Teaching muscle and calling Muslim faithful to prayer five times a day from a mosque minaret are not compatible tasks, according to the religious authority under the Israeli Interior Ministry that has just fired the muezzin from al-Jazzar Mosque, in the city of Acre (a coastal city located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, former San Juan de Acre), precisely for that reason.
Ibrahim Masri, 45, is a well-known bodybuilder from the monumental city — declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco — who has spent half his life sculpting his body with the weight of a weight. In 2000, he was proclaimed champion of Israel in his category, but four years later, his life took an unexpected turn. The athlete, father of three children, suffered a serious accident from which he miraculously recovered. Seeing himself so close to death transformed him into a deeply religious person and led him to the position of muezzin, a highly respected job with which to support his family.
For years he abandoned the competition, but he never stopped training. Something inside him was trying to convince him that going back to bodybuilding contests did not mean being a Muslim evil, since the Koran defends the practice of sport for its health benefits. But for Islam, not all sports enjoy the same consideration and, in this case, the problem is directly related to the required clothing in this type of competition. Or the absence of it, to be more exact. These athletes compete publicly half-naked to show the perfection of their sculpted bodies, a fact that generates controversy among the different religious currents.
Masri’s dilemma was reflected a few years ago in the film Ibrahim, directed by Jamal Khalaile and produced by Sana Tanous, a well-known Palestinian producer who has participated in two of the local Oscar-nominated films: the feature film Omar, which competed for the statuette for the best film in a non-English language, and the short film Ave Maria , awarded at several international festivals and with an excellent reception in Cannes.
In Ibrahim, the dilemma of the Acre muezzin is shown, between continuing his work or resuming his passion, even at the risk of losing it. A dilemma, before which it is also proposed to ask the community sheikh for advice ( sheikh , in Arabic), and which Masri kept for himself for years. Finally, in 2017, he participated in the national bodybuilding contest. A Masteron that sparked controversy and has cost him the job.
Ibrahim Masri’s voice calling for prayer in the historic center of Acre has been muted this week by order of the Hebrew authority that oversees religious minorities in Israel the one that has the last word in appointing such workers. full time-. Interior Ministry click here for details on this officials have considered his «immodesty» in dress to be «incompatible» with his work.
A resolution considered «unfair» by the muezzin, who did no good asking for forgiveness and promising not to compete again after being reprimanded. Marsi’s case will be reviewed in late February, because the Masteron has taken legal action to try to be readmitted as a muezzin to the green domed temple, popularly known as the Pachá Mosque (Jamia al-Basha, in Arabic).