Hashim Amla, South African batsman, has been named as the Sports Star of the Year at the recent SA Sports Awards held over the weekend. Amla has also recently been appointed as vice-captain for the Proteas’ One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 teams. In addition to all of this, our bearded cricketer also enjoys the glory of being ranked as the number one ODI batsman in the world by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
As much as Amla is enjoying professional success in his cricketing career, there have also been many trials and bumps that he has had to overcome. He stands out among his fellow Protea cricketers in many ways, the most apparent of which is his full, thick beard. As a Muslim, Amla grows his beard to follow the tradition of the final Prophet, Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him). Another way in which he sets himself apart is by his request to not have any logos on his sports gear of the beer company, Castle, which sponsors the team’s matches. This, too, is because of his commitment to Islam, as alcohol, as well as the promotion of it, is prohibited in Islam.
Being a practising Muslim playing international cricket at a time when Islam is internationally, and wrongfully, perceived as a fearful religion, no doubt Amla would receive some flack. During a test match between Sri Lanka and South Africa in 2006, a cricket commentator remarked about Amla under his breath, “The terrorist has got another wicket, ” incorrectly assuming that he was off the air. This, however, was only a means for Amla to show how strong he is, how disciplined he is, and how un-terrorising he is. Following this incident, Amla’s fans — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — showed support for him and outrage at the remark of the commentator.
Throughout his career, Amla has shown his mental strength and discipline. His older brother, Ahmed Amla, said about Amla’s beard in an interview: “…it’s about his mental thing — it does play a major part in his mental make-up and discipline, not only for cricket but other aspects of life. Hash is highly disciplined.” Hashim Amla echoes the teachings of Islam: discipline, humility, integrity and respect. This is also what the beard teaches, this is what Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) has taught us, and through emulating the Prophet (PBUH) with such things as growing a beard, among others, Amla seeks to fill his life with the largely forgotten wisdom of these teachings — a wisdom that is now manifest in Amla’s growing success.
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