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The bigots of Pakistan cricket: Here’s how Pakistani cricketers have normalised communal bigotry against non-Muslims

Pakistani cricketers have been unapologetic and unabashed about expressing their Islamist mentality of scoffing at other faiths and promoting radical Islamism

Cricket is a sport, but for people in the subcontinent, and of India in particular, it is a religion. However, for India’s western neighbour, Pakistan, it assumes greater significance. In a country that is deeply pious, cricket is regarded not just a recreational activity but as another tool to further radical Islamism.

For Pakistani cricketers, who command a massive following in a country where cricket is possibly the most liked sport, cricket provides a platform to brazenly and unabashedly express their allegiance to radical Islamism. There have been several occasions in the past when Pakistani cricketers have felt no qualms in promoting casual bigotry against non-Muslims, especially the Indian cricket team.

Here are some of the incidents when Pakistani cricketers have voiced their support to radical Islamism and poured scorn on other faiths:-

Waqar Younis’ brazenly communal utterances against Hindus

Recently, Pakistani fast bowler Waqar Younis said it was very special for him when Mohammad Rizwan recited the Namaz in front of Hindus during the India versus Pakistan match at the T20 World Cup.

Speaking on a talk show, Younis said, “The manner in which Babar and Rizwan batted, sensible yet aggressive, the strike-rotation, the look on their faces, it was amazing. The best thing, what Rizwan did, Mashallah, he offered the Namaz on the ground surrounded by Hindus, that was really something very very special for me.”

This comment by Waqar Younis drew sharp reaction from people across the world, including Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle, who by his own admission tries “hard to play such things down”. After the backlash, Younis offered an apology, but for a person who had once said “he always saw the game of cricket with the Indian team as jihad”, the apology seemed rather insincere and offered only as a lip-service to pacify the critics.

As such, there have been other instances in the past when Waqar Younis has not shied away from his bigoted rants against Hindus. Years ago, Younis had remarked that Indians could not bowl fast because they did not consume beef. The snide remark was meant for Hindus who refrain from consuming beef as cow is considered as a sacred animal according to Hinduism.

Shoaib Akhtar’s endorsement of the two nation theory

Another Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar recently endorsed the two nation theory that led to the partition of India. While speaking on a cricket show organised by Aaj Tak, Shoaib Akhtar said he believed in the two nation theory.

The two nation theory was first promulgated by Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University. The theory asserts that Muslims and Hindus form two separate nations who cannot coexist peacefully in one country.

Syed Ahmad Khan said in 1876, “I am convinced now that Hindus and Muslims could never become one nation as their religion and way of life was quite distinct from each other.” Seven years later, he voiced similar sentiments. He said, “Friends, in India, there live two prominent nations which are distinguished by the names of Hindus and Mussalmans…To be a Hindu or a Muslim is a matter of internal faith which has nothing to do with mutual relationships and external conditions…Hence, leave God’s share to God and concern yourself with the share that is yours…India is the home of both of us…By living so long in India, the blood of both have [sic] changed.”

It is worth noting that the two nation theory became the cornerstone of Muslim League’s demand for a separate country for Indian Muslims that triggered a violent spate of Hindu-Muslim clashes across the country and ultimately resulted in the partition of India into two nations—Pakistan and India.

Islamic forces will fulfil Ghazwa-e-Hind prophecy, capture Kashmir and invade India: Shoaib Akhtar

Notably, this was not the first time that Shoaib Akhtar had lend his support to an extremist ideology. In a news chat show, Shoaib Akhtar had advocated the Islamic supremacist fantasy of ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’, stating that Islamic forces will capture Kashmir and invade India.

“It is written in our scriptures that Ghazwa e Hind will take place. The river in Attock will be coloured red twice with blood. Forces from Afghanistan will reach till Attock. Then after that forces will rise from Shamal Mashriq, different contingents will arrive from Uzbekistan etc…this refers to Khorasan, a historical region which extended till Lahore. Later those forces will conquer Kashmir, and then, inshallah, they will march onwards (to the rest of India),” Shoaib Akhtar said.

It is pertinent to note that the Islamist doctrine endorsed by Shoaib Akhtar is often cited by terrorists to justify their attacks in India. The Islamist terror attacks on India take place under the banner of Ghazwa-e-Hind. Radicals in Pakistan are trained and brainwashed with the concept of Ghazwa-e-Hind, to prepare them for suicide missions in India and legitimise their jihad against India. 

The term Ghazwa-e-Hind or a holy raid of India has been used by the Pakistani terrorists against India for decades. The concept of Ghazwa-e-hind roots from several works of Islamic literature named Hadiths. The doctrine prophesizes a pitched battle between Hindus and Muslims before (qayamat), resulting in a decisive victory of Muslims over Hindu India. 

As per the prediction, the battle to the end will start in modern day Syria, with forces marching towards India. Islamic armies carrying black flags will supposedly come from Khorasan and conquer India to turn it into an Islamic state.

