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Archery, horse riding and swimming – the ‘noble arts’ revived through Sunnah Sports

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A local alim has sought to spread his passion for horses through the promotion of weekend retreats dedicated to the Sunnah of the Nabi Muhammad SAW. The retreats organised by the Moulana Yusuf Bemath fall under an organisation called Sunnah Sports and are targeted toward males from the age of 16 years and upward. Moulana Bemath seeks to educate participants on the Islamic significance of these “noble arts” while providing a much-needed physical outlet for men in the modern world.

The idea stemmed from a UK-based organisation that initiated similar retreats on a much larger scale, according to Moulana Bemath.

“Horses have been a passion of mine since youth and I wanted to share this with others as well…This was partly how the Sunnah Sports retreats have come about,” he said.

“The idea, however, came from a UK-based organisation that started off retreats of this nature on a much larger scale. I then wanted to emulate it here in South Africa on a smaller scale to get people, especially middle-aged men, involved in these Sunnahs which they could have possibly overlooked in the past.”

He explained that while these retreats are centered around the instruction of the sports, “the objective of these retreats is to educate people about the theory of the Islamic significance of these noble arts.”

“We go through the different hadiths and have presentations explaining them with the details about the different disciplines thereafter.”

During a weekend retreat, participants get to learn and practice each of the three disciplines taught.  In between, presentations are made, providing encouragement and an understanding of why the sports are Sunnah and why they should be practiced.

“The benefits of these sports are numerous. Each one has a basis in the Sunnah and we mention all these hadith before beginning so that people understand the Islamic significance. Thereafter, we move into the physical and spiritual benefits of each of the different disciplines,” said Moulana Bemath

“These things are indeed Islamic, but coupled with that there are physical and spiritual dimensions to these sports as well.”

Modern men and women often struggle to maintain a balanced sense of physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing due to the everyday stresses of life and work. In an attempt to remedy this, many half-heartedly attend commercial gyms.

The sports of archery, horse riding and swimming arguably offer a more enjoyable and interesting way of developing oneself holistically, whilst adhering to the Sunnah.

Muslim women have also recently shown significant interest in attending these retreats, according to Moulana Bemath, but he is yet to launch their first event.
The initial Sunnah Sports programme was launched in Johannesburg in 2018 and two have already taken place thus far in 2019 – one being in Cape Town and the other in Newcastle.

“These Sunnahs will continue to be Sunnahs until the end of time.”

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