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What does "play" mean in the following hadith:

It was narrated that Anas bin Malik said:

"The people of the Jahiliyyah had two days each year when they would play. When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came to Al-Madinah he said: 'You had two days when you would play, but Allah (SWT) has given Muslims something instead that is better than them: the day of Al-Fitr and the day of Al-Adha.'"

Sunan an-Nasa'i 1556 Book 19, Hadith 1

?

Since Al-Fitr and Al-Adha are days of celebration and celebration has almost no relation with play, so what is play particularly referring to in this hadith here?

And is what it's referring in sync with the literal definition of the word?

Reasoning required.

1

Well as in the online Shuruh (of as-Sindi or as-Suyuti) of Sunan an-Nasa-i apparently no scholar even thought of explaining the meaning of the word you refer to as "to play" based on the translation provided by sunnah.com, which may mean that people would understand it or that those scholars didn't take much care of the matn rather then on the sanad (maybe because an explanation of that comes along in a hadith mentioned earlier or later). And as my own database is unfortunately in a HDD which seems to be destroyed.
I made a small investigation on the meaning of **لعب**in Arabic. But before here's the Arabic original from this hadith:

كَانَ لَكُمْ يَوْمَانِ تَلْعَبُونَ فِيهِمَا وَقَدْ أَبْدَلَكُمُ اللَّهُ بِهِمَا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمَا يَوْمَ الْفِطْرِ وَيَوْمَ الأَضْحَى ‏

And from the given meanings of almaany we may conclude:
That maybe the translation "to play" is a bad choice as what scholars may talk about or define as a halal way to pass a 'Id is anything which we may call (halal) amusement so the meaning is more likely to be:

  • fun or
  • diversion or
  • amusement
    (in a halal manner).

This could also be concluded from this two ahadith in Sunan Abi Dawod and Sahih al-Bukhari.


This Link provides a more clearer explanation for what "to play" may refer to:

المقصود باللعب هاهنا: ألوان المتعة واللهو، مثل اللعب بالسهام، والقسي والرمي، والنبل، والسيوف، والاستعراضات، فيبدو أن لعبهم بالنسبة للرجال كان أشبه بالاستعراضات العسكرية، مثلما كان الحبشة يلعبون في المسجد ويزفنون، وقد يكون فيه نوع من الرقصات الرجالية.وبالنسبة للنساء كان أيضاً لهن حظهن من اللعب مثلما في حديث عائشة،

So for men: it includes playing with arrows and weapons maybe like we may understand a military review nowadays, playing instruments and dancing (even in the mosque), which goes ahead with the hadith reported by al-Bukahri and Muslim in their Sahihs! And the women also had a part of that amusement as we can read for example in Sahih Muslim and al-Bukhari.

And Allah knows best!

-2

Your statement:

celebration has almost no relation with play

But in fact, playing ends up with celebration and is a part of it.

what is play particularly referring to in this hadith here?

To answer your question, the word play is used to refer to what the people of Jahiliyyah used to do in the days they used to take as Eids.

Since Al-Fitr and Al-Adha are days of celebration and celebration has almost no relation with play, so what is play particularly referring to in this hadith here?

This is not totally true, as playing is Mubah during the days of Eid as long as there is no disobedience in it to Allah.

And is what it's referring in sync with the literal definition of the word?

The literal definition of the word has nothing to do with what the hadith is referring to or talking about as "play" is nothing but an english term used to translate a part of the hadith.

  • 1
    all plays do not end with celebration. specially for who loses. also hadith is about play itself and not about what happens after end of plays. also if play was Mubah so why God replaced them? finally I could not find the answer of question in this answer. question is about what means play in this hadith. to say play means celebration is a claim that should be proved. – Battle of Karbala Mar 5 '14 at 16:23

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