Mazin AbdulAdhim is a prominent Canadian Muslim scholar and Imam of Iraqi descent who is affiliated with the pro-Caliphate Islamic global movement of Hizb ut-Tahrir.
On June 11, 2019 Mazin AbdulAdhim posted on his Facebook page the following:
The Toronto Raptors are in the NBA finals and they are doing quite well. They are up 3 games to 2 against the Warriors, after losing game 5 tonight.
As I have been watching these games, I have been asking myself why I even cared that Toronto was in the NBA finals at all. What does it matter if this team is from Toronto or if that team is from Oakland? Why would I have any desire to see Toronto win any more than I wanted to see Oakland win?
And this is the issue: These types of sporting events breed nationalism in the hearts of the viewers.
As you root for “your” team, you somehow perceive yourself to be different from the other team based on meaningless divisions. You are loyal to one group of people simply because they are from the same country as you or are geographically nearer to you.
Muslims from Canada are cheering the Raptors as if they are a team of Muslims – not a team of athletes who do not share your Aqeedah [Islamic faith] or way of life, and would likely never even be interested in sitting to have a coffee with you. Yet, Muslims in Canada are making du’a [invocation, an act of supplication] for the Raptors to win as if them winning means anything *at all* in -any- context whatsoever.
To make things worse, we are even seeing Masajid [mosques] – yes, Masajid – setting up live broadcasts of the NBA finals *inside* the Masjid itself. At the a graduation ceremony in my city, the Imam gave a speech to the students that began with a cheer “We the North!” This shows just how unaware some of our Imams and leaders are of this corruption that surrounds us, and that they are enabling and promoting the *thought process* of nationalism in the hearts of the Muslims in their communities who look up to them and trust their judgement.
This is how the Capitalist West spreads their concept of nationalism throughout the world. This is how they make sure that the citizens of the nation states that they set up are made to “practice” being nationalistic. You practice by accepting an irrational loyalty to a group of people playing a sport you enjoy playing or watching – whether soccer or hockey or football or the olympics, etc – training your mind to accept the real-life versions of this thought process, namely: Nationalism (loyalty to a particular “type” of people), and Patriotism (loyalty to a particular country).
This is how they divided the hearts of the people of Indian subcontinent and firmly rooted the nationalistic and patriotic divisions imposed upon them by the British – via the game of cricket – and it was massively successful.
An additional problem to all this is that these sporting events are organized in a way that occupies people’s minds and hearts for the entire year, from the lower divisions to the finals. These “organized distractions” keep people away from focusing their attention on the problems of their societies and from their purpose in life, and this is in direct conflict with the Islamic way of life and the Islamic way of thinking.
Any Muslim who has bought into such irrational loyalties or is caught up in such organized distractions should recognize the trap they have fallen into and immediately work to reject such loyalties and such wasting of time. This is not our way of life. This is the way of life of those who do not seek their Akhirah [hereafter], nor do they have any concern for what is coming after death.
This does not mean that we cannot watch such games out of enjoyment of the competitiveness of it all or watching the great skill of such athletes (I have always loved watching Michael Jordan play, for example), but we must never become loyal to a team simply because they are from our city or country, nor should we become so caught up in a game where watching all levels of the season progress every year becomes an integral part of our lives.
So as you watch game 6 of the NBA finals, every time you cheer a basket made by the Raptors, ask yourself why you are so excited – and try to figure out a real, reasonable answer that makes sense from the Islamic perspective.