Imam Salik, of the Hull mosque and Islamic centre, presented an alternative Christmas message in the local paper a few days ago in which he alluded to the attack last November.
Imam Salik was travelling in his car with his wife and daughter when a group of people stopped his car in the middle of the road, opened the driver’s door and punched him in the face before running off. Imam Salik suffered major injuries and has undergone several operations to his right eye though his vision is still severely impaired. Despite a police appeal for witnesses, the perpetrators have not been apprehended. Imam Salik’s son expressed concerns over the ‘stalled’ police investigation earlier this year prompting Humberside police to release CCTV images in an fresh attempt to identify the attackers.
With a brief explanation detailing key features of Ramadan, the Football Associationwebsite publishes an interview with Arsenal football player, Abou Diaby, in which he discusses faith, fasting and football.
With Ramadan underway, Diaby talks about the impact of fasting on performance and the way players deal with the demands of faith and football. He states “It is really difficult to fast at the moment, during pre-season. Some players can handle it – it is different from one player to another.
“All the days I miss during Ramadan I make up during the rest of the year – for example when I have days off or a light session I can fast, but when we have a hard session or a match I don’t fast.”
Diaby talks about his faith and its impact telling the FA, “It is something that I have had in my heart. I take it from my parents and from the way I grew up.
“It has helped me to be a better person, definitely.”
Diaby also touches upon the positive role models footballers can be saying, “The young Muslims want to see role models – somebody who is dedicated to his religion but also someone who is achieving something in his life.”
According to the FA, Diaby appreciates the understanding and support he receives from the club and its manager, Arsene Wenger.
He states “Arsene Wenger knows that Ramadan is a special moment for all the Muslim players. But at the same time we have a contract to the club and we be at our best to do our jobs. So we have to find a balance during Ramadan.
“My contract to my club, or to whatever my profession is, is part of who I am and my own morality so I need to respect that, and that’s why I don’t fast during Ramadan, but there is always a compensation. The religion is very flexible.”
On Ramadan and the rituals of opening fast and Tarawih prayers, Diaby said, “It is a very good time. We get together at home as a family but it’s also when we strengthen our links with the community.
“We have the prayers at night where all the community pray together – it is a very powerful moment.”
Diaby further expressed his belief that the perception of Muslims in football has changed positively.
“There has been a big improvement in football’s understanding of Islam. But then I believe today football has a better understanding of religion as a whole. Judaism and Christianity too – all the religions.”
The football industry has increased in its efforts to accommodate Muslim players’ needs by offering non-alcoholic celebratory drinks for Man of the Match awards, introducing prayer room facilities at clubs and challenging Islamophobia as well as racism in sport.
Such endeavours follow a recommendation by the Housing Association that the FA and league clubs do more to engage with young British Muslims through sport.