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.
Tags: Cricket Islam Women In Islam Asmaa