Muslim Olympic Athletes and Ramadan Fasting


BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: The world’s more than 1.5 billion Muslims have begun observing the holy month of Ramadan, when they fast every day from dawn to sunset and offer special prayers and gifts to the poor.

But what about Muslim athletes at the Olympic Games, which are set to open in London this coming week?  Should they participate in the fast?  And if they do, will it affect their chances of winning a medal?  Kim Lawton reports.

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: Muslims observing the month-long Ramadan fast are not allowed to eat or drink anything at all—even water—from sunrise to sunset. All Muslims who are able to do so are supposed to fast. But the Quran does allow for some exceptions.

MOHAMED ELSANOUSI, Islamic Society of North America: There are verses in the Quran that talk about people who are sick, or people who are traveling. So, within that period of travel or people who are sick, they are actually exempted from fasting.

LAWTON: Many Muslim Olympians believe they come under the travelers’ exemption. Judo champion Maher Abu Rmeileh is the first Palestinian to qualify for the Olympics. He says, “We asked religious scholars and they said that if we’re out on a mission like this, out on a national mission, there is no problem with not fasting, on the condition that when you return, you fast the days you lost, because fasting, like prayer, is obligatory.”

Religious scholars have said there are several ways Muslims can make up for not fasting during Ramadan.

ELSANOUSI: You know, if you are able to fast on different days, you are able to do that. If you are not, you can also pay a kind of charity instead of fasting.

LAWTON: Mohammed Sbihi on the British Rowing Team says he’s decided not to fast this year.

MOHAMMED SBIHI, British Rowing Team: The decision was made very early on that I shouldn’t fast. It was a personal decision that I made between myself and my family and then I informed the coaches of this.

LAWTON: Instead, Sbihi says he’ll be making extra donations to needy families. Still, many other athletes say they will observe the Ramadan fast, and they’re not concerned about how it may affect their performance. In 2008, Saudi Paralympic triple jumper Ossemah Masoud Alshinqiti fasted and he won the gold medal. He says, “You can play while you are fasting without any problems.” And some Muslim Olympians are hopeful they may even get a special Ramadan blessing for doing so.

I’m Kim Lawton reporting.

ABERNETHY: An estimated 3,000 Muslims will be competing in the Olympics, but no American-Muslims this time.

  • Humanist

    This kind of fasting, where people do not drink water for a long period of time is NOT healthy. Think for yourself.
    All religious books were invented and written by people mostly men, also there is no evidence whatsoever that God exists.

  • Rekita Chenault

    Hi Humanist, you are definitely right when you say think for yourself. You must stand for something or you will fall for anything. I also wanted to tell you that the living God loves you. You are made in his image. Look at how beautiful and amazing the human body is. Take into consideration all the things good and bad that have happenened in your life. Still you stand after the tribulations and you’re able to enjoy the goodness of this life. Ask yourself, what made you want to keep trying in life even though you felt like you had no hope left? God loves us so much and it is by him that we are able to keep pressing through the storms in our lives. Please don’t give up hope. You are more greater than you could ever imagine.

    Peace and Love to you.

  • Alice

    Why were the Olympics scheduled during Ramadan?

  • Anishum

    No person “wrote” the Quran. It would be illogical that anyone did WRITE Quran, because the word “Quran” actually means the “Recitation” (spoken words).
    According to the Quran’s teachings, it came directly to Muhammad, peace be upon him, from the angel Gabriel (Ar. Jibril), who received it from Almighty God (Allah) and then he recited it to Muhammad, peace be upon him, piece by piece, sentence by sentence, revealing small and large portions of it over a period of 23 years.

    The actual assembly and order of verses was never changed by Muhammad, peace be upon him. It was Jibril, the Angel of Allah, who instructed as to what should go where every time more of the Quran was revealed.

    In this world today there are thousands of people who have memorised the Quran word for word. If all the books in the world were thrown into the sea, which book do you think could be brought back in it’s full entirety? This should make anyone realise that there is a God and he knows much more than you.

  • Rafique from india

    may allah peace and mircy be all of you!
    we as muslims its compulsary for us to do fasting in ramadhan month, objective is we should feel hunger so that we can take care poor too as they feel every day, we shouldnt eat or drink any thing so that we can learn how to control our desires, also its benofitted variouse scientifical aspect, eg- we eat 11months and we are fasting one month so that our clostrol will mentain properly.

    Quran was revealed to prophet mohammad PBUHs , its pure good word you cant find single mistake into it, many claim but its mistrasnlation only, quran has many scientific fact, quran has falseficion too eg- it says produce one surah like the quran, 2 it says jews cant become good friend with muslims as whole,