Playing in the Masjid

Q: There was a dispute between some of my colleagues, i.e. teachers of the school, concerning the Hadith of `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) mentioned in the chapter of Ashab Al-Hirab fi Al-Masjid P.171 (people of spears in the mosque), Volume 1, Sahih Al-Bukhari. The Hadith reads as follows: I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) standing at the door of my room, while the Abyssinians (Ethiopians) were playing with their spears in the Masjid (mosque) of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and he was blocking me with his garment so that I could watch their play. The question now is: Is it permissible to play inside the Masjid (mosque)? How can we interpret this Hadith?

A: Those Abyssinians (may Allah be pleased with them) were playing with spears in the Masjid on the Day of `Eid. They used to practice for war to get ready to fight the infidels. There is no doubt that this is a good action because Jihad in the cause of Allah, being ready for it with equipment and drilling oneself to use weapons so that they may use them when the caller announces (Part No. 6; Page No. 306) Jihad are of the obligations of Islam. However, it was called playing because it is like playing because the trainee pretends to stab but does not do it even if the rival is the closest relative to him like a father or a son. Hence, there is no harm in doing this in a Masjid, especially on the Day of `Eid because it is a day of joy and happiness. It is an act of virtue and goodness in reality although it does not appear like that from the outside.As for pure play, it is an amusement which is not allowed to be done, approved of or even watched, especially by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them). Unlike the permissibility to race with horses, camels, in archery and to train in order to get ready for Jihad in the cause of Allah; taking into consideration the causes of power, establishment of the Islamic state and supporting Islam, it is permissible in the suitable circumstances. It is not a part of the forbidden amusement and all these are included in Allah's saying: And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.