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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sports and Religion - keep them separate

A couple of days ago, Yousuf Youhana, one of the 2 non-Muslim cricketers of the Pakistan cricket team (the other being Danish Kaneria) converted to a Muslim, much to the chagrin of his family and relatives, who believe that he was persuaded by some current and ex-members of the team. Whatever be the reason, this incident has brought up a very sensitive topic into the forefront of the current cricketing news - religion. I really don't understand this fanaticism of mixing religion with sports (and to that matter, with any other important facet of life - more later on that).

Does the fact that you are a Hindu or a Muslim or a Sikh or a Christian make any difference to your performance on the cricket field ? Yousuf Youhana has been a prolific scorer for Pakistan for the last few years and so, I don't see his religion having caused any hindrance to his scoring ability. Of course, the choice of religion should ultimately rest with the person but from what his family members have to say, it seems more out of compulsion rather than choice and that is what I cannot accept.

Time and again, we see the same incidents happening all over the world. Whether be it in secular India or conservative America, religion is always considered a stealth weapon for political victories. This clearly creates a divide among sections of people of the country and instead of belonging to one unified country, we belong to different religions within one country. Every religion is different and it should be respected for its ideals and values - but if you tend to identify a person for his religion and not for what he / she is, then that is where the problems seep in.

I wouldn't be surprised if Danish Kaneria, the sole non-Muslim now in the Pakistan cricket team is converted too. That would be really sad indeed. Perhaps they could take a cue from their Indian neighbours - the president is a Muslim, the PM is a sikh, the second in command is a Christian and leader of the opposition is a Hindu !

Spread your wings, open ur eyes, turn on ur antenna - there are miles to go, wonderful things to see and great things to learn.

-- Thyaga


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