My Everton #130: Faith & Football

As it is for many, it is difficult to pinpoint when my Everton journey began, however, the players that had a huge impact on my allegiance to Everton were Bob Latchford and Duncan Mckenzie, so I’m guessing it was around 1976.

Even around those times, when Bob Paisley was starting to stamp his authority with Liverpool in the higher echelons of English football, my heart had been swayed towards the passion and values that were evident throughout Everton, and, as they say, 'Once a Blue, always a Blue'.

Regardless of how the Club's fortunes on the field, one thing that has remained a constant - and will continue to remain a constant - is my belief that Everton is the People's Club.

The passion of our fanbase and the values we share are very important to me.

I’m an absolute advocate for promoting and celebrating diversity and it makes me really proud that Everton's All Together Now campaign achieves this consistently. With a move to a world-class stadium on the waterfront on the horizon, there is scope to push for more diversity and inclusion and I will be right behind it.

As a Muslim, my undying faith is Islam. On a day-to-day basis Islam acts as moral compass and a guide for how to act in society. The ideology is that we do good things for ourselves and others. If you look at some of the pillars of Islam there are aspects I’m sure most people can relate to. For example, Alms, which is something every Muslim has to give (providing they have the financial means to do so) to help society's poor and those most in need.

My religion aligns with my life in so many positive ways. It allows me to focus on those less fortunate than ourselves, it teaches us to do good in society, to be positive role models to others and it also teaches us to be disciplined and patient in order to avoid excess.

Ramadan, which began earlier this month and is due to end on 9 April, is a month of fasting and abstaining from things considered to be impure for the mind and body. Those partaking in Ramadan abstain from food, drink and impure thoughts between the hours of sunrise and sunset, allowing them instead to focus on prayer and connecting with God.

The abstaining from food and drink allows us to reset or thoughts by feeling the pain and challenges felt by other and installing a level of discipline not felt in the previous 11 months. In addition to this, Ramadan is a huge month for giving charity which can take many forms although money for worthy causes is of the utmost importance, being kind to others, volunteering, feeding the sick and needy are all considered as charity. After 30 days of discipline and focus, the daily practices you’ve undertaken will hopefully allow you to carry this through for the next 11 months before we start Ramadan again.

Islam does not impact my following of Everton as the religion is there as a guide and not supposed to hinder. An example is that as Muslims we’re instructed to pray five times per day at set times, however, if the prayer times fall within a game, then there are rulings that would allow you to circumvent this issue. As you’ve seen on the media and in games of late, a lot of Muslim players fast whilst playing football and the beauty of the modern games is we’ve seen occasions where there’s been a break in games allowing fasting prayers some food and drink in order to break their fast.

Growing up, following Everton meant watching the team on TV or reading the newspapers. It was not until I had a partner in crime - my son, Solomon - that I started to go to the games.

My earliest memory with Solomon was when he was five years old and we went to see Everton against Spurs, back in December 2009. The score was 2-2 when Tim Cahill had scored in the 86th minute. Noting it was getting dark, the game felt safe and we need to get the little fella home, I decide to leave.  By the time we got out of the stadium and walked to the chippy on Goodison Road, all we could hear was the sound of the fans in uproar and not a positive one – a penalty to Spurs. Thankfully, Tim Howard saved the penalty, we managed to get some food, got to the car, turn the heating on and within a minute Solomon had fallen asleep with his head in his chips and curry sauce!

That was the just the start - we went to a few more games before becoming Season Ticket holders in the Lower Gwladys Street from 2013. We haven't looked back since.

By Fawad Munir, Evertonian

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