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What Does Islam Say on High Spending on Sports?

15 December, 2016
Q Respected scholars, As-salamu `alaykum. Most, if not all, countries, spend huge sums of money on various sports, especially soccer (football). If this is acceptable in developed countries, where most people have a decent standard of living, is it acceptable in developing countries, where people cannot even meet their basic needs? Jazakum Allahu khayran.

Answer

Wa`alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Brother, thank you for your question, and we commend your desire to learn more about the teachings of Islam. May Allah help us all keep firm on the right path.

The government represents the people in spending money and managing the country’s affairs, based on its priorities. There is no doubt that spending huge sums of money on sports needs to be reconsidered, for it is a kind of extravagance that is prohibited in Islam. This does not mean that sports or spending on them areprohibited; the prohibition is on extravagance.

In his response to your question, Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, the late deputy chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, states:

If the state desires to stick to the laws of Almighty Allah, it has to spend the money on its people according to the Islamic legal priorities. We agree that Islam approves of sports, but this does not elevate sports above being just permissible or preferable. There are Islamic legal obligations that have to be fulfilled first, such as meeting the needs of the poor including food, clothing, medicine, education, etc. Among the priority needs to be met is the Muslim nation’s need for development in various sciences and industries and so on. These issues have to be given priority in the budget of any Muslim country.

In addition, the current worldwide phenomenon of paying such attention to sports deviates the Muslim youths’ attention from the Ummah’s problems and future, and so the dominating powers remain controlling the Ummah’s resources. This is clearly shown in the Muslim countries, where a lot of regimes try hard to distract the youth from thinking about or working on significant national issues. They make youth absorbed in watching various sport games and immoral videos. This phenomenon has to be fought, for giving priority to what is most important over what is less important, and to what is obligatory over what is preferable, is a common-sense principle everywhere.

Moreover, Dr. Muhammad Ra’fat `Uthman, Professor of Islamic Law at Al-Azhar University, states:

Spending large sums of money on buying soccer players is a kind of extravagance that is prohibited by Islamic Law. Spending millions for this purpose shows disorder in two respects:

1- In the state’s overestimation of something that is in fact a kind of luxury, as it is insane to spend on something like that so extravagantly.

2- On the part of the masses, who have turned soccer into an essential part of their living and given priority to watching soccer matches over work and other useful activities.

Dr. Ahmad `Umar Hashim, Former President of Al-Azhar University, adds:

The millions spent on buying and selling soccer players should rather be spent on a lot of priorities and necessities in the Muslim communities. There are thousands of homeless Muslims who sleep on the ground and on pavements, and they are surely more entitled to these millions spent on buying soccer players.

Almighty Allah knows best.