Establishing a gym beneath a Masjid

Q: In cooperation with the educated and honorable people of Al-Zarqa' city, Kingdom of Jordan, "The Islamic Book Society" was founded. Its main objective is to form Islamic libraries that allow free borrowing. These libraries, as planned, shall be in the most frequently visited places by youth such as the Masjids (mosques) and clubs. Also, it may be established in places such as hospitals and jails where some Muslims spend a long time. (Part No. 6; Page No. 294) These libraries mainly provide the Islamic periodicals and books combating atheism, heretical religious innovations, and anti-Islamic ideas. By Allah's help, the society bought land with an area of five hundred square meters and built a two-storey building there. The upper floor has a masjid and three rooms, while the lower one has one hall, three rooms, and four offices. We disputed the proper manner of using the hall. One person suggests that it should be used as a large library for reading. However, the majority refute his view saying that the city of Al-Zarqa' has a huge Islamic library and its visitors are few, for the number of concerned readers are few. Moreover, professional readers want to own books. But, if they can not afford these books, they may borrow them. Finally, we agreed to place the library in the upper rooms aligned with the Masjid where the readers can have a quiet place. Also, we can distribute the books to the branches where borrowing is available to help increase the availability of books for everyone.As for the hall, we agreed to use it in the morning for teaching girls the craft of sewing and the articles of faith and virtues to save them from the sewing centers overwhelmed by vices. Also, the male youth may come in the evening to receive courses in printing and in school subjects to improve their knowledge, lectures in the different Islamic sciences, seminars for specific audiences or professionals in certain areas, and proper cultural activities. (Part No. 6; Page No. 295) Additionally, there are Scout and sports activities some of which are done inside or outside the hall. All these activities are well prepared and will be under direct supervision.As you know, people have different wishes and inclinations. Some are talented in certain areas; for example Abu Hurairah's talent of narrating Hadiths and Khalid ibn Al-Walid's talent in combat were matchless. Every one is facilitated in what has been created for him. The great inclination to practice sports makes youth belong to the widespread missionary clubs which attract youth through these sports. The Muslim members in these clubs represent 90%, and there are four the Christians clubs in this city. Additionally, in eleven schools and fourteen churches affiliated to these clubs the sporting activities are done in the same way. These malicious clubs whose aim is known find no difficulty in attracting inexperienced youth. Meanwhile, there is a national widespread sport, its games are similar to the wars waged among the tribes, which arouses bigotry among the youth. Accordingly, we sought for a means to prepare the Muslims physically and scientifically. We help them do exercises and build their bodies in the hall below the Masjid.We direct and supervise this physical education so that the lawful acts regarding sportswear, performance, and speech are observed. We are also keen on not doing these activities at the expense of the acts of worship or the Islamic sciences and seminars held in this hall. (Part No. 6; Page No. 296) Under these conditions, many scholars in Jordan issued a Fatwa affirming that these activities are lawful so long as they are done in conformity with the Shari`ah practices. They see these activities as a means to build the Muslim youth bodies, to strengthen their relationship with the Masjid, and to attract the sport hobbyists expected to be guided.Moreover, they are of the view that neglecting these Islamic targeted activities leads to hindering Da`wah (call to Islam) and suspending the benefit of Islam. Under these conditions, this proven method may help divert the youth from Christian clubs. Being harmless and not prohibited by Islam, it is ok to do such sport even if it is done below the Masjid, so long as the times of Salah (Prayer) are observed. On the other hand, some are of the view that it is not proper to do sporting activities below the Masjid. They fear that they may be like the kinds of sports done in other associations that go against Islam. Finally, based on the vast knowledge, sincerity, and broad-mindedness you have, the two parties who held different views agree that you issue a fatwa on this critical question showing what is best for Islam and Muslims.

A: If the purpose of these buildings is as you have mentioned, we hope that this charitable work be rewarded by Allah and is crowned by success. Your care, guidance, and concern for protecting the Muslim youth from temptation are appreciated. (Part No. 6; Page No. 297) With regard to the sporting activities done in the hall below the Masjid, there is nothing wrong with them as long as the hall is not needed for anything more important than these activities. Moreover, these activities are permissible, if they are under supervision of honest Muslims, do not involve forbidden acts, and do not distract people from performing the obligatory prayers in congregation when the time is due or from learning the necessary Islamic rulings, etc. Rather, these activities may be beneficial for the youth as they link them to the Islamic groups and the pious people and avert them from evil company. Also, the youth can be protected from engaging in the destructive Fitnahs and evil propaganda without neglecting the religious obligations or being affected by any harm.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.