The Khabib Halal/Haraam Ratio: Good Character, Bad Sports, And The Conundrum of Muslim Representation 

Note: This article was reviewed and permitted by Shaykh Younus Kathrada for spiritual content material

The Muslim Ummah has spent the final a number of years celebrating the rise and success of MMA fighter Khabib Normagomedov, a Muslim Daghestanti fighter who emerged to change into an undisputed victor. On the day of his 29th victory, he additionally introduced his retirement from MMA, referencing a promise that he made to his mom.

Muslims went wild of their praises, showering him with adoration, expressing their admiration of his obedience to his mom, his public demonstrations of sajdah ash-shukr after each match, his humility and remembrance of Allah, and his reducing of the gaze round inappropriately dressed ladies at public occasions. Undoubtedly, these are all praiseworthy behaviours and traits that ought to be inspired in all Muslims, particularly Muslim males. 

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However, there was a near-deafening silence on the underlying problematic foundations of all the phenomenon of Khabib Nurmagomedov and his recognition amongst Muslim males. To start with, his whole profession as an MMA fighter is taken into account sinful and prohibited based on the Shari’ah. It is well-known that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mentioned:

وَعَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ‏- رضى الله عنه ‏- قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اَللَّهِ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-{ إِذَا قَاتَلَ أَحَدُكُمْ, فَلْيَتَجَنَّبِ اَلْوَجْهَ } مُتَّفَقٌ عَلَيْهِ.‏ 1‏ .‏

‏1 ‏- صحيح.‏ رواه البخاري (2559)‏، ومسلم (2612)‏ واللفظ لمسلم، ولتمام تخريج 

“When any one of you fights, let him avoid (striking) the face.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 5/215).

Scholars have agreed that any sports activities which contain hanging of the face, and as well as, these which contain a number of bodily hurt and damage to its contributors, are haraam. As per the hadith, and established authorized maxim, “laa darar wa laa diraar” (There isn’t any harming of others nor reciprocation of hurt), this prohibition extends to sports activities comparable to boxing, MMA, American soccer, and another sport the place the athletes intentionally and recurrently inflict and obtain bodily damage. 

On The Ropes

This is just not a matter to be taken evenly. Indeed, it’s disturbing and unlucky that this reality has been minimized to such an extent that many Muslims – together with and particularly the Muslim males who’re such avid followers of these sports activities – usually are not even conscious of this prohibition. Perhaps most alarming is that many of those that are thought of students, imams, shuyookh, and leaders within the Muslim neighborhood, who are conscious of this prohibition, have uncared for to say these rulings at the same time as they publicly reward these comparable to Muhammad Ali or Khabib Nurmagomedov for his or her prowess in these arenas, and maintain them to be position fashions to comply with. When even spiritual authorities are publicly cheering on such athletes and celebrating their victories, how can the typical layman be anticipated to know that these sports activities are detested by the Shari’ah? It is a grave shortcoming that so many non secular lecturers and leaders have failed their fellow Muslims on a matter that has been extraordinarily public and popularized. 

It can be obligatory for Muslims to contemplate that the way in which that skilled boxing, wrestling, MMA, and comparable prohibited sports activities are carried out is a far cry from the informal (and permissible) fighting-for-sport that existed on the time of RasulAllah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Today, the sports activities trade boasts billions upon billions of {dollars} spent in promotional materials and occasions that contain no small quantity of music, alcohol, vulgarity, and nearly-naked ladies getting used solely to titillate the male gaze; sponsors of groups and athletes embrace beer firms. 

Glutton For Punishment

Male and feminine ‘awrah alike is revealed, overtly and blatantly, normalized as half of the sports activities setting. Concern over the male ‘awrah being revealed can’t be overstated when we’ve got an Islamic custom that emphasizes modesty for believers, female and male. The best of all human beings, the Messenger of Allah, was described as “… more modest than a virgin in seclusion”

(Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5751, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2320). The Prophet Musa (‘alayhissalaam) was recognized to be so modest that he stored his physique coated always (Sahih Tirmidhi); the Companion ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) was described as having such modesty that the Messenger of Allah himself mentioned, “Should I not be shy of the one whom the angels are shy of?” (Sahih Muslim 2401)

Related to modesty is the reminder to Muslim ladies who’ve been watching his matches (or another leisure) to decrease their gazes. Bluntly talking, it doesn’t behoove a believing lady to be having fun with the sight of half-naked males (particularly the very match, athletic, and infrequently engaging kind) to be grappling away at one another. Muslim ladies are definitely not proof against the fitnah brought on by the flaunting of undressed males throughout social media feeds and thru different leisure.

The warnings relating to zina of the eyes apply to Muslim ladies simply as they do to males; the Qur’an has already mentioned:

{And inform the believing ladies to decrease their gazes and guard their personal elements…} (Qur’an 24:31) 

It is unlucky that this has been forgotten about to such an extent that even students have uncared for to deal with this specific challenge.

