Keep religion out of sports!

What does religion and sports have in common? Apparently nothing. Ever heard of a Christian sport, a Jewish sport, a Buddhist sport, a Hindu sport, a Muslim sport, etc? I have not, have you? Then why did Shoaib Malik thank the Muslims around the world and said he was sorry that the team could not perform for them despite giving its 100 percent in the ICC World Twenty20 final? Malik said, “I want to thank you back home Pakistan and where the Muslims live all over the world. Thank you very much and I am sorry that we did not win, but we did give our 100 percent.”

One of my Indian friends thought that Malik was playing politics and was using the ‘Muslim’ card to show that the Pakistan cricket team had put up a good fight for the Muslims. While another Indian friend thought that Malik blundered and that it was just a slip of the tongue. I think both my Indian friends were wrong.

Having seen many of Malik’s interviews on TV, I can say that he is not someone who would play politics or use the ‘Muslim card’. He is young, sweet, and immature. Yes, immature. And here I am not talking about his captaincy skills when I call him ‘immature’, because he has proved to be a very good and energetic captain. I am only talking about his public speaking skills. It is just that since he does not have much experience in public speaking, he lacks the ‘maturity’ to speak on international platforms, like the great Inzamamul Haq aka Inzi. Malik created a faux pas by giving a communal tinge to the game with his comments and revived the memories of Glen McGrath who called Sanath Jayasuriya a ‘black monkey’ in 1996 and Darren Lehmann who called a Sri Lankan player a ‘black c***’ in 2003. The only difference being that while both the Australian players knew what they were saying, Malik did not realise the implications of what he had just said.

The Indian media and Indian fans all over the world have written extensively on Malik’s comments. In Pakistan, these comments did not create much controversy because most of us wear our religiosity on our sleeve and never hesitate in shoving it downs the other’s throat. Hence we just took his comments in our stride. But did we ever think how a Pakistani Christian or a Pakistani Hindu (including cricketer Danish Kaneria) would have felt after hearing Malik’s comments? Didn’t the prayers of the Pakistani Christians or the Pakistani Hindus for the Pakistan cricket team add to the ‘Muslim’ prayers? Didn’t the prayers of the Indian Muslims, along with the Indian Hindus, for the Indian cricket team give them the cup? The Indian Muslims have rightly taken offence at Malik’s statement because their loyalty is now being questioned. It even led to some clashes in Jammu and Gujarat after the Twenty20 final because allegedly the Hindu radicals targeted the Muslims because they were perceived as being pro-Pakistan. The Hindus also claimed that the Muslims provoked them with their pro-Pakistan slogans. Whatever the truth may be, the point is that for Malik and all the other Pakistanis to think that Muslims all over the world would be praying for Pakistan is wrong. As an Indian fan at the World-A-Team Cricket Forum rightly asked, “Does a West Indian captain ever thank ‘all the blacks in the world’ when things go well for them? How can Malik (and those who control him) assume that all other Muslims support the Pakistani cricket team, even if they have never heard of it?”

For the ardent cricket fans in India and Pakistan, cricket itself is a religion. It does not need to be labelled as a ‘Muslim sport’, a ‘Hindu sport’ or a ‘Christian sport’. To an extent, the Pakistani media is to be blamed as well. Just before the Twenty20 final, our local TV channels and newspapers made predictions that since Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992 during the holy month of Ramadan, history would repeat itself in Ramadan again as Muslims all over the world would be praying for our victory. The media conveniently forgot that there are probably more Muslims in India than in Pakistan, and they would all be praying for their own country, i.e. India.

It was quite amusing to see Shah Rukh Khan’s Pakistani fans on an online cricket community questioning his choice to support the Indian players and hugging them at the end of the final. Excuse me, but just because he is a Muslim does not mean he will support Pakistan. He is an Indian, thus he rightly supports the Indians. If we have to put the Muslim factor into the equation, then why would Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan, sons of an imam masjid, play for India? They play – and win – for India because they are Indians. Do we expect Danish Kaneria not to give his best when he plays against India just because he is a Hindu? When Mohammad Yousuf was Yousuf Youhana, did he not perform his best against the Christian teams such as Australia, England or New Zealand? What if Pakistan was to play against Saudi Arabia in a football game; would the Pakistanis support Pakistan or Saudi Arabia? Since Saudi Arabia is such a revered Muslim country due to Makkah and Madina, the Pakistanis should support Saudi Arabia by this logic. It is absurd to even contemplate that a Muslim would only pray for the Muslim side. And it is more absurd to thank all ‘Muslims’ on an international platform. Such comments can only lead to communal polarisation, contrary to the spirit of sports.