Saeed Anwar had said all non Muslims will be incinerated in hellfire

Former Pakistani batsman Saeed Anwar was another cricketer who supported Islamic supremacism and treated non-Muslims with contempt. In a meeting, Anwar said all non Muslims were going to be incinerated in hell fire and it was the duty of Muslims to save them by converting them into Islam.

“There are 6 billion non-Muslims. They are all going to burn in hellfire. It’s Muslims’ duty to save them by converting them into Islam,” he said.

‘No non-Muslim can ever enter Jannat but even the worst Muslim criminal can’: Muhammad Yusuf

This view was concurred by Mohammad Yusuf, who renounced Christianity and converted to Islam after his selection to Pakistan cricket team. In a speech years after embracing Islam, Yusuf said no non-Muslim can ever enter Jannat but Allah will send even the worst Muslim criminal to Jannat.

For former Pakistan captain Imran Khan, cricket match against India was always a ‘jihad’

Former Pakistan cricket captain and current Prime Minister Imran Khan had once said he viewed cricketing contest against India not a mundane match but as a jihad. The revelation was made by former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, G Parthasarathy, who was once told by a Pakistani journalist that when he asked Imran Khan how he bowls such fire against India, he responded ‘whenever I play against India, I don’t treat it as a game, I think of Kashmir and treat it as a jihad’.

‘If Muslims show their Muslim-ism, not one human on earth will remain non-Muslim’: Inzamam-ul-Haq

Another Pakistani cricketer Inzamam-ul-Haq, who had captained Pakistani cricket team and also served as chief selector, had also spewed venom against non-Muslims. In a interview, Inzamam-ul-Haq had warned that if Muslims started showing their Muslimism, not one human on earth will remain non-Muslim.

Sharing details about how Pakistani dressing room was a breeding ground for disseminating Islam, Inzamam-ul-Haq had once said that Indian Muslim cricketers were invited to hear mullah in Pakistani dressing room, adding that Harbhajan Singh had almost converted to Islam.

In the same video, Inzamam later asserts that their aim is to convert entire world into Islam.

Saqlain Mushtaq says conversion to Islam would double the batting average of batsmen

In an attempt to draw non-Muslim cricketers under the fold of Islam, former Pakistani bowler Saqlain Mushtaq had once contended that conversion to Islam doubles the batting average of a batsman.

Mushtaq cited Mohammad Yusuf’s batting average after converting to Islam to back his claim that batting average doubles after batsmen embrace Islam. He said Yusuf was averaging at 40 when he was a Christian but after becoming a Muslim, his average touched 70-80 mark.

The scourge of radical Islamism that continues to afflict the Pakistani society

Rampant Islamism is a hallmark of Pakistani society since its inception. From 1947, when Pakistan was carved out of then united India, militant version of Islam took the centre stage, deeply influencing the psyche of the general public in Pakistan. 

Be it the politicians, celebrities, sportspersons or the common folks, the bigotry accompanying Islamic supremacism has permeated deep within the Pakistani society. It is this fixation with radical Islamism that Pakistanis have come to harbour deep hatred for other faiths, particularly Hinduism because of their disdain for idol worshipping and the acrimonious past it shares with the Hindu-majority India. 

In essence, it is the same ideology—a conviction of Islam’s hegemony and a religious duty to spread Islam among non-believers—that drove numerous Islamic marauders to the shores of India in the past. And Pakistanis, for that matter, are not really ashamed of the Muslim conquests in India that were accompanied by widespread violence, rapes, plundering and slaughter against those who indulged in idol worshipping and refused to embrace Islam. 

Instead, most Pakistanis are proud of the bloodshed and depredations inflicted by Muslim rulers on their non-Muslim subjects. They even enthusiastically regard themselves as descendants of Arab rulers and soldiers whom they claim were on a religious duty to conquer India and turn it into a Muslim country.

It is this adherence to medieval version of Islam that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, gave a short shrift to the sanctity of human life and instead caterwauled about Islam being in danger after the brutal murder of French teacher Samuel Paty triggered a national debate over creeping Islamism in France. 

It is this perverse obsession to the ideology that Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rashid hails Pakistan’s win against India in the T20 world cup as the “victory of Islam”. It is the same radical belief that made Pakistan commentator to declare “Kufr toot hi gaya” while speaking to Babar Azam in the post match presentation.

This feeling pervades much of Pakistan. Across the country, there is a strong belief of superiority of Islam over other religions. This is why non-Muslims in Pakistan are treated as second-class citizens, with many individual rights and privileges that are enjoyed by Muslims not extended to the minorities. They live under a constant fear of persecution and regarded as fair-game by the Muslim majority.

The hatred against non-Muslims is only compounded by the unapologetic remarks of Islamic supremacism ​made by notable personalities, including Pakistani cricketers. Across the country, cricket is the most loved sport and cricketers are viewed as icons by most of the Pakistani cricket fans. If renowned Pakistani cricketers find no qualms in voicing their bigoted views and expressing their overt support to radical Islamism, it only goes to show the extent and prevalence of extremism among common Pakistanis who idolise these cricketers. 

 

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Jinit Jain
Engineer. Writer. Learner.

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