An islamist critique of soccer

Conservative pundits aren’t the only activists with ideological objections to soccer. Salafi clerics in Saudi Arabia and Egypt issued fatwas against viewing the World Cup before the tournament began.

Their beef is that watching the World Cup will cause Muslims to neglect their religious duties and expose themselves to negative influences. Saudi cleric Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak put it this way:

There is no doubt that football, played according to [the accepted international rules], has caused Muslims to adopt some of the customs of the enemies of Islam, who are [preoccupied with] games and frivolity. [This game] causes many abominable and corrupt acts.

And he hadn’t even seen today’s fouling and flopping fest between Brazil and Colombia.

As if to prove the cleric’s point, Arabs in the Hezbollah stronghold in southern Lebanon reportedly have been watching World Cup matches for free on Israeli television, rather than on Arab pay-per-view channels. Is that a hand-chopping-off offense?

Skeikh What’s His Name’s capped off his critique with a utilitarian objection: “These games have no use, and they are harmful and a waste of time.” My Power Line colleagues probably feel the same way whenever they see another one of my World Cup updates.

Not all sports are pernicious, though. Drawing upon the tradition of Muhammad himself, Egyptian cleric Salafi Sheikh Abu Ishaq Al-Heweny has identified three useful ones: archery, training one’s horse, and foreplay and kissing with one’s wife.

Ann Coulter was not available for comment on these three pastimes.


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