Despite the Indians having their fair share of radical Hindu organisations, such as the Bajrang Dal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India is secular. When we try to imitate a lot of Indian things, why do we not imitate their secular values? Since the days of Inzamamul Haq, the Tablighi Jamaat has had quite an influence over the Pakistan cricket team. It resulted in the radicalisation of the team. It is time to flush out fundamentalism from sports, especially cricket. There is nothing wrong with being a religious sportsman, but to bring religion into sports is wrong. If a Christian cricketer goes to a Church during a tour, it is okay. The same goes for a Hindu cricketer who visits a temple or a Muslim player going to the mosque. But to go on a (religious) preaching spree while on a foreign tour while not giving much time to your game is wrong.

Shoaib Malik might not have realised that his statement was not only politically incorrect, but carried sectarian connotations as well. Someone must point this out to him. And though we can understand why he said what he did, those outside Pakistan cannot. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) needs to coach their players on how to speak on international platforms. Do not give sports a religious tinge, please!

Comments

Anonymous said…
While another Indian friend thought that Malik blundered and that it was just a slip of the tongue.

hehehehe. :P
mehmal said…
yes Sayan, I am talking about YOU here :D

btw, you don't need to post anonymously :=P
Abu Muhammad said…
It was Ramadan and yes it must be slip of teh tounge coz the very same skipper is selected due to his neutral stance on religion & sports after the World cup debacle back in April.
Faisal said…
IMHO, shoaib malik's statement was quite harmless and it has just been blown out of proportion. He thanked muslims in general and pakistanis in particular for supporting his team and there is nothing wrong with that. Chances are, 8 out of 10 non-indian muslims must have been supporting pakistan just for the very reason that pakistan is an islamic country which was playing against a non-islamic country. Religion does play some role in who we support. I love it when irfan pathan or zaheer khan or any muslim in indian team performs well altho I am a pakistani. Anyway, if ppl start fighting cuz of such statements, its not really shoaib's fault. He did not single out muslim pakistanis, he thanked ALL of pakistan first and included other muslims who were supporting pakistan. Big deal. Ppl just love making an issue out of nothing.
Faisal said…
..and to add to that, you said..

"There is nothing wrong with being a religious sportsman, but to bring religion into sports is wrong."

I disagree. Religion can be brought into anything as long as it doesn't offend anyone directly. If any muslim cricketer wants to pray on the pitch during a match, that's wrong, but if he wants to say Allah o Akbar when he gets a wicket, there is nothing wrong with that is there? Sports is just like any other profession. Take journalism for example. You may or may not choose to start your articles with a bismillah, it's upto you, but noone should stop you from doing that. You can use inshaAllah or mashaAllah or alhamdulillah in your articles and I think you have. How is that any different from bringing religion into sports? Moderation is the key here. A professional sportsman earns his bread and butter playing sports. He may choose to involve religion into it for barkat or whatever, its upto him. Pakistani players are known to do sajda when they achieve a big victory, do you think that's wrong too? If someone wants to be religious in a sports arena, let him be, isnt that what moderates preach..? Live and let live?

-Faisal
Srini said…
Mehmi..

well written.. :)

--Srini
Anonymous said…
i think ur a little confused here...sometimes u seem to be supporting India's secular nature and then u condemn their thought process.

I guess ur right about the Pakistani cricket board getting their basics right. When u r public figure, u cant afford to be immature. U just gotto get ur act right the first time or u gotto take the heat.

Keep religion out of sport? How about keeping religion out of terrorism too? ;)
mehmal said…
Abu Muhammad, it wasn't really a slip of the tongue. But yeah Malik just didn't realise what the connotations of what he said were.

Faisal, I agree that to an extent Shoaib's statement was blown out of proportion. But then again, remember how Dean Jones was sacked by Ten Sports for calling Hashim Amla a 'terrorist', although he had only called Amla that when he thought he wasn't on air. But since the microphones picked it up, Jones had to pay the price. So if the Muslim community supported Jones' sacking, then why should Shoaib Malik be spared for his innocent yet racist comments?

