07 Jul Can Muslim Women Play Sports?
Can Muslim Women Play Sports?
Salaam alykum, I’m a female convert Alhamdulillah and I have been playing sports all my life & now that I’m 19 I have an opportunity to become a professional athlete. When I told my Muslim friends, they said that it is a bad and women of Islam should spend their time devoted to Allah swt, not playing ‘pathetic games’. Although this hurt to hear, I want to put Islam first and do good by Allah swt. But can’t I do both? I dress modest. what is your view on this and muslim women in sport in general?
Wa alykum as-salaam,
I think it is interesting how some Muslims will call sports “pathetic games” in certain instances but be more than happy to post pictures of Muhammad Ali, talk about how Franck Ribery is Muslim, and cheer on Amir Khan when he knocks someone out.
Look, sport and physical exercise was encouraged by The Prophet who would wrestle, practice archery, among other activities and so to say that sports are “pathetic games” especially when it is something that can help your life, something you have dedicated countless hours to, it is going to hurt, but again, you must make a differentiation between what Muslims say and what is in the actual texts and traditions of Islam.
I was an athlete, so I can sympathize with you and I would encourage you to pursue your athletic endeavors, especially as it can help in your life, whether through academic scholarships, professional advancement, and quite frankly, just keeping you in great shape.
Now, there are various Fatawa (Islamic opinions) from people across the Islamic spectrum who have affirmed the right of women to participate in sports, such as Kuwait’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, to scholars in Turkey, etc. The central proof they utilize is the report of The Prophet engaging in foot races with his wife Aisha, which are found in the collection of Abu Dawud.
Now, some scholars will limit the physical exercise of women to “private places” and stress the need for women to dress appropriately. Now, I do not comment on the dress of women, because I have said that is an issue that women should debate themselves, but let’s look at the reality of the Hadith with Aisha for a moment.
Aisha raced The Prophet twice (at least) and it is clear that she did not race him in their home, rather, it was outside as the Hadith mentions, specifically, that they were traveling during this time. So, we must assume that she was wearing proper attire, so check, but it is clear that she participated in this activity outside and in the open. Therefore, those who argue that “it must be in the home” do not really have proof for this, and they take Hadith that are about public baths, which are not relevant to this question, especially in light of this Hadith from Abu Dawud.
Again, I do not pass Fatawa (legal opinions) and there are many Fatawa that have been issued affirming the permissibility of women participating in sport, but I simply wanted to explain why and the variables to consider as you would be playing this sport professionally, masha Allah.
As far as the idea that you should “put Islam first” I find this to be an odd charge, because, why are we doing anything that isn’t Islamic then? I mean, why study anything other than Islam? Why study engineering, or medicine, or anything? I just find that to be odd, and that would not make sense as The Prophet, his wife, and many of the companions were merchants, so, were they forgetting God when they worked? Of course not.
So, please take it easy on yourself, and I pray for your success in whatever you do, insha Allah.
I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.