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Blackburn Rovers praised for highlighting how fans can pray

8/17/2022 12:59 AM
Graphic of fans from Blackburn Rovers, including image of Hafiz Zayd, who will lead the prayer
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Blackburn Rovers football club has been widely praised for highlighting how Muslim supporters can pray salah during a match.

The club tweeted that Muslim fans attending the Carabao Cup game against Hartlepool United on Wednesday can pray their Maghrib in jamaat.

"Muslim supporters attending our home game against @Official_HUFC this Wednesday, we understand you will need to observe Maghrib Salaah (Sunset Prayer) at 8:55pm. Please ask a steward for directions as we have made a lounge available to accommodate," started the tweet thread.

"Season Ticket Holder, Hafiz Zayd will be leading the prayer at 8:55pm. Our multi-faith room in the Blackburn End won’t be available for this match only. You'll be directed to the lounge in the Jack Walker Stand if you wish to observe your Maghrib Salaah during the second half.

"All adult Muslims have to observe 5 obligatory prayers every day. For our Muslim supporters we understand observing their prayers is a necessity and we are proud to be able to have the provisions in place to provide this during any event at Ewood Park," it added.

Blackburn’s Integration and Business Development manager Yasir Sufi says they sent a tweet on the same day last year for the same tournament after he got many questions from Muslims about where to pray.  

This year, the salah will be held in a bigger room instead of the usual prayer room as the club expects more Muslims will turn up for the game. "Over the last season, we've noticed more and more South Asian fans coming,' Sufi tells Islam Channel.

"We're actually having a jamaat. One of our season ticket holders, a young lad who's a hafiz, will lead it," he adds.

Blackburn's inclusivity  

It is not the first time the football club has been lauded for finding ways to welcome the local Muslims, who form around 30% of the population.

This year, the club made history when it became the first British club to host Eid salah on its football pitch.  

The club appointed Sufi to develop links with the Asian community in 2020.  

But even before the appointment, the club reached out to the untapped demographic — it was the first football club to open a prayer room in 2008 and it even has an alcohol-free stand.

"One thing that we've been very proud of is the fact that we are a diverse football town, we have a diverse supporter base, and we have to be able to reach out to all of them," says Sufi.  

Sufi adds that he was appointed to help the club better understand the Muslim community and remove some of the barriers preventing Muslim fans from attending games.  

"As a Muslim, when you're attending any event, you're always looking at how it affects your day-to-day religious requirements," says Sufi.

"So, one of the things we introduced last season was that anyone coming to any event at Ewood Park was able to take care of their namaz and salah."

Response on social media

The response to the post on social media has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Your wonderful attitudes with the Muslim community and other communities in Britain makes me one of your fans because of the wonderful societal message you carry. All the best Blackburn to return to Premier League soon, where you are," said one tweet.

Former Blackburn Rovers legend David Speedie said: “What a team, proud to play a small part in the fantastic family friendly club.”

Another well-meaning tweet said: "May Allah grant you the PL promotion Inshaa Allah."

Yasir says the Blackburn Rovers faithful have been very supportive and the club explains the importance behind everything it does. For example, the social media post had extra detail for non-Muslims on the significance of the five daily prayers for Muslims.

"For people to understand why we're doing what we're doing, the education piece is very important," says Sufi.

And regardless of faith, football is naturally a great uniter.  

"You don't care what background someone is from," says Yasir "If you're there to support a team, you're all one within that stadium. Football has that ability to bring people together."

Image credit: Blackburn Rovers

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