And how can you be sure that 8 out of 10 non-Indian Muslims supported Pakistan? During the India/Australia Twenty20 semi-final, I supported India. Although logic would say that a Pakistani wouldn't have supported India during the semi-final, yet many other Pakistani friends of mine also supported India. So I don't really buy your 8/10 stats. (You might say that since Australia isn't a Muslim country, we supported India. But frankly speaking if Bangladesh was playing India, I'd have supported India... and not because I have anything against the Bangladeshis, it's just that I really like the Indian cricket team.)

For you religion might play some role, but for me even Yuvraj's 6 sixes in the game against England were awesome! And nobody was fighting over Shoaib's remarks, people were just pointing out, civilly, that he was wrong and he should not repeat this mistake again. What's wrong in admitting that Malik made a mistake?

Also, I think you got me wrong when I said: "There is nothing wrong with being a religious sportsman, but to bring religion into sports is wrong."

I didn't mean that one can't do a sajda during a match or say 'Allah-o-Akbar'. Mohammad Yousuf used to cross himself before playing a shot when he was a Christian and I didn't have a problem with that. Why should I? One is entitled to his/her faith. But I do have a problem when our cricket team starts going a preaching spree when on tour at the expense of their game. As you yourself said, "A professional sportsman earns his bread and butter playing sports", so isn't it dishonesty to the very same game that is providing you your livelihood when you ignore the game and instead of practicing you go on a preaching mission during a tour?

If they want to preach Islam, they should do so in their free time, when they're not on tour.

And since I believe in the 'Live and Let Live' mantra, hence I disagree with Shoaib Malik's comments.

(boy, that was a long answer!)

Thanks Srini, though I can never be a good sports-writer like you :/

Anonymous, when did I condemn their thought process?

And if you read my other columns, you'll know that I've asked the so-called jihadists a thousand times to keep Islam's name out of their terrorist activities, because Islam does NOT preach terrorism :)
Faisal said…
Calling Amla a terrorist cuz he has a beard was downright offensive. It was a racist remark and his sacking was not just supported by muslim community, it was supported by non-muslims as well. Comparing THAT to what shoaib malik said? Apples and oranges.

Secondly, India/Australia semi-final was a different case altogether simply cuz a lot of non-indian ppl supported india just cuz they HATE australia for being so dominant. You may not buy my stats, but really, how hard is it to understand that a muslim with no direct association to india or pakistan will support pakistan just cuz its a muslim country. Are you telling me that muslims playing in indian team dont get more support in muslim communities in india and even in pakistan? I live in a country with a diverse muslim community and I know for a fact that these muslims will always support pakistan in a pakistan/india clash. Really, I dont know why is that so hard to comprehend. It sounds totally logical to me. Just cuz you support india more than an avg pakistani does, doesn't mean you can generalize it. I will give you another example. Were you not pleased when yousaf converted to islam? After conversion, he has enjoyed more respect in pakistan than before, isnt that true? Of course, that is partly due to the fact that his performance last year was extraordinary, but you can't ignore the fact that pakistanis felt overjoyed when they heard of his conversion and that resulted in him becoming one of the most popular players in the team. Not true? I will ask you a simple question. A non-indian muslim, lets say belonging to some country like Kenya, who would he support in a pak/ind match? Pakistan or India. What would be ur stat? Maybe 8/10 was an exaggeration, but how would you cut it? What does LOGIC say in this case?

Malik simply thanked pakistanis, and those muslims who supported pakistani team. I see nothing wrong in that.

Oh and of course, I totally agree with you when you say that going on a preaching spree on a tour at the expense of the game is wrong, when did I say it isn't? That's dishonesty and there is no room for that in our religion, or any religion for that matter. I think your statement that "There is nothing wrong with being a religious sportsman, but to bring religion into sports is wrong." is a bit too careless and strong. It doesn't really translate to something like "Bringing religion into sports to such an extent that it starts affecting your honesty to your professional responsibilities, that's wrong". If you agree with that, then I guess "Keep religion out of sports" was too strong a title as well for your article. Lastly, as you said, they should preach islam in their free time. True. What makes you think they dont get any free time when they are on a tour? :) If shoaib akhtar can go clubbing in his free time during a tour and if we should be ok with that (I am), others who wanna go preach islam, they should be allowed to do that as well. Maybe some players did go on a preaching spree instead of practicing, and that's wrong, but to use that incident to generalize and say something like "Keep religion out of sports" is a bit too extreme. And extremism coming from a moderate? Well.
Farhan said…
Wow, there has been some hot debate here and I missed out on it. As usual it is hard to resist a controversial topic, where each side appears to consider their opinion completely and absolutely right.

