Many Muslim Olympians Get A Break On Ramadan Fasting | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Many Muslim Olympians Get A Break On Ramadan Fasting

Hundreds of Muslim athletes are participating in the London Olympics, which officially begin Friday. But along with travel and other logistics, they're also adjusting to Ramadan, the holy month that requires them to fast.

Many athletes say they'll forego the ban on consuming food and drink, as Barbara Bradley Hagerty reported Friday. The daylong fast is a threat to a strong performance — and their hopes of bringing pride to their nation, they say.

In most cases, the athletes are skipping or postponing the fast under an Islamic dispensation for Muslims who are traveling. Other athletes have been issued special fatwas, or religious rulings, authorizing them to postpone their fast.

Barbara spoke to open-water swimmer Mazen Aziz, of Egypt.

"I don't think anyone can handle that. Anyone," Aziz says of competing in his event without consuming any water or food. "You may die, because you just don't have anything in your body. Like, empty. So that would be so dangerous."

The open-water swim can last for well over an hour and 45 minutes, Barbara reports.

For most Muslim athletes, the choice to put off the fast disrupts years of tradition that began as early as age 12.

"It was a really difficult decision because I've fasted all my life for Ramadan – it's incredibly important to me. But if I fast, it will be impossible to stay in peak condition and perform at my highest level in the Games," British discus thrower Abdul Buhari tells The Guardian. "I believe God is forgiving, and I'll make up for every single day I've missed."

The United Arab Emirates has sought relief for its athletes, as France 24 reports. The plan calls for athletes to "make up" the fast after they're done competing.

While Morocco is considering joining the practice, "athletes from more conservative Islamic countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, will however be expected to stick rigidly to the rules of the holy month," according to France 24.

Of course, Ramadan presents a challenge to all Muslim athletes, not only those who are Olympians.

On her Lifting Covered blog, Pakistani-American weightlifter Kulsoom Abdullah, who lives in Atlanta, has written about the difficulties of training during Ramadan.

Among her recommendations: for the pre-fast morning meal, go light on carbohydrates, which might send blood sugar higher — and increase the urge to eat. Abdullah isn't competing in this summer's Olympics.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Can Finishing A Big Bowl Of Ramen Make Dreams Come True?

At his ramen shop in Cambridge, Mass., chef Tsuyishi Nishioka wants customers to follow their dreams. His philosophy? If you can finish a bowl of his ramen, you can accomplish anything in life.
NPR

Keychain Breathalyzers May Make Quantified Drinking Easy

Some of us now monitor our steps, sleep and calorie intake with wristbands and apps. So why not track blood alcohol levels? We explore the next frontier in the self-measurement movement.
NPR

As Political Disenchantment Soars, Lines At The Polls Grow Shorter

There has been record low turnout among voters in the 2014 primaries so far. Is it political dysfunction that's made voters lose interest? And what might this mean for November's general elections?
NPR

Bill Allowing Americans To Unlock Cellphones Passes House, Heads To Obama

The bill also directs the Librarian of Congress to review whether the exemption should also apply to tablets and other devices.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.