Land of God and Football: Training During Ramadan

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You think your August is tough? Imagine being in football camp and not eating or drinking while the sun is up because of Ramadan, the Muslim Holy month that begins this week. Ramadan is a time when practitioners refrain from eating, drinking, and physical intimacy during daylight hours. This year, Husain Abdullah, safety for the Minnesota Vikings will be doing just that - fasting during the holy month during the dog days of August football camp. That is dedication. Not only to your sport, but also to your way of life.

The Muslim calendar is based on the moon, which is very different than the solar calendar we use everyday. Because everything orbits around the sun and the sun does not move, there is very little change from year to year if you are following a solar calendar. If you follow the lunar calendar, days shift a minimum of ten or more per year. Because the moon moves, the days are also going to move. In the case of a Lunar calendar, the first day of Ramadan is going to be August 11th in 2010. A full year later, the first day of Ramadan, will be August 1st 2011.

Football is a game that really begins in the sweltering heat of August. Right now college boys, pros and, in a few weeks, high school kids will all be running around grassy fields with shoulder pads, helmets, and leg pads. They’ll hit each other at high rates of speed, and at the end of the brutal days with two practices, drenched in sweat, they shuffle off to the locker rooms to unload and unwind, to prepare to break bread and then to come back to the offices for meetings that run late into the night.  

Football is a game like no other.

And America is a land like no other. Where else could you get a game played in almost every corner of the land, watched from Alaska to Florida religiously every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? It’s a game that resonates so strongly in the hearts of those who play it that some paint bible verses underneath their eyes, like Tim Tebow, formerly of the Florida Gators and now of the Denver Broncos. The much less-heralded Husain Abdullah is committed to the game and to his religion. The free safety of the Minnesota Vikings, a young promising talent, will be fasting during the heart of the worst of the August football camp days.

“I’m putting nothing before God, nothing before my religion,” Abdullah said. “This is something I choose to do, not something I have to do. So I’m always going to fast.”

This is America, the land of God and Football.