By Nader Nasr
Hundreds of Muslims have emailed Germany’s soccer club, Schalke 04, over its anthem, which makes references to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The anthem, which also caused small, temporary protests by Muslims in 1997, states in the third verse “Muhammad was a prophet who understood nothing about football [soccer]. But of all the lovely colors he chose [Schalke’s] blue and white.”
Muslims in Germany became aware of the anthem when it was referenced in a report by the Turkish media. Since then, many angry Muslims have contacted the club and demanded the verse be removed, complaining that it lampoons the Prophet and suggests that he would be inept in soccer.
However, Muslims are not one-sided on this issue.
“From our point of view, the song is neither blasphemy, nor does it constitute mockery of the Prophet,” said Aiman Mazyek, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims. Mazyek said that the Prophet “lived before the invention of football” and that it was best “to take it with humour.”
Schalke 04 has taken this matter very seriously and even consulted Bulent Ucar, an Islamic scholar, to look into complaints about the verse.
“The song is age old. Both sides should sit down and discuss this, we’re all sensible people,” said Rusi Assaur, the club’s former manager.
“The assertion is objectively correct, because there simply was no football in the seventh century,” said Ucar, “Besides, a good deal of humourlessness goes into interpreting this text as a disparagement of the Prophet (PBUH) and a hate campaign against him…It contains no substance that is in any way slanderous.”
Ucar concluded that the author of the text, Hans. J. Koenig, a Cologne-based musician who died in 1992, was not in any way critical of Islam or the Prophet. Koenig was inspired by an older folk song that said the Prophet “understands a lot about colors.”
Mazyek said he doubts the verse will be taken out.