Our Youth ...the Shariah View
Fun and Pastime in their True Extent
What may be said to youths who view the state of youth as a time when they must engage in fun, chatting into the late hours, horseplay, and the like?
We would like for youths to meditate deeply on the following questions:
What is pastime?
What is horseplay?
What is lust-be it sexual, related to food, drink, or other bodily instinct or craving of human beings?
We call on youths to stop at these lusts and to ask themselves: What is their true scope?
The scope of one of these transitory lusts is a mere moment. Sexual lust is that moment of sensation. The lust for food is for having it in the mouth, and so too lust for drink and the other items. For a person may have cherished visions about these lusts before experiencing them, but when he starts to do so, he feels himself at a road's end. For these are the needs of a person, and not everything; not his craving or desire. If, therefore, the person becomes obsessed with sex, then he will quickly become bored with it, and may even suffer from repulsion after repetition. And when he is obsessed with food and drink, he becomes vile-smelling or asphyxiated.
Without exception, all this reflects aspirations which do not enrich the stage of youth, but rather give this stage sensations of lust and happiness which, if he were to meditate on them, would in reality have to eschew them after becoming satiated with them.
Therefore, we say to youths, Your youth represents the strength of life, responsibility in life, a wonderful bounty from all the bounties of man. We do not say to them "Do not respond to your needs", but "Answer your needs at the level which your body requires without any negative effects. And when responding to these physical needs, you must understand that the issue of youth in life, and the issue of life in youth, are more far-reaching, widespread, and responsible than everything you are obsessed about. In your pursuit of empty activities, there will be boredom and monotony, meaninglessness, and the feeling that you are squandering your life."
For life is not simply body and flesh, nor is it without hope and life and aspirations. For there is God, the Independent, Who-when human beings stand in front of Him and live for Him-is felt as if there is no wall or barrier, but a reality which expands and keeps expanding infinitely. Thus, we say to youth, "Open your hearts to God who has created you and enriched your youth with every vitality and activity, and you will find that opening your hearts thus will give you more spiritual and physical pleasure, as well as the pleasure of life with all the good, beauty, freedom, and openness in it."
Sports: The Preferred Hobby of Youth
There are those who consider some types of sport as a waste of time, and restrict sports activity to javelin throwing, horse-riding, and swimming. How do we look at this area, which commands the attention of youth?
Some people freeze before the narrated hadiths which show the Prophet Muhammad ruling on a case of training in youth. One such example is the hadith "No competition except in camels, arrows, or horses" which speaks of training in archery, and horse and camel-racing, etc. There are also other hadiths which stress horse riding, swimming, and archery.
On studying these terms, and the normal needs of the situation prevailing then, we find that the hadith indicated an example of needs in time of war. By extrapolation, the hadith shows that training was a means for waging war. With progress and change, the arrow becomes a gun or a cannon; the four-legged animal (a horse or a camel) a car, a war tank, a plane and so on. When we speak of swimming and riding horses, it is possible to change them, or to add to them that which may strengthen the body, to develop the mind, and to obtain positive results in the major issues that fill the spare time of youths.
As such, sport is not merely a means to fill empty time. It is a means to develop the body. And if we add to a sporting spirit, which controls the sporting milieu, it may become a means to train the competitive spirit to the point where it can calmly accept defeat, without adding on top of that competition a mental struggle.
We must study these issues (sports and other forms of entertainment) in terms of the positive aspects which they bring; and which may be developed with the passing of time, either with respect to means, the event, or the environment created in this area.
The concern with sports:
In the field of sports, there are those who, encouraging it, pay special attention to matches and clubs. Some see this as a bad practice. What do you have to say about this?
I do not find a negative point in any of the above issues, if the general atmosphere does not become one of such personal veneration, alien to the results aimed at by organizers in the social field and the positive effects which they hope to see on youths.
Becoming totally immersed in the games per se may mean that the games that attract interest surround youths in a way by which the more important concerns are lost; or more important happenings relating to societal, political, functional and cultural aspects of reality are dismissed.
If the interest in sports does not reach the level outlined above, no negative issue is involved. However, when it changes into an obsession, we must object, since it becomes larger than human concerns and surpasses the positive results intended from it.
We notice that many organizations and international organs of corruption take advantage of this condition to distract youths for their own political agendas.
This is what we wish to caution against. We have noted that immersion in this atmosphere, especially in some advanced countries like America and Europe, people place such great value on these games that that games demand all their attention, to the point where political and social concerns are of lesser concern.
Many leaders of Third World countries try to prevent youth from facing great problems that may have severe repercussions on these rulers. Society does not pay attention to these problems, since they are so attentive to games that they are detached from current events.
It is known that horse-racing is used for gambling and betting. What is the ruling on strictly the entertainment side of the sport, namely, looking and attending?
One of the things that I would like for horse racing is that it be an activity that encourages nurturing. Observing its results at several levels, this sport by nature used to strengthen the faculties of people in the face of war or similar situations. However, this has changed to gambling and betting. Thus it touches haram and leads to the negative consequences that gambling usually causes.
There is no doubt that betting is wasteful in this type of sport or competition. If a person wagers with another that such-and-such a horse will beat another horse, the situation implies the presence of a childlike personality which does not reflect on what competition between one person and another humanly means.
Attending these events and looking at the race in one form or another, makes it possible for the person to experience this atmosphere. It encourages him after that to be a participant, seeing wagering and betting as a natural part of horse-racing. He then takes a very active part in it.
Therefore, we do not accept that our believing youth should attend these sports, even if they do not wager. There is a hadith which states, "The forbidden things are the protection of God, and whoever hovers around a forbidden thing is likely to fall into it."
Many see problems in modern dress and modes. What reliable criteria allows us to judge the permissibility of this or that style?
I feel that involving the Shariah in these matters is to do so in an area in which no negative view has been given. When the social life of people is reflected by their form of dress, in this or that shape, Islam has no problem with that.
Some people may perhaps speak of "kafir dress" or of a woman who dresses in the clothes of kafirs [non believers]. Upon careful consideration of this topic, we find that this idea stems from an historical period when a way to distinguishing Muslims, who were a tiny minority, from the non-believers, who were an overwhelming majority. In Nahj al-Balagha, there is a hadith where Imam Ali was asked about the words of the Prophet "Change your gray hairs with dye, and do not appear like the Jews." Ali had been asked: "Must we dye our gray hairs?" The Imam responded, "That was when Islam was in a minority." When the number of Muslims increased, there was no problem in distinguishing them from others.
Some jurists probably noted that the hadith narrated from the Prophet-"Clip your mustaches and spare the beards, and do not appear like the Jews"-did not appear in the context of an established legal ruling for all time, but came at a particular stage when some demarcation between Muslims and Jews was desired, for social reasons. Now, however, after the Muslims have become numerous in the world, the issue is no longer one of appearing like Jews or Magians, but one of choice, of letting people choose what they wish.