Given that the tournament will commence on June 14-just a day or two before Ramadhan concludes, many fans argue that these last two days are ‘negligible’. Incidentally, it is when Muslims should be seeking the jewel of Ramadhan, that is, Laylatul Qadr; performing Itikaf (seclusion) among other worthwhile deeds
The biggest football event on earth, the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is set to coincide with the last days Ramadhan 1439 A.H/2018. Already, anxiety is creeping in among die-hard Muslim football fans worldwide as whether to watch live World Cup matches or opt to utilize these last crucial days in seeking the jewel of Ramadhan, that is, Laylatul Qadr or perform Itikaf (seclusion) among other worthwhile deeds.
According to the FIFA World Cup fixtures, initial matches of the tournament will commence from 14th June 2018 in Russia, just in time to distract Muslim faithful from reaping thawabs as the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan hits the home stretch.
Incidentally, the host Russia will kick off the finals in a match against Saudi Arabia (An Islamic country) in Moscow, while defending champions Germany, will face off with Mexico.
During the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosted in Brazil, Muslim Times 3600 dida spot check which revealed that mosques in various parts of the country had reportedly been receiving minimal numbers of Muslim faithful attending the nightly Taraweeh (night prayers) since the onset of the tournament.
One could tell there was an interesting match by the small number of Muslims at some mosques. Even those gathered outside after the night prayers outside could not help talk about football or look at their phones to keep updated on what they missed.
Muslim faithful were and are still torn in between attending the Taraweeh or watching televised world cup matches.
Fast forward to 2018 and opinion is still is divided as to whether it is appropriate to watch the tournament in this period of Ibadah (worship).
It was also a source of concern for Sheikh Abubakar Baabad at the onset of Ramadhan 1439 A.H on Muslim FM Radio station Iqra FM95.0.
He expressed reservations that the commencement of the 2018 FIFA World Cup would distract Muslim faithful from fully concentrating on their Ibadah.
Given that the tournament will commence on June 14-just a day or two before Ramadhan concludes, many of these fans also argue that these last two days are ‘negligible’.
With that Marhaba Life and Style went out to seek the opinion of Muslim faithful on this matter.
Musa Odour from Eastleigh says that it is among the schemes and plans of disbelievers to introduce things that tap into the human psyche and meant to draw Muslim faithful from acts of worship more so this time during Ramadhan.
“Why now during Ramadhan, when faithful are busy with their Ibadah? Matches played at day or night are meant to target Muslim youth and entice them from Taraweeh or performing Itikaf.”
Umar Hassan also from Eastleigh is worried that those yielding to the temptation of going to watch football matches at the expense of Ibadah (worship) have not grasped the real meaning and intention of fasting which is inculcating Taqwa (piety).
“I would rather seek the Night of Decree (Laylatul Qadr) which is better than a thousand months. How sure am I that I will live to see these many months let alone another Ramadhan? Football is a 90 minutes game with no corresponding thawabs.”
Issa Wario from Kawangware warns Muslim youth not to trivialise these last days of Ramadhan. “Do not squander these valuable days no matter how few they may seem.”
But what is at stake for those who opt to trivilise these last days of Ramadhan?
Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Decree) is a major highlight that no Muslim should miss. It is one of the major blessings of Ramadhan and it is during this night that the holy Qur’an was sent to Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Further, in Sura al-Qadr (Destiny) 97:3-5; Allah (SAW) says: “The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.”
The blessed Laylatul Qadr can be found in any of the last 10 nights of Ramadhan, which are the most blessed nights of the year. As such, we should increase our worship and devotion during this period.
Aisha reported: With the start of the last ten days of Ramadhan, the Prophet (SAW) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work harder) and used to pray the whole night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. [Bukhari]
Abu Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever stands (in the voluntary night prayer of) Ramadhan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven. And whoever spends the night of Laylatul Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (An-Nasa’i)
In another hadith, narrated by Bukhari, Aisha says that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Seek Laylatul Qadr in the odd-numbered nights of the last ten nights. Meaning that those glued to TV screens watching football on these nights might just miss it.
Additionally, the opportunity of going into seclusion (Itikaf) in the mosque for the sole purpose of worshipping Allah and attaching oneself and one’s heart to His worship.
Itikaf provides an opportunity to the believer to get closer to Allah by temporarily freeing oneself and one’s mind from the activities and worries of this world.
This provides an excellent opportunity to train oneself to disassociate temporarily from the worries of the world and to instead focus only on Allah alone.
Lastly, the fact that the tournament falls on the last days of Ramadhan does not mean Muslims should throw caution into the wind that the month is over unless directed otherwise.