Mehmal, Hashim Amla's remark lies in a different domain, I don't think it is relevant here, since it is a racist remark.

Being a missionary and a preacher while playing is slightly different and we cannot put them in the same boat. So, I have to agree with Faisal on that particular point.

I also agree with Faisal's statement that "Bringing religion into sports to such an extent that it starts affecting your honesty to your professional responsibilities, that's wrong". But I want to ask a question here. Before the tour to SA, just before the WC several team members went for Hajj, including M. Yousuf and Inzamam. So, while the other teams were preparing hard for the top tournament in four years, about half a dozen members of Pakistani cricket team were out of practice for at least a month. Does he consider it their professional responsibility to concentrate on the elite tournament and choose Hajj for some other year perhaps?

Also, the 8/10 hypothesis cannot be taken seriously as Mehmal has pointed out, until there is a solid empirical evidence to suggest otherwise.

This affiliation with a particular religious group reminds me of a person who in his good faith asked his fellow muslims to pray for all muslim earth quake victims, whereas the non-muslim victims who were Pakistanis too didn't really deserve much of a consideration. Whatever happened to humanity and general human values?

Similarly Faisal has expressed his satisfaction with the public dealing of M. Yousuf after his conversion. I think it should be an eye opener for any reasonable person that how hard it is for even a very talented individual to gain respect among people who are so much imbued with religious fervor that they treat virtual every person from a different religion as an alien, even if he is serving for their own country. This is a matter of shame and not a matter to boast I am afraid. How many minorities in Pakistan are crushed each day, who are not as talented can be anybody's guess. But the persecution and discrimination against Ahmadis is no secret.

Use of logic is used and sometimes abused, without really understanding what it really entails. 'Logic' can also suggest that a player who is playing well is favored and appreciated regardless of his race, color, cast, religion or affiliation. But such 'logic' is really a matter of personal opinion, emotions and how a person perceives and is hardly a reflection and not a replacement for empirical evidence and cold facts, which are carefully collected and only then a conclusion is drawn, that too without presumption and assuming an air of infallibility.

Another problem with thanking only a certain group and not the others is to exclude the possibility that there could be non-muslims, non-Pakistani supporters of the Pakistani team. Not thanking them and excluding them from expression of gratitude cannot be justified.

Anyone should be free to preach, or talk about controversial issues, as long as decorum of speech is observed. Can this claim be made for most Islamic Countries, including Pakistan and KSA? Can a Christian missionary or a Jewish Rabbi or a Hindu Pundit or a Buddhist Monk go and preach with impunity in any of these countries?
Would it be extreme to suggest that such laws are discriminatory, promote bigotry and create in-group out group mentality?

When a person of certain race is preferred over another, we call it racism, what do we call when we favor a person of a particular religion over another person of similar or better capability?
Faisal said…
And so it begins.

My answer to your question "Does he consider it their professional responsibility to concentrate on the elite tournament and choose Hajj for some other year perhaps?"..Yes, of course, they should have waited for some other year to perform hajj and concentrated on the job at hand, world cup i.e.

Regarding the 8/10 hypothesis, I asked mehmal a simple question. What does logic suggest in this case? Who would a muslim support in a cricket game b/w a muslim country and a non-muslim country? Remember, I am not asking who SHOULD he support, I am simply asking who is he more likely to support? Just use your 'logic' and give me a straightforward answer.

The reason I mentioned Mohammad Yusuf's case is to support my claim that religion DOES play a role in who (or to what degree) we favour a player in a cricket field. It has nothing to do with my personal opinion about whether it should be that way or not. You made that assumption. Yusuf was already enjoying a lot of respect from cricket fans in pakistan, his conversion only added to that respect. If you are claiming that it was 'hard' for him to gain respect earlier just because he was not a muslim, then really, back it up with 'empirical proof'.

