By Samar Yahya
October 24, 2014
Since far back in history, people have always sought out and invented various kinds and categories of sports.
Islam encourages Muslims to be strong and to continuously strengthen one’s faith, and also their physical strength.
Islam’s holistic approach to living a balanced life encourages practices, which help maintain the body’s health and strength.
There is a well-known, old saying: “A sound mind is in a sound body”.
Playing sports helps the body remain active and fit and enhances its immunity and protects it from diseases, and also promotes mental and emotional health.
From a social perspective, Islam views sports as a means of bonding and enhancing cooperation among people, and it should not reach a level of unhealthy competition and hatred.
Exercise in general and playing sports elevates energy levels, improves one’s attitude, which in turn will improve one’s energy level at work as well. The physically active are better able to travel, play with their children, and engage in social activities such as visiting relatives, visiting the sick, or coaching a youth sports team.
From a religious standpoint, a healthy, strong, and fit body makes it much easier to perform many of the rituals in Islam. Going for Umrah and Haj, the pilgrimage, are physically demanding tasks that sometimes involve long hours of walking, and being physically active will make the whole experience easier.
Many recommended practices in Islam actually keep the body moving: praying 5 times a day with a preference given for prayer in the mosque, walking to and from the mosque, and participating in many social activities. Fasting, in addition to the fasting in Ramadan, is highly valued in Islam, and fasting in itself is an exercise of all the organs in our bodies.
Islam places great importance on sports in training the Muslims and making their bodies healthy and sound. Muslims must take care of their spiritual, emotional, and physical health. We should not neglect our bodies, and regular physical exercise is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
General Benefits of Exercise and Sports
Exercise increases muscle tone, improves flexibility, enhances endurance, strengthens the heart, and fights depression. Exercise helps achieve significant weight loss. Aerobic exercise fights heart disease and high blood pressure, and reduces the risk of diabetes, while weight training increases muscle strength and reduces fat, increases bone density, and can alleviate back pain and arthritis.
Exercise and fitness play an integral part in the life of a Muslim; Islam encourages anything that promotes revitalizing the mind and body.
Exercise trains the brain
Exercise affects many sites within the nervous system and sets off pleasure- inducing chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that make us feel calm, happy, and euphoric. When one exercises, one can think more clearly, perform better, and experience a sense of well-being.
Sports Practiced By Early Muslims
A famous saying attributed to Omar ibn Al-Khattab highlights the sports practiced by early Muslims. He said, “Teach your children swimming, archery and horse-riding.”
Swimming is a healthy activity and is gentle on the body so it is the exercise of choice for people with joint pain. Swimming works practically every muscle of the body. Swimming can develop a swimmer’s general strength, cardiovascular fitness, and endurance.
It is a form of sport that was popular during the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Boys and men were given training on handling bows and arrows. The physical benefits of archery include increasing flexibility in hands and fingers and developing arm strength.
In addition, hand-eye coordination improves, as does mental concentration and mental strength. Archery is a beneficial mind exercise as well as a great form of physical exercise.
At the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) young men were taught how to rise horses, women rode too, and it was a skill the Arabs excelled.
Horseback riding improves respiration and blood circulation. It promotes balance and coordination during the movement of the horse and the motor function of the rider improves as a result.
Other forms of sports can be practiced. Pick an activity that you enjoy and stick to it; the key to good health is regular exercise. Remember the famous Arabic saying, “A little which is consistent is better and far more in quantity than a lot which suddenly stops.”
Etiquette Of Sports In Islam:
Islam stresses the importance of spiritual and moral training that should accompany physical training, in order to achieve the desired effects.
Islam places some stipulations in regards to sports.
Tips For A Muslim In Practicing Sports:
• A Muslim should not occupy himself with sports to the extent that leads to neglecting religious and other essential duties and responsibilities towards school, work, or family.
• A Muslim is not permitted to practice sports in a way that inflicts harm on others.
• Blind fanaticism in favor or against a team has nothing to do with Islam, for this really contradicts the Islamic teachings calling for unity and love.
• While practicing sports there should be no room for slandering, misbehavior, hostility, or cheating.