The peculiar case of women attending football matches in the Saudi state (2014)

Compiled by Abu Yahya

Arab News on Thursday 23 January 2014 published an article entitled “A pleasant soccer shocker: US women in stadium” (http://www.arabnews.com/news/513816). For the purposes of this post this is a direct copy from the Arab News article;

Saudi football fans were taken by surprise on Tuesday when a group of American women turned up at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh to watch the football match between Al-Nasr and Shabab.
According to press reports, the group of women included senior consultants of US congressmen.
The Americans were allowed to enter the stadium after Prince Faisal bin Turki, president of Al-Nasr Club, received a letter from the Shoura Council stating that the women were interested in attending the match. Some of the women were holding yellow jerseys of Al-Nasr.
The news was a big hit on social networking sites because women are not allowed to enter stadiums across the Kingdom to watch football matches.
It also prompted many Saudi men and women to ask the government to lift the ban on Saudi women entering stadiums to watch football and other matches. “Why do the authorities allow foreign women to enter stadiums while they deny Saudi women the same privilege,” one person asked.
Al-Nasr Club and the Presidency of Youth Welfare organized the VIP lounge for the American women to watch the match. “The move was aimed at impressing the Americans with the Kingdom’s advanced sports facilities,” said a presidency official.
Sulaiman Al-Yousuf, manager of King Fahd Stadium, said the presidency instructed the stadium management to allow the women to watch the football match.

In light of the above we now present the following fatawa by leading Saudi ‘ulama (Courtesy: Abu Salih Mu’adh Khan – http://www.muftisays.com/forums/14-peoples-say/8317-us-women-saudi-stadium.html?p=65622#65622)

Here is the Fatwa of Saudi Ulamah standing commitee on watching football games:

وقد سئل علماء اللجنة الدائمة للإفتاء : ما حكم مشاهدة المباراة الرياضية ، المتمثلة في مباراة كأس العالم وغيره؟ 

فأجابوا : “مباريات كرة القدم التي على مال أو نحوه من جوائز حرام ؛ لكون ذلك قمارا ؛ لأنه لا يجوز أخذ السَّبَق وهو العوض إلا فيما أذن فيه الشرع ، وهو المسابقة على الخيل والإبل والرماية ، وعلى هذا فحضور المباريات حرام ، ومشاهدتها كذلك ، لمن علم أنها على عوض ؛ لأن في حضوره لها إقرارا لها . 

أما إذا كانت المباراة على غير عوض ، ولم تشغل عما أوجب الله من الصلاة وغيرها ، ولم تشتمل على محظور : ككشف العورات ، أو اختلاط النساء بالرجال ، أو وجود آلات لهو – فلا حرج فيها ولا في مشاهدتها” انتهى . 

انتهى من “فتاوى اللجنة الدائمة” (15/238) .

The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas were asked: What is the ruling on watching sports tournaments such as the World Cup and so on?

They replied: Football matches that are played for money and similar prizes are haraam, because that is gambling. It is not permissible to accept a prize except in things that sharee‘ah has deemed permissible, namely racing horses and camels, and competing in archery. Based on that, going to matches is haraam and so is watching them [on TV], for the one who knows that they are being played for a prize, because going to them implies approval of them.

But if the match is not for a prize and does not distract one from what Allah has enjoined, such as prayer and the like, and it does not involve anything that is contrary to sharee‘ah, such as uncovering ‘awrahs, mixing of men and women or musical instruments, there is nothing wrong with that or with watching it. End quote.

Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah , 15/238

Here is the Fatwa of Shaykh Uthaymeen (RA) (Saudi Scholar) on watching football games:

وسئل الشيخ ابن عثيمين رحمه الله : ما حكم رؤية مباراة كرة القدم التي تعرض في التلفاز ؟ 
فأجاب : 
“الذي أرى أن مشاهدة الألعاب التي تعرض في التلفاز أو في غيره من المشاهدات ، أنها مضيعة للوقت ، وأن الإنسان العاقل الحازم لا يضيع وقته بمثل هذه الأمور التي لا تعود عليه بفائدة إطلاقا . 
هذا إن سلمت من شر آخر ، فإن اقترن بها شر آخر بحيث يقوم في قلب المتفرج تعظيم اللاعب الكافر مثلا ، فإن هذا حرام بلا شك ، لأنه لا يجوز لنا أن نعظم الكفار أبدا مهما حصل لهم من التقدم فإنه لا يجوز لنا أن نعظمهم ، أو كانت هذه المباراة قد ظهرت فيها أفخاذ شباب يحصل بها فتنة ، فإن الراجح عندي أنه لا يجوز للشباب حين لعبهم بالكرة أن يخرجوا أفخاذهم ؛ لما في ذلك من الفتنة ، حتى على القول بأن الفخذ ليس بعورة ، فلا أرى أن الشاب يخرج فخذه أبدا ، أما إذا قلنا بأن الفخذ عورة كما هو المشهور من مذهب الإمام أحمد ، فالأمر في هذا واضح : أنه لا يجوز على كل حال . 
فالذي أنصح به إخواننا أن يحرصوا على أوقاتهم فإن الأوقات أغلى من الأموال ” انتهى . 
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: What is the ruling on watching football matches that are shown on television?
He replied:
What I think is that watching matches that are shown on television and other events is a waste of time; a smart and wise man would not waste his time with such matters that bring no benefit at all.
This applies if it is free of other evils; if it is accompanied by other evils, such as if the viewer begins to venerate a kaafir player for example, then it is undoubtedly haraam, because it is not permissible for us to venerate the kuffaar at all, no matter how far they have advanced. It is also haraam if the thighs of young men appear, which may result in fitnah. So the correct view in my opinion is that it is not permissible for young men when they play football to let their thighs show, because that involves fitnah, even according to the view that the thigh is not ‘awrah. So I do not think that young men should ever show their thighs. If we say that the thigh is ‘awrah, which is a well-known view of the madhhab of Imam Ahmad, then the matter is clear: it is not permissible in any case.
What I advise our brothers to do is to make good use of their time, for time is the most precious of wealth. End quote.

Here is the Fatwa of Shaykh Jibreen (RA) (Saudi Scholar) on watching football games:

وسئل الشيخ ابن جبرين رحمه الله : ما حكم مشاهدة المباريات بالنسبة للمرأة بقصد التسلية والتشجيع ؟
فأجاب : 
“لا يجوز مشاهدة المباريات ، حيث إن اللاعبين رجال متجردون غالبًا عن اللباس الساتر ، وقد يبدو بعض الفخذ ، وقد تتمثل العورة وراء اللباس ، وذلك فتنة للنساء ، ولو كان القصد التسلية ففي الإمكان التسلي بالذكر والقرآن وكتب الحديث والفقه والأحكام” انتهى من موقع الشيخ ابن جبرين . 
Shaykh Ibn Jibreen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: What is the ruling on women watching football matches for entertainment and to support a team?

He replied:

It is not permissible to watch matches, as the players are usually not dressed properly and some of the thighs show, or the awrah may be outlined by the clothes, and that is a fitnah for women. If the aim is to relax, then that may be done by remembering Allah, reciting Qur’aan, and reading books of hadeeth, fiqh and ahkaam. End quote from the website of Shaykh Ibn Jibreen.

End quote.
We say: Those who use the fatawa of the Akabirin of the Saudi state (viz. the likes of the al-Lajnah and the scholars associated with the al-Lajnah, or the likes of Bin Baz, al-Jibrin, etc.) against the Ash’aris, the Maturidis, the Tabligh Jama’at, the Sufis, etc. should not be selective and should also apply their fatawa, as in the above quotations, directly against the Saudi state, Prince Faisal bin Turki and all those involved. Selectively using the fatawa of the Akabirin to label vast groups of Muslims as deviates is hypocritical.  In the like manner the above fatawa should be applied as well. Failing this, we can rest assure that this group of people are nothing but fitnah-mongers, those who wish to sow discord amongst the Ummah for the purposes of boosting their own egos. May Allah protect us from this disease.
And Allah knows best
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