Muslim Athletes Navigate Ramadan


Media by Ali Moltaq

Amin Motlaq, freshman, balanced participating in Ramadan with his participation on the boys track and field team.

Wednesday ended the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, where from sunrise to sunset, those particpating, including some MHS athletes, were not allowed to eat or drink.

Instead participants prayed multiple times a day and focused on their spiritual holiness. 

Ramadan tends to vary in length of daylight hours because it depends on the season. If Ramadan is in the summertime, fasting is harder because of the longer days, and if it is in the winter time, it’s easier because of the shorter days. 

Amin Motlaq, freshman, balanced participating in Ramadan with his participation on the boys track and field team. 

 “So, personally, the main effects on my performance wouldn’t be hunger, as I have had prior years of experience, but mainly thirst is kind of what sets me back,” Motlaq said. 

He said he tried to keep his thirst at a low because the lack of hydration is hard to work through, and that his performance is lacking a little bit. Motlaq said the hunger aspect of fasting didn’t affect him as much during meets. 

Motlaq continued to participate in track because as a Muslim, he wanted to show that this holiday is not meant to incapacitate one from doing daily activities. By participating in Ramadan while playing sports and doing other activities at the same time, Motlaq said he helped remove the negative stigma Ramadan holds, and instead promoted the growth that a Muslim person goes though spiritually during Ramadan. 

Coach Matt Nienhaus has been Moltaq´s track coach for the year and looked out for him during Ramadan.   

¨Distance running is very reliant on nutrition and hydration,” Nienhaus said. “Amin has fought through some tough workouts late in the day having had neither of those two things in hours.”

He said the lack of food, liquids and even the weather does have an effect on Motlaq and his performance at meets. To keep an eye on him, Nienhaus made sure to create adjustments when Motlaq was on the track. 

Motlaq was also honest with how he was feeling, which helped Nienhaus know what to do to keep him safe. 

Sahra Shah, sophomore, plays for a club basketball team. Like Moltaq, she participated in Ramadan. 

Shah described Ramadan as a holy month where Muslims fast so that they can feel what other people feel when they don´t have much food or water. During Ramadan, she said Muslims pray five times a day, refrain from listening to music and try to be spiritually holy by giving and not taking. 

“My performance has been lacking a bit because I’m more tired during the games,” Shah said. 

In her recent basketball games, she said it was harder for her to run through the court and catch up with the other teammates because she would get out of breath easily. Another problem Shah came across was shooting the basketball from certain points on the court, which comes as a challenge because of her lack of strength. 

Although she has a hard time on the court, Shah kept practicing Ramadan because she wanted to learn how people who are less fortunate than her are feeling and living with little water and food. 

Shah said fasting every day for about a month has helped her grow spiritually and to experience life from a different point of view.