Mohammad Yosuf, the elegant terrorist!
07 December, 2006
By Ahmer Muzammil
A tribute to Yosuf's record shattering year in cricket..
I grew up in Karachi in the late eighties and early nineties so hating everything that hailed from Punjab was as natural as the Gas from SUI. As a teenager I hated Imran Khan with passion and it obviously couldn't have had anything to do with his cricketing abilities. He was Punjabi so I had to dislike him. It was really that plain and simple. Not that Miandad needed
any undue support or acclaim, but he just couldn't do anything wrong and Imran was always the devil in comparison, unfortunately reality isn't black and white like that, but you learn and mature with time. Some might argue that Imran was prejudice against karachiites during his captaincy and to some extent it might even be true, but in hindsight it's hard to argue if Pakistan has ever seen a captain like him, although he is getting a run for his money from inzi. Recently a very dear friend reminded me how I have done a 180 on most of my teen ideologies, I told him that I also use to think that Juhi Chawla was my sole-mate but thankfully common sense has prevailed in most aspects of my life.
Pakistan cricket achieved a landmark yesterday that hasn't been touched in 3 decades and the one player who had reached that landmark before yesterday was one unknown Caribbean by the name of Sir VIV Richards. Less said about the man the better, "aap apna taaruff subha bahar kii hay'. However I would like to say a sentence or two about the Pakistani who broke Sir Viv Richard's long standing record for most runs in a calendar year, as many of you might already know that man is Mohammad Yosuf.
This comes as a surprise to many in the cricketing world because not too long ago Yosuf was known as someone who didn't do justice with his talent. He had so much promise but he never really delivered when it mattered the most. He has always had a sure place in the side because you knew every now and again he will produce a stunner but that killer instinct, that oomph that separates greats from the rest wasn't there. His was called the "lazy elegance". But something changed last year. Yosuf Yohana became Mohammad Yosuf. What does that has to do with cricket Well nothing and everything. If religion is nothing but what your forefathers believed in yester years, and its something that's too simplistic for an intellectual existence like yourself then it's really no big deal. But if your belief is that there is in fact a life of eternity waiting for you beyond this 80-90 year stay that we have in this world and you believe that your eternal bliss is dependent on how you behave
in this life then religion must play a vital role in your daily life. Yosuf has always been very public about his religion. When he was a Christian, he made sure that everyone knew that he was one by drawing the cross as soon as he entered the ground, and now that he is a muslim, you can spot his religion to the dismay of our PCB chairman from a mile away.
What has fundamentally changed in Yosuf's case is really more to do with his head than cricket. His technique and elegance has been the same although he doesn't fall over as much as he use to but that easy on the eyes cover drive that is the hallmark of everything that is Yosuf's batting is as omnipresent as ever, I read somewhere that the only man who drives better than Yosuf is Michael Schumaker, couldn't have said better myself.
We know now that he has been contemplating reversion for the past 4 years or so, some sources say that he in fact had reverted 3 years ago and just didn't make it public because of threats from his family. I can't imagine the psychological pressure one must go through when he/she chooses to forsake the religion of their parents, especially in a close knit family like yosuf's.
Mohammad Yosuf came from a very humble family, his mother was a nurse (not a very sexy profession unfortunately in our society) and his father was a janitor. His stardom has completely overhauled his family's stature in more ways than one. On all accounts Yosuf has always been and continue to be a very responsible son & brother. In 2004 his brand new Mercedes was vandalized but he refused to lodge an FIR. Credible sources say that it was his brother and cousin who were the culprits. They were acting up in retaliation to his reversion to Islam. Yosuf choose to take the high road and kept on supporting his family financially even though they had broken all ties from him back then. Recent reports suggest that his family has come around and they accept and respect him with his new faith. I always wondered where do these people get their strength from "How is that they are able to denounce the faith of there parent's and not only accept a new faith but practice it like they had
never practiced there old religion. So I asked Suhaib Webb who is a revert and a well-known Speaker on the western circuit, I had the privilege to go to school with him @ University of Oklahoma. He said once you have an epiphany that your eternal salvation is at stake, it's a no-brainer. No wonder then Yosuf is playing now like a weight has been lifted off of his shoulder.
Consider this, according to Osman Samiuddin of Cricinfo "Yousuf's final tally for the year is 1788 runs from 11 Tests, and 665 of them have come from the series against West Indies. He began this remarkable venture with two hundreds in the home series against India. He only played a Test in Sri Lanka, nothing to write home about, but a double century at Lord's re-kindled a marvelous second half of the year.
Two more hundreds came from the remaining three Tests in England, including 192 at Headingley. He ended the year with three hundreds in three Tests against the West Indies at home.
During the course of this magnificent run, a few more records fell. His first-innings hundred at Karachi meant that he had scored eight Test hundreds this year alone, going past the previous best of seven, held jointly by Richards and Aravinda de Silva. By scoring five hundreds in five consecutive Tests, he also became only the third man, along with Jacques Kallis and Sir Don Bradman (six hundreds in six Tests) to do so."
He gracefully avoided the question of him being the greatest batsmen ever to wear the Paki-green and instead paid tribute to Miandad by saying that he was his ideal. Sir Viv Richards once said that If he ever had to choose one batsmen and his life was depending on it, it would be miandad, there just can't be a bigger compliment. Sanjay Manjarekar says that there might be a better batsmen out there than yosuf although I beg to differ but he rightly points out that there are none in the world that play with the calmness and serenity that he does.
Ever since he has reverted to Islam his test average hovers some where around 80's and one day average is not too shabby either. His average this year has been above 100. I am not suggesting that "There is none worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad (PBUH) is the last messenger" is a magic mantra or something but it sure seems to have a positive effect on some.
I find it amazing that there are millions upon millions of muslims by birth who take their faith for granted, some openly mock it and here is a man who was born in a poor Christian family in a society where minorities tend to stick together (that's why you hardly see any reversions in muslim societies as compared to the west), reached the heights of stardom and financial bliss but still felt that emptiness that Rock star Cat Stevens, Mohammad Ali, Malik al-shahbaz malcom X, Junaid Jamshed and 20,000 americans every year amongst others encounter and eventually found the solace in Islam.
What will happen once we die"That's a million dollar question. But if Quran is God's word than I don't think that God would have revealed his word on a liar. And if Muhammad (PBUH) wasn't a liar and he wasn't then those of us who have that belief shouldn't be confused about what's the game-plan. It's not rocket science. In our quest to become 'Intellectual' some of us make Islam so confusing and complicated that only a brain-surgeon can figure out how to get salvation. Let me break it down for ya all. Believe in one GOD, Offer your prayers, give charity, be socially responsible, raise your voice against injustice and in favor of the oppressed regardless of the religion of the oppressed, be fair in all your matters, be nice to your wife, siblings, kids, parents and to your neighbors regardless of neighbor's religion, STAY HUMBLE, that's a big one! Prophet peace be upon him said 'Whoever has an ounce of pride won't even smell paradise'. And most of all just do the best you
can. And then hope for the best. Because salvation is from Allah SWT, we should and must do everything that we can to attain it but eventually it will be the mercy of the creator that would have to set us free. However my submission is that mercy will be rendered to people who tried, had modesty and didn't scorn the rules & regulations set by GOD.
I realize that this article is all over the place but no matter what I am about to write, some how Islam and after life becomes unavoidable maybe because in my head that's an inescapable reality and sooner we recognize it better it will be for our perpetual harmony.