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Islam and the Gym Culture

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Question:

 

  1. Many men go to gym. Other members are wearing inappropriate clothing and loud music is blaring. Females also frequent the gyms.

         a) Can the parents stop the male children from going to the gym?

         b) Can the wife object to the husband going? 

 

  1. Ladies are going for exercise classes and wearing shorts tops and body clinging pants in front of other ladies.

         a) Does the husband have a right to object and prohibit the female family members from going to these classes?

         b) Does the husband have a right to get angry?

         c) What suggestions can you give for the ladies who want to be fit and healthy?

 

 

Answer:

 

Going to the gym is not just an act of keeping fit. There is an entire culture that revolves around this activity.

 

Fitness is just a convenient excuse, under the guise of which many are deceived into believing that their involvement in this culture is justified.

 

Therefore it is important to separate the wood from the trees, and identify each phenomenon, namely fitness and gyming.

 

Fitness is a duty one owes to one’s physical self. It is a relationship between your mind, your body and your duty towards Allah Ta’ala. It does not require social interaction with anyone else. One can fulfil this duty without going to the gym. It simply boils down to self-discipline.

 

There are many books available which explain how to keep fit, without any equipment, or at least very few, within the confines of one’s home. However, that route is seen to be socially boring and archaic. One is made to feel that one is missing out on the fun. Hence this unattractive option is shunned as one of lacklustre.

 

The gym-culture, whilst it could aid in achieving fitness, is fraught with many evils from a Deeni perspective. It is a slippery slope where one begins to make compromises, under the mistaken belief that one has to do so to keep fit.

 

Some of the dangers are:

 

  • The gym environment of is one of women clad in seductive clothing. There is obviously no segregation of genders. It is inevitable that men going to such places will be involved in Zina of the eyes. Other forms of Zina are also common occurrences at such venues. 

 

  • The very culture requires men to dress in a manner unacceptable by Islamic norms. 

 

  • Even if there is a ladies-only gym, then too many women attending wear tight fitting clothing. It is Islamically unacceptable for a woman to dress in such a manner, even if it is only in front of women. We are living in an age where women are not safe even from women. Hayaa (modesty) demands that one not only refrain from such revealing attire, but that one not be in the company of other women who are shameless. Their traits will eventually create a negative impression on one’s own outlook. 

 

  • Music is an inescapable feature found at these gyms. 

 

  • Time is wasted in other activities which are related to the gym, and which are seen as part of the gym-culture, such as coffee shops (dens of gossip) and TV bars.

 

  • This culture requires one to spend significant amounts of money on designer clothing specifically associated with the gym culture. Wastage is an inescapable feature of this culture. 

 

  • The very nature of these social activities engender in its adherents traits of pride, haughtiness, boastfulness, snootiness, conceit, vanity, egoism and narcism. These are all the antithesis of the humility which Islam teaches. Those who are not part of this culture are looked down upon as backward, outcasts, or not being “cool”.

 

These are just some of the negative aspects.

 

Mainly those Muslims are attracted to this culture who have one foot in each world: they want to be both Muslim and western. On the one hand they want the dignity and respect associated with trying to practice on Deen, yet in a corner of their hearts is a secret admiration for the western lifestyle. The constant fear of missing out on this apparent wonderful and glamorous lifestyle propels them to make compromises on their Deen.

 

May Allah Ta’ala cleanse our hearts of such hidden diseases.

 

In brief, parents have a duty to prohibit their sons from the gym-culture. Similarly, wives should advise their husbands against this tendency.

 

All the more reason, husbands should ban their wives from these dens of evil. Expressing anger for the sake of Deen is the husband’s duty.

 

May Allah Ta’ala guide us all and keep us on the straight path.

 

Answered by: Mufti Emraan Vawda

 

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