God in World Cup Football – Or Is It Soccer?
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
World Cup Delirium
Right now the world is in the grip of World Cup delirium. Nothing anyone would say that is not soccer, as we call it here in America – or football to the deluded rest of the world – would make any sense. But I do want to say that God is a player in World Cup. In fact, it is God who is really in charge.
And I want to build my case using instances, not from the ongoing World Cup 2010, but from World Cup 2006, on which the dust has now fairly comfortably settled.
When World Cup 2006 Ended
When the World Cup 2006 fever subsided, the world went back to living life after soccer the way it knew how. It plunged itself with its customary vigor and zest into wars, hunger and poverty – Sorrows as the Bible calls them.
And it returned home to endless sagas of disease, death and disasters – and to its familiar ways of drunkenness and debauchery; corruption, injustice and inequality; and violence, oppression and tyranny. The Qur’an uses the expressions Zulm and Fasaad to stand for some of these less than salutary ways for which the human world seems to have such a penchant.
But while the games lasted, they were on every one’s Must-Do agenda. Millions watched them in person throughout Germany and billions watched them on television around the world.
There was talent and training and tantalizing attraction of every kind on display. But for those with eyes to see, and with a mind clear enough to think straight, what stood out most was a simple message: God Almighty is in charge at every stage of the game.
As the Qur’an puts it, Laa Ilaha Illa Allah! No God but God!
Four Words that Changed the World
These are the four words that changed the world! And the clear message those four words convey is this: No one but God is in charge of this world.
Laa Ilaha Illa Allah! No God but God!
These four words changed the world during the time of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and repeatedly ever since – just as they had done in earlier times, from Adam to Jesus, son of Mary, may God Almighty bless them all.
And here is how.
From Rags and Riches
They came from rags and they came from riches. Among the top players, there were those who were from “better homes” as well as those that rose out of the swirling dirt of poverty-stricken public parks and back streets. Predicting perfect stardom for either category was patchwork at best.
That means the correlation between talent, training and professional success will always be less than perfect. It will always be less than 1.0.
The question is while the coaches and the players may claim credit for a great deal of what they achieve, who controls that undetermined area that is in the control of neither the coach nor the player?
Most people will either dismiss this question lightly or they will call it chance. I on the other hand call it God.
I cannot prove it is God. Nor can they prove it is not. To a rational mind, the odds are 50-50. And that is how God Almighty wants it. God wants a level playing field.
God Created Humanity with Freedom as its Core
God wants you on those crossroads where you will be forced to make a choice and arrive at a firm decision one way or another. Where you will decide either in his favor or against him.
And so does he say in the Qur’an: Wa Hadainaahun Najdaiyn. Fa-laqtahamal ‘Aqabah. Paraphrase: “And we made the two alternatives clear to him. But he did not make the hard choice.”
It is part of the great honor and dignity he conferred upon the children of Adam – the ability to make informed and reasoned choices and decisions. Freedom is the core on which God Almighty created humanity.
Impact of Injury
And then consider this. Is injury a real threat in football – I mean soccer? How many good careers have ended prematurely, and how many good players have had to sit out critical games, due to injury?
Who decides and who is in control?
Role of Coin Toss
Does the expression Coin Toss carry an element of uncertainty in it? And does it also correlate in some ways with the way the game is played and outcomes emerge eventually?
Just who is in charge?
When Things Go Wrong
Did a prodigious forward ever slip and lose control of the ball right at the mouth of the goal after a brilliant dribble that beat the defenders and the offside flag and the onrushing goalkeeper? Who made that ball go astray?
Did a most brilliantly struck ball by the unerring foot of a sure-shot striker ever strike the side post or the crossbar at the top? Why?
Yes, with perfect knowledge of all the values of all relevant variables a computer can accurately predict the exact trajectory and final outcome of every shot ever taken. But which computer has that knowledge at the time when it is needed?
Have some of the best players by mistake headed or kicked or chipped the ball in their own goals, as did the Paraguay player with a 30-foot cannon shot from England’s David Beckham?
The result: England in, Paraguay out. Score: England 1, Paraguay 0. Scorers for England: one player from England team, one player from Paraguay team – both players from the two opposing sides scoring for the same side, England, and against the other side, Paraguay.
When you have figured all that out, call me.
Do officials make mistakes? Did that Russian referee – if indeed Russian he was – in that England game – if it was indeed the England game – set a record of some sort for penalizing players and handing out Yellow cards?
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