What is the ruling of playing dangerous games in amusement parks such as roller-coasters? Or participating in extreme sports such as bungee jumping and paragliding?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Islam is a religion that emphasizes the protection of life and safety. Allah SWT state:
وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ
“…and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining].”
Surah al-Baqarah (195)
The Prophet PBUH said:
لاَ ضَرَرَ وَلاَ ضِرَارَ
"There is no injury nor return of injury."
Sunan Ibn Majah (2332) and al-Muwatta’ (1234)
The definition of extreme sports by Cambridge Dictionary state, a dangerous and fun sport.
Scholars discussed the issue of involvement with dangerous sports and games. According to Ibn ‘Abidin, a renowned scholar of madhhab Hanafi said:
وكذا يحل كل لعب خطر لحاذق تغلب سلامته ، كرمي لرام ، وصيد لحية ، ويحل التفرج عليهم حينئذ
“…and it is permissible for every dangerous game for skilled or trained athletes whose safety is assured such as an archer/shooter or snake hunter and it is also permissible to watch them at the time.” (Refer Al-Dur al-Mukhtar 6/404)
However, scholars set several conditions that should be obeyed for those who are involved in dangerous sports. Some of them are:
- Sufficient skills and competency. This could never be achieved without intensive training,
- The player’s safety is almost certain.
(Refer Bughiyat al-Mushtaaq fi Hukm al-Lahw wa’l-La’b wa’l-Sibaaq, pg. 156-157)
The Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ بَاتَ عَلَى إِنْجَارٍ فَوَقَعَ مِنْهُ فَمَاتَ، بَرِئَتْ مِنْهُ الذِّمَّةُ، وَمَنْ رَكِبَ الْبَحْرَ حِينَ يَرْتَجُّ، يَعْنِي: يَغْتَلِمُ، فَهَلَكَ بَرِئَتْ مِنْهُ الذِّمَّةُ
"If anyone spends the night on a flat roof (without walls) and then falls off of it and dies, no one bears any responsibility for him. If anyone embarks on the sea when it is fierce (i.e. stormy) and is destroyed, no one bears any responsibility for him."
Al-Adab al-Mufrad (1194) and Sunan Abi Daud (5041)
Imam Ibn Bhattal commented on the above hadith said it meant that the person is no longer under the protection of syarak for he himself is the reason of the harm that falls on him. Since he did not protect himself, then syarak will not protect him. (Refer Sharh al-Bukhari, 5/89)
Imam al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said as for travelling into the sea, if the situation is safe, then its ruling is the same as travelling on land. (Refer Fath al-Baari Syarh Sahih al-Bukhari 6/88)
According to Dr Muhammad H. Siddiqi, President of Fiqh Council of North America, any type of sport that is considered as dangerous and could lead to death should be avoided. But if it is an extreme sport and there are precaution steps taken in order to protect the life of the players, then it is permissible. (Refer https://archive.islamonline.net/?p=1242)
However, there are scholars who ruled it prohibited, such as Syeikh Ibn ‘Uthaimin, according to several evidences, among them is a statement of Allah SWT:
وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ
“And do not kill yourselves [or one another].”
Surah al-Nisaa’ (29)
Thus, anything that could lead to harm or death is prohibited. The same as when we are prohibited to harm others, we are also prohibited from harming ourselves. (Refer Fataawa Nur ‘ala al-Darb, 13/252)
To conclude, there are two different opinions in this issue; one permits it while the other prohibits it. The opinion that prohibits it is a careful opinion and emphasizes on the basis of sadd al-ara’ie, which means closing the doors of harm, while the opinion that permits it, look at the original ruling of entertainment, sports and games, as long as the aspects of safety is emphasized.
We are inclined towards the first opinion, which states the ruling of getting involve in dangerous games and sports is permissible if safety steps are taken and considered and those who are involved are sufficiently trained and are competent and through ghalib al-zhan that the participants are safe.