Egyptian preacher’s fatwa towards bodybuilding stirs controversy

CAIRO — Egyptian preacher Abdullah Rushdy has issued a fatwa prohibiting males from taking part in bodybuilding competitions and exhibiting “awrah,” the intimate elements of the human physique as outlined in Islam.

The fatwa got here after Egyptian bodybuilder Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay gained the Mr. Olympia 2021 bodybuilding championship held in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 10. This was Big Ramy’s second win in a row on the most distinguished bodybuilding championship on the earth.

Rushdy, who identifies himself as a researcher within the affairs of religions and sects at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, tweeted on Oct. 11, “Men are prohibited from participating in bodybuilding championships and showing intimate parts, which should be covered according to the Sharia.” He known as for training sports activities with out violating the rules of the Sharia.

In a Facebook video on Oct. 12, Rushdy tried to justify his place, saying, “I am not saying no to sports, but the rules of the Sharia ought to be respected when doing so. … Awrah for men includes the body parts between their navel and knees, and it’s the entire body for women, except for their face and hands.”

He added, “I advise young men not to practice bodybuilding because of this and women should not participate in any competition that requires them to show parts of their bodies.”

Ahmed Karima, a professor of comparative jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, rejected Rushdy’s fatwa. “God did not make men’s bodies a means to sedition,” he said, adding that the rule only applies to worship. 

In a television interview on Oct. 14, Karima further explained the difference. “Farmers raise their pants above their knees while watering the land or feeding animals. This happens to be common in some industries as well.” Sportswear, he said, “is a customized and never a type of worship, so males won’t find yourself in Hell for sporting them. Custom is a help for Islamic Sharia.”

“Rushdy is so narrow-minded that he selected to discuss awrah and ignored the truth that [Big Ramy] gained a world championship, in addition to he unnoticed the significance of sports activities and a wholesome physique,” Egyptian writer Bahey Eldin Morsi told Al-Monitor. “The Egyptian people were so happy for Big Ramy for winning Mr. Olympia 2021; his achievement has brought them pride.”

Morsi refused to “invoke lust in all parts and situations of life,” calling for “disregarding such fatwas that disturb Egyptian achievements.”

Upon his arrival at Cairo Airport on Oct. 19, Big Ramy was welcomed by a delegation from the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, in addition to many people from his hometown.

Rushdy’s past controversial statements have included linking sexual harassment to women’s outfits, which prompted some to accuse him of justifying harassment, defending harassers, and blaming women.

According to Egyptian media reports, Al-Azhar stressed that Rushdy does not represent it, and he has not previously worked within the Sheikhdom of Al-Azhar or any of its research centers.

Media reports have also stressed that the opinions of Rushdy and other graduates of Al-Azhar University do not reflect the religious establishment, pointing out that only Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb and the official Al-Azhar bodies speak for it.

In February 2020, the Egyptian Ministry of Endowments announced that Rushdy was dismissed from his preacher place and prevented from giving non secular classes in mosques. He was referred for questioning, in line with the ministry, following a put up during which he criticized coronary heart surgeon Magdi Yacoub for being a Christian, saying that “his deeds in this world are of no value in the afterlife.”

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