Now you are confusing two terms, favouritism and appreciation. We all 'appreciate' australia for their professionalism and skillful approach to cricket, however, we dont 'favour' them in matches played against our own team or other teams for that matter. Does that make us racists? I 'appreciated' yuvraj's sixes, I didn't 'favour' the idea of an indian hitting six sixes. Does that make me a racist? Favouritism becomes racism when we use it to cause harm to ppl based on their race, religion, color, etc etc. Favouring someone in a cricket field for his religion or nationality, that's just 'nature' farhan. I will 'naturally' support pakistanis in a cricket game. Now if shoaib akhtar goes and hits tendulkar with a bat, I will not favour him cuz his actions has caused harm to an individual even though the victim belongs to a rival country. There is a very fine line b/w favouritism and racism. If it's natural for me to favour my team then extrapolating that, it's natural for muslims to support fellow muslims in a sports clash against a non-muslim country.

I will give you another example. If you hear a news on television that some Singapore jetliner crashed and all passengers on board died, you will obviously be sympathetic, but if you hear that there were around 15 pakistanis on board, you will naturally find it more distressing won't you? Does that make you a racist? It doesn't. You are 'naturally' more inclined to feel for your own countrymen, however it doesn't mean that you think that other ppl's lives which were lost in that crash were useless. Now the example you gave of a guy who wanted ppl to pray for muslim earthquake victims, if he actually meant that pray for muslims ONLY then of course, he was being a racist, but I will give him the benefit of doubt since the area affected by that quake had a majority of muslims. His plea wasn't exactly 'politically correct' but I will not judge this person based on one such incident.

Regarding the whole "If Pakistan or KSA allows christians to preach" and all that, well that's a whole different discussion and let's save it for some other time.
Farhan said…
Faisal, I feel glad that you share my view point that Hajj could've been postponed for a better performance on the cricket field.

I have not mentioned the case of M. Yousuf in particular, when I talked about gaining respect among Pakistanis. Yousuf had reasonable respect prior to getting into the team, or else he wouldn't be playing. I was just making a point that the additional respect based on religion he got, as you've mentioned gives sports a religious flavor. It is a matter of another discussion if it should be viewed as such or not. However, when any player is playing for their nation, they deserve respect based on their performance (if you favor your national team), because it is a competition between countries, not between religions. If Irfan Pathan, Azharuddin, or some other Muslim guy in India is given the impression that you'd be respected a lot more if you switched to Hinduism, independent of your performance on the field, would you not criticize the culture, where he is made to think in that manner? More on this in the end.

I pointed out Ahmadis in particular because discrimination against them is so much that they cannot really reach any high post, until they conceal it and are made to feel embarrassed for following something their ancestors adopted (in case they didn't choose it for themselves). There is also a reasonable bias that exists against Christians and Hindus and one has to work extra hard to gain same level of respect and dignity as a person would've gained if he was a Muslim. In short, for Muslims and a person from another religion, there are different standards for respect, something which in a civilized world is known as discrimination.

Here is a UN report on the discrimination with non-Muslims in Pakistan, where they cannot even vote for a mainstream candidate.

http://un.op.org/docs/statement.php?id=46

In short, the minorities are discriminated and do not enjoy the same rights (respect) as their fellow compatriots.

Is it hard to imagine that this kind of discrimination in the first place, exists because of the prejudice that exists in people against non-muslims in general?

Here is one instance

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6367773.stm

or this

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A36108-2002May17¬Found=true

Non-Muslims are always on guard, can easily be put under blasphemy law by false accusation and many innocent people have been killed by mere suspicion of an angry mob, including Ahamadis, Christians, Hindus etc.

Here is a long report on the biases, atrocities that pervade people in Pakistan against non-Muslims in general and reflected to some degree in laws against them.

http://www.apcss.org/Publications/Edited%20Volumes/ReligiousRadicalism/PagesfromReligiousRadicalismandSecurityinSouthAsiach19.pdf


I think any loss of innocent life is equally saddening for me. It can be a Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Pakistani, American, Iraqi, Somali etc. Innocent Humans are all same, it is just our geographical and religious constraints which have made us think in-group and out group, a convenient evolutionary ploy for barbaric times, but I would say all human beings deserve the same dignity and respect, as well as protection under law. So, if a stranger is a muslim, a pakistani, an american, a chinese, it shouldn't matter. It would only matter, if you personally knew them, which makes it different, because that loss directly results in a void in your life, which is hard to replace.

