, here comes ‘Aa’idh Ibn ‘Amr and Abu Sufyaan. Islaam honours and nothing else can give honour beside it.”(Daaraqutni). Imaam Ibn Hajr, may Allaah have mercy upon him,said commenting upon this Hadeeth: “Mentioning someone’s name first reflects their virtue.” This was the case due to the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam merely mentioning the name of a disbeliever before that of a believer, therefore, what is the case when Muslims praise, honour and glorify the disbelievers and even carry them on their shoulders?
2) Diverting Muslims from thinking about Islamic issues:
The enemies of Islaam have been successful in overwhelming the Muslims with these competitions and making them forget about their religion and their responsibility of propagating it. They have succeeded in exterminating their sense of duty and pride towards their religion; this is precisely the reason why you see many football fans that closely monitor these competitions not caring about what happens to their oppressed fellow Muslims around the world. It does not concern them whether their brothers and sisters in Islaam are killed, displaced, tortured or that their sacred places are profaned; their only concern is monitoring the news of football matches and monitoring the lifestyle and financial conditions of the players.
A poet said describing the situation of sport lovers:
People stay watching it, dazzled until day light.
And when the call comes for Jihaad, to make their future bright.
They are all in deep sleep, as if they say, ‘The team’s victory is our delight’.
3) Diverting Muslims from the concern of fulfilling their Islamic objectives and esteemed issues, to occupying themselves with trivia and frivolity:
In reality, these competitions are a tool of the disbelievers which they are using to destroy the Muslim nation and their sense of ambition. This is confirmed by the thirteenth protocol of the ‘Learned Elders of Zion’ which states: “In order to keep the masses misguided and unaware of what is ahead of them and behind them, or what is plotted against them; we will increase ways of keeping them busy by establishing new forms of entertainment, fun, games and different sports, then have newspapers call for contests and tournaments of these.”
4) Inverting standards and corrupting people’s perceptions:
This refers to what is known as ‘Terminological warfare’; which is the most lethal weapon that our enemies use against us. This is the mislabelling of matters and the fabrication of facts; our enemies label the truth as ugly and disgraceful whilst labelling falsehood as attractive and progressive.
In relation to the subject of this research, we can observe that this phenomenon occurs very often. Football players who are wasting their time and others are labelled as heroes, stars, history makers and accomplishers of might. Winning games are called victory and success while respecting opponents is called sportsmanship; and in this they try to avoid attributing this mutual respect to the Islamic teachings which is where this behaviour originates. Fans that waste their time are called allies and supporters, but we must ask ourselves, what are these fans doing when it comes to the support that they owe to this religion? Also, some football matches are called ‘friendly’, even if they were played against the very worst enemy of Islam!
5) Setting an evil example for the Muslim youth:
The cultivation of youth by setting an example is one of the greatest and most effective ways of achieving it. The Qur’aan has guided us to this as Allaah says that which translates as: “There has already been for you an excellent example in Ibraaheem and those with him…” (Al-Mumtahinah: 4) and also: “Those are the ones whom Allaah has guided, so from their guidance take an example” (Al-An’aam: 90). Also, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam attached great importance to this. Hudhayfah may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Follow the example of those who will come after me; Abu Bakr and ‘Umar” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah).
These competitions set evil examples for the Muslim youth and are an obstacle to them benefiting from wholesome and pure examples. In order for them to accomplish this evil, the disbelievers focus their media heavily on famous athletes, follow their lifestyles closely and describe them as heroes, stars and celebrities. This affects our children to the extent that it makes them become intensely fascinated by these athletes and the only concern that they have is to be like them in every way. Due to this, any ambitions that they hold with regard to working for the religion of Islaam disappears. In many cases the Muslim youth imitate these athletes even in acts that are of disbelief.
6) Hindering people from the remembrance of Allaah and from fulfilling their religious obligations:
Many of those who watch and follow these contests are thereby hindered from remembering Allaah and performing prayers. This is known fact to everybody and only an arrogant person would attempt to refute this fact or reject it. Anything which leads to abandoning prayer or not praying on time is prohibited. Many people stay up all night watching the games and therefore miss the following Fajr prayer, others abandon congregational prayers just so that they can watch these games. What is worse than this is when some miss Jumu’ah prayer for the sake of watching the games. In addition to all this, many neglect their ties with their parents, children and relatives and give precedence to these games.
