Horses are mentioned a number of times in the Qu’ran, with many of the verses describing them in extremely positive terms.
In the Hadith of Abu Dawud, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) explains one of the reasons why horses must be well cared for:
“Don’t cut short the forelocks of horses, nor of their tails, because the tails keep off the flies, and regarding manes, they keep them warm, and blessings are interwoven with the hairs of their foreheads.”
In Britain today, the only contact many people have with the animals is via horse racing. The sport is often viewed unfavourably by Muslims due to its associations with gambling.
However, one young Muslim is trying to shift the focus back to the sporting qualities of horse racing by fulfilling his ambition of being a jockey.
Anas Rhyman, 15, is an aspiring jockey from Gloucester whose love of horse racing is transcending the sport’s negative connotations and restrictive barriers to entry. Despite its prohibitive cost and class associations, Anas’ passion and determination are winning out.
In an interview with the BBC, Anas said: “All over the world. It doesn’t matter what culture you are. What race you are. It’s open to anyone.”
Anas’ sheer love for the sport is infectious. His enthusiasm, along with training from St James City Farm Riding School in Tredworth, Gloucester (and a donated jockey uniform), saw him compete at the historic Cheltenham racecourse in October.
Before we tell you how Anas did in the race, a little about St James City Farm Riding School. The organisation gives young people in the Gloucester area the chance to build confidence and aspiration through horse riding. It’s primarily run by volunteers, meaning children and teenagers who wouldn’t usually get the chance to try the sport can do so, without having to shoulder the large expenses associated with it.
So back to the race. Unfortunately, Anas didn’t win. However, getting the chance to race at Cheltenham was a reward in itself for the young rider: “Being at Cheltenham….no matter what position you come, is just the best experience you’ll ever get”.
As it mentions in the Qu’ran, horses are creatures that we must care for. While we might not all be fans of the sport they are involved in, Anas’ passion for the animals and the races they run is something we can all admire.