Ramadan: An Inside Islam recap


Ramadan Kareem to all our readers! Photo: desertpeace.wordpress.com

Ramadan starts tomorrow, and for the next month, Muslims around the world will be fastingfeasting, and celebrating. Ramadan is also a deeply reflective time as Muslims worldwide count their blessings and develop spiritually.

We have covered Ramadan from various perspectives over the years, and as Inside Islam heads towards a close, it’s a good time to recap some of what we’ve discussed. In fact, Inside Islam is historically linked to Ramadan, as our first very radio show was held during Ramadan, on September 19, 2008.

So here’s a rundown of our coverage of Ramadan over the years. Continue reading

Will Muslim athletes be at a disadvantage during the Olympics?

Noor al-Malki, a Qatari sprinter. Photo: Associated Press

Muslim athletes attending the London Olympics this summer will face a unique set of challenges, as the dates of the world’s largest sporting event overlap Ramadan almost exactly. The Games run from July 27 through August 12, while Ramadan commences on July 20 and ends a lunar month later. So Muslims athletes will be affected both in the run up to the Games and during the entirety of the event.

In an environment as mentally and physically taxing as the Olympics, Muslim athletes will have a difficult choice to make—either compete at the top of their form or observe Ramadan and abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset. Continue reading

Islam and Sports

Tonight at 7pm at the Union South Marquee Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, join Inside Islam for a free public film screening of Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football. A post-film panel including UW-Madison cross country star and 2012 Canadian Olympic hopeful Mohammed Ahmed will explore perspectives on faith in competitive athletics.

The Fordson football team’s unique demographic makeup of predominately Arab Muslim Americans has been covered by just about every media outlet, from NPR to ESPN. The team initially received attention by holding their late summer pre-season practices from midnight to 4 AM, allowing 95% of their players to observe fasting for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. But they are not alone: Whether it’s Lebanese-Australian Muslim girls playing Aussie rules football (“footy”) or Lebanese-American Muslim boys playing the American version of the game, Muslims are playing Western-style sports and games in increasing numbers. The stereotypes of Muslim female passivity and Muslim males only playing in the field of engineering are being directly challenged by the realities on the ground. In fact, Arab Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest Arab community in the US, have been playing football for generations.

Increasing attention has focused on faith in sports, most recently brought about by the success of NBA star Jeremy Lin and NFL quarterback Tim Teboe. During our panel following the Fordson film, Ahmed, a practicing Muslim, will speak about the role of Islam in his athletic life. If Ahmed is selected for the 2012 Canadian Olympic cross country team for the London Games as expected, he may have to deal with challenges similar to those faced by the Fordson players. In fact, he will likely compete with the greatest runners on the planet without any food or water during daylight hours, as the holy month of Ramadan covers the entirety of the three-week-long Summer Olympics. But Ahmed won’t be alone. Nearly one fourth of the 2012 Summer Olympic athletes are likely to come from Muslim-majority countries and a majority of these participants are expected to fast.

Please join us tonight for the film screening and discussion. If you are not in Madison but would like to participate in the discussion, post your thoughts on the intersection of faith and sports below.

Pillars of Islam: Fasting Ramadan

Ramadan Greetings

In recent posts, I have written about the first two pillars of Islam, shahadah and salah. The third pillar of Islam is fasting the month of Ramadan, in Arabic saum Ramadan. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims who are physically able are required to fast from dawn to sunset. Fasting means refraining from food, drink, smoking, and sexual intercourse. Basically, they do not take anything into their system during daylight hours. The month lasts either 29 or 30 days, at the end of which is a feast called Eid ul-Fitr. Continue reading

Islamic Civilization in Crisis?

"Light" in Arabic

"Light" in Arabic

I have often thought about the reasons for what seems to be unending turmoil in some Muslim communities. I can’t say that I have reached a clear answer–I doubt anyone has–but I do know that this is a question that occupies many, especially Muslims. Several possibilities are offered as explanations: the effects of colonization, the secularization of societies, conflict between tradition and modernity, and so on. However, Ali Allawi suggests in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that these factors only affect the outer world and that the real crisis lies in Islam’s inner world. Allawi’s article got my attention because he doesn’t discuss what he calls the outer world to the exclusion of the inner world; rather, he finds a way to show how both are intertwined. The fact that he is able to bring the two together is for me especially insightful because most discussions on this topic focus on one or the other, but never show the interplay between the two. Continue reading