[This article was prepared before the World Cup 2010, which South Africa hosted. This advice applies to all sports events that conflict with Islamic teachings.]

The hype and talk presently are the World Cup. Soccer mania has gripped many Muslims' minds, hearts, speech, time, and money.

And these many Muslims argue: “It's once in a lifetime; we are the host country; it's the World Cup which cannot be missed at any cost”.

And we naively believe that these reasons give us the go-ahead to support, promote and participate.

But there is one serious fact that makes us unsuitable and incompatible with what I would describe as an International “upsurge of sins” —we are Muslims. And we are very fortunate that we are Muslims. As such, there is no compatibility between a Muslim and sin.

Let us discuss why we, as Muslims, cannot and should not align ourselves with the World Cup and other sporting events.
Let us read with an open heart and mind.


1) Salah

It is a common observation that many Muslims neglect their Salaah when it comes to International, National, or local sporting events.

Even those with some link with the Masaajid will choose to forego Salaah in Jamaat and even the Salaah itself to not miss a moment in watching men run after a ball. Men, running after a ball —Is this intelligent?

Let us relate this to real life and the inevitable: How will this benefit us in this world and the hereafter? Will any one of these sports players be able to intercede on our behalf before Allah Ta'ala —when we have to account for our actions, for our indulgence in futile and even Haraam activities?

Our Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “

…Do not forgo Salaah intentionally, lest you should get out of the fold of Islam. Do not perpetrate disobedience to Allah, lest you deserve His Wrath…”[1]

Rasulullah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) also said:

“The dividing line between Kufr and Imaan is Salah.” [2]

Just as we would be grief-stricken at losing our beloved family members and all our wealth, properties, and everything else, should we similarly grieve over losing even one Salaah?

Those few who perform Salah at the stadium or grounds —whilst the shouting, screaming, music, drinking and other sins are being engaged in simultaneously, should think for themselves of what a display of hypocrisy they make. Because that is precisely what it is Hypocrisy.


2) Hero-worshipping

Allah Ta'ala mentions in the Qur'an Shareef, in Surah Munafiqoon:

“But honour belongs to Allah, His Messenger and the Believers…”[Surah Munafiqun 63:8]

And in Surah An-Nisa:

‘…To those who take for friends unbelievers rather than Believers: is it honour they seek among them? Nay, – all honour is with Allah.'

To deal honestly and truthfully with disbelievers or to assist the poor and needy amongst them are from the teachings of Islam.

However, to integrate with them in such a manner that we lose our Islamic identity or give up on our Islamic culture is prohibited because this is extremely harmful to one's Imaan.

Many have given up Imaan and Islam due to having close friendships and relationships with those who do not believe in Allah Ta'ala, His Final Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and the Day of Judgement.

We find people going crazy and wild over soccer players, cricket players and their likes. And one wonders, what is all the clamour and fuss about; when their “outstanding” achievement in life seems to be kicking, throwing or hitting a ball? Does this call for hero worship? Is this our shallow understanding of success as Muslims?

Do we not know that the most successful of all people are the Ambiyaa and their followers? Are we even aware of the tremendous successes of the Sahaba (rahiyallahu ‘anhum)? They were men; and Brave men. Their history, feats, and conquests drown out the thousands of insignificant goals scored by soccer players.

In fact, there cannot be any comparison and likeness. The lives of the Sahabah (rahiyallahu ‘anhum) were constructive and productive —for their Deen and Aakhirah and those who emulate them. The lives of these players are destructive to their hereafter and those who are obsessed with them and emulate them.

We should reflect on our obsession, veneration and craze of the film stars, sport-stars and others who are presently the enemies of Allah Ta'ala. A warning has been sounded, directing us to make sincere Taubah.

Allah Ta’ala states in the Qur`aan Shareef:

‘O you who believe, do not take My enemies and your enemies for friends, expressing love with them while they have rejected the Truth that has come to you….'
[Surah Mumtahina 60:1]

We seem to very easily forget that we are Muslims and all Muslims have dangerous enemies: So whilst our enemies shrewdly convince us to spend thousands of Rands, waste our energy and time on useless, futile sports such as the World Cup and other sporting events, they gleefully bomb, kill, rape, oppress and harass our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world —but we are so intoxicated with World Cups, cricket and soccer matches, that we don't even know that our enemies have deceived us!

