It is gratifying to notice that most of the Islamic forms of worship, e.g., Prayers, Fasting, Pilgrimage, display some sportive characteristics, although they are basically and by nature meant for spiritual purposes. But who would deny the constant interaction between the physique and morale of man? Yet that is not all that Islam has to say on the subject of sports and amusements. Anything that provokes sound thinking or refreshes the mind and revitalizes the body to keep man in healthy shape is encouraged and invited to by Islam so long as it does not anticipate or involve any sin, or cause any harm or delay and hamper the fulfillment of other obligations. The general precept in this matter is the statement in which the Prophet said that all believers in God have good qualities but the strong one is better than the weak. It is also reported that he approved of the sports and amusements which build up the enduring physique and strengthen the morale.
It is a regrettable mistake to associate with sports and amusements things which are not really sportive or amusing. Some people consider gambling and drinking as sports and amusements, but this is not the viewpoint of Islam. Life is worth living and is granted to us for a definite purpose. No one is supposed to abuse it by letting it go loose or become dependent entirely on luck and chance. So it is no intrusion on or violation of the personal rights of man when Islam extends its Divine touch to organize life even in its very personal aspects. Because life is manís most valuable asset and is designed for noble purposes, Islam has shown man the way to live it properly and enjoyably. Among the measures taken in this respect is inhibition of gambling which is really more tension-accelerating than tension-reducing. It is a grave abuse of life to make it subject to luck and mere chance. It is a deviation from the normal course of life, if one entrusts his lot to the mad wheel of games, and invests his abilities in the most unpredictable moves on a gambling table. To protect man from all these unnecessary mental strains and shattering of nerves, and to enable him to lead a natural life in means as well as in ends, Islam has forbidden gambling of all forms and kinds.
Similarly, it is a shameful retreat from reality and an irresponsible insult to the best quality in man, i.e., mind, to get entangled in the tight strands of intoxication or cornered in the vicious whirl of alcohol. The menaces and tragedies of intoxication are too obvious to be elaborated. Many lives are being lost every day on this account. Many families break up because of this menace. Many billions of dollars are swallowed in the drinking channel every year. Countless doors are closed on misery and unhappiness arising from the drinking habits. Besides the destruction of health, the depression of mind, the dullness of soul, the absorption of wealth, the disintegration of families, the abuse of human dignity, the sabotage of morality, the humiliating retreat from realty; everyone of the so-called social drinkers is a highly potential alcoholic. Islam cannot tolerate these menaces or let man abuse the very sense of life in this tragic way. That is the reason why Islam does not associate gambling and drinking with good sports and refreshing amusements and, instead, has banned them once and for all. To appreciate the viewpoint of Islam in this respect one has only to check any news medium, read any medical report, visit any social service agency, or watch any court proceedings. Of all the agonizing social problems, alcoholism is by far the most serious. More than one-half million Americans become alcoholics every year. One in every ten to twelve people who take their first drink in any given year is destined to become alcoholic. All these painful tragedies and real losses speak much louder than any theological or trade arguments.
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