Watch: Fans pause action for Friday prayers during first Fifa World Cup in Muslim country

Islam has featured throughout the first week of the tournament with a recitation of the Holy Quran at the opening ceremony



Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

By Reuters

Published: Sat 26 Nov 2022, 7:19 AM

Last updated: Sat 26 Nov 2022, 7:53 AM

As noon approached, muezzins across Qatar called Muslim soccer players, fans and officials to the first Friday prayers of the first World Cup to take place in a Muslim country.

At the Ibrahim Al Khalil Mosque in Doha's West Bay, with its towering minaret and carved wooden doors, they gathered for the weekly congregational prayer.

Among the faithful were fans from Tunisia, Oman and India, a uniformed Fifa official, kids dressed in French soccer kits and hundreds of men and women from nearby hotels and tower blocks.

Unusually for soccer, Muslim fans say Qatar's World Cup has accommodated them like never before - with stadium prayer rooms, concessions selling halal food and no beer-swilling supporters to contend with in the stands following a stadium alcohol ban.

"I came to an Islamic country to attend Friday prayer...This is what makes me happy in this competition," said Yousef al Idbari, a visiting fan from Morocco.

Like all the other worshippers, al Idbari, removed his shoes and filed into the mosque's main prayer hall.

Islam has featured throughout the first week of the tournament with a recitation of the Holy Quran at the opening ceremony and English translations of sayings and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) posted around Doha.

Muslim fans are enjoying an event that caters to their needs.

Ridwaan Goolam Hoosen, an avid South African soccer fan, is used to having to leave the grounds to find a prayer space, including at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"You go out and you miss a team goal or you miss someone getting sent off," he told Reuters. "It feels as if this World Cup is for me, it works for me, it fits for me...This is the first of its kind like this," Goolam Hoosen said.

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