Excessive Love Of Football: A Manifestation Of Weak Faith
The trend that the current "madness" called football soccer-game has taken, and the total love devoted to it by the fans calls for serious concern and critical examination of the game.
Alhaji Ayuba Abdullahi, the Deputy Bursar of Kwara State University Malete-Ilorin, breathed his last moment while engrossed in the thrilling encounter between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Bafana Bafana of South Africa last Wednesday. This and the same death incidents of some other individuals have been reported by many Nigerian mass media as well as global official mass media and social media on Thursday, February 8 2024.
Recall that Nigeria emerged victorious on Wednesday with a 4-2 win on penalties after the regular and extra times ended at 1-1 stalemate.
According to sources close to the deceased, Alhaji Ayuba Abdullahi experienced discomfort while watching the match at a sports viewing center in the Sango area of Ilorin, Kwara State. Despite feeling unwell, he stayed until the end of the extra time, only for people around him to realize his deteriorated health when he complained of dizziness. Though he was rushed to a private hospital in Sango from where he was referred to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. Before he could be attended to, he had sadly passed on. He had been buried in accordance with Islamic rites.
Similarly, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, a former federal lawmaker from Delta State, met his demise during the same match. Reports indicated that Ojougboh suffered a fatal heart attack when South Africa scored a penalty, leading to his collapse and death.
In a related development, a 43-year-old man, Mikail Osundiji, died while watching the same semi-final football match in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The father of two went into shock when the referee cancelled Nigeria's second goal against South Africa by Victor Osihmen and later died. An elder sister to the deceased, simply identified as Mrs. Adetunji Nofisat said that he did not show any sign of sickness prior to his death. The public football viewing centre where he died is situated in the Olomoore area of Abeokuta.
Chukwudi Iwuchukwu - a facebook user, posted on Thursday that one Anambra-born billionaire who is adjudged to be the richest Igbo businessman based in Ivory Coast, by the name Chief Osondu Nwoye allegedly died while watching the same match. Chukwudi reported an eyewitness account that the deceased was on top of the moon, shouting on top of his voice when Nigerian striker, Victor Osihmen scored the second goal which was later cancelled by the video assistant referee (VAR). The shock of seeing the goal cancelled and a penalty awarded to South Africa was too much for his fragile heart to bear. This led to his collapse inside the stadium. Though he was rushed to a nearby hospital, all efforts to revive him failed as he was later pronounced dead.
Additionally, another tragic loss occurred as a member of the National Youth Service Corps serving in Adamawa state, identified as Samuel from Kaduna State reportedly passed on during the climax of the game.
Why the global madness about football soccer? Why are Muslim individuals and nations not left out of the madness? Of what benefits and relevance is the round leather called ball to the spiritual, material, and intellectual life of those who idolize football? What will a Muslim who died as a result of a heart attack from his excessive attachment to a sporting activity tell Allaah when he stands before Him?
It is pertinent to question the celebration of the so-called "King of football, Ronaldo" by MBS - the defacto King of Saudi. Ronaldo's involvement in the football news of Saudi Arabia is currently being seen as a "big catch". For Ronaldo's sake, the particular rule that forbade the cohabitation of unmarked couples was relaxed. This was because the mother of Ronaldo's kids who lives with him isn't legally married to him. He is simply referred to as a girlfriend. Ronaldo's interest and readiness to help the "capital of Islaam" in the promotion of female football in the Hijaaz is also being considered by the kingdom as "a big achievement." What a shame and misplacement of priority!
History will not forget nor forgive Asisat Oshoala, a 30-year old single mother of one, who has been considered to have made the Muslim community "proud" for scoring the needed goal for her country to win the match at the last world female soccer competition. Asisat turned masculine in "happiness" and consequently, took off her shirt in celebration of her goal. She further exposed her nudity when she took off her vest.
That a Nigerian "Muslim" newspaper proudly celebrated the first Hijabite female footballer from Morocco, in the said female football world cup, and described her audacity to dress in a cape Hijaab as Jihaad further exposed our poor understanding of Islaam.
While Islaam is not against sporting activities provided it is in conformity with its basic tenets and dictates, it is however Haraam (unlawful) for adult male Muslims to expose any portion between their navels and laps down to their knees to other than their Mahram, what more of female Muslims who must not reveal to non-Mahrams any part of their body besides the face and palms.
Gambling, meaningless nationalism,
hooliganism, which characterize the attitude of football community, does not have a place in Islaam. Free mixing of sexes in the stadia or viewing centres are considered abominable in Islaam. Factually, it is more criminal to play football or watch it during Salaat periods.
Though the sporting activities that the Prophet of Islaam - Muhammad, SalaLlaahu 'alayhi wasallaam- recommended and endorsed are: running, swimming and hatching, it is not against Islamic teachings to engage in football and other sports outside the Hadiith provided the Islamic conditions are satisfied.
Moreover, Muslims who in writing or in any ways defend this misbehaviour and risky pastime called competitive sports should remember that they shall give account of their misguidance to Allaah. The consequences of their misguidance on earth and even after their demise can only be Allaah's wrath.
It is painful that our value system as a nation is changing from good to worse day by day. Nigerian Government can rain dollars on those engaging in sports but do not have money to pay university lecturers. Vice President, Senate President, presidential aspirants and other top Nigerian government functionaries can travel to Ivory Coast with tax payers' money to encourage the footballers but claim they do not have the time and money to plan and take good care of the citizens in Nigeria.
Parents are not left out in this football madness. At home, fathers are Arsenal fans while mothers are for Manchester United. Where will the children place their own when their parents engage in arguments at home over football matters? What justification would they have to blame their children who steal their money or even sell their properties to participate in games-betting, an obvious gambling act?
Some Muslim children can mention, without mincing words, names of all the English, Spanish, German and Italian football clubs, coaches and players but would be dumbfounded if asked to mention ten companions of the holy Prophet Muhammad SalaLlaahu 'alayhi wasallaam, what more of reciting a chapter of the holy Qur'aan correctly.
Muslims who are supposed to do good, command goodness, shun evil, forbid evil and serve as shining examples in the society must get their bearings right and face squarely the purpose for their creation.
It is not worth it to bite one's fingers in the hereafter as a result of avoidable excesses. Shun living a careless life. You can watch football for ninety minutes but can not recite the Qur'aan or engage in meritorious acts of worship for 30 minutes. Remember that your priority and what you engage in determine your reward and final abode in the next world.
At a time when our Muslim brethrens in Gaza are being massacred by the West, most Muslims do not care about their plights, while some others do not know what is happening. The very few that know do not bother to pray for them. Muslim Nations shamelessly give preference to plays and amusements over sympathizing with, empathizing with, and spending some of their valuable means on their brethrens in Palestine and other troubled Muslim Nations. How does Ivory Coast become their current "qiblah"?
As the AFCON third place and final matches come up tomorrow Saturday and the next day, Sunday respectively, allow this writeup to influence your attitude positively and remember that you are required to practise Islaam in all facets of your life. Allaah is already witness to the fact that His message had been delivered. It is left to you to let it be an evidence for or against you. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
May Allaah guide us on the right path, guard us throughout our life sojourn, forgive our shortcomings, elevate our spiritual ranks, and bless us with Jannah on the last day, the day of accountability.
Ishaaq Muhammad Jaamiu writes from Osogbo, Osun State .
28th Rajab 1445 (9th February 2024)