Rolling With The Representation Punches

While Khabib himself has been praised for his reducing of the gaze round inappropriately dressed ladies at occasions that he’s current at, we ought to be cognizant of the truth that neither he nor another Muslim man (or lady) ought to be placing themselves within the place of being at such occasions to start with. The fact of the matter is that his presence at these occasions was a obligatory half of his profession; his earnings, derived from this haraam sport and this haraam setting, can bluntly be thought of haraam rizq, and no completely different in authorized ruling than those that make cash from liquor shops or working brothels. That Muslims have been blithely ignoring the intense non secular ramifications of this raises the query of simply how critically we take the difficulty of blessed rizq within the first place. 

It is evident that many Muslim males, and particularly the religiously observant, discover in Khabib a kind of Muslim illustration that they crave: somebody who’s publicly and unapologetically Muslim, who has demonstrated spectacular bodily abilities and functionality (maybe they’re residing by means of him vicariously?), who has displayed exemplary conduct exterior the ring, who has always held quick to publicly and unashamedly remembering Allah and talking of Islam. 

In and of itself, that is admirable. The Muslim Ummah has had a dearth of heroic up to date position fashions, and nobody might be faulted for feeling love for somebody who appears to embody such laudable character and conduct. However, we can not merely cease there. It is important for us to ask ourselves the query of what type of Muslim illustration is the sort of Muslim illustration value having – and the way, and the place, that illustration takes place. 

When Muslim ladies have entered the general public area, offering “representation” within the type of a muhajjabah in Playboy journal, a hijab carrying mannequin in a magnificence pageant and the modeling trade, a hijabi in Olympic sports activities, and many of non-hijabis in lots of different areas, there was an incredible deal of legitimate, reliable criticism relating to the idea of “Muslim representation” and what it entails. Amongst conservative Muslims, there’s a shared perception that “representation” on the price of upholding the halal and turning away from the haraam is just not illustration value having. Indeed, such “representation” comes with a big quantity of harm to the collective social and non secular well being of the Ummah: there may be normalization of platforms which might be antithetical to Islamic values, of dressing and conduct that go towards our Shari’ah, and inspiring youthful generations to interact in these behaviours and to pursue these sorts of careers. 

Why, then, are we not holding our Muslim brothers to the identical commonplace? No matter how inspiring Khabib’s conduct is, irrespective of how admirable his public illustration of his Muslim identification, his profession and all that comes with it can’t be thought of permissible, acceptable, or inspired in Islam. Unfortunately, we’ve got had many Muslim males encouraging each other to look at his matches, to the extent of arranging watch events within the masjid! (Someone, please, reply me actually: how would RasulAllah think about the enthusiastic watching of a haraam sport within the House of Allah?)

Blow-By Blow: Izzah of the Ummah?

Furthermore, the justifications made for Khabib’s profession alternative are, frankly, flimsy – he has not introduced ‘izzah to this Ummah in any tangible way other than making Muslim men feel good about themselves (I mean, hey, I get it, but sorry, this ain’t it); he’s not “intimidating the kuffaar” (let’s be actual: the kuffaar on the UFC are making extra money off of him than you would ever dream of having in a lifetime); his victories within the ring usually are not a victory for this Ummah (please, go ask the oppressed Muslims in Burma, Somalia, Yemen, East Turkestan, Palestine, Kashmir, and elsewhere how a lot of a victory his matches have been for his or her well-being). Indeed, questions have risen relating to his public appearances with Vladimir Putin and his doable political allegiances with Russia, which has a protracted historical past of brutalizing Muslims of their surrounding areas. 

At the top of the day, Khabib Nurmagomedov is a paid athlete, whose tens of millions of {dollars} come from a prohibited sport, in an trade that reeks of filth from starting to finish. He is our Muslim brother, and what ought to be celebrated is that he has lastly chosen to go away the trade. What we must always not have completed, nor proceed to do, is to carry his profession as an MMA fighter to be exemplary for Muslims in any method, form or type. We ought to pray for his steerage as a Muslim, his forgiveness for his earlier sins, and remind our Muslim brothers – irrespective of how emotionally swayed they might be – that true ‘izzah comes not from participating in prohibited sports or careers (despite how successful one may be at it!), but from obeying the Law of Allah and His Messenger and abstaining from transgressing the boundaries laid by the Shari’ah.

Further assets on rulings:

https://islamqa.info/en/answers/10427/ruling-on-boxing

https://www.islamweb.net/en/fatwa/429082/boxing-is-forbidden-even-without-striking-the-face

https://www.islamweb.net/en/fatwa/329518/going-to-gym-that-has-yoga-lessons-boxing-and-sauna

Is Watching Boxing Allowed in Islam?

Punching or Striking the Face

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