Allaah says that which translates as: “Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you fromn the remembrance of Allaah and from prayer. So will you not desist?”(Al-Maa’idah: 91). Imaam Al-Qurtubi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said commenting upon this verse: “Any fun which leads to more fun and results in enmity and hatred between those who practice it, or hinders them from remembering Allaah or praying becomes as prohibited as the consumption of alcohol is.”
A person may argue that ‘The consumption of Alcohol causes a person to become drunk such that they cannot even pray, whereas playing chess and rolling dice does not do any of that.’ The answer to that is Allaah combined the prohibition of both alcohol and gambling in the same verse, and described them both to be causes for hatred and enmity between people and hinderers from the remembrance of Allaah and prayer. It is obvious that alcohol is an intoxicant whilst gambling is not, yet Allaah made them equally prohibited because both lead to the same result. Moreover, consuming a small amount of alcohol will not intoxicate a person, just as playing chess and rolling dice does not, yet it still remains just as prohibited as consuming a large amount. Therefore, there is no problem or contradiction in prohibiting it along with intoxicants in the same verse. This is because alcohol was prohibited due to it causing a person to become intoxicated and thereby hindering them from prayer. Playing chess and rolling dice would naturally take the same ruling because it results in people becoming heedless and hinders them from praying.
7) Enslavement and emotional control:
No one can deny that football affects the personality and emotional well-being of the players as well as the fans. Nothing can be more evident to illustrate this than the heart attacks which occur to some football fans during and after games which frequently result in death. This is because such people would usually be observing the games in a state of high-tension.
The true aim of sports, which is to develop the human-body and discipline the soul, has clearly failed to be achieved. In fact, sport has become a lethal weapon which attacks the very bodies and souls that it was meant to develop. One of the ugliest ways in which one can die is on the football pitch, or in a stadium, or to die for the sake of a soccer team, and what an evil state to be in at the time of resurrection, for everyone will be resurrected according to how they were at the time of their death.
An example of this is a story that was published in ‘Al-Akhbaar’ which is an Egyptian newspaper, it stated that: “The chairman of An-Nasir Company for rubber manufacturing died of a heart attack when his favourite team lost in a final game. He was watching closely with his family members and became very excited and started jumping and kissing his family members when his team scored the first goal. However, the other team scored an equaliser and then came the second goal which meant defeat for his team. Afterwards, he went to his bedroom to rest and shortly afterwards, his wife went into the bedroom to find that he had died of a heart attack.”
8) Corrupting communities and family relations:
The infatuation of these competitions has become widespread in the homes of many people. It entered without permission, spread corruption and created problems and disputes. Many cases of divorce resulted from these competitions; if the husband’s favourite team loses, he vents his anger at his wife and may even beat her. Many brothers have fought because they support different teams. This is precisely what the enemies of Islaam are eager to cause so that the structure of the family collapses and calamities befall the Muslim nation.
9) Leads to one cursing their own parents:
In many cases people start cursing each other during games and may even use words which would affect their belief. Many people are habitually foul-mouthed and rude and so they direct this towards the referee, players, or other fans. This eventually results in somebody cursing their own parents, which is a major sin is Islaam. ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr, may Allaah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “It is one of the major and great sins that one curses his own parents”it was said: “O Messenger of Allaah! How would a person curse his own parents?” he sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam replied: “He curses somebody’s father and that person responds by cursing his father back, or he curses the somebody’s mother and he responds by cursing his mother back.”(Bukhaari & Muslim).
10) Intensifies hatred and enmity between people:
People claim that these competitions are a civilised way to strengthen bonds, build deep feelings of harmony and build bridges of communication between people. Reality is quite the opposite. History proves that such competitions and contests act as sparks which ignite huge fires, both between the players themselves and the fans of each competing team. The fact that the disasters and subsequent victims which result from such competitions are very many makes it easy for sincere people who are truly seeking the correct Islamic ruling of these competitions to reach the truth; that they take the rulings of other prohibitions because of their evil consequences. The following are some evidences from the history:
- August 16th 1950 CE: The organisers of the World Cup in a game between Brazil and Uruguay where forced to dig a thirteen metre long and one and a half metre wide trench to protect players from the crowd.
