Contemporary and Social Issues

A Unifying Message at the FIFA World Cup


Sarmad Naveed, Canada

An Oscar-winning actor with a globally recognised voice, and a young Qatari man with a rare spinal disorder. 

Their lives are worlds apart, yet with the simple gesture of extending their hands towards one another, they sought to convey a message that brings the world together. 

This was the scene during a part of the thirty-minute-long opening ceremony festivities in Qatar, which is playing host to the FIFA World Cup. Although many of the story lines leading up to the grand tournament have mostly been about everything but football, the stage was used to promote a message of unity. 

This message was rooted in a verse of the Holy Qur’an, which was presented, and explained to those watching around the world:

O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another. Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware.’ (49:14)

In a world ever divided, with chasms deepening, this verse certainly was the correct selection to represent Islam’s teachings on global unity. Explaining the purport of this verse, the Second Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra) states:

‘The verse, in fact, constitutes the Magna Carta of human fraternity and equality. It has firmly laid the axe at the false and foolish notions of superiority, born of racial arrogance or national conceit. All men having been “created from a male and a female” as human beings have been declared equal in the sight of God. ‘

Islam, and those who truly follow its teachings, seek nothing contrary to the establishment of unity and harmony in the world. As the Second Caliph (ra) states, this verse clearly alludes to the fact that, ‘The whole human race is but one family’.

It’s a Qur’anic principle which was echoed by the Holy Prophet (sa) on the occasion of the farewell pilgrimage:

‘O ye men! Your God is One and your ancestor is one. An Arab possesses no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab over an Arab. A white is in no way superior to a red, nor, for that matter, a red to a white, but only to the extent to which he discharges his duty to God and man. The most honoured among you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous’ 

Over the coming weeks, people from all over the world will get together with family, friends and even strangers, united by national pride as they cheer on their teams for what is regarded by many as the greatest tournament in the world. Sports truly does bring people together in fascinating ways, albeit momentarily. Islam seeks to permanently bring the world together on the simple basis of humanity, so that everyone may appreciate each other’s backgrounds and heritages and learn from one another, in order to appreciate the diversity of life on this earth.

This is an Islamic principle which is not only being expressed now on the world stage but is something which the world is constantly reminded of by Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

On one occasion, whilst explaining Islam’s philosophy on equality leading to unity, the Fifth Caliph (aba) explained:

‘Islam proclaims that all people are born equal, no matter where they hail from or the colour of their skin. It teaches that no race is superior to another, nor are the people of any particular descent more gifted than others and that Allah is the Provider for all of mankind.  Whilst it is true that how far a person progresses in life is dependent upon his surroundings and his personal effort, the basic faculties granted to mankind remain the same and are not defined by geography or race.’

So, while it’s great that football is bringing the world together for the coming weeks, humanity should bring the world together for the coming eternity.

About the Author: Sarmad Naveed is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who graduated from the Ahmadiyya Institute for Languages and Theology in Canada. He serves on the Editorial Board of The Review of Religions and coordinates the Facts from Fiction section. He has also appeared as a panelist and host of programmes on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) such as ‘Ahmadiyyat: Roots to Branches.’