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Fatwa By Saudi Sheikh: Soccer Players Are Infidels
The Middle East Media Research Institute
January 10, 2013


On December 5, 2012, Saudi sheikh Suleiman Al-`Alwan, a popular Salafi-jihadi cleric, was released after being imprisoned without a trial for nine years. Al-`Alwan`s trial began only recently; he is accused of having ties to Al-Qaeda and issuing fatwas permitting terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and targeting Western interests in the world and in the Saudi kingdom.

Since his release, Al-`Alwan has received many visitors, including sheikhs and former students, and has been asked to give his opinion on religious questions. On December 23, 2012, in response to a question posed by a Saudi youth, Al-`Alwan said that soccer was a form of heresy: “Soccer is a Masonic game meant to distance Muslims from their religion and faith, and most of the public that follows [soccer games] is loyal to the infidels.” Al-`Alwan called soccer players criminals and infidels: “[When] a man watches a [soccer] game, God forbid, he is watching deviant criminals and sinful infidels, even if they are Muslims.” He added: “There is a serious problem with [soccer] games, which is the refereeing, which follows manmade laws, not Allah`s laws.”

It should be mentioned that shortly after his release, Al-`Alwan also accused Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi of heresy for failing to implement shari`a law in Egypt, and condemned Egypt`s new constitution because it guarantees religious freedom and treats Christians as equal to Muslims. In addition, he held Mursi responsible for causing the deaths of Salafis in Sinai.

Al-`Alwan`s fatwa was harshly criticized by Saudi columnist Muhammad bin `Abd Al-Latif Aal Al-Sheikh, who wrote in the Saudi government daily Al-Jazirah that Al-`Alwan reminds him of Taliban sheikhs.

God Is in the Rules
The New York Times
October 16, 2005


Fatwas, the legal opinions proclaimed by Islamic scholars, have proliferated in the Muslim world since the 1980`s, driven by rising literacy rates and the Internet. The growth in fatwas -- some of them contradictory -- has led to a debate over who can legitimately issue them and has alarmed governments in the Middle East, since the decrees sometimes challenge state-sanctioned interpretations of Islam.

Yet criticizing fatwas about divisive issues like the propriety of killing civilians and Shiites can be dangerous for officials. So the Saudi government is trying a different tactic, zeroing in on what it considers frivolous fatwas in order to rally support for tougher measures on who can and who cannot issue opinions. Recently, Al Watan, a semi-official Saudi daily newspaper, reported that a young athlete had joined the jihad in Iraq under the influence of a fatwa forbidding playing soccer by regular rules. The newspaper also republished the fatwa, said to have originally appeared on an Islamic Web site. Portions of the fatwa, which I translated from the Arabic, follow.

IN the name of God the merciful and benevolent:

1. Play soccer without four lines because this is a fabrication of the heretics` international rules that stipulate using them and delineating them before playing.

2. International terminology that heretics and polytheists use, like “foul,” “penalty,” “corner,” “goal,” “out” and others, should be abandoned and not said. Whoever says them should be punished, reprimanded and ejected from the game. He should be publicly told, “You have imitated the heretics and polytheists and this is forbidden.”

3. Do not call “foul” and stop the game if someone falls and sprains a hand or foot or the ball touches his hand, and do not give a yellow or red card to whoever was responsible for the injury or tackle. Instead, it should be adjudicated according to Sharia rulings concerning broken bones and injuries. The injured player should exercise his Sharia rights according to the Koran and you must bear witness with him that so-and-so hurt him on purpose.

4. Do not follow the heretics, the Jews, the Christians and especially evil America regarding the number of players. Do not play with 11 people. Instead, add to this number or decrease it.

5. Play in your regular clothes or your pajamas or something like that, but not colored shorts and numbered T-shirts, because shorts and T-shirts are not Muslim clothing. Rather they are heretical and Western clothing, so beware of imitating their fashion.

6. If you have fulfilled these conditions and intend to play soccer, play to strengthen the body in order to better struggle in the way of God on high and to prepare the body for when it is called to jihad. Soccer is not for passing time or the thrill of so-called victory.

