One of the most well-known mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in the world is coming to metro Detroit to speak Tuesday at an Islamic educational center about his Muslim faith and career.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has an undefeated 29-0 record and is often named among the best MMA fighters of all time, is to speak at the Miftaah Institute, a Muslim seminary in Warren founded in 2017.
“Catch an interview session and a panel discussion with Khabib and our Miftaah instructors,” organizers said of the event. “Get to know Khabib on a personal level, from his childhood to his professional journey of staying undefeated in the UFC, to where he is now in life.”
Scholars with the Warren institute are hoping that Nurmagomedov, a native of Russia’s Dagestan region who has become one of the most popular athletes in the Muslim world, can inspire people to become better Muslims, comparing him to the late boxer Muhammad Ali.
“We are excited to host Khabib not because simply of his career, and him being 29 and 0, or us just being fans, but also because we do hope to inspire people, and inspire ourselves to becoming better Muslims, humans, and how we can put Allah at the forefront of our decisions,” Mufti Abdul Wahab Waheed, co-founder of the Miftaah Institute, said in a video about the event.
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There is debate among Muslims as to whether sports such as boxing and MMA are acceptable in their faith. Some Islamic scholars and speakers have argued that they are not acceptable since they violate what they say is an Islamic tradition against sports that involve striking the face of an opponent.
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But others say it is permissible in some cases and also a way to reach a broader interest in religion.
“Many people have asked and are asking: Why is Miftaah hosting Khabib Nurmagomedov?” Waheed explained. “What is the purpose behind it? He’s not a scholar, he’s not an imam, he’s not a instructor. So what’s the objective? … Throughout different generations and eras there have been individuals that have been able to inspire people towards becoming better Muslims, becoming better humans. And amongst them have been people who are imams and scholars … but they’ve also been individuals like the great Muhammad Ali … who perhaps are not imams or scholars, but they were able to inspire people to becoming better Muslims and be better humans.”
The Miftaah Institute offers classes on Islam seeking to “empower and educate people through an accessible and an approachable platform,” the institute says on its website.
“The undergraduate program welcomed the first class of 2018,” the group said. “Miftaah Institute continues to flourish, accepting new enrollments yearly and actively presenting (a) variety of workshops and seminars throughout North America. By the end of 2017, the first ever annual Seerah Intensive Program was initiated.”
A leader with the group could not be reached Monday for immediate comment.
Nurmagomedov announced earlier this month he was coming to Michigan in a tweet. The event is being sponsored by several Islamic charities and other groups, including Islamic Relief USA and Helping Hand for Relief and Development.
More information on the event and how to attend is available at miftaah.org. The event is from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Miftaah Institute, 11200 E. 11 Mile, Warren. Tickets for the event range from $75 to $250.
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