Pogba performs Umrah in Makkah to say ‘thank you’

Paul Pogba the French footballer who plays for Manchester United posted the following photo to his 15 million Instagram followers with the caption: “Most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life 🕋🙏🏾

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He is wearing the ihram – a simple set of clothing consisting of two un-stitched sheets, with the Ka’bah behind him. The Ihram demonstrates that we are all equal before God no matter how rich or famous one may be.

Pogba also sent a tweet wishing everyone a “happy Ramadan”.  Out in Makkah he is attending Umrah, a non-compulsary Muslim pilgrimage. During Umrah, pilgrims do not go to Mina, Arafaat and Muzdalifah or throw pebbles on the Jamrahs (stone pillars representing devils) or offer animal sacrifice which we would know from Hajj. These rites are only performed during Hajj. Pogba is reported to have visited Makkah at least once before, when he performed the Hajj, a journey every healthy adult Muslim who can afford it is supposed to make at least once in their lives. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam:

five pillarsThe 24-year-old became the most expensive footballer in history last summer, after Manchester United paid Juventus a reported £89m fee. Last Wednesday, he lifted the Europa League cup after Manchester United beat Ajax in the final in Stockholm. Here he is on the right with his team-mate Fellaini a Belgian international.

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It is no surprise that Pogba was in awe of the Ka’bah behind him.

The Ka’bah is a huge black stone structure that sits at the heart of the Grand Mosque, Islam’s most sacred place of worship. When Muslims pray as part of Salat they face the Ka’bah from wherever they are in the world. Some of its parts are connected to important episodes in Islamic tradition. On the eastern corner of the Ka’bah, to the left of the door, is the Black Stone, which according to Muslim tradition fell from heaven at the time of Adam and Eve. During Hajj pilgrims try to kiss the stone, emulating the kiss the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have placed on it.

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The cube-shaped structure is roughly 15 metres high, and it is about 10 by 14 metres at its base. Constructed of gray stone and marble, it is oriented so that its corners roughly correspond to the points of the compass. The interior contains nothing but the three pillars supporting the roof and a number of suspended silver and gold lamps.The Ka’bah is covered with the Kiswa which is a black brocade cloth. The Muslim declaration of faith, as well as Qu’ranic verses, are embroidered on it. A new Kiswa is made every year.

Without God something bad could have happened

Francis Kone is a player from the Togo national side that has four times saved the life of a fellow footballer. He currently plays for Slovacko in the Czech Republic, and just over a week ago when two players clashed heads, he managed to stop one of them choking on his tongue.konefrancis1-300x258

“The jaw was locked tight, but I had to make sure he had not swallowed his tongue. The clock was ticking. A couple of his team-mates came in and helped, moving him over on to his side, which you have to do to make sure the airways are clear, and I eventually prised his teeth apart and pulled the tongue back. It was slippery with the saliva and at some point he actually bit me, the jaws clamping back down, but it doesn’t matter. It was all over in a few seconds, and when the goalkeeper actually tried to say something I knew he was going to be fine. That’s when I got up and walked away.”

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If Francis Kone has inspired you to learn some First Aid then the St John Ambulance have lots of step by step advice on their website as well as short snappy videos on their YouTube channel. The other useful YouTube channel is done by the Red Cross called Everyday First Aid.

FIFA fines England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

FIFA has a rule: players cannot wear “political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images. This is not a new rule, it has been around for decades and obviously applies to every footballing nation when it plays against each other. It makes absolute sense that on the playing field and in the stadium “there is only room for sport, nothing else.” Imagine the outcry if England were playing Russia and there were signs around the stadium with political messages, or England were playing Germany and the latter had large banners to remember the war dead from World War I. Suddenly the game would not just be about sport and politics would get in the way.

So it comes as no surprise that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’s football associations have been fined various amounts for their display of poppies at recent games. Do you think they should have been?

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