- May 23rd 1963CE: During a game between Peru and Argentina a dispute arose regarding the soundness of a goal which was scored. A clash followed which took place between rival fans that which resulted in the death of 320 people and the injuring of 1000 others.
- September 17th 1967 CE: 48 people were killed and 606 injured in a fight between the fans of two Turkish teams, caused by a disputed goal.
- June 25th 1969 CE: 15 people were killed and 102 injured in a fight between the fans of two teams over a disputed goal during a game in Turkey.
- August 16th 1980 CE: 18 people were killed and 100 injured in India after the referee sent two players off the field.
- November 18th 1982 CE: 24 people were killed and 210 injured in a fight between drunken rival fans at a match in Colombia.
- May 29th 1985 CE: 39 people were killed and 600 injured with broken bones resulting from an intense fight in Brussels, Belgium between the fans of an Italian team (Juventus) and an English team (Liverpool).
These are just a few examples of events that have occurred and which remain as a mark of disgrace in our minds.
The evil consequences of the some football matches have been even worse than those already mentioned and have even affected diplomatic relations between countries. For example, in 1969 CE, war broke out between El Salvador and Honduras due to the result of a football match between those two countries. In fact, this war was called ‘The Battle of Football’, it lasted for seven days and left more than 2000 people dead.
11) The wasting of money:
These competitions are the reason for the wastage of huge sums of money. This is because vast amounts are spent in preparing the pitches, securing the money needed to hold the games and refurbishing damages which result from unruly fans when their team loses. Moreover, the security that is required during and after games is an extra financial burden. There is no doubt that all these costs are ultimately shouldered by the poorer section of society.
It is extremely unfortunate that some Muslim countries are at the top of the list of countries that set a high percentage of their budget for sports, others spend more on sport than they do on educational and religious issues.
Something else which is shocking is when a foreign guest sportsman is invited to participate in a game and paid huge sums of money to do so. One of the North African Arab countries paid a huge amount for the foreign coach of their national team which exceeded the salary of fifty university professors. Another Muslim country hired a Serbian Christian coach for their national team while our brothers where being slaughtered like sheep and our sisters were being raped by his nation.
12) It is a fertile medium for gambling:
These competitions open the door for gambling and speculation which is prohibited Islamically. For example, FIFA hold weekly gambling sessions for guessing the result of the weekly games between the European teams and LOTO does the same thing in some of the Arab countries. Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that he Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “He who says to his brother ‘let us gamble’ must give to charity (as an expiation).” (Bukhaari & Muslim). Imaam Ash-Shawkaani, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said explaining this Hadeeth: “This charity is an expiation, which is a clear indication that this act is prohibited”.
It is therefore clear what evil and destructive effects gambling has on a nations economy; It wastes human resources and increases unemployment, consumes a nation’s wealth and instils hatred and enmity. There are many more evil consequences than one can mention in a single research, but the few examples given should suffice as an illustration of the point.
13) Creates victims of stadium catastrophes:
Stadiums often become over filled due to peoples’ zeal and enthusiasm to watch the matches, as well as the organisers aiming to maximise their profits. The danger of this is that disasters and catastrophes may result leaving behind them many victims. They die when stadiums collapse, or when fans rush to leave to stadium after a game is over, or for many other reasons. The following are some examples of what history has preserved for us:
- March 9th 1946 CE: 33 people were killed and 500 injured when people rushed out of a stadium in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
- January 1966 CE: 66 people were killed in Glasgow, Scotland as a result of bad match organisation.
- June 23rd 1968 CE: In Argentina, fans lit fireworks which caused fear to spread between people who thought that a fire had broke out. Due to the rush to leave the stadium, 89 people were killed and 150 injured.
- December 25th 1973 CE: 27 people died and 52 were injured in the Congo as a result of people rushing out of a stadium.
- February 7th 1973 CE: 80,000 rushed into the ‘Zamaalik’ stadium in Egypt to watch a game, although the stadium was built to accommodate only 40,000. This resulted in the death of 48 people and the injuring of the same number.
- August 4th 1979 CE: 24 people were killed and 27 injured in Nigeria due to match officials turning off all stadium lighting before the stadium was evacuated.
- October 20th 1982 CE: in Moscow, USSR, the Holland team scored a goal while a large number of people were leaving the stadium. This caused them to rush back in joy, which resulted in the death of 20 people.
- May 11th 1985 CE: A fire broke out during a match in Bradford, England which terrified people into rushing towards the exit gates only to find that they were locked. This resulted in the deaths of 53 people and injuring of more than 200.
- March 14th 1988 CE: In Nepal, 72 people were killed and 27 injured when a power-cut resulted from a strong gust of wind which cause people to rush out of the stadium that they were in.
- April 15th 1989 CE: in Sheffield, England large numbers of people entered a stadium which was completely full, resulting in the deaths of 95 people and the injuring of more than 200 in two hours.
Also, the people who propagate this sport deliberately and shamelessly broadcast their games during religious seasons for the Muslims and thereby pre-occupy them with it. They fill the newspapers and magazines with commentary, analysis and discussion on this.
- The Islamic ruling and conclusion:
We have seen the evil consequences of these competitions, and what has not been mentioned is far more than what was mentioned, and each one of these evil consequences is a root which has other evils sprouting from it. It is not possible for one seeking the truth after reading all this to do anything except that this it is prohibited to hold such competitions or to monitor them. Also, each one of us must encourage people not to waste their time with it.
Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “If one were to monitor these competitions, they would not fail to notice that they have exactly the same influence on people as alcohol does, and partaking in them in a very limited way leads to partake in them in a bigger and bigger way, so they are addictive in nature. The more people partake in them, the more they are hindered from doing that which Allaah and His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam love, and the closer they are to committing that which Allaah and His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam hate. Even if there is not a specific text (from the Qur’aan and Sunnah) referring to this, the general rules and principles in Islaam, and judging according to that which brings benefit and prevents harm and evil, is enough to prohibit them.“ This statement was made during the era of Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, so what would he say if he saw the competitions in our time?
We must be more concerned and protective of our religion than the Kings of England were about their personal interests, for they prohibited these competitions when they saw the violence and brutality that they lead to. They were prohibited in 1314 CE by King Edward II, in 1365 CE by King Edward III and after that by King Richard II, Henry IV and the Queen Elizabeth I.
In 1314 CE King Edward II announced the following: “The loud noise and fighting which results from this game where people run after a ball, and the evils that result from it, and the fact that God prohibits such evil behaviour compels me as the King to prohibit these to take place in the future, and anyone who disobeys this will be imprisoned.”
- An allowed exception:
Although it is prohibited to practice the sport of football due to the prohibitions and evils that result, one can play this sport on the condition that they can guarantee that these prohibitions will not take place. One can play this sport if it improves physical fitness, even if it is less than that which would result from the military training which the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam recommended the Muslims to take part in.
Beside the physical gains derived from this sport, we can utilise and direct this sport to achieve other important objectives, such as:
First: To prevent the youth from getting involved in worse and more evil matter which they might waste their time doing, and would do more damage to their morals and manners.
Second: To strengthen relations between the Muslim youth, and introduce them to the objectives of Islamic propagation.
Third: Satisfy the sense of competition which in natural in youth and which would otherwise be fulfilled in other frivolous ways, or even in a prohibited manner, such as gambling.
These are suggestions which one must consider due to the nature of the circumstances that the Muslim nation is currently in. When this nation comes back to its senses and returns to the way our Lord wants it to be and realises the necessity of being equipped with Islaam as a comprehensive way of life, it is only then that nurturers of the youth as well as those in charge of the Muslims can set a curriculum for the youth which includes the performance of sports in a dignified and respectful manner, which coincides with the responsibility of enjoining good and forbidding evil. Allaah describes this in the Qur’aan with that which translates as: “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allaah…”(Aal ‘Imraan: 110).