Doesn’t Islam Endorse Sportsmanship? Even In The Olympics?

At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics today, Egyptian Olympic judo fighter Islam El Shehaby refused to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent Or Sasson.

After Sasson defeated El Shehaby he put out his hand, which is customary in judo. Competitors are expected to either shake hands or bow at the beginning and end of matches. El Shehaby, however, insulted his opponent by rejecting the gesture and backing away, shaking his head. The referee called him to returnto the mat to bow, and he gave a perfunctory nod. Then he walked off.

Ah, that glorious Olympic spirit!

Rio Games judo spokesman Nicolas Messner said that El Shehaby’s attitude “will be reviewed after the games to see if any further action should be taken.” What review is necessary? The Egypt team should be penalized immediately, issue an apology to the disrespected athlete and his nation, or, if it refuses, be sent home. In a perfect example of Rationalization # 22, “It’s not the worst thing!”, Messner also said that this “is already a big improvement that Arabic countries accept to [fight] Israel.”

Boy, he’s right. I mean, what an improvement over the Munich Olympics, for example, when the Palestinians killed the Israeli athletes. Now that’s what I call bad sportsmanship.

Last week, Israeli athletes were barred from boarding a bus to the opening ceremony when Lebanese athletes refused to share it with Jews. Nice. But again, better than Munich.

Either the Olympics must insist that the participants uphold the values of the Games, or those alleged values are just propaganda.

Which, of course, they are.

Add this to my list of why I’m not wasting my time with the Olympics this year, or any year.


Pointer: Fred

Source: Huffington Post

28 thoughts on “Doesn’t Islam Endorse Sportsmanship? Even In The Olympics?

  1. Another video, in my opinion better quality:

    That’s sad, I wonder if he would have still rejected a handshake if he had won?

  2. I was in the judo club as a college freshman, and while I never got beyond the first degree white belt, I did learn two things. One was how to be thrown to the mat without getting hurt. The other was the ritual bow of respect. This took on an almost spiritual meaning and was done with solemnity.
    “The bow, seeded in Japanese tradition, is a symbol of respect and trust. As a contact and impact activity in which partners need each other to learn and progress, partners are responsible for each other’s safety and well being. Therefore, when we bow on the judo mat before the exercise, we entrust our partner. After the exercise we bow in thanks for not violating that trust.”

    Of course just about all sports have similar rituals.

  3. Jack,
    If the Olympics are a waste of time (and I agree they are), it doesn’t matter. You can’t have it both ways: “I refuse to care about something until something happens which confirms why I don’t care about that thing, then I’m going to complain wildly about it. Fish has gotta swim. This is the Oscars all over again.

    Also, refusing to shake someone’s hand isn’t of the same kind of degree as murder, so I can’t see that Munic has anything to do with anything (especially considering the Egyptians hate the Palestinians almost as much as the Israelis).

  4. ” What review is necessary? The Egypt team should be penalized immediately, issue an apology to the disrespected athlete and his nation, or, if it refuses, be sent home. ”

    Absolutely! Religious fanaticism has no place in this or any other athletic competition, not politics nor economics. This competition (and I heartily endorse your decision NOT to watch, which is pretty much the only way we can withhold support at this time) should be and sometimes, rarely, is. I recall the bru-ha-ha when an American shot-putter hugged an East German shot-putter after the German bested the second-place American. The American came just shy of being accused of being a traitor to his country.

  5. Endorse? Jack, the only thing Islam “endorses” is Islam. I don’t mean to nit-pick you on your thread title. I really don’t. But I think we have all seen enough Islam in action around the world to realize how a concept like “sportsmanship” is just way too complicated for Islam. How many Muslims do you know? Ask *them* about this. The Muslims I know embrace Islam in large number, in large measure, because of the peace that comes to them through the SIMPLICITY of Islam’s message. They say so, in those words. Don’t waste your time with the Olympics – fine. Don’t waste your time expecting sophisticated socialization patterns from Islam, either, then.

