NFL player Husain Abdullah kicks off Islam Awareness Week at SMU

The hardships of being a Muslim in America, religion and race on the football field, and how to deal with prejudice were some of the main topics Husain Abdullah focused on while speaking on Monday night in the Hughes-Trigg Commons at SMU.

The crowd filled up the Commons around 6:30 p.m. as refreshments were being served by SMU’s Muslim Student Association (MSA).

“I’m a big NFL fan in general,” said Josh Doerr, a senior at SMU. “The topic of the forum tonight seemed very interesting to me.”

Husain Abdullah speaks to students in light of Islam Awareness Week at SMU. Photo credit: Shabnam Amini

Abdullah is an American football safety for the Kansas City Chiefs in the National Football League (NFL). He was asked to come in by SMU’s MSA to kick off Islam Awareness Week (IAW), which this year, holds the theme of the All-American Muslim.

Amaan Charania, master of ceremonies for the event, explained that during IAW, the MSA tries to spread ‘dawah,’ which means to educate non-Muslims about the misconceptions of Islam.

“Usually at MSA events, it’s a whole lot of Muslims and a small minority of non-Muslims, and that’s not what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Charania. “It is nice to see it the other way around tonight.”

Abdullah, a Muslim, is known to observe fasting in the month of Ramadan—even during football season. He sat out the 2012–2013 season to make his Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca with his brother Hamza Abdullah, who was also in the NFL.

Abdullah started off the lecture by thanking SMU for having him.

“This is a great school and I want to come here once I retire,” said Abdullah. “Getting a Master’s in Sport Management at SMU is my next goal.”

Abdullah recently made headlines for getting penalized for a post-touchdown prayer bow.

The refs flagged the 29-year-old for dropping to his knees after a successful play, technically a violation of the NFL’s celebration rules. But it was rather apparent to others that Abdullah, was practicing the Sajdah, a religious prayer position common in the Islamic religion.

Students listen to Abdullah Monday night in the Hughes-Trigg Commons. Photo credit: Shabnam Amini

The Kansas City Chiefs player explained how people are taught to dislike others. He stated it is not human nature, just something put into our heads.

“You go to SMU, so you automatically dislike TCU, because that is what you were taught,” said Abdullah. “Even though half the students here probably applied to TCU before deciding what college to go to.”

He then brought that analogy back to how people are taught to dislike others just because of how they look. Someone may see a Muslim and automatically dislike them solely because of what they have heard others say about Islam.

“The only thing we as Muslims can do in this situation is show peace and give them the greetings of love,” said Abdullah.

Students listen to Abdullah Monday night in the Hughes-Trigg Commons. Photo credit: Shabnam Amini

At the end of the lecture students got to ask Abdullah questions. He emphasized how his religion motivates him to be a better player and a better person overall.

“It was very interesting to hear a different perspective of a football player,” said Emma Hutchinson, junior at SMU. “Usually it’s football first then family and religion, but in Husain Abdullah’s case, it’s the opposite.”

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