By Mohamed Khaku
Even before the world cup kicked off in Doha, Qatar, the tiny sheikhdom faced a barrage of criticism for hosting the 2022 World Cup.
The Anglo-Saxon Imperialist Zionist media went into overdrive raising irrelevant issues that had nothing to do with soccer.
Despite the initial outcry over non-availability of alcohol inside stadiums, as if it was a drinking competition, mercifully this has stopped.
Regardless of the type of government in Qatar, it has done an admirable job showing hospitality, providing a safe environment, and presenting Islam in a positive manner.
The world cup in Qatar has blown off the lid of negativity about Islam in the media.
No wolf whistles or sexism of any kind
Ayman Mohyeldin, an MSNBC host said, “the depth of western prejudice, performative moral outrage and, perhaps most significantly, gross double standards,” it is hypocritical of the west to give lessons on morality to others.
The world’s most-viewed sporting event happens every four years know as FIFA Soccer (football) World Cup.
It is estimated that over four billion people will view the games by the time they end on December 18.
Qatar has taken advantage of the World Cup to reach out to hundreds of thousands of visiting fans to explain the reality about Islam and remove people’s misconceptions.
Qatar is the first Muslim country to stage a soccer world cup.
Curious visitors have flocked to an array of grand mosques interspersed with adhan, the call to prayer.
The Blue Mosque has attracted thousands of visitors including soccer players from Argentina and Brazil.
Outside the mosque there are booklets in different languages explaining the teachings of Islam and the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Arabic coffee and dates are served to visitors.
Islamic scholars patiently explain misconceptions about Islam and the Prophet (pbuh) that are so widespread among people in the west.
They are led to believe that Islam promotes radicalism.
The booklets explain to people more about ethics, the importance of family bonding, and respect for mothers, neighbors, and non-Muslims.
Numerous videos of visitors show admitting that their views on Islam and Muslims were tainted by unjustified prejudice projected by the media.
Qatar has countered Islamophobia well and according to social media posts, many people have embraced Islam during their visit to Doha.
Islam, however, does not coerce people to convert.
Moreover, many Muslims residing in western countries have rediscovered their faith while attending the games in Qatar.
The games are not about conversion or re-version to Islam.
Rather, it is an opportunity to present an accurate picture of Islam.
Qatar faced much criticism for not allowing alcohol sales inside the stadiums.
Throughout the past few weeks, the atmosphere has been friendly, calm and peaceful without the hostility or violence associated with alcohol.
Qatar is a Muslim country; however, its system of governance is not Islamic.
It is a hereditary monarchy, but the world cup is not about alcohol or type of government.
Alcohol is largely a western addiction or obsession; it is not part of the sport.
There are many countries that ban alcohol in stadiums, like France.
Alcohol consumption contributes significantly to anti-social behaviour like vandalism and mischief.
Such harmful conduct has been experienced in Europe following every soccer game.
What captured the world’s attention and mesmerized spectators was the recitation of verses from the noble Qur’an at the opening ceremonies.
Verse 13 of Surah (chapter) Hujarat was recited. Its translation is:
“O People! We have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and we have divided you into races and tribes so that you may know each other. Surely, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the one who is the most righteous of you. And Allah is All-Knowing, Aware.”
Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and their English translations were hung on boards at various points around the stadiums, shopping malls and commercial centers of Qatar.
The billboard saying, “Every good deed is a charity” and “Save yourself from Hellfire, even with half a date-fruit in charity,” were displayed in many places.
Every seat in the stadium had a bag containing material about Islamic culture and Qatar.
It was wise of Qatar to use one of the world’s largest events to promote the message of Islam.
Africa has ‘bled’ soccer talent to Europe
After the US was eliminated, my preference was for either Senegal or Morocco to win the next round.
My next choices were Asian countries like Korea and Japan.
Born in Mombasa, Kenya (Africa), I’m certain that one day an African team will win the World Cup.
However, because of lack of infrastructure, budget, organization, and soccer talent being bled to Europe, an African country winning may be years away.
Not only has Europe bled Africa of its sports talent, but historically the continent has suffered a brain drain as well.
Professionals from Africa, including doctors and engineers, have migrated to Europe and the US.
In addition, predatory soccer agents and inadequate compensation for African soccer players has encouraged talented soccer players to leave the continent for Europe.
Some estimates say that at least 15,000 young players are annually settled in Europe to play for European clubs.
‘Normalization’ of relations with Israel
Several Arab countries have normalized relations with zionist Israel.
Soccer fans and Muslims, however, have shown to the entire world by carrying Palestinian flag and wearing armband that they are with the Palestinians in their struggle against zionist/ apartheid Israel.
The show of solidarity shown by people of diverse ethnicities and nationalities with the Palestinian people raises much hope that the world has not abandoned the Palestinian cause.
They sang “with spirit and blood we will redeem you, O’ Palestine.”
This sympathy and support throws egg and pours cold water over the so-called Abraham Accords.
There can be no normalization while Palestinians are killed by the occupying forces, their houses demolished and they face daily humiliations.
Brazil’s coach Tite got emotional when talking to an Arab man, draped in a Palestinian flag.
He offered to carry his sleeping grandchild to the metro.
The Arab said: “He sympathized with us and showed us humanity.”
While Morocco lost its bid to host the 2026 World Cup, its win against Spain and then Portugal brought much cheer, taking it to the quarter finals.
It looks forward to hosting it in 2030.
It will be its fifth attempt to host the world cup.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) has pledged its unqualified support for Morocco’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup just as it supported it for 2026.
One can expect much Islamophobic racism and peddling of the old myth that Africa does not have the capacity to host the games.
Morocco became the first Muslim country to reach the quarterfinals.
Moroccan players and fans waving Palestinian flags shows their solidarity with Palestinians.
This is a matter of pride for all Muslims.
Morocco is set to face France on December 14.
When Morocco defeated Portugal, players fell into prostration on the pitch at Al Thumama Stadium, celebrating their victory.
The scenes of players falling into sajdah (prostration) spread like wildfire.
It was discussed on many social media platforms.
Many westerners asked: Why are Muslim players celebrating this way?
It is common to see football players celebrate by either sliding, dancing (Samba Brazil dance) or and some players even jumping over each other.
Cristiano Ronaldo, along with Lionel Messi, are known for their “Siu” celebration to connect with fans.
However, Muslim players often fall into prostration to connect with God as they score or gain victory.
Prostration is the pinnacle of humility and grace.
The Moroccan players attribute all their success to Allah, for they believe it is the Almighty who bestows victory upon man.
This was the tradition of the Prophet.
After years of exile, when he entered Makkah, instead of holding his head high as some might do after such a triumph, the Prophet had his head bowed in humility.
This is true humility and the realization that victory is from God alone.
The 2 billion Muslims practice this humility every day five times by performing their daily prayers.
So, whenever Muslim players celebrate their victory in prostration, know that it is how they connect with Allah and attribute all success to Him.