American Muslims Celebrate Ramadan

December 14, 2000

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On December 14, 2000, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Ramadan fasting is tough for athletes, especially when they become dehydrated. Rabih Abdullah is one such example. "Coaches like to talk about mental toughness and willpower, about sacrifice and commitment. Well, they need to look no further than Rabih. He is all of those things, a man of faith playing a game grounded in fear and brutality...It's challenging enough, but it can be tricky for the handful of professional and collegiate athletes who follow the Koran. Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon has struggled during Ramadan throughout his career, his statistics noticeably down during this period. Rabih, 25, makes certain allowances, which probably helps him stay near his ideal playing weight of 227 pounds. He breaks his fast only on game days. Mentally, he can go without. But physically, it's virtually impossible to play on this level without at least one gameday meal. But other than that, Rabih typically goes nearly 12 hours between meals each day. He eats the traditional predawn meal, called suhur, then won't eat or drink again until dinner, called the iftar, just after sundown...The drain on Rabih's nutritionally depleted body is not as great as if he were, say, the starting running back and he were getting the ball 20 or 25 times a game like Warrick Dunn. Rabih has carried the ball only 16 times this season for 70 yards (4.4 yards per carry). Yet, the bulk of his limited contribution this season has come during Ramadan. He had a career-best 38 yards on 10 carries, plus an 11-yard catch, two weeks ago against Dallas. And he had four carries for 14 yards, including a key first down run, Sunday at Miami. 'It's in here,' he said, pointing to his head. 'It's will. My will, you know? It's a blessing, really.' Rabih doesn't want us to make a big fuss about any of this. He respectfully wants to go about his fasting without attention. Religion is nothing to gawk at. What he's doing, he said, is no big deal."