Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup demonstrated that Islam is a religion of peace and is for all people, and helped the world look beyond what they saw on the news.
The World Cup in Qatar will go down in history as not only as the first Middle Eastern World Cup, but the first Muslim one.
The host nation of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar, was subjected to a campaign of ferocious and exaggerated criticism by the western media. Politicians and journalists both depicted the nation as a comically savage dystopia.
The tournament’s coverage in the west has exposed the cultural conceit of many journalists.
Condemnation went much further than logical criticisms of human rights issues, being frequently uninformed and orientalist. In addition to a plethora of unfounded and occasionally wishful thinking that Qatar wasn’t prepared to host the event.
False rumours that South Asian migrants were paid to root for certain football teams were casually reported, and despite having broadcasted the opening ceremony for the 2018 World Cup in Russia during which time it was bombing Syria and occupying Crimea whilst committing other human rights abuses, the BBC decided not to broadcast the ceremony this time.
However, that did not stop the muslim hosts, fans, and players in practicing their religion with pride.
Many will never forget the Moroccan players reciting Surat Al-Fatiha, the opening chapter of the Qur’an, prior to the last-16 penalty shootout match against Spain.
The team later ran to their supporters and kneeled in prayer after advancing to the quarterfinal and winning it. By doing so, they declared to the world their pride in Islam as well as in being Moroccan, and sparked jubilant celebrations across the Muslim world.
It is no secret that Muslims are persecuted in many Western countries, whether it be through employment discrimination, veiled insults and ambiguities, or outright violence. And as with many prejudices, women frequently take the brunt of it.
Therefore, it was not only beautiful, moving, and uplifting for Muslims to see Moroccan players honouring their religion, right before applying its teaching to honour their mothers, who were wearing the hijab at the game, but it was also significant because it encapsulated the essence of international competition that stands for learning about various cultures and celebrating differences.
The world may not have had the chance to see these celebrations by the players if this edition of the tournament was held in a Western nation.
It was not only the players who showcased the religion to the world, but local and international fans did so as well.
While in Qatar, a large number of fans from European nations took advantage of the opportunity to learn about Islam and Qatari culture by visiting mosques, making new friends and dressing in traditional attire.
In practice, there has been a heartening degree of cultural exchange and a spirit of multiculturalism that is severely lacking in a world that is becoming more and more divided.
So, what were the exact traces of Islam that we were able to see during the World Cup?
Generosity and hospitality
Videos of Qatari residents who live close to Al Thumama Stadium went viral, showing them welcoming fans as they left the stadium late at night after matches with tables piled high with food and drinks.
When an Argentine fan said during a TV appearance that he had run out of money for accommodation and had to fly back home, a video of Qatari content producer Ahmed Pato offering him a free place to stay at his house made rounds on the internet.
A concept rooted in the pre-Islamic Bedouin values of welcoming and generosity, Islam considers hospitality as a virtue that lies at the very foundation of its ethical system.
Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is reported to have said in a hadith: “There is no good in the one who is not hospitable.”
Hospitality includes generosity (karam), which primarily entails providing food and is perceived as vital to the environment in the region.
Lost items? No problem
Many fans reported that they have lost valuable items like wallets at stadiums and fanzones, only to come back, and to their surprise, find the item handed in to security.
In fact, Qatar is known to be safe, with crimes like theft being rare. International fans have expressed their shock at finding expensive luxury bags sitting on benches alone and untouched, despite how crowded areas were.
Stealing is expressly forbidden in the Quran and is regarded as a haram (forbidden) and punished conduct. The Quran’s depiction of theft is exceedingly clear, succinct, and explicit.
“O believers! Do not devour one another’s wealth illegally, but rather trade by mutual consent. And do not kill ˹each other or˺ yourselves. Surely Allah is ever Merciful to you.” (Quran, 4:29)
According to Numbeo Crime Index by Country 2022, the nation has maintained its title as the “Safest Country” in the world out of the 142 countries examined.
Qatar has a crime rating of 13.78 and a safety index of 86.22.
The Moroccan national team’s mothers came to the forefront as a series of images of the players kissing their mothers’ heads that went viral on social media, depicting the players’ eagerness to celebrate their wins with their mothers.
“The mother remains the beacon of life for the walker on the road, and this is an important saying in the life of the Moroccan national team players and their coach, Walid Regragui,” Anadolu Agency reported.
The mothers of the Moroccan national team were present at all World Cup games, never missing an opportunity to show their appreciation and love for their children, which was repeated in every game.
The 23rd verse of Surat Al-Israa in the Quran says: “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age (while) with you, say not to them (so much as), “uff”, and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.”
Additionally, in a hadith, a person asked the Prophet (PBUH): “Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He said: Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness).”