In its February 2, 2018 issue, the Pakistani Urdu daily Roznama Jasarat published an article examining the status of pastimes and entertainment in Islam. The article was written by Shah Turab-ul-Haq Qadri, who cited numerous Islamic sources to argue that Prophet Muhammad permitted only those pastimes and sports activities that did not go against the orders of Allah.
Roznama Jasarat is published by Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, which is the largest religious organization in the country. In the translated text of the article given below, the words in parentheses denote the name of the authentic books of hadiths (sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad). These sources of hadiths are produced in the article by the author himself.
"Less Fortunately, The Things That Are Considered Amusement Today Not Only Comprise Of Sins And Shamelessness, But Also Make Muslims Spiritually And Physically Ineffectual"
"Along with obligatory and supererogatory prayers, Islam also permits those amusements and pastimes that do not violate the orders of Allah, do not spread bad things in society, or become the cause of obliviousness to the presence of Allah. Keeping the life of Prophet Muhammad in front of us regarding the pastimes of Muslims in the society established by the Lord, we can set the boundaries of our pastimes.
"The pastimes that the Prophet liked are not only the cause of mental amusements for Muslims, but also the source of increasing bodily strength, and prove to be the practical training for jihad. Less fortunately, the things that are considered amusement today not only comprise of sins and shamelessness but also make Muslims spiritually and physically ineffectual. And the amusements that have been accepted as sports make people oblivious to the orders of Allah, in addition to social responsibilities.
"The Prophet said that everything that a man plays with is falsehood (Tirmidhi). In this hadith, the Prophet has ordered against all those pastimes that make one oblivious toward the orders of Allah or that do not give some physical and spiritual benefit. In another hadith, he said that Allah likes a strong momin [true believer] more than a weak momin (Mishkat).
"The Prophet used to advise people to take up archery. Once, he made two groups for the practice of archery and said: Release your arrow, I am in this specific group. Hearing this, the other group stopped releasing the arrows and said: Lord, since you are in that group, how can we release the arrow against that group? He responded, release the arrow, I am with all of you (Bukhari)."
"I Heard The Prophet Say From The Pedestal Of The Mosque, To Fight The Kuffar [Unbelievers], Fortify Your Strength As Much As You Must; Beware! Strength Is In Archery"
"Aqba bin Aamir narrates: I heard the Prophet say from the pedestal of the mosque, 'To fight the kuffar [unbelievers], fortify your strength as much as you must; beware! Strength is in archery,' he repeated this point thrice (Muslim). At another place, the Prophet said: You must learn archery; this is a very good sport (Tabarani).
"The Prophet was very good horseman. It is mentioned in Bukhari that horse races were organized on the Prophet's orders. He also used to race camels. As per another tradition, his female camel used to always come ahead in races. Once, a bedouin's camel raced ahead of others, so the companions were extremely saddened. He said, it is for Allah to show something down which raises its head (Bukhari).
"Swimming, while covering one's body, is a good exercise and sports too. [The second Islamic Caliph] Umar said: Teach your children swimming and archery, and tell them to jump to ride a horse (Masnad Ahmad). The Prophet used to instruct [his followers] to get up early in the morning. He also used to like playing with the javelin and sword. He also liked for the blacks to play with the javelin and sword. Once on the day of Eid, he permitted the blacks to demonstrate their skills in javelin throwing (Bukhari).
"To race and to compete against each other in a race is a very good sport too, and also beneficial for the body. It is proven from numerous reports that many sahabah [companions of the Prophet] were fast runners and used to compete against each other. In summary, the Prophet used to permit only those entertainment activities that would not negate the orders of Allah, and that would benefit physically and mentally – especially, if the sahabah would not become oblivious of Allah..."