The World Cup, Qatar and Human Rights
This World Cup of 2022 has engendered much discussion in the area of human rights and criticism of the way Qatar has dealt with its workers. There has also been much debate about wether Qatar should have hosted the World Cup given its view on same sex relationships.
In this blog based on the VOI show 1 I feel it would be good to clarify the Islamic position in these areas.
Lets start with some background on the World Cup. Before the World Cup was inaugurated the Summer Olympics was the main prestigious footballing event. 2
Football was becoming more professional and as a consequence at odds with the amateur nature of the Olympics. Therefore in 1930, FIFA, the International governing body of Football held its very first World Cup tournament. Only 13 teams contested this initial tournament, with Uruguay becoming the first team to win the new World Cup. 3
Over the years the World Cup has steadily developed, from the technical quality of football, the number of teams involved and the vast amounts of money being generated by the tournament.
In 2018 FIFA had revenues of over $4.6 billion US dollars 4 a staggering amount of amount amassed by a sporting organisation.
Unfortunately, whenever there are large sums of money to be made, the temptation arises to behave without honesty and integrity.
FIFA has been mired with scandal, corruption, bribery, and vote-rigging4 It is a sad state of affairs.
It is with this back drop that Qatar hosted the 2022 World cup Finals.
Lets have a look at Qatar as a country.
It shares its land border with Saudi Arabia to the south and the rest of its territory is surrounded by the Persian Gulf. The capital is Doha, with 80% of the country’s inhabitants living there, the rest of the land area is mostly made up of flat, low-lying desert.
Qatar has been ruled as a hereditary monarchy by the house of Thani ever since Mohammed bin Thani signed a treaty with the British in 1868 that recognised its separate status.
Qatar eventually became a British Protectorate in 1916, and then gained independence in 1971.
In 2017, the total population of Qatar was 2.6 million, with 313,000 of them Qatari citizens and 2.3 million expatriates. Islam is the official religion of the country.
From an income perspective the country has the 4th highest GDP mainly generated by its vast stores of natural gas. 5
So, what do we have……
Firstly, a sporting contest, the World Cup, that started off with great ideals of pitting the best football teams around the world against each other. Now, still a great tournament but tainted by stories of corruption.
We have Qatar, not a powerful football nation, wealthy and morally following the laws of Islam.
So, does Qatar deserve the criticism?
Qatar is a muslim state…..so is it following the Islamic code.
What does Islam say about humanity and the rights of humans?
The Holy Quran has clearly explained how we should behave with one another. There are many, many references to choose from. The overall premise is that we should fear Allah, obey His commandments and treat each other with respect and empathy.
The Quran states: 6
“Surely, men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him — Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness anda great reward” 33:36
“You are the best people raised for the good of mankind; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah. And if the People of the Book had believed, it would have surely been better for them. Some of them are believers, but most of them are disobedient” 7 3:111
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said
“None of you can be a truly faithful Muslim unless he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.”
INarrated by Hadrat Anas (Sahih al-Bukhari) 8
Narrated by Hadrat Anas The Prophet of Allah (May peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Help your brother be he the oppressor or the oppressed.”
The companions said, ‘O Prophet of Allah, we understand that we should help him when he is the aggrieved party, but how should we help him when he is the wrongdoer?’
He said: “Hold his hand.” 9 (Sahih al-Bukhari)
The life of the Holy Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) provided muslims with the perfect example of how to conduct oneself in every situation.
In his farewell address, shortly before his death, he reminded muslims
“To treat women with due regard and consideration, fully observing their rights, which corresponded to the rights that the men had. He expressed solicitude for the welfare of prisoners of war, some of whom they still had among them, saying that they must be accorded the same treatment as members of the captors’ own families; he stressed that all human beings were equal, whatever their individual status, and that no one could claim any privilege or superiority against any other.” 10
“Allah has made you brethren one to another, so be not divided. An Arab has no preference over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab; nor is a white one to be preferred to a dark one, nor a dark one to a white one” 11
As we can see, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had set a very high standard of behaviour.
Has any nation in the world reached that level of care, love and attention for its inhabitants?
The world cup in Qatar has highlighted a global issue and as human being we all have much room for improvement.