Thursday, August 21, 2008

Muslims in the Olympics

Possibly not since Eric Liddell refused to compete on the Sabbath in the 1924 Olympiad has there been such an overt expression of religious adherence at any Olympic Games. In Athens in 2004 Ruqaya Al Ghasara of Bahrain, a devout Muslim, was the first athlete ever to take part in an Olympics wearing a hijab. This year she won her heat of the women’s 200m sprint, despite being clothed head to foot.

One may baulk at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab (albeit sporty and streamlined) for reasons of modesty, whilst squeezing her muscular frame into skimpy, tight and revealing lycra. But Ms Al Ghasara is of the opinion that the Hijood (as it is known) has improved her performance.

'It’s great to finally have a high performance outfit that allows me to combine my need for modesty with a design made from breathable, moisture-controlled fabric,” she said. “It’s definitely helped me to improve my times being able to wear something so comfortable and I’m sure it will help me to give my best performance at Beijing. I hope that my wearing the hijood sports top will inspire other women to see that modesty or religious beliefs don’t have to be a barrier to participating in competitive sports.”

In 2004, Ms Al Ghasara defied objections from fundamentalists in her village to take part in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

This must be a case of ‘she who honours Allah, he will honour’.

Cranmer shall be doing analysis of the relative performances of the world’s main religions when the Games are over. Notwithstanding the superlative performance of Buddhist-dominated China, the culturally-Christian countries (Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox) are presently way ahead, and the Muslim lands are presently way behind.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1Cor 9:24-27).


Blogger The Heresiarch said...

You are welcome back, Master Cranmer.

Athletes from "culturally Christian" countries aren't necessarily Christian, though, are they? In the days of the Eastern bloc, would Russians etc have counted as cultural Christians, or cultural atheists? Perhaps you should compare the performance of athletes from Europe, which is culturally secular, with those from the US, which IS culturally Christian. Better still, in countries which are religiously split (eg Nigeria, Ethiopia) is it possible to detect a difference in performance (or even numbers) between those of a Christian and of a Muslim background? My guess is probably not.

21 August 2008 at 09:36  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Heresiarch,

His Grace thanks you for your warm greeting.

It is not possible to know the individual faith of each athlete, so the only analysis which may be made is on the basis of the majority expressed adherence of each nation - hence the 'cultural' prefix, which links with a nation's history and dominant political influence.

Of course 'cultural' does not translate into adherence. The comparison is done largely from census returns. The UK is not, therefore, predominantly 'secular' when 70% of the population still profess affinity with the Christian religion.

21 August 2008 at 09:44  
Blogger Sammy said...

Your Grace,
Looking forward to the analysis of the performances of the world’s religions. A most unusual way of looking at the Olympics!

What version did you use to quote 1Cor 9:24-27? Surely the KJV is much more poetic and more fitting for your blog.

21 August 2008 at 09:49  
Anonymous King James said...

Sammy well said re the translation used. I'm sure his Grace would not quote Shakespeare in another translation. The KJV is the most reputable of all translations. Not in itself perfect but most accurate. The translation that shaped the English language.
But in modern times these things seem to matter less than to be easily read.

Here is a link to a description of the KJV and it is called:-

The Greatest English Classic
A Study of the King James Version of the Bible
and Its Influence on Life and Literature.
By Cleland Boyd McAfee, D.D.

21 August 2008 at 10:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bahreinis are great divers (for pearls) - but probably not in burqinis.

21 August 2008 at 10:39  
Anonymous Mr Graham said...

Your Grace,

Please remember that while countries may be dominated by a religious culture, places like China have millions and millions of people who have come to Christ. Far more active Biblical Christians there than in most "Christian countries".

21 August 2008 at 11:01  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Graham,

And the UK has millions of professing Jedi Knights.

His Grace says again, the term 'culturally Christian' is to do with heritage and the predominant socio-political influences. It is unashamedly crudely monochrome, and is not an attempt to analyse nations according to the infinite variety of faiths found within each.

Good grief.

His Grace almost feels like no longer bothering.

21 August 2008 at 11:58  
Anonymous Mr Graham said...

Your Grace,

Please do bother. I wrote my comment without reading the former comment by the heresiach.

Most humbly and apologetically,

21 August 2008 at 14:27  
Blogger freescotlandnow said...

Many people in 'culturally christian' countries are atheists and the last person who took christianity seriously at an olmpics was probably Eric Liddle and he was the only one.

21 August 2008 at 16:23  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

err freescotlandnow
and what about long jumper jonathan edwards ??

there are more than you think

scotland always has been free it just appears to want to hold to account members of its own language dialect.

odds are you find it becoming as corrupt as westminster within a very short space of time , and then hopefully blaming the eglish will be exposed as propoganda .

already we se smp on a housing fiddle

21 August 2008 at 16:49  
Blogger Stefan said...

Why does she have to make such grandiose gestures, prostrating herself on the ground? Surely a prayer room is provided. Even her dressing room would be fine.

I'm sure Christian athletes offer up a quick prayer as well - perhaps closing their eyes to focus their attention - but I don't see any of them making such attention-seeking gestures.

Does the Koran have anything similar to our Saviour's advice, warning against such excessive displays of piety? When you pray, go into a little room and shut the door behind you...

21 August 2008 at 19:13  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

More apt is Ecclesiastes 9:11

'The race is not always to the swift...'

Damon Runyan added wisely

'.. but that is the way to bet'

Welcome back Your Grace. While it would be inappropriate to wish that you are bright eyed and bushy tailed, perhaps one might hope that your ashes are all fluffy.

22 August 2008 at 16:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Obviously, the koran does not. Ostentatious display is the hallmark of Islam and is positively encouraged from mosques holding thousands of people at once, to the hajj with millions in attendence, to the call to prayer amplified to earsplitting decibels, to the every day in your face piety of the burqa-clad.

I think you are right. Even the position of prayer seems to shout.

That is it in a nutshell isnt it. Its all shouting. Its all aggressive. Unfortunately, some people fall for it, too dull to get anything more subtle.

Having made something of a study of converts to Islam, I am absolutely amazed at how many (almost to a one) of them were impressed by the outward forms, the exotic spectacle if you will, of Islam. I think that really says something there. It says that no matter how smart you may or may not be, you can still be a sucker for the big production.

Anglican Peggy

29 August 2008 at 01:09  
Blogger Chalcedon said...

Good for that woman! Well done!

31 August 2008 at 18:57  

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