Egyptian Shaykh Says it is Forbidden for Women to Participate in the Olympics

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Translated from the original Arabic by Al Mutarjim

Popular Egyptian Shaykh Muhammad al-'Arifi calls on the Saudi government to ban women from participating in the Olympic games, because it is "forbidden." Al-'Arifi explained that women are permitted in Islam to play sports, just not when they might mingle with men, or any men might be watching. He also described it as a slippery slope which could lead to women taking off their hijabs or tightening their clothes.

Al-'Arifi also stated that "Prince Nawaf would not like his wife or daughter to participate, and thus he should likewise be eager to protect the reputation and virtue of his Muslim sisters." Even if this were an attempt to "protect people's virtue and reputation", the fact that this only applies to women and not men is telling.

Shaykh Muhammad al-'Arifi, member of the Muslim Scholars' Association and a well-known preacher, directed an appeal to Prince Nawaf bin Faysal, general president for the Protection of the Youth, in which he asked him to employ all legal means to stop Saudi women from participating in the Olympic games. He stated that Prince Nawaf would not like his wife or daughter to participate, and thus he should likewise be eager to protect the reputation and virtue of his Muslim sisters. Al-'Arifi also stated that sports is a desirable thing in Islam, including for women to practice sports. In general it is permitted. However, if it leads to women mingling with men, or uncovering their nakedness, or men watching them while they are running, falling to the ground, laughing, crying, fighting with another player, riding horses, performing gymnastics, wrestling, and so forth; and if cameras are filming this is and it's being aired by stations, then there's no doubt that it is clearly forbidden (haraam). Women's participation in the worldwide Olympic games, or in foreign or domestic public tournaments, over time could leads to acceptance of her uncovering her hijab, expanding the types of clothes she wears, and also shrinking and tightening her clothes, little by little.

He added that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a country which is distinguished throughout all the world and is special, for it is the Muslims' qiblah, and the birthplace of Islam and the Message. It belongs to all Muslims. They must see among us a faithful adherence to Islam, and respect for the teachings of the Shari'ah.