7. Do not set the time of play at 45 minutes, which is the official time of the Jews, Christians and all the heretical and atheist countries. This is the time used by teams that have strayed from the righteous path. You are obliged to distinguish yourself from the heretics and the corrupted and must not resemble them in anything.

6. Do not play in two halves. Rather play in one half or three halves in order to completely differentiate yourselves from the heretics, the polytheists, the corrupted and the disobedient.

9. If neither of you beats the other, or “wins” as it is called, and neither puts the leather between the posts, do not add extra time or penalties until someone wins. No, instead leave the field, because winning with overtime and penalty kicks is the pinnacle of imitating heretics and international rules.

10. If you play soccer, do not appoint someone to follow you called a “referee,” since there is no need for him after doing away with international rules like “foul,” “penalty,” “corner” and others. His presence would be in imitation of the heretics, Jews and Christians and would follow international rules.

11. Young crowds should not gather to watch when you play because if you are there for the sake of sports and strengthening your bodies as you claimed, why would people watch you? You should make them join your physical fitness and jihad preparation, or you should say: “Go proselytize and seek out morally reprehensible acts in the markets and the press and leave us to our physical fitness.”

12. If you finish playing soccer, do not talk about your game and say, “We were better than the opponent,” or “So-and-so plays well” and so on. Instead be concerned with your bodies and their strength and muscles, and say, “We played only to drill in running, attacking and retreating, and to prepare for jihad in the name of God on high.”

13. You should spit in the face of whoever puts the ball between the posts or uprights and then runs in order to get his friends to follow him and hug him like players in America or France do, and you should punish and reprimand him, for what is the relationship between celebrating, hugging and kissing and the sports that you are practicing?

14. You should use two posts instead of three pieces of wood or steel that you erect in order to put the ball between them, meaning that you should remove the crossbar in order not to imitate the heretics and in order to be entirely distinct from the soccer system`s despotic international rules.

15. Do not do what is called “substitution,” that is, taking the place of someone who has fallen, because this is a practice of the heretics in America and elsewhere.

These are some conditions and precepts so that morally aware youth do not inadvertently imitate heretics and polytheists when playing soccer Hell awaits those who die playing soccer according to rules established by heretical countries, at the head of which is America.

© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company. All Rights Reserved.

Egypt fatwa exempts footballers from Ramadan
Al Arabiya
August 24, 2009


Egypt`s top religious institution has exempted the national football team from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan ahead of an international tournament, officials said, but the players have refused.

The fatwa or religious edict, which comes ahead of the World Youth Championship in Egypt due to kick off on Sept. 24 just days after the end of Ramadan, has sparked the fury of the country`s hardliners. Dar al-Ifta, the country`s institution which clarifies religious principles and issues edicts, “has allowed the players to break their fast,” so that fasting does not interfere with training for the Under-20 tournament, Egyptian Football Association spokesman Alaa Abdel Aziz told AFP.

“But it is the players who have refused. They insist on fasting,” he said.

Dar al-Ifta confirmed it had issued the edict explaining that “a player who is tied to a club by contract is obliged to perform his duties and if this work is his source of income and he has to participate in matches during Ramadan and fasting affects his performance then he is allowed to break the fast,” Dar al-Ifta spokesman Ibrahim Nigm told AFP.

Religious opinion states that “those who work difficult jobs and can become weaker as a result of fasting can break the fast,” Nigm said.

But the fatwa infuriated the Azhar Scholars Front, a group of religious scholars who issued a statement on their website denouncing the opinion.

“Playing is playing, it is not an essential part of life which justifies breaking the fast during Ramadan.”

© 2009

Football is Prohibited!
Jamil Theyabi
Al Hayat Newspaper
June 21, 2010

Does Islam prohibit entertainment? Are those playing football crazy and foolish people? Why do people have to “maneuver” and hide to watch football matches “in secret,” out of fear of being killed or targeted by rulings which may threaten their lives? Does an extremist group have the right to impose its “tutelage” on a community and exercise lashing, beating and killing against it because it watched a football game? What is happening in Somalia during the World Cup season because of “a ball”? Does the Islamic world need more Takfiris who are trying to hijack the Islamic religion and turn it into hell over a piece of leather based on their own principles and criminal methods?

