10 Muslim Athletes Who Have Inspired Us During Ramadan

By Yasmeen Munira

The month of Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims all around the world. It is without a doubt, a month of opportunity to test ones strength and limits. I must say, fasting is no easy feat especially when you are required to be constantly active throughout the day. These athletes took it upon themselves to lead by example despite the possibility of suffering from glycogen depletion, dehydration, and fatigue, all of which could lead to injury. Just imagine the strength and willpower these Top 10 athletes have while in training. Read on and be inspired!

1. Hakeem Olajuwon

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Famously known as the Rockets Centre, Olajuwon was known to fast during his NBA career. What’s more, he fasted during the NBA Finals! NBA fanatics would know just how much energy and effort is required to sustain the-best-of-7 series to earn the championship title. And not to mention the countless training sessions that could have easily worn the players out. Nevertheless, Olajuwon even claimed that fasting helped improve his play! His motivation clearly earned him a spot in the hearts of many across the globe.

2. Ibtihaj Muhammad

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American sabre fencer, Muhammad fought for a spot in the 2012 London Olympics at a World Cup fencing event with nothing but pride and honour keeping her going. It is one thing to perspire in the fencing mask but to be wearing a headscarf, or hijab, and compete is another thing. After several gruelling rounds of fencing, Muhammad remained strong despite the lack of fuel. She certainly earned the respect of many not just for competing during the month of Ramadan, but for representing the U.S as the first practicing Muslim woman.

3. Mezut Özil

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I have nothing but respect for athletes who represent their country at the World Cup. But doing so when you’re not as physically strong as the other players deserves a whole new level of respect. Germany’s star player, Özil is no less. Not only is there pressure to perform at his best for his country, there is also pressure to keep to his faith. Nothing but admiration for this guy.

4. Ruqaya Al Ghasara

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Bahrain’s sprinter, Al Ghasara won the heat of the 200m Sprint in the 2008 Olympics. She went on to win not only a gold medal, but the hearts of spectators at the Bird’s Nest stadium. Al Ghasara earned respect for her devotion towards Islam and for the love of sport. She is also the first ever athlete to take part in an Olympics wearing a Hijab. She is a walking example of how anything is possible with determination and willpower!

5. Frederic Kanoute

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“Personally, having faith helps my football and football helps me to be healthy and strengthens me. Fasting empowers and does not weaken the Muslim,”

In just a sentence, he has validated the reason why Muslims fast. European football clubs are notorious for ramping pressure on Muslim players observing the fast. Kanoute is a true champion for sticking to his faith and what he truly believed in. Kudos to the now retired Malian professional footballer!

6. Sadaf Rahimi

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Afghanistan’s boxer Sadaf Rahimi is an inspiration to Islamic women all over the world who face oppression. She holds true to her Islamic beliefs and fights (no pun intended. OK, maybe a little) for what she wants. Despite the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islamic law that prohibits blows to the face, Rahimi stands tall and defies tribal custom by boxing in a room full of men.

7. Kolo Touré

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It should come as no surprise by now that the World Cup season proves toughest for those observing the month of Ramadan. Nevertheless our belief system is restored when observers like Ivory Coast defender, Kolo Touré proves that it isn’t impossible to push yourself despite the lack of nutrition during the World Cup season.

8. Tahmina Kohistani

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Afghanistan sprinter Tahmina Kohistani may not have succeeded during the 100m sprint at the 2012 London Olympics, but she has certainly succeeded in being an inspiration to many other Muslim competitors out there. Despite placing last during the 100m sprint, Kohistani took it as a learning experience and continued to push herself for the next Olympics. The challenges she faced while training for the 2012 Olympics did not stop her from getting out on the tracks. Kohistani is motivation indeed!

9. Karim Benzema

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Star player Karim Benzema held on strong during the World Cup and brought his talent and skill to the field despite not being able to hydrate himself. Playing for France, Benzema never once let his team, supporters and most importantly, himself down during the gruelling World Cup season. It’s all about discipline as they say!

10. Zamzam Mohamed Farah

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Somalian runner Zamzam did her country proud despite coming in nearly half a minute after the winner during the 400m sprint at the 2012 London Olympics. She certainly faced backlash for her performance which was impeded due to the lack of energy that comes with fasting. Her ability to overcome challenges in her war-torn country and her determination to compete despite training in facilities with pock-marks and bullet holes has earned her a spot in many hearts around the world.

With the right amount of dedication and discipline, anyone can have an athletes strength and willpower. You need to believe in yourself and just you wait and see, you’ll be conquering the world next!


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