Islamic Studies

A Reason to Watch Olympic-Hoops

By Nizar Mahmoud


With the field set in Men’s basketball for the upcoming summer Olympics in the home of Genghis Khan, Who should we root for? Iran, the homeland of Salman Al-Farsi, or Team USA, the team representing the country we are a part of and homeland of Barack Obama? I usually root for Turkey, but they did not qualify this year.

Iran-Iran is obviously a predominately Shiite Muslim country and a huge underdog. If they were to win a medal, it would be one of the biggest upsets ever in the history of sports. I think it would also boost Muslims spirits around the world. Remember when Senegal beat England in the World Cup? Remember the coverage the team received, even the coach getting a forum for Dawah, letting people know he’s a Muslim? Iran getting a medal in Men’s basketball would surpass that 100x. People would be shocked and even some would start to wonder if the West’s world dominance was declining. I mean really, the West is the best in sports, if a non-USA-European team won the gold medal, and they invented the game, the tide is truly changing. If you thought KG’s reaction was over the top in winning a championship, watch how people would react to Iran winning a gold medal. It would definitely be must see TV. Iran over USA in the gold medal game. Wow. Anything is possible. Imagine how many khutbas could be made from this event: Brothers and Sisters, Iran just beat the USA in Men’s basketball. Nothing is impossible for Allah. You just have to work hard, and sports is just one small sign for us to remember what happens when you work hard and place your trust in Allah,etc…. I don’t think NBC would show the medal ceremony, EVER.

USA- With Kobe, Wade, Lebron, and Carmelo, this team is American marketing at its best. All around the world, people know one of those four people. Even the hagga in the village in Egypt knows who Kobe is. Lebron is even learning Mandarin so he can do ads in China. What kind of marketing would they be able to do if they lost to Iran? With the corrupt officiating fiasco, the Sonics leaving Seattle, and then the NBA’s best losing again in International competition, the NBA would definitely take a hit. It is good to see super stars sacrificing for the common good-(Wade is coming off the bench)

All of the players on this squad want to be there, and will do anything to win a gold. To their credit, they are sacrificing their summers to play for their country which is good to see from millionaires.

What I’d like to see? Kobe hits the game winner for the gold medal. Iran gets a silver medal, but Team USA says they are the most respectful team they have ever played, and have amazing teamwork. The players from both teams get to know each other prompting Bush and Ahmadinejad to have direct talks, they come to a resolution about the Iran’s uranium enrichment program, and World War III is averted. The Olympics are back.


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  • Angola has a player named Abdel Aziz Boukar. Outside of the Iranian team, there are no other players that are obviously Muslim per their names. Does anyone know of any other Muslim players in Olympic Basketball this year?

  • …OR the Muslims could boycott the Olympics because of all of the human rights violations China has committed against the Tibetan people?

    Just a thought.

  • Angie,

    While the effectiveness of Olympic boycotts is something that could be debated, I agree that Muslims should be more concerned about human rights abuses by the Chinese government, not just in Tibet, but all over the country and in their dealings with foreign governments. We should be concerned no matter who this impacts, but Muslims both in China and elsewhere are often the victims of these abuses.

    I, personally like the idea of trying to go there, win a medal and then somehow embarass the tyrants on the worldwide stage a la Tommie Smith and John Carlos in 1968.

    Allaah knows best.

  • Salaams,

    I agree with both Angie and Abu Noor, in a way.

    W/Angie: she’s right. The ummah has a double standard, we care about human rights violations in Palestine but for the most part only Palestine. Would this conversation about basketball teams even be happening if the Olympics were being held in Apartheid Palestine?

    W/Abu Noor: similar to the situation with blood diamonds, a boycott may not be the most effective strategy. Amnesty International recommends that those who insist on buying diamonds (because even us Muslims can’t seem to live without them) buy diamonds that are certified to be blood free. Similarly, Tibet solidarity organizers are shifting away from the boycott recommendations.

    A couple of ideas:

    1. One of the torch runners here in San Francisco pulled out a Tibetan flag mid-run. She made a huge statement, and got more coverage than she would have if she had simply boycotted. It’s one of many options available to athletes of conscience.

    2. For us on the sidelines, check out:

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