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Notes and Comments

Billions of people around the world have been watching the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan over the last few days. While it has been easy to criticise the ticketing procedures, some of the refereeing decisions or maybe even the weather, the one thing that all observers have noticed is the hospitality extended by the Koreans and Japanese to fans from around the world. From the start, fans from all nations have been treated with respect, and been given a warm welcome wherever they have been. Even those nations who carried a reputation for bad behaviour have been afforded a warm and friendly welcome. At each game, the local people have taken to wearing the shirts and colours of visiting teams to give them encouragement and to make them feel at home, and I am sure this was particularly appreciated by the smaller nations who had a small number of fans in attendance. Respect has been shown to the playing of the national anthems of each country. The local fans have set the standard by providing fanatical yet well mannered support for their own teams. There has been no unruly b e h a v i o u r, and fans, police and organisers have been surprised at the positive atmosphere created. Even the fact that the event has been jointly hosted by Korea and Japan, two erstwhile rivals, sends a positive message of hope to the Asian world. Hospitality is a trait which has been given great prominence by religions. Good treatment of family, friends and 3Review of Religions – May 2002 Notes & Comments GOOD HOSTS – by Tanveer Khokhar, UK neighbours features highly in most religious doctrines, and has often manifested itself among religious people. The Muslim Arabs were known for offering gifts to their guests. Sikhs are known for the welcome and food they offer to visitors to their temples. Jews and Christians were taught to look after the w a y f a r e r. And the same situation is found time and again among spiritual people. Showing respect and kindness to guests and acquaintances, or even to hostile people, can have a disarming effect. Even when trouble is brewing, such an attitude can rapidly dissolve anger and change the atmosphere and outcome for the better. At the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) of Islam, his non-violent approach when re- entering Mecca not only prevented any loss of life on that historic occasion, it had a positive effect on the hearts of the Meccans who up to that point had been extremely brutal and hostile towards the Muslims. We must learn from history and from the wisdom of spiritual teachings. Korea and Japan should be congratulated for the way they handled visitors at their great tournament. Irrespective of who won the World Cup, Korean and Japanese behav- iour and approach would live long in the memory. 4 Notes and Comment Review of Religions – May 2002