CNN reported yesterday on the dilemma facing Muslim athletes competing in the London Olympics starting this week. It is still Ramadan, and they must decide whether or not they will eat and drink during daylight hours, or instead observe the traditional dawn to dusk fast. In London, this would make it a 17-hour fast each day. Sports nutritionist Hala Barghout says that it is physically impossible for the athletes to eat the amount of food they need in the 7 hours that remain each day. But Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, grand mufti of Dubai, says:
Playing sports is not a requirement in Islam. Players become athletes by choice. This optional activity, therefore, does not allow athletes to break their fast.... They must be ambassadors of their faith.....He says that athletes may eat or drink if fasting threatens their health, "but to immediately break your fast without being hungry or thirsty is the same as submitting to your cravings and lusts, and not putting God's desire before your own."
Muslim authorities hold varying opinions on the issue. British Olympic rower Moe Sbihi, after discussing the issue with his imam, says he will not fast during the games. Instead he will observe a fast later, and will feed 1,800 hungry people in Morocco after the Olympics as compensation for not fasting during Ramadan.