World Cup hosts Qatar seek to change mindset on Islam – World

A professor of Sharia law at Qatar University says the World Cup should be used to counter Islamophobia.

Proud Muslim Qatar has used the World Cup to reach out to hundreds of thousands of fans to change their minds about Islam or even convert.

The Gulf Emirate is the first Muslim nation to host a soccer World Cup and its gas wealth has endowed it with a number of large mosques that pique visitors’ curiosity.

Canadian couple Dorinel and Clara Popa listened to the call to prayer at an Ottoman-style mosque in Doha’s cultural district of Katara.

Canadian couple Dorinel and Clara Popa pose for a photo at Doha’s Blue Mosque during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on November 29, 2022. — AFP

It is known as Doha’s Blue Mosque due to the magnificent mosaics of blue and purple tiles on the walls. A guide took the couple through the ornate interior, which is dominated by a huge chandelier.

Dorinel, a 54-year-old accountant, said the couple were taking a first look at Islam.

“We have prejudices about the culture and the people” because we don’t engage with others, he said.

“We have some thoughts in our heads and now maybe some of them are changing,” added his wife, a 52-year-old doctor.

Canadian couple Dorinel and Clara Popa pose for a photo at Doha’s Blue Mosque during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on November 29, 2022. — AFP

coffee and faith

The Qatar Guest Centre, which oversees the Blue Mosque, has brought dozens of Muslim preachers from around the world to Qatar for the tournament.

Outside the mosque there are pamphlets in different languages ​​explaining Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) along with Arabic coffee and dates.

Football fans and local residents visit Doha’s Blue Mosque during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on November 29, 2022. — AFP

Syrian volunteer Ziad Fateh said the World Cup was “an opportunity to introduce millions to Islam” and to change “misconceptions” about a religion that many in the West associate with radicalism.

“We are teaching people more about ethics, the importance of family ties and respect for neighbors and non-Muslims,” ​​he added.

Near the mosque, volunteers organized a table aimed at visiting women, with a sign that read, “Ask me about Qatar.” Those who stop are also offered Arabic coffee.

A Palestinian volunteer, Somaya, said most of the questions were about “the veil, polygamy and whether women are oppressed in Islam.”

Qatar’s record on women’s and LGBTQ rights has come under heavy scrutiny in the context of the World Cup.

Nearby, visitors can take a five-minute virtual reality tour of Islam.

The campaign will continue across Qatar.

Young soccer fans watch a five-minute virtual reality tour of Islam near Doha’s Blue Mosque during the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, November 29, 2022. — AFP

“Happiness” in Islam

In the Pearl district, where many expats live and frequent its expensive cafes and restaurants, murals have been painted with quotes from the Holy Prophet (PBUH) calling for good morals.

Islam is promoted in upscale shopping malls.

In the Souq Waqif market, where thousands of fans congregate daily, an alley will leave free books and pamphlets with a sign that reads, ‘If you look for happiness… you will find [it] in Islam”.

Near the souq, the Sheikh Abdulla bin Zaid Islamic Cultural Center is open for tours 12 hours a day.

A Spanish tennis player and his father leave the Sheikh Abdulla bin Zaid Islamic Cultural Center in Doha during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar November 29, 2022. — AFP

Some Muslim leaders in Qatar have called for efforts to convert visiting football fans to Islam.

Sultan bin Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Professor of Sharia Law at the University of Qatar, heads the voice of Islam Radio station said the World Cup should be used to find new converts and counter Islamophobia.

Hashemi told AFP when he meets foreign fans: “I will offer them to convert to Islam.

“If I find the opportunity, I will offer Islam to them with ease and grace, and if I don’t find the opportunity, I will tell them that you are our guests and our brothers in humanity.”

But he emphasized that Islam does not accept forced conversion.

Soccer fans listen to a guide at Doha’s Blue Mosque during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar November 29, 2022. — AFP

Social media posts have claimed hundreds of fans have changed faith, however AFPThe fact-checking service of has shown that these claims are fabricated.

This was announced by an official at the Ministry of Religious Endowments in Qatar AFP that the aim of the state is not “the number of converts to Islam, but the number of those who change their mind”.

Fans said they found the idea of ​​World Cup conversions absurd.

“It’s a good opportunity to learn more about Islam,” said Petr Lulic, a 21-year-old Croatian who lives in Qatar with his family. “But no one adopts a new religion during a football tournament.”

Football fans and local residents visit Doha’s Blue Mosque during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on November 29, 2022. — AFP

Football fans and local residents visit Doha’s Blue Mosque during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on November 29, 2022. — AFP

Football fans and local residents visit Doha’s Blue Mosque during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on November 29, 2022. — AFP


Cover photo: Football fans and local residents visit Doha’s Blue Mosque during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on November 29, 2022. — AFP

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