LONDON: England cricketer Moeen Ali has “strongly advised” his fellow British Muslims against joining Islamic State or other similar groups fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Asked what his advice would be to his compatriots contemplating such action, Ali told the Huffington Post website in an interview: “I would strongly advise them not to go.“
Ali insisted groups such as IS, which has beheaded three Western hostages in the past month, did not represent his faith.
“If you look at Islam, it condemns this sort of thing,” he said.
The government estimates around 500 British Muslims have travelled to Syria and Iraq in recent months to fight for groups such as IS.
“It is a little bit worrying,” Ali said. “As Muslims we need to understand the ruling behind (whether) guys can go (to fight).
“From my understanding.. we're not allowed to go and fight.. We've got to be patient as Muslims.. It doesn't mean sit back and let it happen. It's a tough one.
“We've got to be stronger as Muslims; concentrate on prayer and following the 'sunnah' (example of the Prophet).
“The strongest weapon we have as Muslims to is to make 'dua' (prayer). We've got to be stronger, better Muslims.“
A Muslim but also very English
Ali also said he saw no conflict between his faith and his career as a professional cricketer.
“If I can play, and change the mind of one person about being a Muslim player and having a beard, then I'll feel as if I've done my job,” the 27-year-old all-rounder added.
“I am a Muslim, yes, but I am also very English,” added Ali, whose father said his son was booed by India supporters during a recent international match because of his Muslim faith and Pakistani heritage.
“People don't realise how proud I am to be representing my country or being from Birmingham.
“Being English, being born in England, this is our home and we should be supporting our home country.“
During July's third Test against India in Southampton, Ali was told he had broken International Cricket Council rules banning political religious and racial activities by wearing wristbands saying “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine”.
Ali said at the time that his was a humanitarian and not a political gesture, although he did comply when asked by the ICC not to wear the wristbands again.
“I didn't actually know (the ICC rules),” Ali told the Huffington Post.
Former England fast bowler Steve Harmison labelled Ali's gesture as a “bit silly and naive”.
But Ali said: “It was humanitarian and I've thanked the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) for backing me and letting me wear it.“
“I had it on and a lot people were aware it and I got the message out. So it's fine.“