Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
What is your view regarding the reading of books such as Harry potter? I read on a fiqh answer site that it is “absolutely haram” to read such works. Is this true?
In the name of Allah, the inspirer of truth. All praise is to Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate, and all blessings and peace to our Master Muhammad, his family, companions, and those who follow them.
This is not strictly speaking true. Anything that has an acceptable worldly or religious purpose or benefit is not blameworthy in the Hanafi school, as scholars and the texts explain.
Therefore, if you like to read English literature, this would not be blameworthy (unless it leads, in your case, to something blameworthy) because reading literature has clear benefits. The scholars point out that one of the primary duties of Muslims in the West is to call people to Allah and His religion. This is only possible if Muslims are well-read and possess the communicative skills to convey their message.
One should, of course, avoid literature that is lewd or that promotes the impermissible.
Sport & Recreation
The same thing would apply to sports if done for recreational purposes, for one’s health or to bring brothers together over a lawful activity, as long as they are free of anything blameworthy in the Shariah (such as excessive wasting of time that leads to foregoing one’s worldly or religious responsibilities, or swearing, players without their awra covered, etc).
Unfortunately, there is often much that is blameworthy in recreational sports these days, so one should be careful.