Anyone who reflects on the football game, especially, on the World Cup Championship, would find that, it is a change model that cuts across many aspects of our lives. Therefore, it is important to review our intellectual perceptions and value judgments toward it.
The first thing to be noticed here is that, the football game, and sports in general, is no longer the means that people used to practice individually, because of entertainment, or just for building athletic body. Rather, it has become an industry like any industry in the society, that has a very large capital, patronized and advertised by the biggest companies, it has an entire society that benefits from it and interested in it (same as it is in the arts).
Sport has moved from the margins of life to its center. It has shifted from its individual exercise to its natural institution, from hobby to professionalism, and from simplicity in performance to complexity in procedures and finance.
There is no doubt that, all of this has an impact on the perception, thought, and even, on the Fatwa, when dealing with issues related to sports. In ancient times, sport was not perceived as a profession, it was seen as a recreation only. Now, that perception is difficult, especially, when talking about sports as something collectively practiced in the world, and not as an individual’s favorite pastime. We have seen some Islamic verdicts allowing players to break the fast in Ramadan (irrespective of scholarly agreement or disagreement with that) which see sports a necessity like the rest of the necessities that permit breaking the fast in Ramadan.
Parallel to this jurisprudential level, is the Da’wah level, in which we ask ourselves question that, is it possible, while the situation is like this, to continue with the view that sees sport a waste of time which should benefits us and others?
Truly, in response to this, is to say that, many people watch the sport, they don’t practice it and they are diehard supporters for their teams and clubs, instead of having sports ethics.
There is no doubt that this saying is true. But, that raises another question about how to deal with societal situations in which right and wrong are mixed? Is the mission of the preacher to blame and flog people, or to gently and realistically open new visions of guidance for them?
Isn’t it right to talk about tolerance and lack of bigotry, instead of rejecting the issue outright by drawing people’s attention to the need to practice it and encouraging them, instead of talking about wasting time only?
In a broader sense, how does the preacher perceive people’s behavior in their lives. Is it required that people remain either in a state of work in search of a living or in a state of asceticism and preoccupied with rituals? Or is life wider than this, and the human’s need greater than that, especially, in our lives where recreation is no longer just a choice, but has become a necessity like food and drink of a basic necessity?
Then, if we apply this on world championships like football World Cup or other sports, it is easy to notice that these Championships have undergone many changes until they became a field for two important things namely;
First, sport is now a competition or tussle among the countries. Legitimate and other means are used in it. Until sport industry became a field, like any other industry that is for attraction or competition among the countries.
Second, sport has become one of the manifestations of civilizational or cultural diversity among nations and people, especially, as the organizing body of these championships give the right of host to the continents of the world.
In a few days, many people meet in the stadia or on screens, to get acquainted with different cultures and apparitions which will reinforce the vision of diversity and pluralism, reflecting that the world is wider, not limited countries, even, if these countries have influence in the economy or politics. In the sports and stadiums, everyone is equal, despite the economic and military differences outside the stadiums.
For this reason, many countries take advantage of these stages to showcase their cultures and highlight their superiority and richness, even, indirectly. This true picture and reference are richer than the message, I want to pass. The point I want to say is that, sports, specifically football, the most popular in many countries, is no longer just a game. It has become an industry like any industry in the society, a manifestation of cultural and civilizational diversity, and sometimes, the tussle as well.
Therefore, our intellectual or da’wah discourse should review itself regarding perceptions and rulings on that, instead of constraining and indicting people while they are looking for ways to ease things for themselves from the pressures of life, we have to guide and orientate people on how to benefit from it on two ways as follows:
Firstly, respecting or having inclination towards entertainment, if not mixed with sin or committing a forbidden thing.
Secondly, drawing the attention to setting of priorities and interests, that entertainment, even if, it becomes a necessity in our lives, should not exceed the proper bounds of another necessity, or lead to missing what is most necessary.
On a broader angle, we have to acknowledge that the contemporary jurisprudential or da’wah intellect still has a great shortcoming in conceiving the nature of people’s lives, and it still inclines to many idealisms that may not be commensurate with human’s needs, especially, in our reality that is replete with pressures.