Golf and Prizes

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Q: We have a group of Muslims that play golf on a monthly basis. Each one contributes an annual fee and at our monthly tournaments we use the annual fees to purchase prizes for the golfers that perform well on the day. We also use the money for the administration of the club. Is this allowed? If not, what can be a work around solution?

A:
There are two aspects to your question that needs to be commented on. The first is the actual permissibility of prize-giving in a sport. According to the Hadeeth prizes should be given only in such sports that are beneficial to one’s Deen. Rasoolullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) mentioned activities like horse-riding, archery, sword-fighting, wrestling, etc. for these are the means of jihad. Likewise, giving prizes for Qur'aan recitation, Islamic quiz, etc. is encouraged for it is beneficial to Deen. In other words, the prize serves as an incentive to make extra effort towards serving Allah’s Deen. Hence, awarding the best performer is actually inviting that person to continue the good.

In a sport such as golf, there is absolutely no benefit to our Deen; hence the sport itself will be Makrooh (disapproved by Shari'ah). Therefore, it will also be Makrooh to offer an incentive. The Holy Qur'aan commands us to compete and vie in activities that are good, see Surah, 83, verse 26. Likewise, awarding prizes or fees for the best performer in a sport that is just played for the fun of it and has no Islamic spin-off, will be Makrooh or reprehensible. It is definitely something we should abstain from.

Secondly, the method your group has devised to offer the prize is not in accordance with Shari'ah because the one who receives the prize also contributed money and this is not permissible because it now resembles a raffle or sweepstakes. In other words, the person who wins the prize gets back more than the value of money he initially contributed. What we can suggest is that someone from outside your group sponsors the prize, then the un-Islamic factor mentioned just now will not apply. Don’t use the members monies to purchase the prize.

But as suggested in paragraph one above, rather do away with the prize issue entirely.

It will be permissible to use the money collected for administrative needs.

And Allah Ta’aala knows best.

Mufti Siraj Desai