(RNS) Omar Abdelkader, a student at Northeastern University in Boston, is an observant Muslim but admits that, at least as a kid, he was occasionally seduced by the swish of a perfect jump-shot over the Islamic call to prayer.
“Sometimes we’d sneak out of prayers to play ball,” recalled Abdelkader, who grew-up attending the Worcester Islamic Center in central Massachusetts. Like a growing number of American mosques, the Worcester Islamic Center has a basketball court — and hence a built-in temptation for younger members.
“It’s not supposed to be like that, but kids love to play the game,” Abdelkader said while watching a recent Boston Celtics playoff game on a big-screen television at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. He was joined by about 20 other Muslims, a scene that is being replicated in living rooms and Islamic community centers as the NBA playoffs head toward the finals in June. [Read more…]