England’s Cricket team touring India for the Test Series has four Muslim players, with two of them proudly carrying handsome beard. This merit based selection adopted by England Cricket team has not only led to the ethnic diversity in the team but also has set an example for the rest of nations to adopt such sporting practices. It also needs to be called out that, comparatively Cricket as a sport has been an exceptional example of diversity and multiculturalism. Various cricketing bodies across the world have been receptive to the needs of Muslim players, especially allowing the players to not have logos of non-sharia complaint sponsors (alcohol brands) on their jerseys.

The four Muslim players currently playing for England are Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Haseeb Hameed and Zafar Ansari.

Cricket - England Nets - SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 5/7/15  England's Adil Rashid (L) and Moeen Ali during nets  Action Images via Reuters / Philip Brown  Livepic
England’s Adil Rashid (L) and Moeen Ali during nets – Action Images via Reuters / Philip Brown/ Livepic

Moeen Ali has been the most outspoken cricketer about the religion and political situation around the world. Moeen wore wrist bands with the slogan “Free Palestine” and “Save Gaza”, against the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel and the recent military attacks that killed over 1000 Palestinians in Gaza. He was warned by cricket authorities against using cricket for political statements.

Moeen Ali.

Talking with HuffingtonPost regarding the incident, Moeen Ali said  “I do feel strongly about that kind of stuff, not just for Gaza but any sort of humanitarian cause. It does make me sad that these kinds of things happen. I always feel quite emotional about these sort of things. It’s very sad to see the [Gaza] videos and all that kind of stuff”. Moeen has been a big supporter for Palestinian cause and has raised significant amount of funds for Ummah Welfare Trust, a charity organisation focussed on humanitarian help for Palestine.  At the same time, Moeen has been a proud British.

“I am a Muslim, yes, but I am also very English. People don’t realise how proud I am to be representing my country or being from Birmingham.” His home city, where he was born and brought up, is an essential part of his identity. I don’t feel at home until I’ve come off the motorway at Birmingham. Then I know I’m at home.” Said Moeen Ali.