Sports and Entertainment: Meaningless Victories for The Ummah
During this past month, major sporting events have attracted local and international attention. In Canada, the Toronto Raptors basketball team celebrated its first championship victory in its franchise history. It is estimated that around 2 million fans, including many Muslims, attended the championship parade that packed and blocked off large stretches of downtown Toronto.
Many argued how this sport had united Toronto and even Canada as a whole. We witnessed how some Masajid in the GTA even used the sacred space where Allah (swt) is remembered to host “viewing parties” and how some Imams encouraged Muslims to root for the team.
Added to this, an estimated 1 billion viewers were also fixated on the India–Pakistan cricket game, which re-ignited the nationalistic loyalties of Muslims around the world. All of this leads us to wonder why prominent politicians and the media drive so much national and international attention on a series of sports games?
How befitting is it for a Muslim to use his or her time and energy to support the victory of a sports team in the context of today’s socio-political situation, where Muslim lands are under brutal foreign occupations, the blood of the believers is being spilt day and night, the Sharia of Allah (swt) is neglected, and the Khilafah abolished?
Putting the world into context
The Muslim Ummah, which was once the leading nation of the world, now faces a terrible situation. Our Deen is under attack, we are divided into over 50 insignificant states, and our rulers sell our labor and mineral wealth for next to nothing. The worst part of our current situation is that the Islamic Aqeedah has ceased to be the reference point in the Muslim lands.
In Canada, we are also constantly being thrown into frivolous pursuits that consume us, distracting us from the serious task of bringing awareness to the vital issues that affect us as Muslims living in non-Muslim lands and working to rebuild this Ummah to take our rightful position as the leading nation of the world. Hence, we witness with sadness a situation where Muslims are totally absorbed by nationalistic pride in supporting soccer, basketball, and cricket teams in national and international tournaments.
The meaning of distractions (Lahw)
In order to understand this issue from an enlightened perspective, it is important to realize that being obsessed with a sports team is a form of condemned distractions (Lahw) according to Islam. Lahw is mentioned in many occasions in the Qur’an and Sunnah; it is mentioned in the context of entertainment, for example when RasulAllah (saw) said
“You should practice target shooting, for it is the best of your entertainment (Lahwikum)” [Al-Tabarani].
It is also mentioned in the context of idle talk, when Allah (swt) says
“But there are, among men, those who purchase idle talk (Lahw Al-Hadith)” [31:6].
Ibn Jareer said that (Lahw) is any talk used to impede the message of Allah (swt) or obedience to His order.
Al-Sha’raawi said: “Al-Lahw is becoming distracted with something that is forbidden, or with permissible entertainment, keeping you occupied from carrying out an obligation.”
The Islamic ruling on distractions
There are some kinds of Lahw that are Halal and Mubah (permissible), like sports that achieve a result, such as target shooting, swimming, racing (on foot), wrestling, and the like. These forms of Lahw are Halal as long as they do not cause one to neglect his/her obligations.
Imam Al-Shaatibi says, “Lahw, entertainment, and vacancy from any work is Mubah (permissible) if it does not involve forbidden matters or occupy one from an obligated matter.” And he adds “But he is blameworthy and the scholars did not agree with it (i.e. they did not like it), rather they would hate to see a man who was not busy with either improving his livelihood or improving his Afterlife;, for he had wasted a period of time which was not used to gain any good for this world nor for the afterlife.”
And there are some matters of Lahw that are haram (forbidden). These include betting, gambling, and being occupied with permissible Lahw to the point where one neglects his/her obligations. The last example is Haram because of the principle: Anything that leads to Haram is itself Haram.For example, Lahw that would keep one away from Salat or from fasting would be Haram.
Also, the Lahw that distracts people from the obligation of carrying the da’wa and re-establishing the Islamic authority (Khilafah) would also be forbidden, because it distracts man from these obligations.
The secular Aqeedah and organized distraction
The secular Aqeedah is built on the separation of Deen (religion) from life. Consequently, man is left to pursue his desires as there is no repercussion to worry about in the Afterlife. Thus, it is in the nature of the secular Aqeedah to seek entertainment.
The belief of secularism is a belief that life is about recreation, distracting man from achieving his real goal in life, which is attaining the pleasure of Allah (swt). So, man in the secular society strives hard to entertain himself and to seek his own pleasures in life, not worrying about what comes after life. Consequently, it is natural for secular societies to be dedicated to organized distractions, including sports, where athletes play professionally on a national or international level.
Television programs are scheduled and radio broadcasts inform the masses about the progress of sports games until they become the talk of the town, city, region, or even the world. The atmosphere surrounding sports has made it the biggest distraction for the sons of the Ummah, to the extent of becoming emotionally invested in a game or having a fanatical attachment to a particular team. Sports events are then played disregarding the Hukum Shar’iee (Islamic law) regarding speech, conduct, and dress while playing, furthering the spread of depravity and bad manners across the Ummah.
These organized distractions have also been used as a way to promote feelings of nationalistic pride (‘Asabiyyah), even though there is nothing in them to be proud of. The leaders and media of these countries use these games to divert the Ummah’s attention from the bad state of affairs our Ummah finds itself in.
The dangers of organized distractions
Organized distractions affect the entire life of a Muslim. These distractions turn the Ummah away from taking the Deen as the basis of her life – in belief, worship, in their manners and actions, and in their legislation and constitution – by weakening our reverence and respect for our Deen, causing us to live life without a purpose and walking without a path.
“This world becomes entertainment and games when there is no honorable, lasting purpose behind it, and when it is lived for what it has to offer, detached from the path Allah has set out in it.” [Sayyid Qutb]
The greatest danger in organized distractions is that they divert the Ummah from the correct level of political awareness, which involves analyzing the issues of the Ummah and international issues from the angle of Islam. These distractions occupy our minds, causing us to no longer comprehend the value of Islam on a societal level, so our situation only becomes worse as extinction nearly approaches us.
For example, according to a report on the Zionist entity’s “Sport 5” channel last week, the Raptors’ billionaire co-owner, Larry Tanenbaum, told several people he met in the Zionist state:
“If we win the NBA championship, I will come with the Toronto Raptors to visit the Holy Land.”
These organized distractions divert the Ummah from the vital issues such as the brutal occupation of the Al-Quds. The pinnacle of these issues is the re-establishment of the system of the Islam and restoring all the Muslim lands to Dar Al-Islam.
Our duty towards organized distractions
The Ummah must fully understand the nature of organized distractions, and take on our role in facing this serious danger that is targeting the most valuable thing we possess – Islam. We must become precisely aware of those who are behind these distractions and know exactly how to struggle against them. The Haram of organized distractions must be shunned, and those distractions that are Mubah should be set aside in favor of actions that improve our Akhirah.
Muslims must strive, like the Sahabah (ra) – with seriousness and thought – to re-establish the authority of Islam and return to ruling by what Allah (swt) has revealed. We should shun frivolous wasting of time, whether computer games, spectator sports, or any other form of organized distractions.
Instead of longing for victory during meaningless sports events, we must turn our attention to the true victory which is the return of this Ummah to its position of strength and dignity; and above all else, we must yearn for the meeting with Allah (swt) while He is pleased with us. Such a goal requires seriousness, perseverance, and patience.
We ask Allah (swt) to make us among those who are aware of the importance of time and are serious about the pursuit of the Akhirah. We also ask Him to help this Ummah to rise to its greatest duty of being a witness over mankind.
“It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and you be witnesses for mankind!” [22:78]