Permission to do archery


Assalamu alaikum,

A couple of friends and I wish to do archery. We are all at the age of 16 and we know it is Sunnah to do archery and it is a key skill. All I need to know is whether I still need permission to do so, if so may I have the permission to do archery.

Thank you



Wa `alaykum as-Salam wa rahmatullah,

In truth, the practice of archery is an order from Heavens, and so “permission” need not be sought. Knowledge, however, must be sought, even unto China. Above all, take heed that your practice is in keeping with the clear way established by the holy Prophets of Allah, peace be upon them all, and after them their inheritors among the Nation of the Seal of Prophets: the `Ulama. At the very least, this ensures that no other shooting instrument will be substituted for the bow held upright in the hand, and that the thumb will be used in forming the archer’s lock upon the string.

More than this, the tradition of archery in Islam has its arkan, its usul and furu’, and its four principal Imams; but where are its `Ulama? The great ash-Shafi`i – may Allah sanctify his secret – was a master bowman. Yet even in the Ottoman age, when the Shaykh ul-Maydan would transmit the inner secret of archery to the outwardly learned, exceptions to the tradition were not unknown: archers were sometimes observed who had no master and did not adhere to any system. Today there are more and more bowmen claiming to represent archery in Islam, but despite colorful costuming and their linguistic ability to study, the teachings of the Imams are likewise not on display; so how can these be representatives of a tradition, or have authority to guide others? It is important to know who our models are; Sayyidina Ibrahim, peace be upon him, was an archer, but so was Nimrod.

Still, never despair. The archery season opens with Hidrellez. Recite al-Fatiha for the Pir of the Archers, Faris ul-Islam Sayyidina Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas, may Allah be pleased with him, and the Owner of the Maydan Shah-i Mardan, may Allah ennoble his face. Seek the assistance of the Haqqani bowmen, and be humble in the remembrance of Haqq!

Mahmoud Shelton

About Ustadh Mahmoud Shelton

Mahmoud Shelton studied at the University of Edinburgh before taking a degree in Medieval Studies at Stanford University. Shelton is the author of Alchemy in Middle Earth: The Significance of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, The Balance of George Lucas' Star Wars, and numerous articles. He is also a contributor to The Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry and The Sufi Science of Self-Realization. Contributions by Mahmoud Shelton * Chivalry of the Night and Day * Alchemy in Middle Earth * contributor, The Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry
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