The peculiar case of women attending football matches in the Saudi state (2014)
Compiled by Abu Yahya
Arab News on Thursday 23 January 2014 published an article entitled “A pleasant soccer shocker: US women in stadium” (http://www.arabnews.com/news/513816). For the purposes of this post this is a direct copy from the Arab News article;
Saudi football fans were taken by surprise on Tuesday when a group of American women turned up at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh to watch the football match between Al-Nasr and Shabab.
According to press reports, the group of women included senior consultants of US congressmen.
The Americans were allowed to enter the stadium after Prince Faisal bin Turki, president of Al-Nasr Club, received a letter from the Shoura Council stating that the women were interested in attending the match. Some of the women were holding yellow jerseys of Al-Nasr.
The news was a big hit on social networking sites because women are not allowed to enter stadiums across the Kingdom to watch football matches.
It also prompted many Saudi men and women to ask the government to lift the ban on Saudi women entering stadiums to watch football and other matches. “Why do the authorities allow foreign women to enter stadiums while they deny Saudi women the same privilege,” one person asked.
Al-Nasr Club and the Presidency of Youth Welfare organized the VIP lounge for the American women to watch the match. “The move was aimed at impressing the Americans with the Kingdom’s advanced sports facilities,” said a presidency official.
Sulaiman Al-Yousuf, manager of King Fahd Stadium, said the presidency instructed the stadium management to allow the women to watch the football match.
In light of the above we now present the following fatawa by leading Saudi ‘ulama (Courtesy: Abu Salih Mu’adh Khan –http://www.muftisays.com/forums/14-peoples-say/8317-us-women-saudi-stadium.html?p=65622#65622)
Here is the Fatwa of Saudi Ulamah standing commitee on watching football games:
وقد سئل علماء اللجنة الدائمة للإفتاء : ما حكم مشاهدة المباراة الرياضية ، المتمثلة في مباراة كأس العالم وغيره؟
فأجابوا : “مباريات كرة القدم التي على مال أو نحوه من جوائز حرام ؛ لكون ذلك قمارا ؛ لأنه لا يجوز أخذ السَّبَق وهو العوض إلا فيما أذن فيه الشرع ، وهو المسابقة على الخيل والإبل والرماية ، وعلى هذا فحضور المباريات حرام ، ومشاهدتها كذلك ، لمن علم أنها على عوض ؛ لأن في حضوره لها إقرارا لها .
أما إذا كانت المباراة على غير عوض ، ولم تشغل عما أوجب الله من الصلاة وغيرها ، ولم تشتمل على محظور : ككشف العورات ، أو اختلاط النساء بالرجال ، أو وجود آلات لهو – فلا حرج فيها ولا في مشاهدتها” انتهى .
انتهى من “فتاوى اللجنة الدائمة” (15/238) .
The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas were asked: What is the ruling on watching sports tournaments such as the World Cup and so on?
They replied: Football matches that are played for money and similar prizes are haraam, because that is gambling. It is not permissible to accept a prize except in things that sharee‘ah has deemed permissible, namely racing horses and camels, and competing in archery. Based on that, going to matches is haraam and so is watching them [on TV], for the one who knows that they are being played for a prize, because going to them implies approval of them.
But if the match is not for a prize and does not distract one from what Allah has enjoined, such as prayer and the like, and it does not involve anything that is contrary to sharee‘ah, such as uncovering ‘awrahs, mixing of men and women or musical instruments, there is nothing wrong with that or with watching it. End quote.
Here is the Fatwa of Shaykh Uthaymeen (RA) (Saudi Scholar) on watching football games:
Here is the Fatwa of Shaykh Jibreen (RA) (Saudi Scholar) on watching football games:
It is not permissible to watch matches, as the players are usually not dressed properly and some of the thighs show, or the awrah may be outlined by the clothes, and that is a fitnah for women. If the aim is to relax, then that may be done by remembering Allah, reciting Qur’aan, and reading books of hadeeth, fiqh and ahkaam. End quote from the website of Shaykh Ibn Jibreen.