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Sports in Contemporary Islamic Law

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Professional and amateur sports have become the focus of much attention in contemporary Islamic law. In recent years, jurists have issued fatwās (religious opinions) in response to hundreds of queries about the legitimacy of sporting activities. These queries cover a wide field of subjects: karate, mixed-gender swimming and the high salaries of soccer players. The mushrooming of fatwās is a sign of the importance of sports amongst Muslims. It also indicates that some sporting activities challenge traditional Islamic values and practices. By presenting an overview of contemporary fatwās dealing with sports, we analyze some of the dilemmas faced by Muslims who wish to practice or enjoy modern sports, and the jurists' attempts to resolve these dilemmas. Using sports as a mirror, we highlight some major lines of friction between two movements: The socially liberal Wasatiyya school and the socially conservative Salafiyya school.

Affiliations: 1: Moshe Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University;, Email:; 2: 98 Hashaked St., Shoresh, Israel;, Email:


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