England’s Moeen Ali on Ashes, fasting and being a Muslim
English cricketer Moeen Ali, who will be making his Ashes debut on Wednesday in Cardiff said he is resolved to fast during the match.
Ali, who was born in Birmingham and has a Pakistani heritage, is a left-handed batsman and right-arm off-spin bowler who currently plays for England.
He said that he knows his life choices would appear very odd to others and that people would be asking him why he is fasting on match days.
“I’d never go up to somebody and start preaching,’ he said, ‘but if somebody asks I’m willing to talk about it. Often, after people have seen me praying, they’ll ask and it’s a chance to show how normal prayer time is and why we do it, to teach people about the religion. Not to try to change them, but to explain.”
He further said, ‘I saw the story about the two fans praying at Anfield during a Liverpool game. It caused a big fuss, but it was just five minutes in their life. Once you explain it to people, they are very accommodating. Once your team-mates know, once they understand you and you understand them, everybody gets along.’
Ali is aware that his beard may seem foreign and sometimes even threatening to people in the West but he often resorts to his love for Liverpool to break the ice in the dressing room
“I know people aren’t sure about men who look like I do,’ he said. ‘People don’t see the beard as a bit of hair. I’ve been shouted at, called some horrible names, and when I first came to Worcester I noticed people crossing the road to avoid me. So, yes, there are a lot of bad Muslims giving us a bad name, but all I would say is that it isn’t just Muslims who need to change. There are a lot of ignorant people, too.”
He continued, “I hope what people see in me is that I’m a normal guy, and that people who look as I do can do normal things. And people don’t see us as normal at times. We still chuckle as people do, we still drink a cup of tea, but we feel alienated. I hope I can change that, so even if I can make one person think, “You know, Muslims are all right, they’re good people”, then I’ve done a decent job.’
Referring to the Charleston incident where a man opened fire on the congregation of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Ali said, “The media portrayal is very bad sometimes. If there is a shooting and it’s a white guy, he’s mentally ill. If it’s an Asian, he’s a terrorist. The image is frustrating. So, yes, there are Muslims who need to change and behave, but it also feels unfair because the media aren’t always straight about it.’
Speaking about his teenage years, Ali said that he was just a normal teenage boy and he didn’t fast or pray despite being born in a Muslim family. It was through cricket that he started having questions. “I did a lot of travelling from a young age, got to speak to a lot of people. Whenever I travelled, wherever I went I used to look around at the countryside, look up at the sky, and think, “Someone must have created all of this — it couldn’t happen just by chance”.
At the age of 18, Ali recalls that he started looking for answers and that’s when he started reading a lot of books of other religions.
Then one day when he was playing for Warwickshire against West Indies A, he met a man and they began talking. That man had converted to Islam from Christianity and Ali was burning to ask him why he had converted.
Many things came up in their discussion and Ali mentioned that there were certain things about being a Muslim that he didn’t like, such as, arranged marriages. “He told me that those problems were with Pakistani culture, not the Muslim faith — they were different things. I had more questions, and he answered them. Once he started explaining, it all made more sense. There are things we do in our culture that are the opposite of what the religion states.”
It is generally thought that sports and faith cannot go together because sports requires the highest level of commitment whereas religion preaches that winning is not a matter of life and death. Ali, however, said that realizing the comparative insignificance of sports allowed him to become a better cricketer.
For More: http://tribune.com.pk/story/916917/englands-moeen-ali-on-ashes-fasting-and-being-a-muslim/