How Mohamed Salah Is Reshaping Britain's Perception Of Islam

Mohamed Salah has become a blessing not only to Liverpool, but also to a British community.

Salah was once a 19-goal-a-season man, plying his trade in Serie A. He was a man on the cusp of recognition in English football and an early flirtation with Chelsea meant we knew his name and position, but little else.

His £35 million move from AS Roma to Liverpool last summer, however, changed everything.

It was considered a fair price 12 months ago and today it seems like the steal of the century.

To understand Salah's global impact, you first must appreciate the extent of his ability.

The 25-year-old has emerged as a genuine elite of the game. A bonafide 'edge of your seat' super-star. Comparisons with Lionel Messi now go beyond style and stature and into statistics. 44 goals and counting this season.

Salah's electric form this term has gone further than simply extending his YouTube highlights reel, his presence is knocking down social barriers and changing Britain's perception of an area of his life far more important than football - his faith.

The subject of Islam is contentious in Britain today. Negative representations of the faith have propagated fear and formed an antagonism between middle Britain and the Islamic communities it harbours.

Through the presence of Salah, the British Islamic community has a positive figurehead in a sea of negative headlines.

Channel 4 recognised the craze of 'Salahism' in 'Mo Salah: A Football Fairy Tale' last week. Despite the frothy title, the programme provided great insight into the tangible impact Salah has had on Islamic Britain.

Salah scores a stunner against Spurs. Image: PA
Salah scores a stunner against Spurs. Image: PA

Salah
Salah

Mumin Khan, Chief executive of the Sheikh Abdullah Quilliam Mosque in Liverpool, said:

"He is an absolute positive role model for the Muslim and non-Muslim community here in the UK and around the world.

"He has changed the perception of some of the negative beliefs that people have about the Islamic faith.

"This is the model that we are looking for for the whole of Britain really. People like him who can bring us all together."

Galib Khan, chairman of the same Mosque, added: "Mo has brought together children of all faiths and groups and colour and we are all proud of him.

"It brings fun to our lives. It brings positive images of everything that is in Islam to games and in people. I think Mo has given us a gift that we will not forget."

It's usually those from humble beginnings who truly grasp the desperation of others less fortunate. Salah was raised in Nagrig, Egypt, a Nile delta village where wild animals share highways with horse-drawn carts and motorbikes.

Salah being Salah. Image: PA
Salah being Salah. Image: PA

He has given back to his hometown, injecting hundreds of thousands into the area and helping a local drug campaign by featuring in their campaign. Calls to the organisation's rehabilitation hotline have increased 400%.

Through Salah's influence, the village is football mad. Children with callused feet play on sandy ground, desperate to emulate their hero whose murals can be found painted on nearby walls. The Liverpool star is an icon for millions, in faith as well as football.

While Salah is no deity, he represents greater possibilities for the village.

His influence now though is truly global. Saudi Arabia presented him with a piece of land at Mecca as recognition of his inspirational achievements to Muslims across the world.

Liverpool supporters declare: "If he scores another few, then I'll be Muslim too,". Salah really is a phenomenon.

Tomorrow, the day of the Champions League final, he will break fast and pray before kick-off in Kiev. Real Madrid can wait, for Salah, bigger things are at play.

Once thought unimaginable in Britain, Salah has united faith and football beautifully.

The young boy who hiked four-hour journeys from his village to Cario to train with the local team is now a global source of inspiration for Muslims.

Arab Player of the Year, African Player of the Year, PFA Players' Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year, Premier League Player of the Season and Champions League winner?

The story of Salah's success has only just begun.

Jacque Talbot

Jacque Talbot is a journalist and sports writer at SPORTbible. He graduated from Manchester Metropolitan with a BA in English and Film. He is a football, snooker, and basketball enthusiast and has been published in the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Set Pieces, Planet Football and the Morning Star. He’s the greatest thing to come out of Essex since Nick Frost.

Next Up

arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up camera clock comment cursor facebook-messenger facebook Instagram link new-window play share snapchat submit twitter vine whatsapp ODDSbible