Kerala Muslim body says worshipping football stars against Islam and invites game-lovers’ wrath

The Samastha, an influential Sunni organisation, also urged the faithful not to wave 'coloniser' Portugal's national flag.

BySreerag PS

Published Nov 25, 2022 | 6:19 PMUpdatedNov 25, 2022 | 6:19 PM

Samastha under fire

The influential Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama, a body of Sunni scholars, is once again under fire after it asked the faithful not to worship football stars since it was against Islam.

The timing, however, was wrong, especially since football-crazy Kerala has been under the grip of World Cup fever.

The Samastha also urged against waving the national flag of Portugal, which had made several countries its colonies.

The organisation’s directive did not amuse Mirwais Ali, a resident of Alappuzha.

“The Samastha has been coming up with such outdated ideas for a while now. I don’t think these statements are in tune with the modern times,” he told South First.

“A game should be seen as just a game, the frenzy is also part of it. Also, I don’t think the Quran restrains people from enjoying a game,” he added.

He felt that the Muslim youth would reject Samastha’s directive. “These types of statements will only help in discriminating against the minority community more. I believe the Muslim youth will reject such regressive statements,” Ali, who is rooting for Argentina, said.

Samastha unites fan groups

Though Kerala has recently witnessed several clashes between fan groups, Samastha’s statement has united them.

A flex board erected by the Argentina football team fans in Kerala.

A flex board was erected by the Argentina football team fans in Kerala (Sourced).

Saifuddeen, a fan of Brazilian football, rejected the statement. “Malayalis celebrate football irrespective of their religion,” he said.

Those who are erecting cutouts and banners are doing it out of their own will and for their happiness. I do not agree with Samastha’s position,” he added.

Nasar Faizy Koodathayi, general secretary of the Qutba committee under the Samastha, also expressed concern over football fans spending too much money on erecting giant cutouts of their favourite soccer stars like Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr of Brazil on the streets.

Kerala is well-known for its football-crazy fans. Huge cutouts of football stars can be seen across the state.

He lamented that students were losing interest in studies due to the ongoing World Cup in Qatar.

“It is not right to wave the flag of Portugal, which colonised many countries,” the cleric said, adding that it was not right for Indian citizens to respect and wave the flags of other nations over the national flag.

Not against football

Koodathayi, however, said the organisation was not against football.

“The game should be seen in a sportsman’s spirit. Football is becoming a fever and people are getting addicted to it. This is not a good trend,” he said.

A cutout erected by the fans of Brazil football team in Kerala (Sourced).

A cutout by the fans of the Brazilian football team in Kerala (Sourced).

Koodathayi felt football should be promoted only as a game which encourages physical activity.

“Instead, football has become a fever and fans are engaged in worshipping football stars. Today people are respecting and waving the flags of other nations over their own,” he said.

He said those who are poor are wasting their money on cutouts of their favourite football stars and students are not concentrating on their studies.

“Instead of loving our nation, some are engaged in worshipping football stars. There is a limitation to worshipping people when it comes to Islam. Also, people are waving Portugal flags…A country which colonised many countries,” he said.

Fans of Brazil and Argentina religiously follow the football season and celebrate the World Cup with fervour in Kerala.

Flashback: May 2022

Samastha was in the news in May when its secretary MT Abdulla Musaliyar chastised the organisers of an event for inviting a Class 10 girl to the stage to receive an award for academic excellence.

“Who invited her to the stage? You will face the consequences if you repeat this mistake. Don’t you know the rules of the Samastha,” he reportedly said.

The event was the inaugural ceremony of Darul Ulum Madrasa at Pathiramanna in Malappuram district.

Abdulla Musaliyar also told the organisers that they should have invited the girl’s guardian instead of her.

Though Samsatha leaders backed Abdulla Musaliyar by saying the organisation’s tradition prohibited women on the dais, the organisation was widely criticised for its anti-women attitude.

(With PTI inputs)