The Gaza Post|The News of Palestine-Liverpool
Liverpool FC’s Egyptian-born forward Mohamed Salah is currently one of the Premier League’s most prolific goalscorers.
This, his debut season with Liverpool, has seen Salah earn multiple accolades: most left-footed goals scored in a Premier League season, second-fastest player in Liverpool’s history to reach 30 goals, one of the top ten goalscorers in Europe, and 2017 African Footballer of the Year.
He shows no signs of lowering his goal tally as the season goes on, with commentator and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher viewing Salah as a strong contender for another Player of the Year award. In a league that is regularly touted as so open that any team can win, lose, or draw against any other, unpredictability is the name of the game. Yet this season, Salah’s consistent goalscoring record seems to buck that trend. Salah’s counterattacking form was of particular concern for Manchester United when they played Liverpool on March 10, as they sat deep and defended against the Merseyside club for much of the match.
Beautiful though they are to watch, however, what I find most interesting about Salah’s goals are his celebrations and their reception. Because consistently, Salah does two things after scoring. First, he hugs his teammates, a typical response. But then, he performs sujood, the Islamic act of prostration.
Sujood normally occurs twice in every section of salaat – a word commonly mistranslated as prayer (following its Arabic root, salaat is better translated as “connection”). A Muslim who performs salaat the requisite five times daily finds themself in sujood 34 times each day. In Islamic thought, sujood is perceived of as the physically lowest, but spiritually highest, position a person can take. Salah’s performance of sujood outside of salaat, then, is a specific expression of gratitude for goals scored.
Addictive as it is, the chant flies in the face of spoken word poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan’s demand that society move beyond loving the Muslim who excels in athletics or bakery to include those who “don’t offer our homes or free taxi rides after the event” and are “wretched, suicidal, naked, and contributing nothing”. The double-edged sword of Salah’s sujood is that it is tied to his excellence on the field.
If he stops scoring, he will stop performing sujood. As a result, fans will love him – and Islam – a little less.