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Lesson Twenty five - Indirect Obedience (Part II E)
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Example 5 – Sports

Sports are popular. This is good. Doing sports is good for our general health. Also sports are entertainment and they are fun. We must love and participate in sports.

However, while we are there, we must remember that the competitive spirit sports foster, is not healthy for us. People in sports especially children are taught to compete and win. The formula goes like this: compete, work hard, and win. This formula might appear innocent enough to be followed without questioning, but innocent it is not. When we do anything in the spirit of competition, hard work and winning, we tend to assume that success is all due to our hard work. Yet when it comes to failure, we crumble with anger, disappointment and despair. For small children this misery of losing may last the duration of the game or the whole day, however, if these children are exposed to a dose of anger and frustration, twice a week, year after year, for the duration of their childhood, teenage and young adult hood, a big portion of their souls would be tinted with anger. Then it should not come as a surprise if one bites his opponent’s ear on the verge of losing.

Here is the right spirit to carry in sports. First, having a good time must be our motive in games. To play to win is setting us up for disappointment. Winning or losing is not dependent on how good or bad we are at the game. Winning or losing is granted by Allah (S.W.A) to whomever he wants. Sometimes he makes us win and other times he gives the win to our opponents. In fact the pressure to win itself tenses up our muscles. In turn this tension may prevent us from doing our very best. Instead, when we play any game, we must ask Allah (S.W.A) to favor us with the win. Thereafter, we must do our best, and enjoy the game and also let others do the same. This way, when we win, we will remember to thank Allah (S.W.A) for it, and if otherwise, still we will not be disappointed because we will understand that this time Allah (S.W.A) favored the opposing team and that was his decision and it is ok. Besides, if we played and we were mindful of others, even if we lost, at least we would have enjoyed the game.

Winning as a motive in sports, make people very tense, argumentative, agitated, frustrated and whiny. The urge to win always turns into anger when we are about to lose or we lose the game. If you experience the above mentioned five factors, then you know that you are not benefiting from sports. Instead, sports are creating a monster out of you – anger. Anger is a deadly toxin to our health. The urge to win fosters a competitive spirit, which, if not checked, may hurt our personalities. It teaches us to be argumentative, to be complainers, and to be hot-tempered people. We do not want to turn into such people. Such Persons bring no happiness to anyone and no one wants to be around such people. Fortunately, it is not too late. This behavior or attitude is learned. It can be unlearned as well. When we participate in sports, we should never focus on winning – that is Allah (S.W.A)’s prerogative. We must focus on doing our best and enjoying the game. We must be considerate to others and enjoy their company as they would enjoy ours. We must not give up on sports, but we must make sure that sports do not destroy our personalities. We must play to have a good time and at the same time let others enjoy the game as well. We must ask Allah (S.W.A) to favor us with the win, and we must remember to thank Him for the favor. When He does not favor us, we must know that it was not to be, and still we must say ‘praise be to Allah (S.W.A)) (Alhmadullillah), for Allah (S.W.A) knows best.

We can only get rid of ruthlessness, agitation, frustration and despair in sports if we focus on doing our best instead of winning. Actually, if we play to have a good time, we will not even think of cheating, which people normally resort to when the going gets tough. Disappointment and depression, which follow failure, will also become history since we will by now understand the meaning of failure. If we learn that winning or losing is in Allah (S.W.A)’s hands, participating in sports will be very healthy for us. If we continue to hanker for winning, we must know that sports are slowly but surely destroying your personalities, dose by dose, week by week by teaching us through encouragement, to argue, to complain, to compete, to be ruthless and to ultimately have a short temper. Be aware! Don’t become one of those whom sports have turned into angry beasts. Let us do our best and leave the winning to Allah (S.W.A), for the discretion to award it is only and only in His hands.