You may wonder why Muslim women do not take part in some sports. Are certain types of sports forbidden (Haram) for women in Islam? Are women in Islam not allowed to enjoy themselves doing such recreational activities? Well, actually the question whether women in Islam can play sports is somehow same as the question if Muslims can eat or drink!!
And the answer is like, of course we can eat and drink! But, Islam always wants us to observe some rulings for our personal or social benefit. For example, drugs or alcoholic drinks that could lead to intoxication are forbidden in Islam, since they are far more harmful to the people and the society than they are beneficial [i]. So we can enjoy all the tasty foods and drink that God has kindly given to us [ii], and we should always be careful not to go further than such limits.
In the same way, we can say that generally speaking; there is nothing wrong with playing sports in Islam, both for men and women. Conversely, Islam encourages us all to do what makes us strong and healthy!  Still, there are things to keep in mind since according to Islam, we are not supposed to receive harm, nor to harm others .
Take gambling for example, which has become a part of many games and sports today, and which walks many people on the road to their ruin! When playing sports, then, we should take care that it doesn’t include any kind of gambling. The same is with sports which might lead to serious injuries to oneself or another person.
And how about women in Islam? Is there any special rule for them? Well, women are asked so much to observe Hijab and modesty, both in their covering and manners –as much as men are asked to take care of their sight, and maybe as much as both genders fail to do so! [iii]
Certainly, we know that it’s not really easy to conform to these rules. Women have extremely beautiful and charming bodies, which makes it the more trying for them to hold back the inclination (maybe the same applies to some male bodybuilders who tend to expose their bodies much more than cover it!).
Of course, it is all fine if you can take part in your favorite kind of sport in segregated places where there are no male spectators, or if there can be a special and verified covering for women in Islam, as we see many women doing martial arts, for example, with a headscarf, in order to be safe from sickly looks [iv] and to cherish what God has bidden them at all times.
Still, you may be interested in a type of sport which finds no way to go along with the Islamic tips on covering and modesty. You think to yourself, “Why can’t I go swimming at mixed pools? I’m not doing anything wrong, just wearing a comfortable suit for swimming! It’s men’s duty not to look at me in a bad way?” Well, quite so.
But what if some of them may fail to do so? Had you not better protect yourself from that? If you go to an outdoor swimming pool in the winter, YOU are not doing anything wrong. But the weather is cold! And regardless of your real intentions, it will harm you anyway! Unless you protect yourself from catching it with a jacket [v].
Think of how women’s body has become a, so to say, cheap commodity today, due to the lack of such considerations in some women. Think of how we could experience less abusive behaviors and more enduring families if all women preserved a certain level of covering and modesty and if all men protected their sight from what they shouldn’t look at [vi] Not to mention the heavenly reward that God has kept in store for those who listen to His instructions, and that is surely greater than the worldly benefit!
If you have made up your mind to live as a practicing Muslim, you be sure that you are doing the right thing, no matter what others say, and no matter what the circumstances. You can also be sure that God loves you very much for taking the trouble! And it never means that a Muslim woman who fails to do so is excluded from the Islamic Community (Ummah) and God’s mercy.
So, to sum up, what we said, Islam has no opposition to women’s sport. It just asks them to be modest before everyone and covered before non-Mahram men. If they think that the kind of sport they are to take up conforms to these suggestions, which a good many sports does, they can go for it without any restriction.
And if it doesn’t, they can find a way which goes closest to what God requires of them, or maybe they can think again and pick another type of sport for themselves.
[i] Quran, 2:219
[ii] Quran, 7:32
[iii] Quran, 24:30,31
[iv] Quran, 33:32
[v] You can read more about “the Islamic Etiquette of Looking” here.
[vi] You can have a look at our article about “Hijab” here.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 78, p. 174, Sahih al-Muslim, vol. 4, no. 2052
- Wasa’il al-Shi’a, vol. 26, p. 14, Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat, vol. 1, p. 90
Contrary to popular belief, women in Islam has been empowered and respected. We previously discussed the Islamic viewpoint on the rights of women and the position of women in the society. Knowing that the justice considers equal rights for both men and women, it revealed that Islam had given “equal” -not similar- rights to women and men. Here, we provide more evidence on the Islamic approach to demonstrate that females are greatly respected in Islam.
In the pre-Islamic era in Arab countries, females were considered as weak members of the society, and they were an economic burden especially during times of famine since they were supposed to be less useful. If a girl was born to a family, the father became disappointed (“And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief.” (16:58)) and afraid of that girl being held captive by the invaders in the future, which would bring shame to the family. So, they used to bury baby girls alive (“Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground?” (16:59)).
Of course, Islam prohibited this practice by the divine commands in the Quran as well as the deeds and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The reaction of the Quran to this act is: “evil is what they decide” (16:59) and adds: “do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them” (6:151).
This act is so blamed and hated in Islam that in Surah Takwir it is said on the Day of Judgement, the first issue that will be dealt with before everything else will be burying the baby girls alive: “For what sin she was killed” (81:9). This demonstrates how invaluable females are in Islam.
Islam also attempts to show the position of the daughter in the family and how she brings blessings to it. In this regard, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said: “God bless the father who has daughters. Daughters are lovely and bring divine blessing, and sons are like good news. Daughters are enduring good deeds (Baqiyat al-Salihat)” .
He (PBUH&HP) wondered why people were unhappy and sorry for having a daughter and said that daughters are like fragrant flowers for him to smell . Imam Sadiq (AS) said that: “Daughters are your good deeds and sons are your blessings. You will be asked for the blessings you have been given, but you will be only rewarded for your good deeds” .
