Balancing Modesty and Fitness in Islam

Nasihah (Advice): Islam is characterized by its modesty


Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah radiyallahu anhu reported that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Verily, every religion has a distinct characteristic and the distinct characteristic of Islam is modesty.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]



Question and Answer:


  1. A recent article sent out by the Jamiat titled “Modesty and the Fitness Trend” focused on the importance of Haya (modesty) for woman.


Kindly shed light on the ruling for men in this regard as this is something that all are involved in. Many men attend mixed gyms and join fitness classes in which there is intermingling with woman.


Some men join running clubs where they pair you off with a partner and you have Muslim men being paired off with a non-muslim females. These men expect their wives to maintain purdah but don’t do it themselves. Furthermore, most of the times, the men go after work to the gym and thus the wife is waiting at home with all the kids to see to. Please address both sides.


  1. A. The points raised are valid and highlight important aspects of maintaining Islamic principles in our daily lives.


Firstly, Islam teaches modesty for both men and women. Modesty is a fundamental value in Islam, and it applies equally to both genders. The Quran and Hadith emphasize the importance of maintaining modesty and avoiding situations that can lead to temptation and sin, irrespective of whether one is a man or a woman.


“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty…” (Quran 24: 30 & 31)


The issue of intermingling in gyms and running clubs is indeed a matter of grave concern. The potential for inappropriate interactions and the risk of falling into sinful behaviour is high in such environments. Both men and women must be cautious and strive to avoid situations where their modesty could be compromised.


It is important to recognize that while maintaining physical fitness is encouraged in Islam, it may not come at the expense of other Islamic obligations and family responsibilities. The trend of men joining running clubs, especially those that pair them with non-Muslim females not only goes against the principles of modesty but will also lead to marital discord.


There are many ways to exercise within the boundaries of Shariah for both men and women. Encouraging couples to exercise together at home is an excellent suggestion. This can help strengthen the marital bond and ensure that both spouses are maintaining their health while adhering to Islamic principles. Home workouts, walking together, or engaging in sports that do not involve intermingling are all viable options.


In conclusion, maintaining modesty, avoiding intermingling, and fulfilling family responsibilities are all crucial aspects of living an Islamic life. While physical fitness is important, it must be pursued in a manner that aligns with our Islamic values.


And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best


Mufti Moosa Salie

Mufti Taahir Hansa


(The answer hereby given is specifically based on the question asked and should be read together with the question asked. Islamic rulings on this Q&A newsletter are answered in accordance to the Hanafi Fiqh unless otherwise stated.) 


Fatwa Department
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) 

Council of Muslim Theologians
223 Alpine Road, Overport

Durban, South Africa
Tel : +27 (0) 31 2077099

Fax : +27(0) 31 2074163
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