Competitions and Games (AI-Musaabaqaat wal AI-A'ab)

Technically Musaabaqaat means a contract between two individuals or teams in the field of science, military or mathematics in order to know the winner from the loser.

Types of Musaabaqaat

Al-Musaabaqaat is divided into three in the Sharia:

The First Division

The Recommended Competitions: This is defined as what the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) made mention of in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah may Allaah have mercy on him: 'Wagers are only allowed in khuff (racing camels) or nasi (shooting arrows) or haafir (racing horses).

So competitions on these things i.e. camels, horses, and arrows are legitimate i.e. if one does them he will be rewarded and it is also Sunnah. All instruments of jihad are also inclusive in them. So competitions on all instruments of jihad is one of the legitimate competitions upon which one will be rewarded because of what it contains of teaching the people how to use the tools of jihad and the preparation for fighting the kuffar. This is why the Shaari' has permitted betting on them as we shall insha Allaah discuss.


The Ruling on Taking a Prize on this

Taking a prize for contest in instruments of jihad is divided into three:

1. for the return to be from the imam. i.e. the ruler who sponsors a contest in one of the instruments of jihad such as horses, camels or shooting. The ruling of this is permissibility and its evidence is the hadith of Ibn Umar that the "Prophet organized a horse race and he rewarded the winner" Ahmad, Bayhaqi and others reported this.

2. for the return to be from both of them(the contestants), i.e. Zaid pays a hundred Naira and Amr also pays a hundred Naira and they both contest in shooting and whoever hits the target takes the two hundred Naira.

There are two views on this: A. Majority of the people of knowledge said it is permissible but there must be a muhallil (a third contestant who only enters into the contest to win and does not lose. An example of this is when they contest in horse race; Zaid pays a hundred Naira and Amr also pays a hundred Naira and for this contest to be valid a third contestant comes in but he does not pay anything and if he wins he takes all of the stake and if he is defeated he does not pay anything. Hence he gains and does not lose. This is a muhallil.

The evidence for this is the hadith of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

"Whoever places a horse in [the contest] between two horses and is sure that it will come defeated. Then that is gambling, but if he is not sure it will be defeated, then this is not gambling" i.e. it is qimaar (gambling) if the two contestants know that the third horse will be defeated. But if it is both likely to defeat and be defeated, then this is not qimaar." 

However this hadith is not authentic from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam).

It is also an opinion attributed to Imam Ahmad and equally the preferred opinion by Shaikh Al Islam Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Qayyim argued that the presence of a muhallil is not a condition. So it is valid for two people to contest and if one of them comes first he takes the stake, while the other loses. Their argument is that this falls under the maisir and rihaan (betting) that the Shaari' (the Lawgiver) allows because of the immense benefit that results from this and this has to do with the tools of jihad only. The evidence is the statement of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) which is contained in the hadith of Abu Hurairah.

"There is no wager except in racing camels or shooting arrows or racing horses.

"lbn Qayyim (RA) said:

"The view of bringing a muhallil was taken by people from Saeed ibn Musayyib. As for the companions it was not reported that of them stipulated this" 

Preference: For this reason we say if the stake is from both of them in the second division, it is permissible and there is no harm in it; rather it falls under the maisir and betting that the Legislator has permitted due to its benefit.

3. for the stake to be from a foreign person.

Its Ruling: This is more worthy of being permissible. An example of this is when a foreign person says to two contestants:

"If the two of you contest I will give the winner so and so" Or "Hit this target and I will give the winner so and so"

4. for the stake to be from one of the two contestants

Its Ruling: This is also permissible and there is no problem with it. The reason for this is that if we permit the two of them putting down the stake, then it is better to permit the stake coming only from one of the two.


The summary is that it is absolutely permissible to take prize in anything that has to do with the recommended competitions, whether it is from a ruler or from one of the contestants or from a foreign person or from both of them; this falls under the betting and gambling that the Shari'ah allows.

The Second Division

The Forbidden Competitions: How can they be regulated?

Any contest which results in harming the religion either by abandoning an obligation or by committing a forbiddance or in harming the mundane affairs whether it has to do with the body, wealth or honours. 

Examples of this are:

1.The car race that is common today the harm of which is clear coupled with the accidents and some other [dangers] that result from this.

2. Violent wrestling because of its resultant harm.

3. The competitions and games which bring about partisanships and hatred and cause division among the people;

All of these are forbidden and not permissible. So if playing football is going to cause hatred and division etc among the Muslims, then we say it is forbidden and not allowed.

However, if all these (rancour, partisanship etc) are non-existent then it belongs to permissible contests.

4. Contests that involve the exposure of the nakedness.

5. Contests that involve the use of [animate portraits].

6. Contests that involve the harming of animals etc.

The Ruling on Taking Prize on these

It is forbidden and absolutely impermissible to take prize on this division whether it is from the two of them or from one of the two or from a foreign person etc.

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited


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