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Opinion: Husain Abdullah should not be penalized for prayer

Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah (39) returns an interception 44 yards for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 13, 2013. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders, 24-7. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah (39) returns an interception 44 yards for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 13, 2013. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders, 24-7.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was penalized on Sept. 29 during a game against the New England Patriots in what was seen by many as an absolutely shady call made by the NFL officials — he was penalized when he bowed to the ground to pray after scoring a touchdown.

Later, the NFL came out and criticized that call because players aren’t supposed to be flagged for going to the ground for religious reasons.

But still, yes, I said the word shady. The game itself was beyond epic, from the interception in the end by Abdullah to the Chiefs’ stunning win against the Patriots. 

To mark such a victorious play, Abdullah bowed down on the ground, which is recognized by many Muslims as a ritual performed during prayer. 

But let’s take a few steps back here and analyze the true issue at hand, which is the reason for Abdullah’s penalty. 

The NFL referees defended the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as having been called because of Abdullah’s slide in the end zone, but not his actual bow. 

But this seems like more of a silly, nitpicky attempt to cover the true intention behind the penalty, which is the fact that the referees penalized Abdullah for bowing down. 

Let’s be truthful here, and realize that if the NFL referees really wanted to penalize him for such horrid unsportsmanlike conduct, maybe we can replay the thousands of previous played games during the NFL league and see how players celebrated when scoring. 

From dancing to hip-shaking, Abdullah’s slide seemed more out of momentum than an actual, deliberate attempt to be unsportsmanlike.

So come on, NFL referees, you are not fooling anyone. Even an amateur football watcher like me saw straight through your attempt to cover up your actions. 

Even if the NFL referees did truly penalize Abdullah for sliding, then this only raises the question of consistency when it comes to applying the rules. 

From the famous Tim Tebow prayer ritual — known as Tebowing — to the numerous of other players who celebrate scoring a touchdown in much more outrageous ways, there is a lack of consistency going on here that is making the NFL referees actions against Abduallah even more questionable. 

Whether it is through signing the cross before going onto the field, Tebowing or bowing, some NFL players have their own way of signifying their connection with God, and this should not be questioned, nor attempted to be covered up, by a nitpicky law. 

The general concept of unsportsmanlike conduct can be interpreted in so many ways, leaving it to the referees to call uncalled-for penalties against players like Abdullah. 

As a Muslim who stands by the First Amendment and the right to freedom of religion, no player should ever feel hesitant to show their faith on the field.

So many players celebrate when scoring a touchdown, and if Abdullah’s way of celebrating is to bow down and acknowledge his creator, then he has every right to do so. 

Actions that incorporate religious faith, especially when commonly practiced or known, should not be penalized and covered up through inconsistent, vague laws. 

The NFL referees need to realize their actions were unfair against Abdullah, and if they want to make a penalty like this fair, they need to be consistent. Otherwise, their actions are just ignorant and foolish. 

6 comments

  1. THE PENALTY WAS ON THE SLIDE…NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT RELIGION.

  2. @the previous comment – you haven’t actually seen the play, if you think the slide was even a little bit worthy of a penalty. perhaps the refs didn’t realize it was a prayer that followed the slide, but the penalty was definitely for him putting his head to the ground.

  3. This article is so typical. Instead of being thankful the NFL came out and said Muslim prayer displays like this are OK, the writer piles on and wants more! Greedy and immature. And it shows the likely consequence of any concessions whatsoever being made to Muslims.

  4. Tommy S.,

    What you write is so true…

    As long as the Muslim population remains around 1% of any given country they will be regarded as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to anyone. In fact, they may be featured in articles and films, stereotyped for their colorful uniqueness:
    United States — Muslim 1.0%
    Australia — Muslim 1.5%
    Canada — Muslim 1.9%
    China — Muslim 1%-2%
    Italy — Muslim 1.5%
    Norway — Muslim 1.8%
    At 2% and 3% they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs:
    Denmark — Muslim 2%
    Germany — Muslim 3.7%
    United Kingdom — Muslim 2.7%
    Spain — Muslim 4%
    Thailand — Muslim 4.6%
    From 5% on they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. They will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature it on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply.
    France — Muslim 8%
    Philippines — Muslim 5%
    Sweden — Muslim 5%
    Switzerland — Muslim 4.3%
    The Netherlands — Muslim 5.5%
    Trinidad & Tobago — Muslim 5.8%
    At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islam is not to convert the world but to establish Sharia law over the entire world.
    When Muslims reach 10% of the population, they will increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions (Paris — car burnings, etc.). Any non-Muslim action that offends Islam will result in uprisings and threats (Amsterdam — Mohammed cartoons).
    Guyana — Muslim 10%
    India — Muslim 13.4%
    Israel — Muslim 16%
    Kenya — Muslim 10%
    Russia — Muslim 10-15%
    After reaching 20% expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings and church and synagogue burning:
    Ethiopia — Muslim 32.8%
    At 40% you will find widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks and ongoing militia warfare:
    Bosnia — Muslim 40%
    Chad — Muslim 53.1%
    Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%
    From 60% you may expect unfettered persecution of non-believers and other religions, sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels:
    Albania — Muslim 70%
    Malaysia — Muslim 60.4%
    Qatar — Muslim 77.5%
    Sudan — Muslim 70%
    After 80% expect State run ethnic cleansing and genocide:
    Bangladesh — Muslim 83%
    Egypt — Muslim 90%
    Gaza — Muslim 98.7%
    Indonesia — Muslim 86.1%
    Iran — Muslim 98%
    Iraq — Muslim 97%
    Jordan — Muslim 92%
    Morocco — Muslim 98.7%
    Pakistan — Muslim 97%
    Syria — Muslim 90%
    Tajikistan — Muslim 90%
    Turkey — Muslim 99.8%
    United Arab Emirates — Muslim 96%
    100% will usher in the peace of “Dar-es-Salaam” — the Islamic House of Peace — there’s supposed to be peace because everybody is a Muslim:
    Afghanistan — Muslim 100%
    Saudi Arabia — Muslim 100%
    Somalia — Muslim 100%
    Yemen — Muslim 99.9%
    Of course, that’s not the case. To satisfy their blood lust, Muslims then start killing each other for a variety of reasons.

  5. Anonymous Lantern Reporter AGREEING with comments made by Tommy S. and Arafat.

  6. they penalized him because they thought he was about to lop someone’s head off to show the benefits of a religion of peace

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