“By the time, man finds himself in a state of loss indeed, except for those who have believed and engaged in righteous deeds, while encouraging one another to follow the path of truth and to embrace patience.” Qur’an 103: 1-3
Controversy surrounds the celebration of Nigerian Female Footballer, Asisat Oshoala, who scored against Australia during the ongoing 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Asisat excitedly removed her jersey to celebrate her goal in the 72nd minute, which put Nigeria two goals ahead of Australia – securing a 3 – 2 victory for Nigeria.
Numerous Muslims condemned the celebration, citing concerns about Asisat Oshoala being a Muslimah and engaging in what they consider a repulsive act of running around half-naked in front of thousands of people. Liberal Muslims and non-Muslims also criticized the condemnation, asserting that it was not a matter of judgment, as some said, “Even if she was partially naked, so what?”
Islam emphasizes collectivism, valuing community over individualistic cultures that promote independence and personal identity. This is reflected in the term “Muslim Ummah,” which refers to the whole community of Muslims bound together by religious ties. Allah says in the Qur’an,
“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity. – Qur’an 3:104
The believers, both men and women, are guardians of one another. They encourage good and forbid evil, establish prayer and pay alms-tax, and obey Allah and His Messenger – Qur’an 9:71
Ye are the best Nation, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong… Qur’an 3:110”
In Islam, correcting a fellow Muslim is considered a virtuous deed rather than “judging” in the conventional sense. Allah’s teachings in the Qur’an encourage people to promote good, enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong, making the correction of a Muslim by another Muslim an act in line with Islamic principles.
It is essential to understand that calling attention to what is wrong within the context of Islam is not necessarily an act of judgment, as explained by the Qur’an verses mentioned earlier. The imperfection of humans is acknowledged in Islam, and there is no requirement that only a perfect Muslim can offer caution to another Muslim. The Muslim community works together for the collective goal of attaining paradise.
The Qur’an verses in the opening paragraph emphasize the need for Muslims to call one another to the truth. A sincere Muslim striving for paradise does not resent admonitions; instead, they view them as opportunities for introspection, as the allure of the world can be distracting. Public figures like Asisat, who are may be up to as role models by young Muslims, should be especially cautious of their actions to avoid leading others astray. If it was Alisha Lehman of Aston Villa, Muslims will not be concerned.
Asisat should also take note of the Qur’an verse that warns against seeking the guardianship of those who mock and ridicule the faith. Striving towards paradise with consciousness of Allah is the true purpose of life, not merely a collection of fleeting moments. Encouragement and praise from non-believers for actions that contradict Islamic principles may lead one away from the righteous path.
“O believers! Do not seek the guardianship of those given the Scripture before you and the disbelievers who have made your faith a mockery and amusement. And be mindful of Allah if you are ˹truly˺ believers.” – Qur’an 5:57
If the Muslim community becomes individualistic, there is a risk of deviating from Islamic teachings, as seen in the example of other communities. The concern is that if individualism prevails, practices inconsistent with Islamic beliefs may emerge, such as a “Trans Imam” presiding over gay marriages.
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman