I just posted this on the Catholic Stand.
About a month ago, during the Euro Cup, I was impressed reading a few pieces in the press about Mesut Özil, an extremely talented Muslim soccer player who often opens his palms in prayer during stoppages in play and reads the Koran before matches. I saw a quote from him saying, “I’d rather not play football again than to not fast in Ramadan,” even though I later found out that during the Euro Cup he took advantage of the dispensation to move fast days if you’re traveling. For those of you who don’t watch soccer, Özil is likely the best playmaker in the world right now, creating more scoring opportunities than any other player in the five major European leagues last year, and breaking the 1 year record in that regard for the English Premiere League by a clean dozen.
Özil even shows certain acts of charity he links back to his Muslim faith and family upbringing like paying for operations for 23 sick children after the World Cup in Brazil and regularly paying for disabled children to come watch his games in London. I believe him 100% when he talks about how positive influence Islam is had on his life. In fact, I’d considered writing a whole article on him titled “The Muslim Tim Tebow.”
Even though I’d love for him to convert to Catholicism, I can see him fitting perfectly into what Vatican II said about Muslims:
The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. (Nostra Aetate 3)