Brothers Hamza and Husain Abdullah will visit West Virginia University’s campus this week representing much more than the NFL teams they’ve played for or their Muslim religion.
Their message is universal, said Mohamed Ali, a senior political science major from Manassas, Va., who has held leadership positions with the African Student Association (president) and Muslim Student Association (former vice president) at WVU.
“This message is not just for Muslims but for all people serving the highest power,” Ali said “It’s something everybody can learn from.”
The Abdullahs will discuss their lives as African-American Muslims, their faith and experience as professional athletes and more Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Mountainlair ballroom. Their lecture is part of WVU’s celebration of Black History Month. They will also discuss the social challenges and misperceptions of Islam in America in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attacks and how it has affected their lives and their family.
Hamza played seven years with Arizona Cardinals and Husain two with the Minnesota Vikings before both took the 2012 season off to speak at mosques across the country and make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Husain recently signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs but the brothers put their careers – and lucrative contracts—on hold while deepening their faith.
“Looking at athletes or celebrities that make it to that level it’s difficult to pass up a multi-million dollar contract,” Ali said. “When you see someone that says, ‘There’s something greater to this life,’ that’s a message that needs to be shared with all people because it shows leadership.”
Maintaining a life balance between faith and a professional athletic career has not been easy. One of the Abdullahs greatest challenges each season was fasting during the holy month Ramadan in the midst of long practice days.
For the past few years the Muslim Student Association and the Center for Black Culture and Research have worked together promote awareness of Islam during Black History Month as African Americans comprise a significant portion of the Muslim population in the U.S.
“The point of Black History Month and having these programs at West Virginia University is to w-h-i-p ignorance,” Ali said. “You whip ignorance with wisdom, happiness, integrity, and peace. That’s how you get rid of ignorance.”
The event is made possible by collaboration between the Center for Black Culture and Research, the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, WVU Student Affairs, the Muslim Student Association and the Islamic Center of Morgantown.
Hamza Abdullah will also be presenting a short talk at the Islamic Center of Morgantown on Friday, March 1 at 5:30 p.m.
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.