    • Sportsmanship, though, is basic human relations. I know The Golden Rule covers basic manners and decency in Christianity, and most cultures have an equivalent. As does Islam, I thought. From my files…

      Islamic Text on the Golden Rule:

      The Quran:
      “Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess [the slave]: For God loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious” (Q:4:36)

      The Quran goes beyond the Golden Rule by stating in more than four places that “Return evil with Kindness.” (13:22, 23:96, 41:34, 28:54, 42:40))

      Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):
      “None of you have faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself” (Sahih

      “Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and to enter Paradise”¦should treat the people as he wishes to be treated.” (Sahih Muslim)

      “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself”(Forty Hadith-Nawawi)

      “None of you is a believer if he eats his full while his neighbour hasn’t anything.” (Musnad)

      “Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.” (Abu Dawud)

      “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” (Farewell Sermon)

      • Oh – now I get it: That Israeli’s extension of his hand was an act of Zionist cultural imperialist aggression. Gad! I have not heard a single one of the Muslims I know cite a single one of those verses or quotes you cited.

    • “Don’t waste your time expecting sophisticated socialization patterns from Islam, either”

      Very descriptive, and very succinct. And, all of the verses that Jack has quoted pertain to your Muslim neighbor.

  6. On a related note, I once was the only female attorney on a team that was representing Muslim firefighters (along with the ACLU) in a fight against DC because of regulations that required them to shave their beards. My clients refused to shake my hand although they would shake the male attorneys’ hands. I’ll admit that it bothered me for a day or two, but then I got over it.

      • Other Bill, I’m not sure what this comment is supposed to mean. I am an attorney. When I practiced, I handled the cases presented to me. As an associate, I had no say in the manner. I did my job to the best of ability. If I was told to represent female firefighters in a class action against DC because of discrimination or persecution, I would have done that too.

        Have you not seen the dozens of posts that Jack has written about the obligations of attorneys to their clients?

          • I practiced law for twenty years. Lawyers are not public utilities like buses. They don’t have to pick up every person who wants to ride. I’m just asking Beth what she thinks about guys who treat women that way. She’s the mother of girls who are going to live in great, diverse future. She got over these guys being assholes to her in two days. Is that the way to go when we’re confronted by a retrograde, tribal culture that wants to take advantage of ours? Lawyers are also human beings and citizens and parents.

            • Beth’s also very intelligent, educated and thoughtful. Her stated reaction just struck me as more than a little unsettling.

              And trust me, I know lawyers are hired assholes. It took me years to get over being one and return to being a normal human being.

              • I got over it because it is not my job to like my clients.

                On a personal level, I would never be friends with anyone who refused to shake my hand. And I will certainly be teaching my daughters to only be in relationships with people who respect them as equals. So if you’re asking me if I would be comfortable if my daughters date conservative Muslims, the answer would be no. But I also would be uncomfortable if they chose to date a Hasidic Jew, orthodox Mormon, or any other right wing religious sect. None of that has to do with the practice of law. Would you have asked the male partners on the team the same question you did of me?

                Have you ever been an associate at a large law firm? You do what you’re told, as long as you are not committing an ethical breach. There were times that I said “no” during my career, but if I had refused to represent a client because I didn’t like that client, I would have been fired — and rightly so.

    • Okay, Beth is the cool lady making a calm, rational statement. Spartan is the bodyguard, drawing her weapon just half way out of the holster in warning. Can’t wait to see the next incarnation. You go, girl!

  7. Well, I guess I’ll miss the pyramids this year. I think I will watch track this year and see if Egypt wins any medals. Unlikely!!!

  8. In defence of El Shahabi… He was walking a tightrope, not just engaging in judo.

    To conform to the minimal rules of civilised behaviour – and the rules of judo – he had to bow. A nod like his might just if you squint hard be enough to avoid immediate disqualification.

    Shaking hands is not required by the rules. Bowing is.

    In order to keep his family from being murdered by Islamists, his behaviour is understandable, as it attempted to thread the needle between disqualification and suicide.

    I hope he is successful there. I hope both he and his family don’t get assassinated.

    • Explain this to deery and Valkyirrl. Although I don’t know why you assume that the Egyptian would have shaken his hand had he not been in fear. The guy’s NAME is Islam. He’s not an American Muslim, he’s been raised in the region.What are the odds that he was raised to respect all religions and non-believers, or to accept the historical and diplomatic complexities of the Palastinian-Israel dispute? I’m all for the benfit of the doubt, but there’s barely enough here to hand a sock on.

    • This, Zoe – what you say – I am willing to believe. Perhaps the Egyptian was walking a tightrope of sorts – or, from your use of a different (better, IMHO) figure of speech, perhaps he was trying to thread a needle. So perhaps it is not unreasonable for him to think that the Israeli’s extension of a hand was more of a shaking of the rope – or, a narrowing of the needle’s eye. Thanks for helping me to feel a little more empathy for the Egyptian.

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