Have we not witnessed enough enmity in Occupied Palestine, Pakistan, Kashmir, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and other parts of the world? Those who were considered friends and companions were the first to assault, kill, maim, and even rape our Muslim brothers and sisters for no other reason than that they are Believers in Allah Ta'ala.

 Have we not taken any lessons? Have we not witnessed the blood of the Muslims flowing in Bosnia, like rivers?

When we claim to have love for Allah Ta'ala, how can we love these types of sporting events?

Allah Ta'ala advises us:

‘0 those who believe, do not take the disbelievers for friends instead of the believers. Do you want to produce before Allah a clear evidence against yourselves?'
[Surah Nisa 4:144]

In other words, we should not make the unbelievers our bosom pals.

Once again, it does not mean that we should not treat them with kindness, deal honestly and assist when there is a need. However, Will participation and support in the World Cup attract them towards Islam?


3) Music

Almost every venue, event and occasion today seems to demand “music” as part of the entertainment. As Muslims, we know fully well that music is not the “pleasure” of a true believer because Nabi (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) specifically mentioned that one of his objectives was to destroy musical instruments.

Rasulullah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“My Rabb has commanded me to destroy all musical instruments…” [3]

 Abdullah bin Mas'ud (radiyallahu ‘anhu) narrates:

“Music causes hypocrisy to grow in the heart just as water causes crops to grow.” [4]

One of our pious elders warned about the harms of music: “Beware of music because music reduces modesty and shame; it increases lust and destroys one's dignity and respect. Its effect is like the effect of alcohol.”

Then, would it be morally correct for a MUSLIM to be present at an event where music is ‘a must-have'?


4) Alcohol

The Ahadith mention:

  • “Wine is the gatherer of sin.” [5]
  • “Wine is the leader of all indecency and is from among the major sins….” [6]
  • Nabi (Sallallaahu' alayhi wasallam) also said: “Abstain from consuming wine, for verily it is the key to all evil.” [7]
  • Every person that is associated with alcohol – be it the manufacturer, the one who transports, the one who sells, buys, or serves comes under the curse of Allah Ta'ala. [8]

Those who keep company and incline towards the transgressors have to contend with the same consequences, for Allah Ta'ala warns us:

“And do not incline towards the wrongdoers, lest the fire catches you, and you have no supporters other than Allah, then you should not be helped.”
[Surah Hud 11:113]

5) Zina (Adultery/Fornication)

Allah Ta'ala says:

Do not go near adultery. Indeed it is a shameful deed and an evil way. 
[Surah Al-Isra 17:32]

It is an evident fact that these events promote Zina in abundance. Besides adultery of the eyes, which is also categorised as Zina and very common at these venues, with the indecent and revealing attire, actual Zina is being promoted and advertised.

With the thousands of prostitutes visiting our country and the thousands more local —what else can be expected, except an escalation in adultery and fornication and a much higher risk of a severe punishment descending. (May Allah Ta'ala protect us from His punishment)

The summary and outline of various Ahaadeeth is that plague, poverty, and diseases which were unheard of previously, earthquakes, drought and destruction, the birth of illegitimate children, and even escalation of deaths will follow in the wake of adultery and immorality.

If a person commits adultery, then the priceless and invaluable commodity of Imaan is removed from his body.
Abu Hurairah (radhiyalluhu ‘anhu) reports that Nabi (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

‘Allah Ta'ala removes the Imaan of that person who drinks wine or engages in adultery like how one of you removes his shirt from his head.[9]

What will be the condition of the person who dies whilst committing Zina?


6) Wastage and extravagence

Allah Ta'ala states explicitly:

“…And do not squander recklessly. Surely, squanderers are brothers to the Shayatin, and Shaytaan is very ungrateful to his Lord.” 
 [Surah Bani Israeel 17:26/27]

Spending R800 or R1000, whether more or less, on one ticket —and we know many are spending much more on many tickets —is money wasted, and wastage and squandering are categorised as sin in Islam – whether on that which is permissible or otherwise. Moreover, the sin is compounded when it is spent viewing something at a place hosting a combination of evils.

Besides the tickets for the various matches, much more money will be spent on travel and accommodation —with airfares and rates going through the roof.

Consider how many loaves of bread, how many litres of milk or necessities of life could have been provided for thousands who live below the bread line or thousands more who are in dire need of medical assistance… How can we be so complacent when so many are without food, water, electricity, medicine, and other needs?