In Somalia, a “frail,” “weak” and quasi-”dead” government which is only controlling small parts of the capital Mogadishu is claiming to rule Somalia, while the Islamic groups are banning music, football and any form of entertainment.

In Somalia, the people are living a life of disgrace and are being subjected to mass extermination by extremist groups, which are holding on to the peals and rejecting the principles and tolerance of the Islamic religion.

Why would there be governments claiming legitimacy and power, if they are unable to contain the extremists and the rogue based on the laws of the state?

It is a suspicious thing for extremist groups to exercise beating, whipping and maybe even killing against anyone watching the World Cup after it was prohibited by an extremist group in Somalia under the pretext that those who play football are “crazy men jumping up and down while chasing after an inflated object.”

The most famous modern study that the fatwas banning football relied on is the 40-page study of Abdullah al-Najadi that was published in 2003 and in which he banned football except when meeting odd restraints and conditions, namely the elimination of the “foul” or the “penalty” and the annulment of the “yellow and red cards.” Al-Najadi`s study also featured what he referred to as being the facts and history of football, in order to confirm its prohibition while attributing the related fatwas to “Wahhabism.”

In this context, I recall the story of the terrorist who was arrested by the Saudi Interior Ministry in 2003 during a raid conducted on an apartment in Al-Khalidiya district in the Holy Mecca. At the time, the security forces arrested a Chadian or Malian national nicknamed “Abu Abdullah al-Makki,” whose real name was Abdul Hamid al-Tarawi. Before his arrest - as he was booby-trapping Korans and misleading children - the latter was a mosque speaker in Mecca who publicly banned football for being a Western product which distracted Muslims from their religion.

In these current World Cup days, reports coming from Somalia are saying that football fans are undergoing a great predicament and a major threat, after they were prevented by Islamic movements from watching the World Cup games by force, a thing which reached the level of killing two among these “weak” viewers.

There is no doubt that the fatwas banning football are not new and that most of them revolve around the proscription of football because it carries prohibitions as claimed by the “prohibitors,” seeing how the Book Al-Durrar al-Sunniya` banned football due to the negative consequences its entails, namely in terms of imitation, leisure and gambling among others.

In Saudi Arabia, the clerics allowed football but with restrictions, including the non-exposure of sensitive body parts and the non-distraction of the people from performing prayer. However, Sheikh Nacer al-Hanini previously issued a fatwa allowing the people to watch football based on the latter conditions, while recommending whoever asked him to quit watching football even if the latter conditions are available.

Also, a couple of months ago, Dr. Youssef al-Ahmad issued a fatwa banning the dispatch of the children of Muslims to train in the Spanish Real Madrid Club because it entailed traveling to the countries of the unbelievers.

There were no famous fatwas preventing football in certain Islamic countries, but on the other hand, a dispute erupted between Egyptian and Tunisian scholars over prostration on the field after scoring a goal. This was banned by Tunisian scholars but permitted by Egyptian scholars who considered it conveyed thanks to Allah, at a time when some Saudi scholars tend to ban it, describing it as being “offensive to Islam.”

Personally, I do not care much about football and the game does not mean anything to me. However, these fatwas and what is seen in Somalia and elsewhere in terms of the attempts to hijack religion by force, prove that the Islamic world is going through a “crisis” which will not stop at the prohibition of football or the extremism of one group. There is a much “deeper” problem in the presence of “stringent and politicized” minds trying to poison the simple people in the name of religion. In reality, they are “shallow minds” incapable of waking themselves up to think before issuing “booby-trapped” fatwas relying on accusations of infidelity and murder, amid the “silence” of the governments and the legitimate Islamic organizations.

© Copyright 2010. Al-Hayat Newspaper.


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