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Recuse yourself from the World Cup

Recuse yourself from the World Cup, and prepare to drink from the Cup of Forgiveness

world cup ramadan

Bint us Salaam – Opinion | 13 June 2014/14 Shabaan 1435

When I told my sister that I’m supposed to write something to dissuade people from watching the World Cup (WC) which takes place during Ramadan this year, her response was, “good luck with that”.

Not long ago I read a question posted on a well-known Islamic forum. The user, a student who described himself as a crazy football fan, wanted advice on how to deal with the WC games as the championship coincides with his final exams and the second half of the tournament will be held in Ramadan. Not wanting to miss the Taraweeh prayers to watch football he needed to know how to cope with exams, Ramadan and the World Cup?

Dare I say #FirstWorldProblems?

How do you deter people from doing something they should already know not to? The virtues of Sunnah acts are known but disregarded. The obligation of many compulsory (Fard) acts is common knowledge but left unfulfilled. The reasons for not indulging in the futile are understood but overlooked. People are going to do what they want to anyway.

It is common knowledge that Ramadan is the month in which the major shayateen are chained, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed. In sacrificing sleep and abstaining from eating and drinking, marital relations and ill-conduct we grow closer to Allah SWT.

But we fast not just to: understand hunger and thirst, empathise with those less fortunate and deprive ourselves of comforts but to learn self-restraint. We fast to refrain from those things that will take our time away from worshipping Allah SWT. Time spent partaking in unnecessary pleasures during free moments in the special month of Ramadan is futile and a waste.

While the shayateen – with the exception of the smaller ones – might be locked up during Ramadan we still have our nafs (desires) to contend with. Ramadan gives us the opportunity for honest self-reflection, to test the strength of our self-restraint without the whispers of shaytaan present. Abstaining from things that are otherwise permissible helps to make avoiding the forbidden easier.

Most of us know this already and while we praise a little knowledge to be better than none, we’re mute about any knowledge not practiced upon being a crime.

So what of the World Cup this year? To some, watching the World Cup games on TV will be a way to pass time. And with the school holidays also falling in Ramadan it will probably serve as a distraction to the youth. Others find themselves being in a predicament. Usually after work hours are to catch up on sleep as nights are spent in Taraweeh prayers. This year that sleep will have to be sacrificed for football viewing.

But it’s actually very simple, just don’t watch it, in fact our out of Ramadan television viewing should be minimal to none and our fondness for the World Cup should be non-existent.

Football aside, we all know that the World Cup is just another big money – making scheme. An event that includes possibly every haraam act in the world, probably on the field and off. At a time when Muslims are going through a lesson in discipline, an event so big it captures an audience of almost half the world’s population will be enticing millions in exactly the opposite. Thanks to technological advancements the estimated 3.2billion spectators is said to rise.

But Ramadan is an even bigger event. It is being hosted by Almighty Allah SWT and will be observed by the world’s entire Muslim population, that’s almost a quarter of the world’s population and half of the expected audience of this quadrennial madness. While spectators, shop owners, restaurateurs, hotel and B&B managers – even sex workers – have eagerly awaited the World Cup’s arrival, Muslims have waited in anticipation for the blessing of observing another Ramadan.

It is not just a month in the lunar calendar but 30 days that brings with it much more charity events, unity among the Muslims, an increase in family time, and an increase in the recitation of the Quraan and the worship of Allah SWT – which brings with it immense reward.

On the other hand until now Brazilians have protested against the WC and 61% feel it won’t be good for the economy. Added to this, corruption surrounds the event with Qatari officials paying multimillion-dollar bribes to FIFA in exchange for the 2022 World Cup. And 250 000 people have been displaced from urban favelas (slums), their homes.

A colleague of mine described Ramadan as, “a month in the year where I experience extreme envy at the men and women blessed enough to be able to recite the entire Quraan from memory. It is a month in which I am reminded to seek forgiveness from Allah for this shortcoming on my side.”

Another said, “It is equally wasteful to watch [the WC] in or out of Ramadan. More so, the period leading up to Ramadan must be utilised in intense preparation for Ramadan.” To him and many other people, Ramadan is a month of sacrifice, exerting oneself spiritually – to the point of losing out on sleep – with the hope to earn only Allah SWT’s Pleasure and hopefully His Mercies for the remainder of the year.

We aren’t feeding into some kind of debate about watching the World Cup during Ramadan as some will be wont to think. As stated, people are going to do what they want to anyway. Our aim is to impress the importance of sacrificing more than just food and drink in Ramadan. If through this, just one person is inspired to spend their month in a better way it will only be through the inclination of their heart and the Guidance of Allah SWT.

The battle of Badr and the conquest of Makkah took place during Ramadaan. Our Sahabaah and Sahabiyaat RA made untold sacrifices while fasting, willingly taking up Jihad. Sixteen year old Umayr ibn Abi Waqqas RA avoided being seen going into the battle. When asked by his elder brother, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas RA, what he was up to he said, “

“I was afraid that the Messenger of Allah SAW would send me back when I wanted to go out. It might be that Allah will grant me martyrdom.” And this was the case. Nabi Muhammad SAW did want to send him back but Umayr RA wept, such was his desire to sacrifice himself for Islam. When the idol-worshippers approached Rasulullah SAW cried out, “Arise for a Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth.”

Umayr RA asked, “Messenger of Allah SAW, a Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth?’ When Rasulullah SAW confirmed, Umayr RA replied, “Wonderful, wonderful, Messenger of Allah SAW”. On that day Umayr RA and many other Sahabah RA became of those people. Our sacrifices compared to the Rohingya, the Syrians, Egyptians, Sudanese, and many other Muslims in the world pale in comparison.

Ramadan is the month of the Noble Quraan. Every letter of every word, so rich in beauty, so unique in construction and so deep in meaning, nothing else has the capacity to untie the strings of the heart. Ramadan is a chance to increase our conversation with Allah SWT through salaah and recitation of the Quraan. How better to spend Ramadan than in reciting the Quraan, striving to understand it and listening to its beautiful recitation, than by living by it.

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