WASHINGTON, June 27, 2014 — Nearly every major sport, including the World Cup, NFL, MMA, Boxing, and others, will be directly affected in the coming weeks, as the Islamic holy month of fasting, Ramadhan, begins this weekend. During the month, Muslims are obligated to stop eating or drinking all foods and liquids from dawn until sunset.
Accordingly, Muslims may not consume water or other products to stay hydrated while practicing or playing games, until the sun goes down each day. Considering the role of each player has on the result of any particular game, the month of Ramadhan may effect outcomes of games played during or after the month of fasting. Surprisingly, teams with Muslim players who observe the fasting rituals often have winning records.
For the World Cup games taking place in Brazil, Muslim players will have to cope with daylight lasting more than 10 hours and forty minutes, with the sun setting each day close to 5:15pm.
“The month … should be more complicated for the dozens of Muslim players still in the tournament, including the French striker Karim Benzema and Germany’s Mesut Ozil. With the humidity and high temperatures in Brazil, especially along the northern coast and in the Amazon, an inability to stay hydrated would appear to put those players, and the teams featuring Muslims, like Algeria, at a disadvantage in the knockout stage,” says the NY Times.
July is also the month where many NFL teams begin training season. Kansas City Chief’s player Husain Abdullah made waves when he announced he would both fast during Ramadhan and participate in all training sessions for his team. Luckily for both the team and for Abdullah, this year’s training camp won’t open until the last week of Ramadhan, bolstering Abdullah’s ability to participate with his fullest potential. Analysts believe there are nearly a dozen Muslim players in the NFL today, and some have even gone to the Pro Bowl. One former Muslim player, Ephraim Salaam, is now a sports announcer on Fox Sports 1.
The NBA is chock full of Muslims, but it is hardly a new trend. Famous Muslim retired basketball players include Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Rasheed Wallace. Reports have emerged that Shaquille O’Neal is a Muslim, however the former player has not confirmed or denied the rumors. Many current and former Muslims in the NBA publically showcased their participation in Ramadhan in the past, as well as their partaking in a host of other Islamic rituals.
Former two time world boxing champion Amir Khan is in negotiations for a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, an undefeated five division world champion with ten boxing titles. Khan has requested the fight be delayed to late fall or the spring, so that he can participate in the month of fasting, and still adequately train for the fight.
A number of Muslim tennis players have competed successfully, in 2000 and 2001, the #1 ranked tennis player was a Muslim named Marat Safin, who in an interview with USA Today, said “I’m Russian, but I’m 100% Muslim.”
MMA fighter Muhammed Lawal doesn’t appear to have any fights scheduled for the month of Ramadhan or the month after, but did win a Heavyweight bout last month.
The NHL won’t be having any hockey games for a few months, but does have Muslim players. There are award winning Muslim female golfers.
F1 racing has Muslim drivers who take Ramadhan quite seriously, stretching themselves to the limit to compete while adhering to Islamic laws.
The only sport to be completely absent of current Muslim players is Major League Baseball, although at least one adherent has played in the league in the past.