Religion better than Bollywood, Anwar~~s sermon

Published: Saturday, January 5, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi: Pakistan's dashing left-handed opener Saeed Anwar has urged Muslim youths to turn towards religion rather than waste time on sports and entertainment. "I have spent my life reading about Sir Don Bradman rather than Prophet Mohammad," Anwar said in a sermon at a mosque in Southern Karachi late on Friday, referring to the late Australian cricketing legend.The 33-year-old became a devoted Muslim after the death of his daughter Sidra in September 2001. He now preaches Islam and gives sermons throughout the country, but maintains his cricketing career is not over. "Turning to religion does not mean that I have left cricket, but I have certainly said goodbye to my social life to devote my life to Islam," he said. In his latest sermon he urged people, particularly young boys and girls, to start reading about the life of the Prophet Mohammad instead of spending their lives gazing at 'Bollywood' movie stars from India. "Since my childhood I have been watching Indian movies, but those days are over and I will now ask you all to turn to religion," Anwar said. Among the congregation of about 300 at the mosque, some people objected as photographers tried to take Anwar's photograph. "It is so good to see him among us, not as a cricketer but as a true Muslim," said one of the people listening to the sermon, who did not want to be named. Anwar, who holds the world record for the highest One-day International score - with 194 against India at Chennai in 1997 - has pulled out of Pakistan's Bangladesh tour due to a fractured wrist that has put him out of action for at least three months. But many believe Anwar's career is finished because of his heavy involvement in his religion. Other players have also complained that he has been pressuring them to observe their religion more closely. Other top Pakistan cricketers to turn to religion include former fast bowler Fazal Mahmood and another left-handed opener Qasim Omar. Anwar has played 55 Tests since 1990, scoring 4,052 runs with 11 centuries. He also scored 8,348 runs in 230 one-day internationals with 19 centuries. Anwar had said he wants to continue playing until the World Cup 2003 in South Africa.

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