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.

Consent is an enthusiastic yes not just an absence of no

When discussing consent to sex in our AS Religious Studies lesson some students were curious why there needs to be debate on what consent actually means, when people are about to have sex.

Less than a few weeks later is appears that some people really do need lessons on consent after all. “I have never been taught about anything like that” said the footballer Ched Evans in his first interview since being found innocent of rape on Friday. He was speaking about the issue of sexual consent, which became the central argument in the court proceedings that first sent him to jail but then established his innocence at a retrial. He has now told the Mail on Sunday that “in this day and age, people need educating” on the issue.

Ched Evans was a star player at Sheffield United.

Students unions at universities across Britain have been providing consent workshops for years. Alice Tithecott, from Oxford University, said: “I felt reassured by the adult and mature discussions we had surrounding matters of consent, and in particular being given the opportunity to explore different perspectives and issues regarding consent in a safe environment. I feel that this workshop was an invaluable part of freshers’ week because it creates dialogue about issues which may otherwise be considered taboo.”

The courses run by colleges and football clubs have been praised by sex education experts, although some argue the issue of consent needs to be raised much earlier in a young person’s life. A spokeswoman from Brook, the young people’s sexual health and well-being charity, said: “We believe that every young person should have these lessons at school and from a young age.”

She quoted one of the young people that works with the charity, who said: “If my sex education had taught that consent is a sober, continuous, verbal, and enthusiastic Yes rather than just the absence of a No, I might not have had to assure my friend that she didn’t cheat on her boyfriend – another man raped her.”