Playing Soccer = No Need to Fast?

Last week, it was reported in the locay Malay daily that a fatwa by the Dar al-Ifta, the fatwa body for Egypt, allows soccer players to break their fast.

Institusi agama tertinggi Mesir telah membenarkan pemain pasukan bola sepak negara itu tidak berpuasa agar dapat membuat persiapan bagi satu perlawanan antarabangsa.

Menurut fatwa yang dikeluarkan oleh institusi agama tertinggi Mesir, Dar al-Ifta, para pemain ‘dibenarkan berbuka puasa’ agar ibadah itu tidak menjelas latihan mereka bagi membuat persiapan menghadapi pertandingan sedunia itu, kata jurucakap Persatuan Bola Sepak Mesir, Encik Alaa Abdel Aziz.

…Fatwa itu menjelaskan ‘seorang pemain yang tertakluk di bawah kontraknya dengan sebuah kelab, bertanggungjawab menjalankan tugasnya dan jika pekerjaan itu sumber mata pencariannya dan jika beliau perlu mengambil bahagian dalam pertandingan semasa bulan Ramadan dan dengan berpuasa ia boleh menjejas kelakonannya, beliau lantas dibenarkan berbuka’.

…Fatwa itu bagaimanapun menimbulkan kemarahan sekumpulan cendekiawan agama, Barisan Cendekiawan Azhar.

…’Bermain bola ialah satu permainan. Ia bukan sebahagian penting kehidupan yang mewajarkan seseorang itu berbuka puasa semasa Ramadan,’ kata kumpulan itu.

For those who are interested, here is the fatwa and its counter-statements from other scholars: (As translated from source)

* Dar al-Ifta’s Fatwa: “Any employee or laborer who faces difficulty by fasting or is weakened at work, as stipulated in the Hanafi jurisprudence (فقه الحنفية) that whoever is employed for his service to a known duration – which is verified here as both play and work contracts – and then comes (the fasting month of) Ramadan, and he is affected by fasting at work, he may be allowed to break his fast even if he has enough, with emphasis that this provision is for matches that are inevitable for the player.

* Reply from al-Azhar Scholars Front: “Playing football is not a necessity of life which allows relief or dispensation (يرخص) of breaking of fast, and it is not among the matters which are considered to be burdens (تكاليف) of this religion, since everybody has the right to play (soccer) as entertainment, and not as an occupation or job.” The Front mentioned that playing is not a message (رسالة) and not a function which the law allows anyone to perform as a livelihood, (especially) one which Allah has sent no authority on.

The Front said in its statement: “The matter is serious and should not to be undertaken with complacency or humour. The dilution/homogenization (التمييع) (of religious law?) is the most serious issue our religion is suffering from now, and this dilution/homogenization is the most deadly weapon that is being used in fighting today. The capital of a Muslim is his religion – as said by Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak – it is not to be left behind in journeys, nor to be entrusted to men. ”

* Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: Islam does not allow the breaking of fast for laborers who face hardship. Instead,  it is clear and explicit that the breaking of fast is only allowed in cases of travel and illness.

* The opinion of Sheikh Khalid al-Jundi: It is not permissible to place soccer above the Shari’ah, instead the universe should adhere to the Shari’ah. I really do not know whether that is the compromise that we pursue together, and I wonder how Al-Azhar issues such a fatwa which is extraneous to the law.

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