SHAFAQNA Â -Â England cricketer Moeen Ali is hopeful that his presence in Alastair Cook’s side this summer can help to change misconceptions of Muslims in Britain.
The Birmingham-born all-rounder, who is set to make his Ashes debut in Cardiff on Wednesday, is a devout Muslim and will be fasting throughout the Test series.
Given that the battle with the Aussies is set to be played out in the searing heat, it would be easy to suggest that Aliâ€™s performances could suffer due to his commitment to Ramadan.
However, the 28-year-old is adamant that the reverse is true and, if anything, fasting has a positive effect on his game.
â€œIf youâ€™re not doing much you might feel a bit lethargic, but if Iâ€™m at the ground, if Iâ€™m playing, then it just isnâ€™t difficult. And itâ€™s brilliant for teaching self-control, having discipline, detoxification of your body, after a couple of days you really feel much better,â€ he told the Daily Mail.
Yet Ali also revealed that, sadly, he has received his fair share of negativity on these shores.
“I know people arenâ€™t sure about men who look like I do. People donâ€™t see the beard as a bit of hair. Iâ€™ve been shouted at, called some horrible names, and when I first came to Worcester I noticed people crossing the road to avoid me,â€ he said.
Although Ali is aware that his general appearance differs greatly from what some perceive to be the norm, he is keen to show that Muslims are no different to anyone else.
“Yes, there are a lot of bad Muslims giving us a bad name, but all I would say is that it isnâ€™t just Muslims who need to change. There are a lot of ignorant people, too.
“I hope what people see in me is that Iâ€™m a normal guy, and that people who look as I do can do normal things. And people donâ€™t see us as normal at times. We still chuckle as people do, we still drink a cup of tea, but we feel alienated.
“I hope I can change that, so even if I can make one person think, ‘You know, Muslims are all right, theyâ€™re good people’, then Iâ€™ve done a decent job,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, Moeâ€™s spin option is set to be a crucial part of England’s bowling attack throughout the upcoming series.
Australia have been installed as favourites, despite the recent retirement of Ryan Harris, but Ali and his countryman have not ruled out the prospect of a surprise victory.