Mohammed Yusuf & Hashim Amla on Cricket during the month of Ramadan
Interesting viewpoints…..from newstateman.com
The Muslim-convert Pakistan cricketer drew attention to the debate about fasting and professional sports when he had to retract a statement about playing cricket during the Islamic holy month:
“It is a sin to not fast during Ramadan for a Muslim. I don’t think cricket should be organised during Ramadan, when one should focus on his religious obligations. I will never play cricket in Ramadan.”
He decided not to skip his fast — the batsman will refrain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sundown. It appears he can manage without the sustenance that athletes usually need: he notched up Pakistan’s top first-innings score in the previous England series.
The London 2012 Olympics are controversially due to coincide with Ramadan. Will this affect the performance of Muslim athletes? The evidence is divided.
A now-infamous saga involving José Mourinho and Inter Milan’s Sulley Muntari erupted during Ramadan last year. Having substituted the Ghanaian midfielder after just 30 minutes on the pitch, the Inter manager blamed Muntari’s weak performance on the player’s fast.
Manchester City’s Kolo Touré, also a devout Muslim, has fasted throughout the beginning month of the Premier League.
“It doesn’t affect me physically,” Touré admits. “It makes me stronger. You can do it when you believe so strongly in something. A normal human can be without water for much longer than one day.”
Touré highlights a crucial point here. Muslims can garner great strength from prayer and fasting during Ramadan. The central focus of the holy month is reaffirming and strengthening one’s individual bond with God. The positive effects of this process need not be left at the stadium gates. Just as a lack of water or sugars may disadvantage an athlete, so they might benefit from the heightened focus and energy brought about by spiritual cleansing.
Ultimately, the decision must be made by the individual athlete. But the example of sportsmen — Amla, Touré, Yousuf — managing to excel while fasting shows that it need not be career-defining. Perhaps Muslim athletes will not need to plan an alternative period of fasting in 2012.
Here is the full interview with Hashim Amla……..ramadan.co.za
Does the fasting affect your performance during matches, or if no games are being played in Ramadan, is your training being affected?
Yes, it does affect the matches and training- positively mostly- Alhamdulillah. People get amazed when I tell them that I have learnt so much in my game while I had been fasting. There has been instances on hot and humid summers days in Durban when I had been batting, and I remember thinking to myself with a bone dry mouth and throbbing headache…’when am I going to get out because I cannot handle this anymore’. I went on to make a big score, Alhamdulillah, but I have learnt after passing that stage of thirst and mental fatigue, that the limits we put on the body and mind can, and at times, must be challenged.
What advice would you give Muslim youth who are busy with studies/work/etc and find it difficult during the month of Ramadan?
I think time and energy management is key for us. I try and do my activities later in the day.
The truth is, Ramadan is a rewarding and testing month for all and experiencing difficulty and weakness is, I believe, one of the means of creating humility and submission in us to our lord. So when it’s tough, I am thinking sabr.
What do your other team mates have to say about Ramadan? Do they think it’s an issue that you fast?
There is no real issue and all I try and do is create a better understanding in their minds. Some have asked the significance of fasting, and I explain to them that this practise is not just in the Islamic faith, but in most of the world religions as a way of instilling discipline and God consciousness and that we believe Islam to be the final revelation to humanity. Other guys are just amazed that we don’t eat food or drink the whole day and still play cricket.
Does Ramadan provide extra opportunities for giving Dawah and speaking to non-Muslims about the beauty of Islam?
Yes indeed. Alhamdulillah.
What are your favourite verses from the Holy Quran?
Ala bidhikrillahi tutma innul quloob (13:28)
La in shakartum la azeedanna kum (14:7)
Innallaha ma’as saabireen (2:153)
Who is your favourite reciter of the Holy Quran? I love Sheikh Mishari Raashid.
I enjoy listening to Sheikh Abdullah al-Matrood.
What general advice would you like to give the Muslim youth out there?
Let us strive to keep good friends, those that encourage towards the path of faith and knowledge.
In our daily life we have interactions and the best form of attraction and understanding of Islam we can offer is that of the beloved Messenger (saw) and he (saw) has mentioned:
“ballighoo anni wa lo aayah” – “Convey from me even if it be a single aayah”
May Allah make it easy for us to follow the way of His Prophet (saw).