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Tarek Aleryan
Muslim athletes lead way ... grace under fire ... fasting

First of all I would like to take this opportunity to wish the readers of the Arab Times a very blessed holy month of Ramadan. As we mark the holy month of Ramadan, and with the biggest sports event internationally, the World Cup taking place, I’d like to take time to salute some of the great Muslim athletes and reflect on the examples they set for us. First, let’s look at teams, not individuals, as four mainly Muslim teams made it to the World Cup: Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and a good number of Nigerian players. Most of the other teams had at least one Muslim player. As Ramadan started, Algeria and Nigeria were still in the World Cup. Debate arose as the press started questioning Muslim beliefs. The Algerian coach rightfully responded that fasting was a private issue for each individual player, and questioning them showed “a lack of respect and ethics.”

Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s chief medical officer, said: “We have made extensive studies of players during Ramadan, and the conclusion was that if Ramadan is followed appropriately, there will be no reduction in the physical performance of players.” According to many healthcare professionals, there are athletes that get better results during Ramadan because they are fasting and want to. It can be a spiritual and psychological aid. Algeria lost, but played a close and exciting game. They acquitted themselves with honor as did all the other Muslim players following the principles of Islam.

There have been lot of Muslim athletes in other sports as well. The most well-known is Mohammad Ali, possibly the greatest boxer of all time. He converted to Islam early in his career, and his behavior reflected his religious beliefs. He was known for his good sportsmanship, kindness and generosity. Another boxing champion, (Prince) Naseem Hamad was an excellent example of Islamic behavior when he showed compassion for an opponent he had knocked out. His main concern was the welfare of his opponent, and he asked Allah to protect and heal the man.

There have been several Muslim NBA players, most notably Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon. Hakeem Olajuwon has publicly shown how he lived his whole life according to Islamic principles. As for sports, he says that religion has taught him to be merciful and kind.
“You play competitively, but you don’t do things that are cheating or unfair or foul play. You report to a higher authority.” With those words, he summarized the attitude of all great Muslim players.
There are so many more great players that I could write about, but what I most wanted to do is to let us think about these great players and the good they’ve done by following their religious principles. Let them be our guides as we go through this holy month. We may not be great players, but we can follow their examples to make our own lives better.

The month of Ramadan reinforces within us many valuable meanings and reminds us to be more forgiving,  helpful and kind to others. The holy month of Ramadan strengthens family and relatives ties, and revitalizes within us a yearning for keeping in touch with neighbors and friends.
I wish all the readers of the Arab Times a very prosperous and peaceful time during this holy month.
As I close always with on my TV show; always remember to take care of yourself and each other, and remember to respect one another.

By Tarek Aleryan
TV Announcer and Producer

By: Tarek Aleryan

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