FAQs & Fatwas Islamic Law Men

More on the Fiqh of Football [American Football]

Part I | Part II

“What about pigskin footballs?”

“Isn’t the dead flesh of swine considered filth in the Maliki School?”

I did not post Isa’s contention because I assumed that footballs were not made from the flesh of swine and if they were, they went through some type of istihala [don’t have time for that now, but think cheese and chips]. Here’s some evidence to further that assumption.

“Get an inside look at how Wilson makes the Official NFL Game Ball at our factory in Ada, Ohio. As the official football supplier for the NFL since 1941, Wilson workers at the Ada factory construct thousands of NFL Game Balls annually by hand from genuine leather hides. Located approximately 80 miles northwest of Columbus, Ohio, the factory employs only 150 workers whose average tenure exceeds 20 years. Their traditional method of football construction extends more than six decades, standing as a true testament to American craftsmanship.” Taken form Wilson’s site here

Interesting article on why it’s called the “Pigskin.”

Thus, the axiom, “The origin of things is permissible unless there is a clear proof to the opposite” kicks in [no pun intended]. In addition, the process of istihala most probably accord [remember the chips and cheese discussion a year or so back].

A few points:

  • I was really proud that the brothers did not let this take them away from praying in the masjid. We hear some much negative reflux, its good to see things like this.
  • The ruling on football is permissible. However, if it gets in the way of the obligatory it can become forbidden. This was noted by al-Dardir in al-Sharh al-Saghir when he said, “Marriage can be forbidden if it takes one away from the obligatory acts.” If that is the case of marriage, one can only wonder about sports?
  • Sports are an awesome way to build love and brotherhood. Be careful and don’t let your egos cause you to forget that. Stay focused on the fact that you are there to improve your love for each other, get in shape, and, perhaps, score a few points. If tempers rise, say a big ‘Audhubilla, take a break and regain your focus.
  • Try and have a small five minute reminder during or after the game. Heart softeners and keeping up on the community are always a good idea.

This had to be one of the most enjoyable questions I’ve had in some time practical, relevant and engaging.


About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • As salam u alaikum wa rhamatullah,

    JazakAllah kahir for all the great posts. May Allah (swt) reward you in this life and the next.
    Quick question regarding the axiom, “The origin of things is permissible unless there is a clear proof to the opposite”. What is the scope of application of this axiom? Is its application general or specific? Basically, where does this axiom apply and where doesn't it?


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