It is really amazing to see ‘pious’ and ‘religious’ Mohammad Yousaf, an erstwhile Christian now converted to Islam, advocating the use of the ‘Judeo-Christian’ world’s branded soft-drinks and shampoos for the sake of money
Pakistan is a state experiencing Islamization in every arena of life—collective as well as private. In the private sphere of life, long-beards, fake prayers, superficial devotion and holy caps on rowdy heads have become part and parcel of the spiritual aesthetics of common man.
Art is the highest form of expression. Where art is embroiled with money, the creative potential of society fizzles out and certainly conflict ensues. The process of Islamization has not only penetrated itself into the educational and social edifice of Pakistan, but also in the cultural and aesthetic aspects of our country.. This process has distorted the whole form of creative potential and provides ‘other worldly’ rewards. Sport is also another form of expression of art through exhibition of human skills live in arenas. In a state like Pakistan, where cricket is next to religion, both of them have intermingled in a variety of fuzzy ways. Interestingly and outwardly, Pakistani cricketers, seen to be social sinners, are gradually adhering to the ideology of religious piety with corporate mentality to cleanse the dirt of their guilt at corrupt practices from their conscience. The corporatization of religion has become a new phenomenon, in which religious practices are utilized to garner fame and money.
The trend got kicked off when singers like Junaid Jamshaid found this religio-corporate mindset more acceptable to society in their drive for accumulation of wealth than their actual skills of singing and entertaining the disgruntled, consumerist and conspiracy-ridden youth of Pakistan to give them a respite through their musical romanticisms The youth of Pakistan defines its position in the regional and global settings by the construct of ‘the Other’.
Sports lack romanticisms, but sportsmen, especially cricketers, jumped on this bandwagon of a celebrity-driven, religio-aesthetic mode of social and professional bearing to make a meal out of this whole corporate scheme with self-invoked divine guidance. Money, fame and greed have joined hands in this newly emerging, religio-aesthetic mode of self-expression in a milieu of holy-celebrity culture. In today’s Pakistan, greed and religion have embraced each other at every level — personal and professional.
What prompts players to revert to religion has clear roots to be identified easily in the socio-cultural discourse which has been prevalent in Pakistan since the Ziaist era of Islamizing every aspect of Pakistan in collectivity. The dwindling performance of cricketers and their involvement in uncanny affairs have been an area of concern for them, who enjoyed unusual fame here and matchless prestige there. Poor performance in the arena has roots in the mismanagement by the all-powerful cricket board and its political appointees with bureaucratic backgrounds and personal connections.
Greed amongst players is also rampant. Their recurrent appearances in television ads and on billboards all around major urban areas has inculcated in them lust for greater amounts of wealth in a style dating back to pre-capitalistic modes of accumulation of wealth i.e. without investment. Isn’t it quite awkward to see Mushtaq Ahmad or Waqar Younas, two bearded guys, advertising for Western brands of toothpastes or shampoos. Their tilt towards religious practices is a sign of a trade-off for wealth garnered through ill-gotten means out of covetousness.
There is a deep irony in the fact that most of these cricketers have performed very poorly in their games even after adhering to religious projects, which reflects that their conscience and dedication is poles apart. Religion is a spiritual aspect of human life and profession is an activity which mobilizes human beings into a wider range of social networks to earn a livelihood and gain a social status and personal identity. Now both these aspects have intermingled in cricketers to the detriment of both religion and profession. Spiritualization of sports, like politics, brings forth contradictory styles in both ways of human life. What sportsmen need to do is to not to socialize their personal faith with their sports at international level. After all there is a dichotomy between personal way of life and mundane affairs.
The concept of personal piety in Islamic theology is quite independent of pious interests of inner faith from the legal, economic and professional factors. What our cricketers are exhibiting is that their religious ideas and corporate interests govern their conduct which is, even, against the spirit of very religion they are adhering to. Thus, the appearance and preponderance of ‘spiritual interests,’ embroiled and confused, with the determination of religion has become hallmark of our current claque of cricketers. Not succumbing to the popular Marxist theme, of ‘religion as opium for the poor,’ Pakistani cricketers are embracing religious practices to opiate and placate their failings in the arena without possessing an iota of piety as advocated by Islam at a general level for every Muslim. This sense of acute fatalism, predicated on the worldly-operated iron laws of divine omnipresence and omnipotence, conditioned their spirit to religious ideology with corporate interests out of sportsman celebrity culture, thus making mockery of their sportsman spirit worldwide and their performance at national level. The result is obvious before us. There is a resultant collapse of cricket in Pakistan.
It is really amazing to see ‘pious’ and ‘religious’ Mohammad Yousaf, an erstwhile Christian now converted to Islam, advocating the use of the ‘Judeo-Christian’ world’s branded soft-drinks and shampoos for the sake of money. In this age of multi-national corporations, one ought to keep a clear dichotomy in one’s mind about one’s personal gains and public interests i.e. religious ethos and the financial base of one’s life. What players ought to do is to shun this celebrity-induced religious anxiety by-rejecting ‘self-prescriptive’ mode of personal behaviour and focus on their game with fulsome synergy. If they are so obsessed with religious matters, there is a very easy way to gain more piety by giving a lion’s share of their income in charity for the betterment of the down-trodden and destitute of society. This needs courage, broadness and generosity, which most of our cricketers are short of and prefer to engage in corrupt practices like gambling and match-fixing together with religious zeal.
|Hammad Raza works as Project Report Writer with Center for Research and Innovation UK. He holds a M.Sc degree in International Relation. He has worked as Coordinator to the VC of the University of Gujrat.|