Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sports in Islam

Features of sports in Islam are many. In fact, many Islamic obligations include physical activities in addition to spiritual activities and ways of straightening behaviour. Prayer, for example, is a spiritual purification as well as motions for the body. Hajj also involves physical effort in its various rituals. So do visiting fellow Muslims and the sick, and walking to mosques.

All kinds of social activities in Islam can be considered to be a physical exercise of the body and a way to strengthen it, as long as these activities are done moderately.

Among the sports that the Prophet, peace be upon him, played are the following:

  • Running. It was a form of training for travelling, jihad, seeking provision, etc. It was reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal that the Prophet raced Aishah and she outran him. Then they had another race where he outran her, where upon he said,"This time makes up for the other."

  • Horsemanship and horse racing. In Sahih Muslim it is reported that Allah's Messenger said, "Ride horses, for they are the legacy of your father Ismail (Ishmael)."

  • Archery. A number of hadiths show that this sport was popular among early Muslims. Uqbah ibn Amir said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah saying while he was on the pulpit, 'In the verse, [And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war], the word power means archery; the word force means archery."

  • Fencing. Arabs knew a sport by the name niqaf, which is in fact the origin of fencing as known today. One of its forms was a special dance that the Prophet witnessed being done by Abyssinians inside a mosque. This niqaf refers to some movements being performed with arrows. In a narration reported by Abu Salamah, those Abyssinians were playing with their spears.

  • Wrestling. The Prophet wrestled with a number of men, one of whom was Rukanah ibn Abd Yazid ibn Hashim ibn Abdul-Muttalib, who lived in Makkah and was a skillful wrestler. (Al-Hakim, AbuDawud, and At-Tirmidhi) .

  • Swimming. As-Suyuti reported that Abu Al-Qasim Al-Baghawi narrated on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the Prophet and some of his Companions once swam in a stream. That day, the Prophet said,"Let everyone among us swim towards his friend." The Prophet himself swam towards Abu Bakr until he embraced him saying, "Here I am and my friend" (see Al-Zurqani's comment on Al-Mawahib Al-Ladunniyyah, vol. 1, p. 194).


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