This narration emphasizes how important female children and women in Islam are and warns us to treat them well. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has advised buying gifts for the family members and said that this act would be rewarded similar to giving charities. Then, he (PBUH) adds: “Firstly give your daughters their gifts, and then your sons. Because whoever makes her daughter happy is similar to the one who has set one of the children of Ishmael free (AS)” .
The respect and importance given to daughters are also pointed out about women in Islam and especially wives such that according to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) the best of men is the one who is the best to his wife. And, he (PBUH) is the best man who other men should follow in act and behavior towards their wives .
Another manifestation of the respect for the wives is the Islamic point of view on polygamy. Islam does not approve of polygamy; rather it has restricted polygamy by setting some terms and conditions on that matter.
Islamic Advice on Respect for Mothers
Mothers are of high value in Islam because of their efforts such as how they withstand the difficulties during the pregnancy, the care and protection they provide after giving birth to the baby, the selfless sacrifices they make so that the child could grow up in the most comfortable condition and with the best education.
The rights of mothers are even known to be superior to those of fathers . According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), one can never pay back the rights of the mother .
This amount of concern about females from childhood to motherhood and the considerations for the equal rights for women in Islamic teachings all the indicate the respect and attention paid to women in this religion.
- M. Nuri, "Mustadrak al-Wasa'il", vol. 15, p. 115, T. 17700.
- "Makarim al-Akhlaq Supplication", p. 219.
- Shaykh Al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 6, p. 6.
- Shaykh Al-Amili, "Wasa'il al-Shi'a", vol. 15, p. 227.
- Shaykh al-Saduq, "Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih", vol. 3, p. 443.
- H. T. Nuri Ṭabarsi, “Mustadrak al-Wasail”, vol. 15, p. 203.
Finding appropriate clothes can be one of the challenging issues of Muslim women. Living in modern societies necessitates its own lifestyle, including dress code and style, which is different in the four corners of the world. If a woman decides to choose Islam as her faith, what shall she wear?
Once, Imam Sadiq (AS) was wearing a nice expensive suit. A man called Sufiyan Souri saw him in The Holy Mosque and said: “O The son of Allah’s Prophet, I swear to Him that Neither Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), nor Imam Ali (AS) and none of your forefathers wore such an expensive suit!”
He answered: “They were living at a time when most of the people were poor and in need. But today is different. Most people are living a good wealthy, abundant life. This is the time when the good servants of Allah are the most deserving to take advantage of Allah’s blessings.”
Then he recited this verse of the Holy Quran:
Say," Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of [His] provision?" Say," These are for the faithful in the life of this world, and exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection." Thus do We elaborate on the signs for people who have knowledge. Quran (7: 32) 
Islam does not forbid us from wearing clothes in line with the society, geographical location, culture, and tradition of the age and country we are living in, but it has some considerations. First, we need to discuss them in general and then refer to the issue of Muslim women.
Standing out and attracting the attention of the people around may cause disrespect and disregard for a Muslim woman or man. Peacocking undignifies the human soul and rather values the physical attractions of the human body. A believing Muslim considers everyone, and never pretends to be rich or poor with the dress he/she wears. Muslim women are special in that field, meaning that Islam insists on their dressing in a particular way. They are believed to be worthy of their soul, their femininity, and above all, for their humanity, not their sexual attractions, which can be a cause of abuse or disrespect in society.
Peacocking is not just a matter of wearing cheap and worn-out clothes or expensive luxurious suits, but it consists of any clothing which attracts irregular attention either with its color, thickness, texture, smell, or even its design.
Imagine that you have attended a funeral in India. White is the color of mourning, and red is the color of feasts and marriage. At that funeral, you encounter a person wearing a red dress, with lots of jewelry and extravagant style. Everyone looks cross at that person. That will be a sign of disrespect for the mourners and might even cause insult and struggle in the middle of the ceremony. And this is against the Islamic culture which is against disrespect and anything counter social.
Genders are different from one another, and a healthy society needs them both, each with their definitive characteristics. So, women should look feminine, and men need to take what is masculine. However, there are clothes which both genders wear; like blouses, suits, and trousers, and nothing is wrong with those. But coloring nails or wearing makeup is pretty strange and unusual on a man, and Islam forbids that kind of peculiar look.
Wearing clothes that belong to unbelievers makes Muslims look like them; as if they are following their beliefs, commands, etc. For instance, we all know that rotated star in a circle is a sign of Satanism. They are examples of clothes that a believing Muslim is to avoid. Any sign, style, or design which might relate to the unbelieving system of thought makes that person seem to believe or appreciate that system of thinking, be it willingly or unwillingly. Here it necessitates Muslims to think and analyze the clothes they choose to wear.
The clothes that a Muslim wears must be Halal; meaning that it mustn’t belong to someone else who does not want that person to wear what belongs to him/her. The clothes of a Muslim are pure because they tidy up any sign of untidiness from that. It is neat and clean, the habit which is very much praised in Islam.
Imam Sadiq (AS) says: “wear clothes and adorn yourself. Truly, Allah is beautiful, and He likes beauty, but that has to be Halal.”
He also says: “Allah likes beauty and adornment, and dislikes looking disheveled” 
Modern fashion is becoming more and more complicated these days. The coming of new casual or formal styles might put Muslim women in dilemmas. In this case and similar occasions, they just need to remember the considerations above, besides Hijab, which is discussed in our article Hijab in Islam. Tips on the infographic of How to wear Hijab in Islam might be helpful, too.
At last, we need to remember that Islam never forbids anyone from being a person for the age he/she is living in. It just asks everyone to observe the rules of Islam and respect the community and society they are living in.
- Bihar al-Anvar, Vol. 40, p 336, Hadith 18
- Sheikh Tousi, Amaali, Vol.1, p. 275