If a sportsman wants to preach, he should feel free to do so, but should not use an official forum for that. I would call that a misuse of the privilege. He can do it in his personal capacity, outside of an official event on an official forum, unless it is a competition between two religions instead of two countries.

Well, I should reiterate, you are confusing logic with common sense. It is likely that if a person associates himself with a particular group, he'd be more elated if that group is successful. That is common sense. One can scientifically show with even more accuracy and with statistical evidence that in a random survey of a reasonable number of people, the likelihood of any person favoring a particular group. But your application of logic is inaccurate, because the competition is independent of religion and your emotions make you think its logical to conclude that something based on religion would be favored.

Now I have to disagree with you on one thing. All sports involve competition and without competition sports holds no meaning. Usually the competition is between two teams or two people depending on the sports, but usually a person favoring a particular team or person is favoring what that person represents. Usually, the affiliation of any person is with their country, so whenever there is a competition it is usually between two countries and it is natural to favor your compatriot, if you care about your country. But, favoring based on the religion is not the same. It would've been the same if there was a competition between Islam and Hinduism, Islam and Christianity etc. but that doesn't happen on the sports field as far as I know. It usually happens on the battlefield and it would make sense in that case to favor your religion.

Now lets assume there is a war or even a sports going on which is based on religion lets say Islam vs Hinduism. Would it make sense to favor a Pakistani Hindu, if you are a Muslim in that case? It wouldn't. It could be an Indian Muslm, Russian Muslim, a Muslim Arab. He would and should get equal support and respect because the purpose of the competition is the dominance of a religion in a battle field or sports field. Similarly lets say captain of a Muslim team was Russian and he starts thanking all Russians in his official speech, it would be absurd, don't you think?

I ask the same consideration for competition that has no religion flavor but is based on competition between two nations and should be kept at that. I hope I have made my points clear.
Faisal said…
I believe we are running in a spiral cuz the circle keeps getting bigger and bigger. Let me go back to the original topic which is "Keep Religion out of sports". The whole lecture on discrimination based on religion and all that, maybe it needs to be taken to some other thread where it is required. Coming back to the topic, Mehmal's argument was to keep religion out of sports. My argument was that to some extent religion will always be a part of everything we do depending upon 'how' religious we are. As long as it doesn't affect our professional responsibilites, as long as it doesn't lead to discrmination, there is absolutely no harm in it.

The association to a particular group is not necessarily based on just one variable. It could be 'based' on nationality for example (I support ALL cricketers in Pakistani team), but other variables like religion, or color, ethnic background, or location can play a role in the 'degree' of support we have for different groups (I may support lahori players more, or I may support a muslim player more), as long as I don't cause any harm to any person directly or indirectly, I am not doing anything wrong by introducing these other variables in the equation. I gave you an example of the jet crash. Now the kind of indifference you showed there by stating that lost of innocent life is 'equally' saddening for you, well, I wish I could believe you. It is just too unnatural and unrealistic for a person to be so indifferent. Two bombs exploded in Rawalpindi today, I am sure you heard about that. The degree of concern or saddening you felt, was it equal to the grief you feel when you hear of a bomb explosion in Iraq? If you do, then well, I salute you for being superhuman.

