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     Volume 6 Issue 37 | September 21, 2007 |

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Twenty20 World Cup, NOW?

Confounded Logic Despite the Magic


The holy month of Ramadan, the ninth in the Islamic calendar, is a time Muslims spend in intense prayer and worship, as spelt out in the holy Quran.

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious). (Fasting) for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (i.e. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you knew." (Al Quran, 2:183-84)

"The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan), he must fast that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not fast must be made up) from other days.

Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him" (Al Quran, 2: 185).

Some individual performances in the first-ever T20 World Cup are scintillating and thoroughly absorbing. It is however inconceivable how the Bangladesh Cricket Board, managing cricket on behalf of a country where the vast majority of the population is very much involved religiously, socially and emotionally with fasting during the month of Ramadan, could consent to the plans of a rather insensitive ICC in agreeing to play the ongoing world cup in South Africa.

Whatever reasons the BCB and the ICC may proffer, such as other international competitions, tight schedules and commercial TV slots, it belies common sense why a mere cricket tournament could not be held earlier or delayed beyond the holy month. Why don't we plan the next cricket World Cup final on Christmas Day at the Lord's or an India-Pakistan ODI in Kolkata during the Durga Puja, or what about the World Cup football final in Jeddah during the Hajj, just because all other dates would have been taken? Some things are beyond question and simply not on.

It is the responsibility of every national (BCB, PCB, BCCI) and international (ICC) body to not only respect the religious sentiment of all sections of the society but to abide by the commandments of each.

Now Ramadan too comes once a year. Its religious significance is not within the scope of this article. But millions of Muslims across the world, steeped in deep meditation, both as individual and community, are having to either watch beer-waving spectators, half naked, doubled with the ants-in-their-pants dancing quartet or being denied the pleasure of a fine cricket match through iftar, tarabee prayers and sehri, as the case may be. The situation is painful, insulting, deplorable and not worth replicating in the future.

The T20 World Cup is denying Muslim players [and there are many in the Bangladesh, Pakistan and India squad], who would in all probability have otherwise fasted, from performing their humble and mandatory religious obligations. Rather they are compelled to perform to the gaze of gyrating pros, guzzling and drinking revellers.

One would have thought that the cricketers should have been the first to raise the issue, but such is the stranglehold of the respective boards on their players and of the ICC on the boards, that such thoughts are prematurely and voluntarily shelved. In dealing with mere mortals we must be forthright.

Is it not selfish on the part of the entire nation, including the board members, to celebrate the month of fasting with family and friends, while those on whom the country has bestowed the highest glory and honour as ambassadors, are denied the right and the privilege of complying with a cherished duty to Allah?

Cricket is for long a global spectacle, and universally a spectator game for the entire family. Is the T20 World Cup in the month of Ramadan giving the right message to the next generation? Do we have an answer if a six-year old questions at the iftar table Is Ashraful fasting and playing? What does Mashrafe have at sehri? These men are their heroes. Let our cricketers be allowed to set the right example. Let them be allowed to be the appropriate role models for our children. The onus is on ICC and the respective cricket boards.

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