Doesn't our Imaan and conscience trouble us in the least?

Wastage and extravagance are a cause of drought, high-cost living and other forms of punishment, as drawn from the Ahadeeth —and it is what we are seeing all around us.


7) Dress

Islam has gifted us with a dress code which identifies us as Muslims – which makes us flag-bearers of Islam, representatives of Nabi (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Inviters to Islam. We have been forbidden from adopting any semblance to the cultural or religious dressing style of people of other faiths.

Wearing soccer t-shirts, caps, and bags with the 2010 football logos indicates our love and support for the event and the culture. Nabi (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

  • “The one who imitates others is not of us.” [10]
  •  And: “Whoever imitates a nation is from amongst them.” [11]

We are the nation of Islam and should be rightly proud of our beautiful culture and dress because it is the culture and clothing of the greatest after Allah Ta'ala, Rasulullah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). It is the height of foolishness to exchange diamonds for stones.


8) Mixed Gatherings

The disbelievers have no concept of segregation. They advocate mixed gatherings because it facilitates more sins and immorality. It works in their favour because there is easy gratification of sensual desires and sinful pleasures.

The Shari'ah instructs us: ‘It is not permissible to be present in a gathering where Allah Ta'ala is disobeyed.'

The purpose of creation and the object of life

Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Qur’aan Shareef:

“Do you then think that we created you in jest and that you would not be brought back to us?”
 [Surah Mu`minun 23:115]

Our purpose for being sent to this world is undoubtedly not for amusement.

“We created not the heavens, the earth and all between them, merely in (idle) sport.”
[Surah Ad-Dukhan 44:38]

However, Allah Ta'ala and His Rasul (Sallallaahu' alayhi wasallam) do not deprive us of enjoyment and entertainment. The Shari'ah and the Sunnah accommodate and give guidance to a Muslim regarding halaal, permissible entertainment, humour, laughter, play and relaxation. However, there is certainly no scope for events that feature Haraam indulgences.

Moreover, deliberate and planned sins do not feature in a Muslim's life.

The reality of the “World Cup” and other national and international sporting events is that they are a dangerous fusion of major sins.

And when sins increase and multiply, we invite punishment for that disobedience. Haven't we taken a lesson from Tsunamis, Gale-force winds, Hurricanes and Earthquakes that left nothing but devastation in their wake? Are we immune to such disaster? Are we safe from punishment?

It is reported that once Amr Ibn Absa (radiyallahu ‘anhu) asked Nabi (sallallaahu' alayhi wa sallam) which Hijrat (migration) is the best, and he said:
“That you leave what your Lord dislikes.” [12]

One of our great Scholars had said very aptly: “It baffles me to see a people who are advised to get their provision and are called upon that the departure time is due, yet they sit down, playing.”

Our boarding passes were given to us the moment we entered this world —and that boarding pass is for boarding the flight of death. We have been informed and advised of the long journey ahead and the much-needed provision for the journey, but how strange it is that we choose to while away our time and accumulate nothing for what lies ahead.

As has been said: “The knife is being sharpened, and the oven is being heated up, yet the ram is still eating the fodder.”

The knife of death has been sharpened, and our graves have been selected and are waiting for us to take residence in them. Despite knowing this, we “graze” complacently in disobedience – unconcerned that that knife is ready to strike us at any time.

Allah Ta’ala states :

“O People of Imaan! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones….”
[Surah At-Tahreem 66:6]

Your (real) friends are (no less than) Allah, His Messenger, and the (fellowship of) believers —those who establish regular prayers and regular charity, and they bow down humbly (in worship).
[Surah Maa`idah 5:55]

Of course, all that has been stated will not sit well with everyone. It is for those who want to be good ambassadors of Islam, pleasing Allah Ta'ala and His Beloved Rasul (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

This article is for my own reflection and an invitation to my Muslim brothers and sisters to reflect with an open mind. I make Dua that Allah Ta'ala protects the Ummah and me from all fitnah, Aameen.

[1] Musnad Amad

[2] Sahih Muslim

[3] Majma’uz Zawaid

[4] Shu’abul Iman

[5] Al Maqasidul Hasanah

[6] Al Mu’jamul Kabir

[7] Mustadrak Hakim

[8] Ibn Majah

[9] Mustadrak Hakim

[10] Tirmidhi

[11] Abu Dawud

[12] Nasai