This article is taken with permission from Idris Tawfiq’s website
Islam is just so different from every other way of life. It is such a sweet religion. Every aspect of every day is covered by Islam. There is no aspect of life that is not touched by its sweet and gentle message. Even the World Cup!
As Muslims we should never forget this. It is so easy for us to be influenced by those voices all around us that speak about Islam in a bad light. We have only to turn on the television to see images of violence from around the world. Almost every newspaper front page has something to say about Islam and Muslims,even though the real issues theare talking about are immigration or political injustice. Too often, because of this, our religion has become associated in the minds of non-Muslims with terror and extremism.
At the present time, Islam and the West look upon each other with suspicious eyes. It seems as if Islam and Muslims are being blamed for every one of the world’s ills. Even at school or at college or in the workplace, we often keep quiet rather than speak out against these detractors. Sometimes it is all we can do because we are in the minority. The worst thing about all this media pressure on Muslims is that, in the end, we can start to believe it, or at least we begin to doubt how special our faith really is.
And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Islam is the most beautiful, the gentlest, and the sweetest religion. Its very name comes from a word meaning “peace” and “submission” to the will of Allah. In fact, Islam is far more than just a set of beliefs. It is a complete way of life. As Muslims, we not only know the eternal truths about life and its meaning, but we also know how to enter a room or how to greet people. We know what to say before eating food or when we have finished. We know what prayers to say when we get up in the morning or before we start a journey. For Muslims, being charitable doesn’t mean just giving money or food to those who are without. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that even a smile to your brother is a charity. Even to remove a stone from your brother’s path is a charity.
As Muslims, we have words that we use throughout the day that show our attitude to life. For example, for everything we say “Alhamdulillah,” thanking and praising Almighty Allah for everything that happens to us, as part of His will for us. We reply that we are well, Alhamdulillah, or that we have had enough to eat, Alhaqmdulillah. Even when things don’t seem to be going right we say Alhamdulillah because Allah is in control of all things and we can always rely on Him.
One phrase that non-Muslims find very difficult to appreciate or even to understand is inshallah. Roughly translated, it means “if Allah wills it to be so.” For a Muslim, nothing will happen unless Allah wills it to be so. We say that we are going into town, inshallah, or that we will see our friends tomorrow, inshallah.
It is not a vague hope that things might happen as we want them to. Many non-Muslims take inshallah to mean it might happen. We might see them tomorrow. We might pass our exams. But for Muslims it doesn’t mean “might.” It means that we are totally certain that Allah is in control of all things. We are certain that the sun will not come up tomorrow unless Allah wills it to be so. We know for a fact that night will not follow day unless, inshallah, Allah wills it to be so. And the World Cup final will only take place if Allah wills it to be so! At this time, when football and the World Cup are on every TV screen, let me make a comparison that is well worth making. A few years ago in Egypt, where I live, the final took place of the African Cup of Nations. The countries of Africa competed to see who was the best at football.
What happened in Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country, was truly remarkable. Some 80,000 football supporters gathered in Cairo Stadium for the final, as they had gathered in other sports venues throughout the country for the games leading up to the final. Unlike the violent and drunken football fans in many parts of the world, these supporters were different. There was no alcohol in sight — they were Muslim. There was no violence in sight, either — they were Muslim. And to a man and a woman, they were all waving Egyptian flags and chanting in Arabic “If Allah wills it to be so, we will win the Cup.”
As it happens, Egypt did win the African Cup of Nations that year(I should know, I was there!), but the greatest victory of all, for me, was to see how the fans behaved. I would have loved to send photos of them to newsrooms around the world. I would have liked journalists from the West, so used to branding Muslims as extremists and fanatics, to see the good-natured behavior of almost 80,000 football supporters. I would have liked all people to see how Muslims can enjoy together and relax together. And it would have been good, too, for Muslims to see this and to realize once more just how beautiful our religion is. Even amidst the excitement and the frenzy of a football match, the fans were able to think of Allah. “If Allah wills it to be so,” they said, “we will win.”
As Muslims, we often forget to take pride in who we are. Islam doesn’t need anyone’s permission or anyone’s approval. Let’s take the example of this World Cup in Aouth Africa to remind ourselves that Muslims don’t need to get drunk or to be violent or to swear or to hate other people in order to have fun. Let us not forget, Alhamdulillah, that Islam provides us with everything we need to be fulfilled as people. Why don’t we, when watching the World Cup with our non-Muslim friends, throw in the occasional inshallah into the conversation or exclaim Alhamdulillah when we see a great goal being scored. You never know, but a goal by Cristiano Ronaldo might be just the excuse a friend needs to ask us what this Alhamdulillah that we are always using means. For Muslims, all things lead us to Allah. Inshallah, even the World Cup can bring us closer to Him!
|Image from www.idristawfiq.com
Idris Tawfiq is a British writer who became Muslim a few years ago. Previously, he was head of religious education in different schools in the United Kingdom. Before embracing Islam, he was a Roman Catholic priest. He now lives in Egypt. For more information about him, visit www.idristawfiq.com.