Col Ikram Ullah Khan

Women’s participation in sports

Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan

What prompted me to write this article is a one-liner beautiful post in Urdu by Mr Fahad Khan loaded with an overriding principle 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 non-Muslims 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 hand span 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 non-Muslims 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 cannot 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.

Also read: Chitrali woman footballer makes history

12 Replies to “Women’s participation in sports”

  1. I thank all who have expressed their valuable opinions vis-a-vis my write-up. I respect their opinions. Difference of opinion is natural as no two individuals think alike. Having said that, I would like to request that while conveying difference of opinion, we should not cross the bounds of decency and civility. Our great religion Islam teaches us to be tolerant, courteous and respectful towards others while addressing them and interacting with them verbally or in writing, be that as it may, someone happens to be your bitter enemy. The Holy Quran says:
    “And speak kindly to people”
    (Surah Al-Baqarah verse 83)
    “Good and evil are not equal. Respond to evil with what is best; then you will see that he with whom you had enmity, will become your closest friend. But this cannot be attained except by those who are patient and who are truly fortunate.”
    (Surah Haa Meem Sajdah verse 34-35).
    As for my write-up, which has come as distasteful to some of you, whatever I have written are not my personal opinions. I have simply quoted the verses of the Holy Quran that contain the explicit commandments of Allah (SWT) and ahadees of the Holy Prophet (SAW) pertaining to the subject under discussion.
    It is absolutely unjust and below the belt to dub someone as extremist and obscurantist, etc without having personal interaction with him and without knowing him well. We must shun pronouncing religious edict (Fatwa) about people precipitously.
    As regards women’s participation in sports like athletic competitions, cricket, football and other such like sports as I have mentioned in my write-up, I am pretty sure none of you would like your women including your sisters, daughters and other female relatives to participate in these activities making their feminine beauty exposed in front of an indiscriminate crowd of spectators letting them feast their eyes on their beauty. It would certainly come as a disgust to your feelings and fine sense of morality.
    Please don’t confuse it with other female activities like serving in the armed forces, hospitals, banks, education department and other fields. Islam doesn’t bar them from participating in such kind of activities while donning decent dress/uniform remaining within the bounds of modesty.
    Lastly, I would like to make a small little correction just to put the record straight and not because I am rank conscious. I have retired as “Colonel” and not “lieutenant Colonel”. Let me make it clear that to me, the wordly pomp and show does’t carry much significance
    In the end, I would like to say that it’s very easy to abuse someone, but it takes lot of patience, courage and decency to eulogize someone glossing over his human frailties. With this, further discussion on the subject must be put to rest. God bless you all.

  2. Sayed Qazi Ikram Ullah Shah Kakakhel (Retired Lt. Colonel) is right in whatever he has written. He has quoted hadiths to prove his opinion. I think we should respect Shah Sahab.

  3. Colonel Sir has tried his best to prove his stance in what he believes by giving references from the Holy Quran and Hadith, but when it comes to interpretation it again is debatable as Islam never hinders anyone’s path while competing the changing universe. It’s a severe women’s right violation when we claim women to be excluded from such activities (sports etc.). The reason we (Muslims) are far behind in this competitive age is due to our conservative mindset, and Pakistan is no exception. Further, demonizing other religions can have severe impact on people (Muslims) by enticing them to extremist activities. What Zia-ul-Haq did is crystal clear, Pakistan still reaps the fruit.

  4. Someone here commented that lady cadets could be seen jogging and so on so forth. Forget about the female cadets as that’s part of their job or else they would be sent on forced retirement. The wives of military officers consider jogging and running important for physical fitness. rather the military wives are more conscious about their health and they go out for running on regular basis.
    The issue here is not running of the ladies, it is the mindset which is trying to impose its FLAWED thinking on the majority which is ultimately not going to work. It is to please a handful section of hardliners as these kind of people had sacrificed a lot in the past to get their blessings. And they are doing this again and will it again and again.
    It has nothing to do with the religion of Islam. This is nothing but pan-Islamism, which some people like the colonel in question are bent upon to promote for their own vested interest.

  5. What ever writer has mentioned is totally from Islam and he has quoted ahadees for that nothing from his own personal opinion. You have the right to live a life of your own as there is no compulsion in Islam but I wonder why you people start attacking someone for expressing himself based on teachings of Islam. Islam very clearly has mentioned the obligations of man and woman in society.
    From his writing it is clear that Islam has sets limits for women to protect their modesty and I think none of these people who commented against the opinion of the writer would allow their sisters, daughters, wives or other women relatives to play football or volleyball in front of a crowd but yes they may happily enjoy women from someone else’s family running in the ground. We are a nation of hypocrites and have no concerns with modesty of women or teachings of Islam as far as our self interest and ego is satisfied with.
    For the satisfaction of all those, let me tell you that Islam is a religion of peace and you are free to allow your women take part in sports or any other activities in the open and Islam also allow you to express your own likes and dislikes but you will follow Islam only if you have the right mind with logic and knowits hidden meaning and encompassing effects.

    Imtiaz Booni

  6. The pensioned lieutenant conel has a long history. Long history of confusion – changing opinion, changing philosophy, and being impressed of the half-literate religious bigots.

    Someone has rightly pointed out here that if running for a woman is that bad a thing why did he serve at an institution where the lady cadits and officers take running as a plus. He should not have joined an instituion where female officers could be jogging every day.

    Why this man is teaching at a university where most of the girls could be seen wearing pantaloon? Why this guy kept wearing pantaloon throughout his career if this is the dress of Christianity and Judaism?

    To me, frankly speaking, this man knows nothing – neither about religion, military nor history.

  7. Which Islam are you talking about? Your consistency of logics and evidences are negating the fact that Islam is ever prevailing, complete code of life and pluralistic. I am not going to rectify your understanding but I’m eager to know if this version of Islam can prevail after a century or in near decades. You’re purposefully weakening the contemporary relevance of Islam. This is not an addition to the resources of knowledge community, it is rather an obituary of pluralism and equality posted by a zealot. The editor and publisher should not entertain such polarising opinions, we are expecting intellectual master pieces on this very platform, not opinions from absurdists and extremists.

  8. Well written Colonel Saab,
    Indeed, Islam doesn’t forbid us to adopt the good and scientific advancements, if we keep ourselves to the vicinity of the teachings of Islam.

  9. Well Written and so precisely quoted hadees and Quran Verses.
    According to Col Sab, whatever Jews and Christen do is forbidden for Muslims, we accept that. If we follow your interpretation Paint, shirt, coat and tie must also be forbidden because these dresses belong to the west (Jews and christen) and it clear in the photo given above col. sab love to wear a paint shirt, coat with a tie.

    1. I think Col. is confused between culture and theology/religion. He is only fantasizing about Arab culture that is also changing to make itself compatible with the modern world. There are authentic books that say that Muslim Women took part in Jihad so I don’t think there is any harm if they take part in sports. In Pak army there are female soldiers so how was col sab managing during his service. I think soldiers are paid to run and drill, let us know if we are wrong about their job description.
      Col is retired so has ample time to invest his time in something intellectual work rather than producing content without research.

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