Whoever reads your question will understand that you have the choice between two things only, either watching sports in the cafes, or watching them at home. The idea of not watching them at all has not occurred to you, which is something that makes us feel sad, that the young men of the ummah are distracted by watching sports matches, and following sports teams, and venerating the people of leisure and idleness, which only makes the ummah more backward in all fields.
This attitudes results from a number of causes:
1. Not understanding the value of time, for if a person understood the value and importance of time, he would not waste it in things that are of no benefit.
2. Not keeping busy with serious matters, such as knowledge, a skill or trade. Rather many students think that if they study what is taught at school, they have done what they are obliged to do. They forget that they, like anyone else who is accountable, should hasten to do good deeds and fill their pages with hasanaat. Indeed this is required even more so of them because they are young and strong and and have relatively few worries.
3. Not having righteous friends who can help one to obey Allaah.
These are the most important causes of negligence which must be dealt with quickly before it is too late.
You should ask yourself a number of questions which will help you to adopt the correct attitude with regard to this issue, such as the following:
1. What if you stopped watching all the matches? What would happen? Boredom, anxiety, regret, but for how long? One day or a few days, then you would become more at ease and your evil inclinations would grow weaker, and your days would become pleasant, and would grow more pleasant the more you nourish your faith with knowledge, dhikr and acts of worship. For there is a longing in the soul that can only be fulfilled with remembrance of Allaah and contact with Allaah.
2. What is the benefit in watching these games for years on end? Enjoyment, learning to play well, killing time, hanging out with one’s friends, then what? Are these aims which a wise Muslim should be striving to attain?
As for enjoyment, it soon ceases, leaving behind a sense of loss and regret for having wasted time.
As for learning to play well, this is a claim that has no basis. How much have you benefited from what you watched before? How much have others benefited? Is it an honour for you to be recorded before Allaah as a player?
As for killing time, since when is time an enemy that you should strive to kill?! Time is your breath, it is your lifetime and the moments of your life which you could fill with thousands and millions of hasanaat. It is sufficient for you to say Subhaan Allaah wa bi hamdihi (Glory and praise be to Allaah) once, and a palm tree will be planted for you in Paradise, so how many gardens have you failed to plant? How many hasanaat have you lost?
As for hanging out with your friends, look at your friends more closely and ask whether any of them will enter your grave with you. Which of them will help you on the Day of Judgement? Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Friends on that Day will be foes one to another except Al‑Muttaqoon (the pious)”
“That Day shall a man flee from his brother,
35. And from his mother and his father,
36. And from his wife and his children.
37. Every man that Day will have enough to make him careless of others”
“And (remember) the Day when the Zaalim (wrongdoer, oppressor, polytheist) will bite at his hands, he will say: ‘Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (Muhammad).
28. Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so‑and‑so as a Khaleel (an intimate friend)!
29. He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’aan) after it had come to me.’ And Shaytaan (Satan) is to man ever a deserter in the hour of need”
3. Is watching matches and watching sports channels free from committing haraam deeds, as claimed by your soul that is inclined to evil? Haraam may enter your heart by watching female announcers, or watching female players, or watching some of the female spectators, when the camera focuses on them time after time. Why would a person deceive himself? Hour after hour will be wasted with no benefit; do you not feel ashamed before Allaah? Do you not get up after that and your heart feels distressed because of its darkness and lack of remembrance of Allaah? You remember the names of these players, support their clubs and follow their news, but some of them may not even believe in Allaah. Are you not embarrassed by that? If you were to be asked about the lives of ten of the Sahaabah you would not be able to answer. What a great calamity this is.
Moreover, can you trust yourself not to become addicted to watching and that the shaytaan will not gradually lead you to watch other channels? Real life shows us how the shaytaan has deceived people when they followed in his footsteps. He made attractive to them the idea of watching sports only, then he kept prompting them until they started to watch everything. Do not ask about their confusion and loss, do not ask about their prayer and qiyaam, do not ask about their wird and dhikr. The one who is truly protected is the one whom Allaah protects.
Be careful, and take stock of yourself before you are called to account; weigh up your deeds before they are weighed and counted against you. Beware of the tricks of the shaytaan, for it starts with something insignificant but soon it becomes like a mountain which no man can carry, and when sins accumulate they will destroy a man.
“O you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Shaytaan (Satan). And whosoever follows the footsteps of Shaytaan (Satan), then, verily, he commands Al‑Fahsha’ [i.e. to commit indecency (illegal sexual intercourse)], and Al‑Munkar [disbelief and polytheism (i.e. to do evil and wicked deeds; and to speak or to do what is forbidden in Islam)]”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Beware of trivial sins, for they will accumulate until they destroy a man.” And the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) gave an example, likening them to people who stopped to camp in the wilderness, and they wanted to prepare some food, so one man went and brought a stick, and another man brought a stick, until they had gathered a huge pile and lit a fire, and whatever they put in the pot was cooked asa result. Narrated by Ahmad from the hadeeth of Ibn Mas’ood; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 2687.
Hence we advise you to fear Allaah and to remain steadfast in obedience to Him, and beware of disobeying Him. Keep away from these channels which, even if they are free of haraam things, will still deprive you of a great deal of good and much reward, and will reduce your status.
Think about what Ibn al-Qayyim said about himself: One day Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah sanctify his soul) said to me concerning some permissible matter: This does not befit a man who aspires to attain a high status, even though avoiding it is not a condition of salvation. Or words to that effect. The wise man will refrain from many permissible things so as to protect himself, especially if that permissible thing falls in between halaal and haraam. End quote from Madaarij al-Saalikeen (2/26).
We ask Allaah to guide us and you.
And Allaah knows best.