Football is known as one of the most popular sports in the world. The objectives of the game are simple, that is, to score more goals than the opposition. But, how is this to be done? This is where strategies and planning becomes central to the outcomes. On the field of play, you have 11 players against 11 players, ALL working to support their team to be victorious. How does this sport work within the parameters of Islam?
We can agree that Allah has forbidden us to engage in voluntarily causing physical, mental and spiritual harm to oneself. Some may say that an obsessive focus on sports can deter from the reality of seeing the purpose in life (submission to Allah swt). That said, apart from having a sound mind and spirit, one must also have a sound body. This is a strong aspect of living for the better. The Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
On the authority of Aboo Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
المُؤْمِنُ القَوِيُّ خَيْرٌ وَأَحَبُّ إِلَى اللهِ مِنَ المُؤْمِنِ الضَّعِيفِ
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weak believer, while there is (still) goodness in both”
We should not forget that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to engage in a few sporting activities himself such as archery, fast walking, running and riding horses. He would also want others to also partake in similar physical activities.
A very common story is when he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) engaged in a wrestling match with an undefeated champion by the name of Rukaana. This gentleman had a much bigger frame than the Prophet (peace be upon him). During the encounter, Rukaana was taken down many times in a row, which resulted in him converting to Islam.
Football encourages a person to be physically fit and healthy. A Muslim who is in a good physical shape, is better to perform the duties and requirements of Islam. By keeping active, it helps the immune system, thus standing a better chance to protect the body from harmful diseases. The rules of sports should always be adhered which requires one to conduct themselves respectfully. This means there should be no cheating, showing off and nothing else which brings the contest into disrepute. The outcomes must always remain humble and modest.
There are numerous footballers in the game presently who although are world renowned, they remain humble on the field of play and demonstrate their Islamic ethics (Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, etc). In return, they have given back 10 fold of what they have earned. Honestly, humility and modesty must remain intact.