Rangers shirts – hypocrisy?

A brother called Sohail just wrote to me and asked me to comment on a story about the Glasgow football (soccer) club Rangers producing a version of its shirt without the logo of its sponsor Carling, a major beer producer. Carling sponsors both Rangers and its main local rival, Celtic. Rangers did this to accommodate Muslim fans who were unwilling to wear the strip because of the obvious advert for booze:

Rangers fan, Mansoor Ali from Glasgow … said: “I know a number of Muslims who have been in a predicament ever since Carling sponsored both Celtic and Rangers. On the one hand you want to wear your team’s shirt but on the other as Muslims we have a duty to follow Islamic teachings. I can remember even back in the nineties, my father refused to buy me a Rangers shirt because it was sponsored by McEwan’s Lager. “This time around I am delighted that Rangers have taken my concerns on board and will be providing me with a club kit without the Carling logo. I am sure there are others like me who will happy at such an outcome as it will allow them to meet Islamic guidelines while at the same time wear the Rangers strip with pride.”

Sohail also asked me to comment on the British Nazi Party’s reaction to this incident [1]. They allege a hypocrisy in our community about alcohol: rich Arab sheikhs race their horses in races sponsored by beer companies, and “there are few parts of Britain that do not have a local grocery store owned by Muslims who are often, bit not exclusively Pakistani”. Actually, there are members of all the major religions of India working in that industry, both in the corner shops and the cash-and-carry wholesalers which supply them. Of course, there have always been Muslims who drank, but most don’t, and do indeed feel uncomfortable having anything to do with the stuff. You can probably lay a safe bet that the people who complained about this logo don’t personally own one of these alcohol-selling grocery stores.

I have an interest to declare here - I absolutely hate football, and always have since my school days, when I had to hang around in the playground while other boys were kicking footballs around, and was also forced to play it. I also detest the high emotions people display about something they cannot control, which does not matter, and which is no reflection on them but entirely on the people on the pitch. (If you’ve ever been in the room, or in a room next to a room, with people screaming at the television as if the players will hear them, you’ll know what I mean.)

But there is another aspect to football which means Muslims shouldn’t be watching it anyhow, which also is connected with the clothing. A man’s awrah - the part he has to conceal from everyone except his wife - is from his navel to his knees. People in our community are all too ready to find fault with women for failing to keep up a much stricter dress code, but will pay to see men run around in a state of undress. I wonder if the organisations which wasted their time and other resources on calling on Rangers and Celtic to take the Carling logo off their shirts will now press for the footballers to get dressed before they go onto the pitch, otherwise their Muslim fans should desert them? I bet they won’t, because they will get short shrift from the football clubs and players.

It is, of course, no surprise that an effort by commercial organisations to accommodate some of their paying customers has drawn fire from anti-Muslim campaigners - the “anti-dhimmi” windbags are bound to pick up on this (as with the Leicester bibles controversy, which Muslims had nothing to do with). The problem is that there is already so much haraam in this game anyway, not least the fact that the championships and teams are in any case sponsored by alcohol companies and usurious financial institutions. This, it seems, sweetens the pill for Muslim fans, but when are people like brother Mansoor going to realise that their “pride” is misplaced given all the other evils in this industry I mean sport?

[1] I’m talking, of course, about the British National Party. Someone posted a comment, which I deleted by mistake, that there was a real British Nazi Party which is also the November 19th or 17th Society.

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