Watching football matches / Women visiting sick men
Fatwa No: 355957

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I have a question regarding watching football matches. One of the reasons I have found scholars prohibiting watching football matches is because of the exposal of the ‘Awrah (what should be covered of the body) of the players. However, as far as I have found through research, the ‘Awrah of today's footballers is hardly exposed. Back in the 80s and 90s, the shorts which they used wear would expose their thighs completely, almost like underwear (and I seek refuge with Allah). Today's football shorts, however, only expose the knees and one or two inches of the thighs some of the time, and that is also barely noticeable on TV because the cameras are placed at a distance. So does the same ruling still apply?
Secondly I have another question regarding a hadith which I have read in Al-Adab Al Mufrad: "Al-Haarith ibn ‘Abdullaah Al-Ansaari said, "I saw Umm Ad-Darda’ go visit an Ansaari man from the mosque, and she was on her mount in an uncovered howdah." Does this action of Umm Ad-Darda’ go against the general ruling of the Shariah? The name of the Chapter is: Women visiting a man who is ill. Can you give some commentary on this hadith?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

According to the most preponderant view of the scholars, the thigh is part of the ‘Awrah because Imaam Ahmad narrated in his Musnad from Jarhad that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) saw him uncovering his thigh and told him, “Cover your thigh, as the thigh is part of the ‘Awrah.” [At-Tirmithi - Al-Albaani classified it as sound in Saheeh Al-Jaami‘ as Saheeh]

For more benefit regarding the fact that the thigh is an ‘Awrah, please refer to fatwa 89413.

The knee, however, is not part of the ‘Awrah of a man. Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him while speaking on the 'Awrah of a man, said:

His navel and his knees are not part of the ‘Awrah. This is explicitly stated by Ahmad; and Maalik and Ash-Shaafa‘i said the same thing. However, Abu Haneefah said that the knee is part of the ‘Awrah because the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, ‘The knee is part of the ‘Awrah.’ We take as evidence the aforementioned hadeeth, which was narrated by Abu Ayyoob and ‘Amr ibn Shu'ayb, and because the knee is the limit, so it is not apart of the ‘Awrah, just like the navel. Their hadeeth (the Hanafis) was narrated by Abul-Janoob, whose narrations are not considered authentic by the scholars of Hadeeth…

Al-Haafith Az-Zayla’i said in Ad-Diraayah about the hadeeth that the knee is part of the ‘Awrah, “It was reported by Ad-Daaraqutni from the hadeeth narrated by ‘Ali. Its chain of narrators is classified as weak by Ibn Hajar and Az-Zayla’i and others. "

So if the players do not show their thighs and only show the knee, then there is no harm in watching the game if this does not lead to a forbidden matter.

The fatwa of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fataawa in Saudi Arabia reads, “With regard to entering the stadium to watch football matches, if it does not entail missing an obligation, such as the prayer, and one does not see the ‘Awrah of others, and it does not lead to disputes and enmity, then there is nothing wrong with it, but it is better to avoid this because it is a diversion. It is most likely that attending football matches leads to missing an obligation and committing what is forbidden.” 

As regards the hadeeth by Al-Haarith ibn ‘Ubaydillah Al-Ansaari, who said, "I saw Umm Ad-Dardaa’ going to visit an Ansaari man from the mosque, and she was on her mount in an uncovered howdah”; then Al-Albaani classified its chain of narrators as weak in Dha’eef Al-Adab Al-Mufrad.

Ibn Hajar said, “Al-Haarith ibn Ubayd was from the Levant, and he was a young Taabi‘i (from the generation that followed that of the Companions), and he was not alive when Umm Ad-Dardaa’ Al-Kubra was alive, as she died during the Caliphate of ‘Uthmaan before the death of Abu Ad-Dardaa.

If we were to presume that this hadeeth was authentic, then perhaps the man whom she visited was from her Mahrams (permanently unmarriageable kin), or perhaps the visit was safe from temptation, or perhaps she was a very old woman at that time, in which case it was permissible.

Ibn Al-Mulaqqin said in At-Tawdheeh Sharh Al-Bukhaari, “The visit of Umm Ad-Dardaa is understood to mean that she visited him while she was very old because a woman does not visit a man unless he is a Mahram to her or if she is very advanced in age and it is absolutely certain that one is not tempted by her...

Al-Bukhaari wrote a Chapter in his Saheeh which he entitled, “The Chapter on women visiting sick men” and he mentioned the hadeeth by ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, in which she said, “When the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) emigrated to Madeenah, Abu Bakr and Bilaal got a fever. I entered upon them and asked, ‘O my father! How are you? O Bilaal! How are you…’

Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

His saying: ‘The Chapter of women visiting sick men,’ meaning even if they are non-Mahrams on the considerable condition … it is also argued that this was absolutely before the hijaab was ordained, and we have already mentioned that this was stipulated in some other narrations of the same hadeeth, and that this was before the hijaab was ordained. So it was clarified that this does not harm in regard to the Chapter of women visiting sick men, as this is permissible provided that the woman is dressed modestly. What combines the two matters, whether before or after the hijaab was ordained, is being secure from temptation.

Allah knows best.

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