Monday, November 14, 2005

Cricket, Islam and women

There are religious nutcases and then there are cricket nutcases. Sometimes they can be found at one spot.

England's cricket team is on a tour to Pakistan. They (England) are on their way to being the No. 1 team in the world, while Pakistan is as usual the unpredictable team, capable of defeating the best one day and going down to the worst the next.

BBC's correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones, visiting with the cricket team, writes in Pakistan's passion for cricket:

I've only met one Pakistani who did not like cricket.

He was a 25-year-old talib, or religious student, called Ali.

He came from Peshawar and had been educated in one of Pakistan's madrassas, or Islamic seminaries, since he was six years old.

With his wispy beard and serious face he had a pretty austere, puritanical view of life.

Dancing, listening to music and watching television were all wrong, he said.

I tried to find a chink in the armour and said: "Ah well, as a Pakistani you must at least love cricket?"

"Cricket?" He raised his eyes to the heavens.

"Why all this cricket, cricket, cricket? Don't people realise they are wasting their time? People should think of Allah, not cricket."

This is pretty serious stuff. The cricket blog, Corridor of Uncertainty, discusses the case here. I like Zainub's take on the issue:

Funny though that he should call cricket or sport a waste of time, some of Holy Prophet's closest companions were known to be very keen on sports played in their times (including wrestling and horse riding and fencing). Some records have it that even the Prophet of God Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself enjoyed such sports.

This is an example of our literate and enlightened Muslim woman. The fundamentalist mullahs and imams will shout "we should go back to our true Islam" but then forbid women's education because if their women really learnt the true Islam, they would realize how beautiful and liberal Islam is, and what a fake the so-called religious leaders and their faulty interpretations are.

Afghanitan's Taliban used to forbid women from working. The Messenger of God's own sister-in-law, Asmaa bint Abu Bakr, used to work, that too in the fields picking dates. She even used to talk with men who were not her husband **mock horror**!

Asmaa relates: "When az-Zubayr married me, he had neither land nor wealth nor slave”". So Asmaa had to work very hard kneading dough, going far off to get water.

"And I used to carry on my head," she continues, "“the date stones from the land of az-Zubair which Allah's Messenger had endowed him and it was a distance of two miles from Madeenah. One day, as I was carrying the date-stones upon my head, I happened to meet Allah's Messenger, along with a group of his Companions. He called me and told the camel to sit down so that he could make me ride behind him. I felt shy to go with men and I remembered az-Zubair and his Gheerah (modesty) and he was a man having the most Gheerah. The Messenger of Allah understood my shyness and left."

"I came to az-Zubair and said: “The Messenger of Allah met me as I was carrying date-stones upon my head and there was with him a group of his Companions. He told the camel to kneel so that I could mount it, but I felt shy and I remembered your Gheerah."

So Asmaa declined the offer made by the Prophet. Upon this az-Zubair said: "By Allah, the thought of you carrying date-stones upon your head is more severe a burden on me than you riding with him."” (related in Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

Look at the sense of dignity and modesty of Asmaa! See how she felt shy in front of men? See how careful she was about her husband's feelings? She knew her husband's feelings so she didn't want to upset him by accepting the Prophet'’s help even though the Prophet was the purest of men (and her own brother-in-law) and even though it meant bringing hardship on herself! And look at Az-Zubair, he didn't want to inconvenience his wife, his wife's hardships were acutely painful to him! What a beautiful relationship they had!

I wonder what Peshawar's Ali would have made of Asmaa, had they learnt about her. She worked. She went outside the house. She talked with men. She was educated. She had her own income. There are many more stories such as these that deserved to be told.

PS. Incidentally this is my 100th post. A century.



Zainub said...

The problem with what peopple get taught at certain 'medrasahs' is that they chose to teach only certain aspects of faith, and ignore the others.

However that is not to say all 'madrasahs' are like that, certain relgious schools here in Karachi, or far better in their approcach towards educating their students then the secular so called 'posh' schools.

As far as the topic of women and Islam is concerned, I've personally feel so honored every time I've had the chance to get my self educated on this topic. It's amazing just how many securities the Holy Prophet pbuh and the Quran have put in place for us. I don't think most women in the Islamic world are aware of just how many rights Allah SWT has given us.

Sadly, there is too much ignorance and misconception out there.

Abu Sinan said...

It is my understanding that early Muslims were taught that knowing the bow and arrow, sword and how to ride a horses were an import thing. I believe there is a Hadith to his effect.

However, I must say that I cannot stand cricket. I lived in England for years and my neighbor across the street was always trying to get me to go. No thanks, I'll stick with football(soocer).

Hadeel said...

i have no idea what cricket is.... all i know everyone looks so clean in their white outfits...

Hector said...

What happens when there is a call to prayer during a cricket match?
I am writing from England and listening to the test-match. Should players pause, or is there a special dispensation?

mezba said...

Hi Hector,

I am not too sure what happens in the cricket match.

Prayers don't have a fixed time, for example you have to pray at 430 sharp, but a lengthy period of time, say 330 to 630. And we all know players are allowed to be off the field for 2 overs and a sub fields then. And that's more than enough time to pray. If you are a batsman then there's the drinks break, and the gas cylinder explosion to look forward to!

Also, if you are a traveller then you can delay your prayers. So you can combine prayers 1 and 2 and pray later. A traveller is anyone who is travelling to another city more than 48 miles away from his residence. So even Shoaib Akhtar (from Rawalpindi) would be a traveller in Multan or Karachi.

It's an interesting question and I think in Pakistan they actually have a 10-minute break for prayer.

Anonymous said...

I have been watching the coverage of the third test in Lahore on Sky Sports and heard a commentator say that an hour would be lost on Friday because of prayer - is this true? If so i think the ICC is definitely going to have to consider 6 day tests as the Pakistan summers are a little too hot for your average australian never mind someone from the north of England.

mezba said...

Hi Anon,

Yes while it's true that the lunch break will be an hour long instead of 45 minutes, so it's only an additional 15 minutes lost.

I don't think we can have 6 day tests. It's long enough as it is already!