Now that the World Cup is underway, the question is which side of the festival of football will ‘win’ the hearts and the minds of the international community.
Make no mistake, this will be a FIFA event like no other.
The sides have very clearly been drawn. There are Qatari organisations working, largely hidden from view, on giving Dawah to every one of the one million fans who will set foot in their land.
Western organisations will be playing an offensive game to derail any effort which shows a Muslim land, of ongoing traditions, as a beacon of light.
Round one kicked off on the first night. As a lifelong football fan (Liverpool of course), I would always watch a portion of this World Cup. Especially the much-looked-forward to Opening Ceremony.
— The Invitation Magazine (@Invitation_Mag) November 22, 2022
Like our Qatari brothers and sisters, I allowed a modicum of hope to rise in me that perhaps out of a shallow, arguably totally haram, event, maybe some Khair may be allowed to surface. Pre-released clips had shown children on the pitch reciting from the Holy Quran.
We imagined for a moment British, Australian, Norwegian, and Spanish fans, having ayahs of peace waft into their lives and change them forever.
What greeted viewers across multiple European state channels was vastly different to what Qatar’s sadly naive leaders had paid billions to make happen.
Instead, Gary Linekar, the BBC’s host, welcomed bemused viewers to their coverage in a studio overlooking the stadium.
‘…from accusations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers…Homosexuality is illegal here. Women’s rights and the freedom of expression are in the spotlight.’
To which I, a British Muslim, shouted at the screen stating ‘Get on the football! Is this the 9 O’clock news now?’
It didn’t stop there. Bizarrely, I could glimpse the fireworks in the background as semi-literate sports pundits were invited to give utterly backward views on a country they knew nothing about and had never visited. Until now. As guests.
Western voices articulated their furiousness about Doha’s lack of inclusivity on behalf of an LGBTQ community and voices their dissatisfaction with the local social rules.
These were laid out in a clear voice by Qatar’s World Cup chief, Nasser Al Khater, who told a Sky News reporter:
‘We’ve always said that everybody’s welcome here all we ask is for people to be respectful of the culture.’
I lived in Qatar not too long ago. It is so newly completed that it has the feel in places of a Disney version of Gulf culture. Without the seediness of bars or pubs, the main areas are so peaceful that families stroll out late in the evening, in a hushed atmosphere of glitzy calm.
For some, this atmosphere will be entirely new. It could grate on you, and seem dull, right? Where’s the noise, the heart-pounding house music that is the background to western lives from restaurants to shopping malls?
In fact, early reports have it, that on the contrary. The souls entering this new space have been parched of peace since childhood. They are now soaking up an entirely new experience and wondering – what is life all about?
In the coming weeks, we will learn (I have this on good information) about a number of conversions to Islam that will shock and stun the world, inshallah.
Feedback is starting to come through from fans. Feedback on Australian TV of fans answering the loaded question:
The words “How is it going in Doha?” Are already viral. The same word comes up over and again.
‘It’s weird,” replies one Aussie fan. Another says “I can’t put my finger on it. It’s strange – weird.”
Sizeable, social media-savvy World Cup fans feed a steady stream of hate speech against Islam and the first Middle Eastern state to host a World Cup and will find disappointment in the way things are run.
After all, they demand and have paid for a hyped-up, testosterone-fuelled festival where their excitement is at fever pitch.
They want to jump, hug, scream, and get drunk in what is often described as an ‘orgy of football.’
Not In Qatar.
Many other wonderful people will be genuinely curious about a tiny state they previously knew nothing about. They will receive a different experience by Allah’s grace.
I have seen but cannot verify a post which reads:
— Gutsy Voice (@GutsyVoice) November 22, 2022
Watch all of Lauren’s World Cup reviews on her Youtube channel below: