Inter-masajid soccer tournament with prizes


Are we allowed to organise an inter-masajid soccer tournament, the winners will receive a prize? There is also a soccer competition in support of Palestine, please advise if this is permissible?

With reference to your query, please be informed as follows:

  1. Competitions, in principle:
    1. The concept of competing [Arabic: al-Musābaqah] is one that is not foreign to the Sharīʿah. ʿAbduLlah ibn ʿUmar narrates the following:
      عن عبدالله بن عمر: أَجْرى النبيُّ ﷺ ما ضُمِّرَ مِنَ الخَيْلِ مِنَ الحَفْياءِ إلى ثَنِيَّةِ الوَداعِ، وأَجْرى ما لَمْ يُضَمَّرْ مِنَ الثَّنِيَّةِ إلى مَسْجِدِ بَنِي زُرَيْقٍIbn  ‘Umar  said:  “the Messenger  organised competitions among skinny horses from  al-Ḥafyāʾ to  Thaniyyah  al-Wādāʿ,  and  among muscular  horses  from  Thaniyyah  al-Wadāʿ  to  the  mosque  of  Banī  Zurayq.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
    2. There are variants to this narration in which Ibn ʿUmar reports that the Messenger Himself participated in these competitions. [Bukhari & Muslim]
    3. There is scholarly consensus (Ijmāʿ) among the jurists that competitions, in the general sense, is permissible. [al-Mawsūʿah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaytiyyah]
    4. However, scholars differ in the activity which one may compete in, as well as whether one may receive an award therefrom.
  2. Competitions without receiving awards:
    1. The vast majority of scholars agree that competitions without the receipt of an award are permitted, regardless of the type of activity involved in the competition, as long as it does not violate the principles of the Sharīʿah. [al-Mawsūʿah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaytiyyah]
  3. Receiving awards:
    1. In principle, scholars agree that it is permissible to participate in competitions where an award is received. [al-Mawsūʿah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaytiyyah]
    2. However, the majority of scholars hold that competitions should exclusively involve archery, horse and camel riding, as the Messenger said:
      عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال، قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “لا سبَق إلا في نصل، أو خف، أو حافر”

      “Contests are only acceptable in archery, racing a camel, and racing a horse.” [Abu Dāwud, Sunan]

    3. However, the Shafiʿī [as well as the Ḥānafī] madhhab hold that competitions are not limited to the aforementioned three categories, but may extend to any form of activity (with a few exceptions) that can equip one for the military. [Mughnī al-Muhtāj]
    4. An alternate view in the Mālikī madhhab, ascribed to al-Imām al-Zannātī, suggests that participating in activities beyond mere military preparation may be permissible, as long as a third party sponsors the award. [Ḥāshiyat al-dassūqī]
    5. Ibn Qayyim held the view that Islamic-related competitions, such as competitions in Taḥfīz, Ḥadīth, or Fiqh, are permitted, provided that a third party contributes the award, as they may be more beneficial than other permissible activities. He also attributes this view to his teacher, Ibn Taymiyyah, as well as some Ḥanafī scholars. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr similarly ascribed this view to al-Imām al-Shafiʿī. [Ibn Qayyim, al-Furūsiyyah al-Muḥammadiyyah]
  4. Source of sponsorship for the award:
    1. When a non-participant i.e., third party, such as a leader in the community or any outside party sponsor the award, then receiving such an award is permissible. (Mughnī al-Muḥtāj]
    2. If there are two participants or two teams in a competition, and one of the two participants/teams sponsor the award, scholars agree that this too is permissible, and not regarded as gambling. [al-Mawsūʿah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaytiyyah]
    3. If all participants sponsor the award and the winner takes all, this is impermissible and considered gambling. [al-Mawsūʿah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah]
    4. However, in the above scenario, if an additional participant (al-Muḥallil a participant, with his participation, changes the ruling of prohibition to permissibility) participates without contributing towards the award, then it is no longer regarded as impermissible, provided he has an equal chance of winning. (Nihāyat al-Muḥtāj]
  5. Competition entry fee
    1. As a rule, the exchange of value for money is not limited to tangible entities but may also include all acceptable intangible values, such as rental payments for services. [Mughnī al-Muḥtāj]
    2. As such, when an entry fee is required to participate in a competition, and the fee is not intended for contributing to the award (as per the categories elaborated in point 4), it is considered permissible. This is because the purchaser receives the usufruct of mere entry to the competition in exchange, albeit an intangible usufruct.
  6. Conclusion
    1. It can be well-assumed that the football competitions at question are not intended for military preparation—considering our geopolitical context.
    2. However, in light of the alternate position of the Mālikī madhhab mentioned in point 3.4, this may be tolerated within the Sharīʿah.
    3. In addition, part of the purpose of the inter-masājid soccer tournament at question is to spiritually uplift the community (as seen on their poster). This conforms with the opinion illustrated in point 3.5.
    4. We have also been informed by Mln [questioner] that the inter-masājid soccer tournament award has been sponsored by an independent third party, which is permissible, as illustrated in point 4.1.
    5. As for the Palestine Soccer tournament, [questioner] has not specified any award for the winning team, if this is the case, then it will conform with the position illustrated in point 2.1.
    6. We may thus conclude that the competitions you have inquired about are permissible —and may even be commendable.

والله تعالى أعلم

And Allah knows best.                                                                                                                                                                                                 




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