Ramadan poses problem for Muslim Olympians


Ramadan began on July 20th, a week before the London Games began, and that creates a dilemma for approximately 3,000 Muslim Olympic athletes.

Ramadan is a time for spiritual purification for Muslims, which is achieved through fasting, self-sacrifice and prayers. Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink during daylight hours, which poses a problem for Olympic athletes who need food and drink for energy to compete.

According to an article in the The New York Times, while some competitors may honor the holy month, many say they've made other arrangements and will defer their fasts until after competition. Evidently, religious leaders in a few nations nations have issued fatwas, or blanket rulings, about an Olympic athleteâ??s obligation. For example, in Egypt, Al Azhar University in Cairo said flatly that athletes did not have to fast at the Olympics. In most instances, however, the choice is left to the athlete. The Olympic committee has worked hard to respect the Ramadan holiday by making adjustments, including cafeterias offering halal foods 24 hours a day and special snack packs for the Muslim athletes.

Restrictions for Ramadan are laid out in the second chapter of the Koran, where it is written: â??And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days.â?? The second part of that passage is often the reason for athletes competing at the Olympics to postpone their fast until after their competitions.

Ramadan continues until Saturday, August 18th, six days after the Olympics closing ceremony.