London: Muslim athletes are competing in the London Olympics 2012 during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and they are observing fasting of around 17 long hours daily from sunrise till sunset.
Olympic Games brutally test the human bodies and the Muslim athletes are going through two sever challenges: one is of giving their best in the Olympics and the second is observing obligatory fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Followers of Islam have been ordered by Allah to restrain from all food and drinks from sunrise till sunset during the sacred Islamic month, Ramadan. However, it is testing Muslim athletes who are competing in the region of UK during hot summers where summer daylight hours are between 4 am and 9 pm.
This is the second time since 1980 that Olympic Games have coincided with Ramadan which is once again a real challenge for Muslim athletes after three decades.
However, many Muslim participants have consulted to the Islamic scholars for finding Islamic ruling in this situation. Islamic scholars, citing the toughness of the challenge, have allowed them that they can compensate the fasting after the games are over. It means they can count the days in which they were unable to keep fast during the month of Ramadan and can observe the fasting of same number of days after the Olympics.
Islamic scholars of some countries, like Egypt, have issued fatwas providing relief to the athletes that they would not have to fast, citing exceptions already made for those who are traveling, sick or pregnant.
The former chair of the Muslim Council of Britain, Dr Muhammed Abdul Bari, noted, “It is a matter of personal choice, for example I believe that (British rower) Mohamed Sbihi has agreed to feed 60 poor people in (his father’s homeland of) Morocco for every day he does not fast during Ramadan.”
He was speaking at a large multi-faith Iftar party, the evening meal that breaks the fast. The Iftar was attended by more than 1,000 people in Bethnal Green, East London later this week in which half of the guests were non-Muslim. The event was organized for promoting cross-cultural relations in a part of London where Islam is the most widely practiced religion.
Around 3,000 Muslim athletes are participating in the London Olympics 2012 from different countries of the world. Somali-born Canadian runner, Mohammed Ahmed, from St. Catharines, Ontario, is also one of them.
Athletics Canada’s Information Director, Mathieu Gentes, informed, “Mohammed Ahmed is Muslim and will be abiding by Ramadan after his competition at the Olympic Games, he will not fast before.”
On the other hand, Somali 400-meter runner, Zamzam Moahmed Farah, said that she would adhere to the fasting regime.
She said with confidence, “Ramadan is something we have to perform. I’m just as fast and I will run and I don’t think it will affect me as an athlete.”
Muslim athletes said that fasting actually helps boost performance.
“Fasting doesn’t have to mean weakness, it can help you find strength from within,” said Colin Nell, a 27-year-old soccer coach and skills champion from London.
“It is something you get used to, and it is surprising how easily the body adapts,” he added.