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Summer Olympics During the Month of Ramadhaan; Will the Muslim Athletes Observe Fast?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 2

To Fast or Not to Fast (Ramadhan Olympic clash)

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The Summer Olympics begins Friday, 27 July 2012, and ends Sunday, 12 August 2012. The month of Ramadhan starts 19th/20th of July 2012 ends 19th /20th August 2012. The entire Olympic is in the month of Ramadhan.


There are 3,500 MUSLIM athletes participating in the Olympics this year, but is Olympics a hindrance!


The Islāmic law is NOT flexible but it is practical. Islāmic law has many options so that one can practice every commandment of Allah, if he is either living in the Sahara or the North Pole. I don’t see and neither have I heard of any other religion that is more practical. As this article is not meant for discussing Islam over the other religions let me stick to the topic but If you do have any question or comment please do post them below.

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Muslims keep fast from the break of dawn till sunset (Subah to magrib prayer time commencement). The duration of fast during summer is long, 16 hours. During fast one should keep away from food, drink and many other things that will hinder one’s ability to devote oneself fully in ibadah (Good deeds). The ruling of fasting is only during the period of the fast; during the day. Once the fast ends during sunset one can do anything that is prohibited during fasting. Ramadhan is the month of the Quran. It is the month when the Quran was revealed. Reciting the Quran must be done abundantly as it is superior to any other form of involuntary ibada. Despite the heat, the empty stomach and the thirst, athletes have decided not only to fast but also to aim for the gold.


What I remember at this moment is the victory of Ruqaya Al Ghasara sprinter from Bahrain for the 2004 olympics.  The first time in history an athlete wanted to cover up for the sake of her religion. Athletes normally try to wear skimpy clothes as bulky clothes will increase resistance.

When Ruqaya started off some were jeering at her and some were in prayer, she won the gold.


The IHRC, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco requested the International Olympic committee (IOC) that the date of the Olympics be changed as the entire Olympics is during Ramadan, but their request was denied.

In a statement to FRANCE 24 the IOC said: “The Olympic Games brings together people of all religions and beliefs. It goes without saying, that some days (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) present difficulties for those who practice certain religions. Religious practice is a question for each individual athlete and their personal convictions.”


What I have to say is, some days of Olympics calling for religious services and the complete olympics being in Ramadan are two different things. I wonder if there could be any harm in changing the date. Those events in the morning will be easier for those who fast and I believe that the fasting is at an advantage during this time of the day.


Muslim athletes have chosen 1 of the 3 choices

  • To fast during the games
  • Not to fast
  • To take the ruling of being exempted from fasting for those who are travelling.


Olympics is THE event in the life of many athletes but some sportsman have made the best choice; to fast during the games, as religion precedes every other situation or person in life. Those who are fasting during the Olympics will have a win-win situation. They are rewarded by Allah and will get the virtues of keeping fast even if they win or lose, they will have the contentment of pleasing their Lord. Olympics will change one’s life but keeping fast will change one’s life and hereafter for the best.


Algerian runner Mohamed-Khaled Belabbas, who will compete in the 3000m steeplechase event, says “I will fast like I always have. It will not be a novelty for me”.

ALL THE BEST BELABBAS! You and all the others like you will be in our prayers.


Fasting is obligatory; i.e. those who don’t keep fast without a valid reason allowed in Islāmic law, will be sinning. The aim behind fasting is to increase ones Thaqwaa (piety), as stated in the Holy Quran surah Baqarah ayah 183,

'O you who believe, fasting was decreed for you, as it was decreed for those before you, that you may attain salvation'


 Fasting was made obligatory in the month of Ramadhan so there are lots of goodness in fast during the 9th month of the Islāmic calendar. If not, the commandment would have been to fast during any month. This shows tha the month of ramadhan is a special month.


If one misses fast of Ramadhan, he has missed out much. If one misses a single fast during the month of Ramadhan he will never able to compensate the rewards even if he fasts a complete month. As the month of fasting is full of blessings and the mercy of Allah descends abundantly.


The next group of Muslim athletes has resorted to leave their fast. This is fatwa that was given by mufthis (Scholars who have authority to issue a ruling for a situation. The rulings are issued based on Quranic ayahs and Hadith). The fatwa states that Muslim athletes take the ruling of a traveler during Ramadan. A traveler is excused from fasting and has to complete the missed fast, once the travel has ended.


The last simply does not fast and will not compensate either. ALL the Muslims I know fast, even though they might not pray regularly. If there is anyone who does not fast then he is a name sake Muslim.


This is not the first time summer Olympics and the Month of Ramadhan have coincided. The summer Olympics of 1980 was one such instance that every athlete performing in London should remember. There are many lessons to learn from that year.


Suleiman Nyambui of Tanzania won silver in the 5000 meters while keeping fast.

This is what he has to say “Once you decide to do something, Allah is behind you” I agree with him completely.


He further stated that fasting coinciding with Ramadhan is not as difficult as fasting coinciding the training period. During the training you need lots of food and water. The event will be smooth for those who have had success during the training.

So, let us look on the bright side and be grateful that Ramadhan did not clash with the months before Olympics.


Sports while fasting is not unheard of, neither is victory during it. Basketball stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Shareef Abdur-Rahim have fasted during matches. So have Hamza and Husain Abdullah; football stars and soccer stars Karim Benzema and Mahamadou Diarra. Some of the athletes have stated that fasting enhances focus which will in turn improve one’s performance.


All the Muslim athletes out there recite Surah Fath; 48(the victory) every day or at least listen to it if not possible to read.




Jul 20, 2012 1:49pm
Any athlete has my admiration if they manage to fast- however I do understand that the fast is of little value without prayer and that it might be better to postpone it until after the olympics when both can happen? Interesting article and I do take your point asking a christian to miss a few Sundays is not too bad compared to people of the muslim faith.
Jul 20, 2012 5:21pm
Thank you case1worker for your comment. Happy you got the point.
What you say about fast being of little value for those who don't pray is very true, but they are two different commandments and one is not a pre-requisite of the other.
I can be a Muslim who doesn't pay by Zakah, then is hajj still obligatory on me? You get the point right?
As stated a day of ramadhaan spent without fast will not be equal to fasting the whole of another month.
Something is better than nothing so do as much as possible ...but both are obligatory.

Thank you again. :)
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