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Tuesday , November 20 2018

Kuwait cleric’s ‘criticism’ of Salah sparks backlash – “a punishment from God for not fasting”

Liverpool’s Mohammad Salah reacts after sustaining an injury during the Champions League soccer final against Real Madrid. (Gulf News)

KUWAIT CITY, May 30: The statement made by a Kuwaiti cleric Mubarak Al- Badhali to an Arabic newspaper and on Twitter claiming that the shoulder injury sustained by the Egyptian-born Liverpool football star Mohammad Salah, a practicing Muslim, during a match between Liverpool and Real Madrid on the 10th day of Ramadan was “a punishment from God for not fasting” has provoked negative reactions from several Kuwaiti and Saudi citizens.

According to a report published on gulfnews.com, 25-year old Salah had scored a total of 44 goals for Liverpool this season, and had decided not to fast on the day of the match in order to be in shape to play. During the match on Saturday, he collided with Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid and sustained a shoulder injury. Even though he tried to continue, he went down again and eventually had to walk off the field in tears. Following the incident, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi called Salah and expressed support for him.

Also, many Egyptians expressed their grief on social media over Salah’s injury and accused Ramos of deliberately targeting him. Concerning Salah’s decision to abstain from fasting on that day, several religious scholars said footballers can decide to do so if they feel their health would be at risk, and can instead compensate by fasting on another day after Ramadan.

However, some other scholars such as Mubarak Al-Badhali insist that God punished Mohammad Salah for his decision not to fast. He stressed that Salah has the right not to fast as he was travelling but this right does not extend to playing a football match.

Al-Badhali said, “We know he is a good Muslim and that he did not fast because of the pressure, but that is no excuse as it is lack of knowledge. This injury, which might bar him from playing for Egypt in the World Cup finals, will serve to remind him that the whole matter is in God’s hands. You are a good and respectable man, but you have missed out on the rules of fasting”. In response, many Twitter users expressed condemnation and rejection of Al-Badhali’s claims.

One suggested Al-Badhali should stop talking on behalf of God and making rubbish statements. Another said Al- Badhali should not rush in making statements that lack foundation.

Another user urged Al-Badhali to do more to attract people to the religion, which he said is far nobler that the way the scholar and his kind are attempting to depict, and said his messages should make people more religious instead of shocking them. In addition, a religious scholar from Cairo Mohammad Jibril claimed the injury was a divine punishment for the fans of Salah who opted to watch the match instead of attending Taraweeh (evening prayers in Ramadan).

On his Twitter account, he said the fans not only enjoyed the march but they also did not reap spiritual rewards as they missed the prayers. Jibril’s Twitter post received backlash from a number of people including a popular TV host in Egypt Wael Al-Ebrashi. On a private Egyptian TV channel called Dream TV, Al-Ebrashi insisted that the statement of Jibril represents wrong understanding of Islam, as it appears as though God had punished Egyptians by depriving them of Mohammad Salah. He accused the cleric of being a sympathizer of the banned Islamic organization “Muslim Brotherhood Group”, and affirmed that Salah did a bigger service to Islam than Jibril did. Jibril later removed his post, and posted a new one in which he clarified that his previous post was misunderstood. He said he is praying Allah will help Salah in recover and participate with the national team of Egypt in the best form, and protect him from harm and evil.

Mohammad Salah led Egypt to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years. In recent months, he has garnered a cult status in Egypt due to his brilliant football skills, humility and charitable deeds. In Liverpool, Salah had a sensational season, scoring 32 goals in 38 English Premier matches and winning “Player of the Year” award. He scored a total of 44 goals in all competitions this season.

Egypt’s Sports Minister Khaled Abdulaziz revealed that Salah will travel to Spain from Britain to complete the treatment for his shoulder injury under the supervision of Liverpool, indicating that the head of the Egyptian Football Association and the doctor of the national team traveled to Spain on Wednesday, May 30 to check on Salah’s health. He said he is expecting Salah to join the national team “Pharaohs” in Cairo early next month before they leave for Russia for the World Cup. It is worth mentioning that the Pharaohs’ first World Cup match will be on June 15 against Paraguay. On his Facebook page, the minister affirmed that Salah is in high morale due to the unprecedented interest shown to him by the Egyptians especially the Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi.

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