Okay, I didn't believe it when this arrived in my mailbox - sorry Max. But damn it's funny. And as far as I can tell, it's not meant to be a joke. What follows is apparently a real fatwa. Or as real as they get, anyway.
New York Times, October 16, 2005
God Is In The Rules
By Geoff Porter
Fatwas, the legal opinions proclaimed by Islamic scholars, have proliferated in the Muslim world since the 1980's, driven by rising literacy rates and the Internet. The growth in fatwas -- some of them contradictory -- has led to a debate over who can legitimately issue them and has alarmed governments in the Middle East, since the decrees sometimes challenge state-sanctioned interpretations of Islam.
Yet criticizing fatwas about divisive issues like the propriety of killing civilians and Shiites can be dangerous for officials. So the Saudi government is trying a different tactic, zeroing in on what it considers frivolous fatwas in order to rally support for tougher measures on who can and who cannot issue opinions. Recently, Al Watan, a semiofficial Saudi daily newspaper, reported that a young athlete had joined the jihad in Iraq under the influence of a fatwa forbidding playing soccer by regular rules. The newspaper also republished the fatwa, said to have originally appeared on an Islamic Web site. Portions of the fatwa, which I translated from the Arabic, follow.
-- GEOFF D. PORTER
IN the name of God the merciful and benevolent:
1. Play soccer without four lines because this is a fabrication of the heretics' international rules that stipulate using them and delineating them before playing.
2. International terminology that heretics and polytheists use, like ''foul,'' ''penalty,'' ''corner,'' ''goal,'' ''out'' and others, should be abandoned and not said. Whoever says them should be punished, reprimanded and ejected from the game. He should be publicly told, ''You have imitated the heretics and polytheists and this is forbidden.''
3. Do not call ''foul'' and stop the game if someone falls and sprains a hand or foot or the ball touches his hand, and do not give a yellow or red card to whoever was responsible for the injury or tackle. Instead, it should be adjudicated according to Sharia rulings concerning broken bones and injuries. The injured player should exercise his Sharia rights according to the Koran and you must bear witness with him that so-and-so hurt him on purpose.
4. Do not follow the heretics, the Jews, the Christians and especially evil America regarding the number of players. Do not play with 11 people. Instead, add to this number or decrease it.
5. Play in your regular clothes or your pajamas or something like that, but not colored shorts and numbered T-shirts, because shorts and T-shirts are not Muslim clothing. Rather they are heretical and Western clothing, so beware of imitating their fashion.
6. If you have fulfilled these conditions and intend to play soccer, play to strengthen the body in order to better struggle in the way of God on high and to prepare the body for when it is called to jihad. Soccer is not for passing time or the thrill of so-called victory.
7. Do not set the time of play at 45 minutes, which is the official time of the Jews, Christians and all the heretical and atheist countries. This is the time used by teams that have strayed from the righteous path. You are obliged to distinguish yourself from the heretics and the corrupted and must not resemble them in anything.
8. Do not play in two halves. Rather play in one half or three halves in order to completely differentiate yourselves from the heretics, the polytheists, the corrupted and the disobedient.
9. If neither of you beats the other, or ''wins'' as it is called, and neither puts the leather between the posts, do not add extra time or penalties until someone wins. No, instead leave the field, because winning with overtime and penalty kicks is the pinnacle of imitating heretics and international rules.
10. If you play soccer, do not appoint someone to follow you called a ''referee,'' since there is no need for him after doing away with international rules like ''foul,'' ''penalty,'' ''corner'' and others. His presence would be in imitation of the heretics, Jews and Christians and would follow international rules.
11. Young crowds should not gather to watch when you play because if you are there for the sake of sports and strengthening your bodies as you claimed, why would people watch you? You should make them join your physical fitness and jihad preparation, or you should say: ''Go proselytize and seek out morally reprehensible acts in the markets and the press and leave us to our physical fitness.''
12. If you finish playing soccer, do not talk about your game and say, ''We were better than the opponent,'' or ''So-and-so plays well'' and so on. Instead be concerned with your bodies and their strength and muscles, and say, ''We played only to drill in running, attacking and retreating, and to prepare for jihad in the name of God on high.''
13. You should spit in the face of whoever puts the ball between the posts or uprights and then runs in order to get his friends to follow him and hug him like players in America or France do, and you should punish and reprimand him, for what is the relationship between celebrating, hugging and kissing and the sports that you are practicing?
14. You should use two posts instead of three pieces of wood or steel that you erect in order to put the ball between them, meaning that you should remove the crossbar in order not to imitate the heretics and in order to be entirely distinct from the soccer system's despotic international rules.
15. Do not do what is called ''substitution,'' that is, taking the place of someone who has fallen, because this is a practice of the heretics in America and elsewhere.
These are some conditions and precepts so that morally aware youth do not inadvertently imitate heretics and polytheists when playing soccer Hell awaits those who die playing soccer according to rules established by heretical countries, at the head of which is America.