Soccer Fanatic

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Question: I am very passionate especially about English football and also follow many other sport. Much of my time and money is spent on my passion. Occasionally it strikes me that this is wrong but I cannot manage to detach myself from it. Please advise.

Answer: very important word in your question is the word “detach”. A Muslim views everything from the perspective that soon he will certainly be detached from this world. He will very soon be detached from this “transit lounge,” from all his leisure and pleasures, his obsessions and passions, his businesses and occupations as well as from all his wealth and possessions. Once he is detached from this world and “attached” to the sand of the grave, nothing but his imaan and righteous actions will be of any avail to him. A Muslim should be most concerned of what will be of everlasting benefit to him when is detached from this world and what will harm him at that time? Hence consider your sports passion also from this perspective.

There is a very peculiar side to sports that few know about and hardly anyone will admit. Daniel Wann, a leading sport psychologist at Murray State University, writes: “Shaped by the needs of capitalist systems, spectator sports serve vested interests as a type of “cultural anaesthesia,” ... or “opiate” (drug) that distracts, diverts, and deflects attention from the pressing social problems and issues of the day” (Psychology Today). A far greater calamity is that often sports become the “religion” of its ardent followers. In the same article the author writes: “Psychologists are closing in on the conclusion that sport has many of the same effects on spectators as religion does.”

Priority

Does it then come as any surprise that many people give priority to their sports over friends, relatives, their immediate families and even their deen. How often is salaah missed, or performing it with jamaat in the musjid is neglected due to sports? Let alone missing one salaah, being delayed to the extent of missing the takbeer-e-tahreemah (the first takbeer) with the imaam due to one’s involvement in sports is a greater loss than losing all one’s wealth and possessions!

Can sport really become a religion? Consider it in the light of a comparison. A true Mu’min’s heart is filled with the love of Allah Ta‘ala and His most beloved Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), his tongue talks more about things that take him closer to Allah Ta‘ala or what is necessary in life, his mind is absorbed in the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala and his passion is serving the deen of Allah Ta‘ala. On the contrary, sport obsession overturns all of this. The heart becomes occupied with the admiration of sports stars, most of who are devoid of imaan. Many fans “make zikr” of (mention) the names of their teams and players dozens of times in the course of the day, especially when a tournament is played, while the name of Allah Ta‘ala and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is hardly uttered even a few times! The mind is also occupied in the same utter futility, creating imaginary teams and dreaming of imaginary goals. The eyes read thousands of words of sports news in a day but not even a few words of the Quraan Shareef. Fans know the detail profiles of players, but do not know much about their most beloved Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) who undertook untold sacrifices and cried profusely for their guidance. Supporters will proudly wear the name of a disbeliever sports star on their clothing but will not be able to identify with the Sahaabah (radhiallahu ‘anhum). Thus sport does become like a religion for its ardent supporters.

“We Won”

Another aspect to dispassionately consider is the following: How has your support for your favourite team, or player, benefitted you in any way? When you jump for joy shouting “WE WON,” have you ever thought of what did you really win? The reality is that you won nothing. You actually lost much. You had to part with your hard earned money to support your team. Depending on how fanatical (and “intelligent”) you were, you would have spent a ridiculous amount for a garment with the team colours and on other team regalia. They  made money out of everything you bought and from all your support, but do not even know who YOU are. They have no idea whether you even exist!

Goal

The bottom line is: What is your goal in life? If your goal is to attain the everlasting success at the time when you will be suddenly detached from this world, then do not be fascinated with people whose futile goal in life is to kick a ball between three posts. Instead, sincerely adopt the company of the pious. In their company you will gain the love of Allah Ta‘ala. Once His love settles in your heart, the love of those who oppose Him and the fascination with their futile sports will leave your heart. You will insha-Allah then become fascinated with being obedient to Allah Ta‘ala and with following the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).

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