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Religion 101: Muddling Manchester United With Shortsighted Muslims

Manchester United Football Premier League English Red Devils

(The famous Manchester United’s famed Red Devils logo after years of acceptance as a sign of an excellent football team in the country has found its way to the mind of a short-sighted religious man. Image source: E Daily Sports)

First, it was the cookies, and then it was on yoga and now the Manchester United’s football shirts? It looks like we have highly paid (with our money) civil servants with too much free time at their disposal.

I am not a Muslim and do not wish to indulge with any guidelines that may be issued by the authorities for the Muslims in Malaysia but then again, certain guidelines given does put Malaysia and Malaysians as a whole in a strange, strange situation in the eyes of the international community.

Manchester United football shirts have been banned in parts of Malaysia because the image of the famed red devil is forbidden in Islam.

Muslim leaders ruled that images on football shirts of crosses, alcohol brands and devils are an insult to Allah and should not be worn.

Manchester United is a hugely popular brand in the Muslim-majority country and the club’s summer tour last year included two games against a Malaysia XI played in front of capacity 40,000 crowds.

Other football shirts deemed unacceptable include Brazil, Portugal, Serbia, Barcelona and Norway because their crests all carry images of a cross. “There is no excuse for wearing such garments because it means, as a Muslim, you are idolising the symbol of another religion,” said Datuk Nooh Gadot, the Mufti of Johor state.

The Mufti of Perak, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, said that Muslims wearing such football shirts “leads to a path of sin”.


I believe that at end of the day, it all depends on how strong is your belief. As my Muslim friend once said – it is between you and God and not on what others say as of right or wrong.

I have friends who have done all kinds of nonsense in their life and yet, at the end of the day, their belief in their religion is strong as ever. They are kind, unbiased, helpful, forward-thinking and more importantly rational in their judgement.

And speaking on Manchester United (sorry, I am not a fan, hehe), they have “been” in Malaysia for almost 20 years now and no one spoke of anything till now. So, what prompted the latest guidelines on the Manchester United football shirts?

It does get strange, does it?

4 thoughts on “Religion 101: Muddling Manchester United With Shortsighted Muslims”

  1. BJ, This is definitely not right and the The Mufti of Perak, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, did not really research his answer thoroughly when he said that Muslims wearing such football shirts “leads to a path of sin” because there is a ‘cross’ sign in their logo. These people are fans of man. Utd and it so happens that MU jerseys has that cross in its logo, what’s the big deal. These fans buy and wear them bedause they love their team and want to show support and allegiance to their team. Some of the players in the teams whose jerseys sports the cross signs in their logos are Muslims, Ozil (Germany), Anelka (Franch), etc. are Muslims, so does it mean that they cannot wear their countries’ jerseys because of that? Many top Algerian players who are Muslims play in top clubs in Europe where their clubs’ jerseys also sports the cross signs. Does it mean that they cannot wear them because wearing them will lead them to path of sins? No, it doesn’t! So, similarly, is he trying to say that people (students) who went/go to convent schools, mission schools and Christian universities, like I did before, were/are also leading ourselves to path of sins too? We went there to study and not to practise or get ourselves converted to Christianity, it is only a coincidence that these convents, mission schools and universities are run by some legal and properly organised Christian bodies and they never try to proselytise because that is not their purpose, most definitely and schools run by Christian bodies are amongst the best in the world! Does it also mean that I cannot visit my friends’ homes who are Christians because they have crosses everywhere in their house, etc., etc.? It doesn’t make sense, does it?

    As Muslims, what we wear and where we study does not have anything to do with leading ourselves to path of sins. And we do not wear crosses like the Christians do. Wearing a jersey or a shirt or even schools’, colleges’ and universities’ blazers that has a cross on it is not the same as wearing a cross.

    When Christian students pray before classes commence, we Muslim students were also encouraged to pray, the way our religion taught us and when they read the Bible, we read the Kitabs or the Al Quran. When those students go to the Church, we went to the Mosque which was located not too far away and we Muslim students were allowed to carry out religious activities too. So, what is wrong with that?

    Rasoolullah (saw) said : “Seek knowledge from cradle to grave”. Its obligatory for every Muslim man and woman to seek Ilm (knowledge).

    In another Narration Hazrat Rasool e Kareem (SAW) said “Seek knowledge even if you have to
    go to China”. Without knowledge you cannot differentiate between Haq(Right) and Batil (Wrong)
    Today there are different sects which departed from the main course of Islam and claim to be on
    the right path. I will only touch the basics so you could see for yourself who is following the
    Footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for the last 14 centuries.

    Allah SWT and The Prophet (PBUH) never said that we cannot go to Christian run schools, colleges or universities.


    Best regards.


  2. Here’s my letter to NST this morning (as a Muslim, a devoted one, I feel I had to do it):

    I refer to the letter ‘Symbolism: No hidden meanings’ by MOHAMED GHOUSE NASURUDDIN, Penang NST 27th July 2010, please note clarifications were made last week about what was actually meant and what the statements made by the good former mufti of Johor, Datuk Nooh Gadot, implied. I wish to highlight that the good Perak Mufti, Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria had, last week, clarified his stand as reported in one of the mainstream newspapers (not NST) when he supported his fellow Muslim scholar’s statements where he was quoted to have said, “devils should be shunned, not celebrated” in the report, ‘Don’t wear devil jerseys’ NST 22nd July by issuing a statement last week and further saying that there shall be no ban or edict (fatwa) to be issued on this matter as this is not required..

    The writer in his letter said, “I believe those who bought these jerseys are not even aware of the symbolic interpretations of the graphic design, only that they represent the identity of their favourite football clubs,” and this is where the major problem lies. As Muslims, one must not remain ignorant (jahil) even about the smallest thing in Islam and being unaware about what can be done or what cannot be done in Islam is not a good excuse as one must endeavour to learn and find out as much as possible about everything a Muslim can or cannot do. And, if one is told that, “Muslims must not wear the famous Manchester United red jersey because of the “devil” emblem on its team crest, two prominent ulama said yesterday”, a good Muslim must abide by it. Nooh, an adviser to the Johor religious council, further said, “It will erode our belief in Islam. There is no reason why we as Muslims should wear such jerseys, either for sports or fashion reasons.” So, as Muslims, what is the problem with adhering and abiding to such observations and/or statements made by no less than two very prominent Muslim scholars, whom I believe, do not have ulterior motives at all when making such statements. They have made those statements in the name of Islam and the good of those who practise the religion.

    Let us all Muslims avoid being seen to be challenging the teachings and practices of Islam, even if one does not have such intention when he or she wears the Manchester United jersey spotting a symbol of the devil (or satan which is an enemy of Islam) or those that belong to the national teams of Brazil, Portugal, Barcelona, Serbia and Norway, all of which carry images of the cross on their team emblems.

    Please put the principles of semiology and design aside, as I believe this is another matter altogether.

    Saying that, “Such interpretations reflect a pedestrian perception of symbolism and designs. One should be able to lift one’s critical perception from the morass of iniquity of misconstruing such images,” doesn’t apply here as many Muslims do not even know the basics of Islam and when a learned Muslim scholar wants to make statements preventing Muslims, in his capacity as a Mufti or a former mufti, from practices that are taboo in Islam, he has to address people of every level, including some of the uneducated ones.

    So, if one who is a Muslim, wishes to continue wearing those Manchester United jerseys as well as the other jerseys mentioned earlier, even after knowing what can and/or what cannot be done in Islam, it will now be left totally up to him or her to decide.

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