This whole argument isnt about whether a Somail deserves more respect than an Iraqi or an American, it's about the emotional attachment you have with a certain group of people on a subconscious level. That attachment can be based on ethnicity, race, religion, location and a whole lot of other reasons. Exactly why and how much attachment you feel for a group is too complex an equation to base it on one variable alone. I hope you will agree with that. Now if the competition is between two countries, say India and Pakistan, my 'primary' reason for supporting a group will most probably be my nationality. Now I 'may' support Yousuf 'more' simply cuz he has a beard and I like beards because it's a sunnah. That could be my reason and as long as I am not 'discriminating' against players in my team who do not have beards, I am doing nothing wrong. In terms of numbers, if I am giving 100% of my support to pakistani players, maybe based on some other variable (beard for example), I will give 101% of it to Yousuf. It is this 1 harmless percent that is based on something religious and this 1% is not unhealthy, or harmful by any means. So I say, bring this 1% to the sports or any other matter by all means. Now moving on, for a person who does not belong to India or Pakistan, if I ask him what team he supports, he may somehow create an association with one of these countries based on anything! It could be based on religion if he is religious, it could be based on a simple fact that he has the same name as the pakistani or indian captain. Whatever! Now people who take pride in calling themselves muslim, they will 'most probably' associate themselves to the pakistani team simply because it's a muslim country. It's absolutely logical and natural. The basic flaw in your argument is that you are trying to define these associations in terms of one variable. Human emotions I am afraid are a bit more complex than that. Shoaib Malik's only mistake was to 'forget' to thank all the 'rest' of the people who supported him. Had he said "I would like to thank all pakistanis, and muslims all over the world, and rest of the ppl who supported us", I am sure mehmal wouldn't cry murder and write a whole article about how religion is 'polluting' a beautiful sports like cricket.

Consider this my last post on this topic. I respect your arguments and I know you have only good intentions when you engage in such discussions. I hope this thread benefitted someone or otherwise I will feel we have only wasted our time in trying to convince each other. Allah hafiz.
bandev said…
Very clearly Faisal, and I am sorry for that, you are looking at the sport through a prism of religion..Why would muslims from other countries support the Pakistani cricket team? There is no similarity in temrs of Nationalism as they do not belong to Pakistan, so if they do what basis would they do it on? Religion ...Islam ...simple and you have that idea..on any given day you would support B'desh cricketers in a match against India, who are a bunch of jokers anyways and do not fall in the category of a proper criclet team, on the basis of what ? Religion ..simple ...look at India or say an Australia or a South Africa...they do not become religiously conspicuous while playing cricket..why would Pakistani cricketers do that? Why cant they keep away from the feeling of the Muslim Umma ? Do you think an Algeria or a Morocco or a Sudan or a Tunisia owuld support the Pakistani cricket team ..just because they are Muslims??? That is just ignorance
extrovert said…
Faisal, you are using twisted logic to prove that there is no harm to involve religion in the sport or in other things. That is simply against all norms where the world have after the centuries fight achieved the levels of civility. You are still discriminating against other team members when you favour the one having beard because you like beards based on your belief. The base point is still that the personal belief should not touch the sport both from the side of players and the supporters. The supporters should support a good game coming out of a person where religion has no role whatsoever but his physical abilities and practice.

The title given by Mehmal is right although I dont agree with all her comments.

Raziq
Vidyut said…
Frankly, I don't think too many Indians were offended. They were too happy. He could have said whatever he liked, and mostly they would have gone back to fireworks. The ones who criticized were not angry, they were being sarcastic. Sad, but I don't think these kinds of words from Pakistan surprise anyone anymore. At least not in India. Would have been more shocking if all the interviews were "clean".

Muslims in Kashmir supported Pakistani team for sure. Other Muslims, I don't think so, and if they did, after the win, they forgot. Its sad, and I agree with you, about the impact on Indian Muslims, because they were really, really visible with their patriotism - like defensive? Sad. They are Indians, and that is our short coming, if we believe crap like that. Mostly, we are just taking cheap shots. Ugly of us, yes, but I guess its a compulsive disorder, makes us feel good about ourselves :D

I don't think this did any harm except to the usual victim, Pakistan itself, but they don't seem to mind either. So no harm, no foul?
Vidyut said…
Uh... weren't Muslims angry that he implied that all the Muslim's prayers in the world couldn't get his team to win? :P
Vidyut said…
Faisal, your argument is sound, but it makes many assumptions. There are many Muslims who are absolutely anti-Pakistan FOR bringing a bad name to Islam. India has more Muslims than Pakistan. Your argument is based on a sense of loyalty, but the assumption is that the loyalty MUST be toward Pakistan, which may not necessarily be true. It is probably the exact same assumption that led to the speech, which in any other country would be embarrassing. This is not the ground reality. If that speech did offend anyone, it was more likely to be Indian Muslims than other Indians. If you want, I can ask and find out and get back with factual data, but there are abundant news stories about mosques holding special prayers for Indian win and all that.

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