Bodybuilding aims to make the body strong and sound, which is an important and desirable goal.
Islam is concerned with man’s well-being in both body and soul, and it encourages all kinds of sport that will strengthen the body and maintain good health as well as providing relaxation and leisure, such as swimming, shooting, horse-riding, sword-fighting and wrestling.
But when Islam accepts sports and encourages us to engage in them, it does not make them a goal in and of themselves, rather sport is considered to be a means of protecting the sacred limits of Islam and the dignity and rights of the Muslims, in the belief that strength is one of the most important means of achieving victory and prevailing in the face of challenges and warding off the threats that face Islam.
If the purpose of sport is to prepare the body to be fit to carry out the duty of jihad so as to make the word of Allaah supreme, then sport is essential. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war…”
And the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weak believer.” Narrated by Muslim, 6774.
If the aim is relaxation and maintaining good health, then sport is permissible. If it involves something haraam, such as missing prayers, uncovering any part of the ‘awrah or mixing with women and so on, then it is haraam.
Those who engage in bodybuilding uncover their ‘awrah when practicing this sport, which is undoubtedly haraam. The ‘awrah of a man extends from the navel to the knee, and it is not permissible for him to uncover it in front of anyone other than his wife. It is also not permissible for him to look at the ‘awrah of anyone else.
The basic principle concerning this matter is the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “What is between the navel and the knee is ‘awrah.” Al-Albaani said in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 281; (it is) a hasan hadeeth.
If the sport is free of these haraam things, then there is nothing wrong with engaging in it.
But two points should be noted:
Some of those who engage in this sport are motivated by self-admiration and love of pride and showing off before others because of their beautiful bodies and strong muscles… and other bad motives, some of which are worse than others. The believer should shun such things and seek the adornment of good attitude, humility and fairness.
Going to extremes in making the body look good and being concerned with that is not a good thing. What is good in this regard is that which helps the Muslim to maintain good health, to practise Islam, to engage in jihad for the sake of Allaah and to do the acts of worship which require physical strength such as Hajj.
But doing more than that and going to extremes usually distracts the Muslim from doing things that are more important, as happens in the case of those who practise many kinds of sports nowadays, so you see them training for many hours each day.
What benefit can a Muslim gain if his body is as strong as a bull, but his heart is devoid of faith and all virtue?
We ask Allaah to help us to do that which is good for us and will bring us happiness in this world and in the Hereafter.
See also question no. 11963.
May Allaah send blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad.