Women’s Participation in Sports
.. by Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan
What prompted me to write this post is a one liner beautiful post in Urdu by Mr Fahad Khan Fk loaded with an overriding principal set for the Muslim women which says: “Jis qaum ki betiyon ko Safa ore Marwa k darmiyan doulhnay ki ijazat nehi kia wo gaind kerne k liye doulh sakti hain?” The post can loosely be rendered into English as: “The women of a community (Muslim community) whom Allah exempted from running between Safa and Marwa (while performing Hajj and Umra), can they be allowed to participate in sports which involve running?” It may be kept in mind that while performing Hajj and Umra, men are allowed to run between the two hillocks of Safa and Marwa while women are required to walk. Inspired by this post, I decided to deliberate on the subject in a bit detail instead of making a two or three-liner comment on Fahad Khan’s post.
It’s very unfortunate that impressed by Western culture, Muslim girls are imitating the Western ladies in manners of living like imitating them in dress, sports and other activities which are not meant for them. In Islam it is strictly forbidden to imitate the non-Muslims, especially the Jews and the Christians in dress, custom, worship and other mundane activities that is peculiar to them. It becomes all the more binding on Muslims when it comes to womenfolk. There is an authentic hadees narrated by Ibn Umar recorded in Sunan -e-Abi Daud which says: “Whoever imitates other people i.e. non-Muslims is one of them”.
According to another hadees narrated in different books of ahadees, “those who imitate nonMuslims in matters of worship, dress and other customs would be raised with them on the day of judgment.” Regarding blind imitation of the non-Muslims, especially the Jews and the Christians, there is an authentic hadees narrated in both Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that the Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you, i.e. the Jews and the Christians handspan by hand span, cubit by cubit, to the extent that if they entered the hole of a lizard, you will enter it too.”
This hadees indicates that it is forbidden to imitate non-Muslims , especially the Jews and the Christians blindly; and those who follow them and tread their path are deviating from the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Islam has reinforced this prohibition by describing those who imitate nonMuslims as being among them.
Unfortunately, those Muslims who follow them blindly fail to understand how inferior and corrupt is that civilization they are running after and feel proud to follow, that they are doing wrong and that they have forsaken something that is perfect, true and is in complete harmony with human nature for something that is imperfect, corrupt, false and against human nature.
As regards participation of women in sports like cricket, athletic competition and football etc., where running is involved and which are more suitable for men, the delicate physical structure of women, the inherent female infirmities and other limitations peculiar to womenfolk like observance of veil (pardah) made mandatory for them by Allah (SWT) do not allow them to undertake such activities.
Women must shun participating in sports that expose their delicate organs to the spectators which is clearly offensive. Whatever is being done by Muslim women in the garb of liberalism and enlightened moderation strips them of their feminine beauty and grace, and is a gross violation of the commandments of Allah ( SWT) mentioned in Surah Al-Noor verse 31 and Surah Al-Ahzab verses 33 and 59 of the Holy Quran.
Some people may argue that special sports dress may be designed for women to shroud their body; but it is not only about the dress, it is about the nature of physical movement that exposes their delicate organs of the body. Moreover, one can not participate in sports while donning cloak (abaya) where running is involved. Allah (SWT) has structured a woman in a manner that needs to be treated differently. May Allah (SWT) grant us the real understanding.
Having said all that, there is a need to understand that imitation (Tashabbuh) of non-Muslims
doesn’t mean that we should reject anything that is good and decent, and abandon using anything that they have manufactured. At the time of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and afterwards the people used to wear clothes and use other articles of daily use manufactured by the non-Muslims. The only thing to take into account is how to use them and for what purpose.
Islam allows us to undertake any activity which is decent and is not against human dignity. It
prohibits all those activities which are morally offensive bordering on obscenity. It prohibits all those activities which run counter to the commandments of Allah ( SWT). As for decency and obscenity, there is no rocket science involved to understand it. It’s very simple to understand. Whatever appears to be in conflict with Quran and Sunnah besides being offensive to the eyes and unpalatable to the mind must be shunned and whatever looks appealing and acceptable must be adopted. The sole arbiter in this case is man’s conscience.
The bottom-line is that our attitude towards non-Muslim civilization should be that whatever is good and morally palatable must be adopted and whatever is bad, morally offensive and repugnant to the teachings of Islam and human nature must be rejected. Moreover, our approach towards gender equality must be rational and balanced one. The West is paying very dearly for whatever their women are doing in the name of liberalism, enlightenment and gender equality .. Colonel (rtd) Ikramullah Khan, Chitral, 07 Dec 2020.