Are Muslims really not allowed to strike the face in training

Are Muslims really not allowed to strike the face in training

  • Short answer: For training purposes, as long as there is respect, control, under training condition and friendly competition, it's all good.
  • End of the day, we do these to learn to defend ourselves, right? However when ego and lack of control is present, or to discipline someone ie parents disciplining their kids or older siblings disciplining younger siblings etc, or where a fight can not be avoided, then avoid the face as much as possible. But if striking the face when fighting is inevitable and the only thing that will save you is to strike the face, you can . But you will have to learn how to strike and avoid being strikes yourself in the face. This is where training comes in. You can't avoid face strikes to learn how to hit and be safe against one.

Long answer: An Islamic / Muslim position on face strikes.

  • We have many potential member's interested to participate in our sessions, be it for self defence purpose or to compete in tournaments - we welcome them all.
  • We have had various Muslim individuals who have asked us to clarify regarding strikes to the face. I hope the below will clarify this.

The common prophetic saying (ahadith) quoted is;

''If any one of you has a fight with his brother, let him avoid the face.” 

(al-Bukhaari, 2560; Muslim, 2612).

The usual rules for tournament states in boxing or any striking arts or tournament rules such as K-1 and MMA is strikes to face scores points towards wins.

Putting all this aside however, the purpose of training in striking martial arts is to enhance ones confidence and skill in delivering and blocks strikes from various angles and positions. This skill, with training and dedication, over time develops with qualities such as self-control and respect.

  • As fighters who train to protect themselves, their families and loved ones, one needs to learn and develop the skills to handle various situations. The most common is strike to the face, as the face is vulnerable. How often has a fight taken place and NO ONE has gone for the face?

Going back to the above ahadith, we do not allow hitting on the face out of anger and/ or frustration in the class, tournament or otherwise. Rather it is to display skill and correct execution of technique. In a real-life situation, if it means that hitting offender in the face will protect you and get you out of a difficult and dangerous situation, so be it. If one doesn't know how to handle a strike to the face, how will they cope in that situation?

In regards to the hadith, the position we hold is; if you going to hit your 'brother' in situation OUTSIDE of training, then you are sinning, for which one has to ask for the forgiveness of the Almighty and the person they hit. 

  • Muslim commentators have commented that the wisdom of avoiding hitting on the face is that the face is the most respectable part of the face. 

Mulla ‘Ali Qaari said in Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh, “There is no doubt that this is not meant in all cases, because we can authoritatively assert that in case of war with the non-Muslims, if one is in a situation where he has to hit the face of the one who is fighting with him, or when he is face to face with him when he is attacked, he does not withhold himself from hitting him. If he withheld himself, he could be killed by the attacker.”

Some Companions of the Prophet exempted other parts of the body from hitting, such as the private parts, as ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Avoid hitting the face and the private parts.” [Ibn Abi Shaybah]

Some Companions also permitted it, as ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, had hit Sabeegh on his head; (Ad-Daarimi in his Musnad)

  • There is nothing wrong with learning martial arts (self-defense techniques) provided that this does not involve what is Islamically prohibited (

Islamically prohibited would include things like training with music, inappropriate clothing, awrah showing, adults in mixed gender sessions, co-gender training together, prostrating to coaches and others, missing prayers on time, not fasting because of training, not taking care of responsibilities outside of training during training time etc.

  • Many Muslims are familiar with personalities such as Umar Ibn Khattab and Khalid Bin Walid, two personalities renown for courage and bravery in the battlefield against their enemy, did they, as well as their companions, not hit their enemy in the face? 

Many Indigenous martial arts from parts of the world have been invented/developed by abiding Muslims- all having strikes to the face as part of their training. The hadith quoted doesn't prove that striking on the face is contrary to training and self-defence purposes. Everything is proportionate - if hitting anywhere but the face will protect you, so be it, but if hitting the face is necessary, then do it.

You will never find any scholar in the history of Islam who criticized any leader for having face striking as part of their military training, as it is seen as an essential part of training

I have heard of horror stories whereby people have misquoted the above hadith has lead to some severe consequences. Muslims who have got into really dangerous situations and been unable to successfully defend themselves in the belief that hitting the face is not allowed- therefore not hitting the face and not able to defend against face strikes as they have put off training in this. 

Another horror story heard recently of a Muslim Wing Chung Master of a very high calibre leaving training and teaching due to being wrongly told that hitting on the face is disallowed, even for training purposes and that pressure point training is paramount to torture. He is now sitting at home.

  • Whilst our club encourages training to hit the face, we empathise that students should not hit hard to cause damage in training and should be courteous to fellow students at all time and abide by our code of training, as set by our Instructors. Only those students who can be trusted to listen to their coaches and are willing to be responsible fighters will be given the opportunity to spar with control with appropriate equipment.

Train hard, fight easy!

Sensei Arif Kassam 

Head Coach

Al Qawi Self Defence

last revision 28.04.2023

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