Muslim sports stars

Muslim sports stars
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Published December 25th, 2015 - 17:55 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali

Not many Americans have personally met and interacted with Muslims. Some Americans may have stepped into a Lebanese restaurant to taste the exquisite Middle Eastern cuisine and catch a whiff of the bread baking in a red, brick oven over a flame. Some Americans have a Muslim family as neighbors, or are treated by a Muslim doctor, or have a Muslim student in the class they teach.

However, the majority of Americans receive their information about Muslims from the media, which only shows a crazed, violent cult who claim to be Muslim. If you were to logically look at their actions and words, and then study Islam and the Holy Qur’an and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), you would realize that these people are not true followers of Islam. Maybe when you refuse to be fed the hatred and fear that the media is doling out, you could open your eyes and see the real Muslims in your neighborhood, hospital, school, university, and favorite football team too!

Unknown to many Americans, and apparently even to presidential candidate, Donald Tramp, there are many amazing American Muslim athletes.

In response to President Obama’s statement that, "Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes…", Donald Trump tweeted,  "Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who? Is Obama profiling?"  So, for those who honestly do not know any Muslim sports heroes, and for Donald Trump, there is a long list of American sports legends who are Muslim, and the following list isn’t even complete.

First and foremost, boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, became an Olympic gold medalist in 1960 and the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1964. He is known worldwide as a boxer, philanthropist, and social activist. Ali converted to Islam in 1964. He was the first boxer to to win the heavyweight championship three times. In 1984, the great boxer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he retired; he devoted much of his time to philanthropy. He has been involved in raising funds for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Ali has also supported the Special Olympics and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, among other organizations. He traveled to many countries to help out those in need. In 1998, he was chosen as United Nations Messenger of Peace because of his work in developing countries.

Anyone who loves American basket ball knows the LA Lakers player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but does everyone know that he is a devout Muslim? Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time scoring leader and a six-time NBA champion. He was famous for his trademark "sky-hook" move. After his stardom as a basket ball player, Abdul-Jabbar has been involved in coaching, volunteer coaching, writing, and activism. He was selected by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to be a US global cultural ambassador.

Abdul-Jabbar appeared on Meet the Press on Sunday, January 25, 2015 to talk about how some people were associating Islam with violent extremism. When asked about being Muslim, he said, "I don’t have any misgiving about my faith. I’m very concerned about the people who claim to be Muslims that are murdering people and creating all this mayhem in the world. That is not what Islam is about, and that should not be what people think of when they think about Muslims."

Another famous, professional American basket ball player, Hakeem Olajuwon is Muslim. Allan Smith wrote for Business Insider, "A two-time NBA champion, Olajuwon, a center, enjoyed an 18-year NBA career with the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. He joined the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. Olajuwon, born in Nigeria, said his Muslim faith was instrumental to his successful basketball career."

Sports heroes and brothers, Hamza and Husain Abdullah both play American football. They were raised as devout Muslims. Hamza, the older brother, used to play American football safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; he also played for the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns.

Husain Abdullah is an American football free safety for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). The brothers have been known to fast Ramadan, even when it coincided with playing season, and they would train all day and play while fasting. The two brothers also had to miss out a playing season to go on the Haj journey.

Reporter Matt Blake wrote for his report in the Daily Mail, "A pair of Muslim NFL stars have sacrificed their million-dollar paychecks and quit their top-flight American football teams - to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Brothers Hamza and Husain Abdullah are at the peak of their careers, playing every week in front of tens of thousands of cheering fans at the heart of two of America’s top gridiron teams. But in June this year, the pair broke the news to their respective coaches that they would not be available to play in the 2012 NFL season because they were taking their ailing parents on a 7,000-mile ‘road trip’ to Islam’s spiritual heartland." These American athletes are only a few of many, who play sports, are active in their communities, are helping inspire the youth to live health, active lives, and adhere to Islamic faith.

Amal Al-Sibai

© Copyright 2015 The Saudi Gazette. All Rights Reserved.

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