Ramadan with Olympic athlete Abdul Buhari

Muslim Athletes Farah -Buhari

Ramadan is a month-long period of fasting, prayer, and spiritual reflection. Observed by 1.8 billion Muslims around the world (just under a quarter of the entire global population), it is one of the biggest religious events globally. Many notable sports stars have followed the Muslim Faith,  including Muhammad Ali, Sir Mo Farah and as featured here Abdul Buhari.

During Ramadan, followers of Islam are forbidden from eating or drinking during daylight hours. Even water is considered off-limits. Muslims bid to cleanse their souls and strengthen their connection to God. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths (words, actions, or habits of the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him).

To recognise Ramadan, our ‘60 seconds with’ feature is with Abdul Buhari, former international discus thrower who represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

60 seconds with Olympian, Abdul Buhari

What have you been up to since retiring from athletics?

I do a little coaching and mentor a handful of athletes. I also work in Private Banking, sit on England Athletics Board as a Board Observer and on the advisory board for Fika Community who provide mental fitness courses for education, workplace and healthcare.

How old were you when you began observing Ramadan?

I started fasting when l was 14.

What is the day in the life of Abdul Buhari like during Ramadan?

A day in my life in Ramadan is very relaxed. I wake up to eat (before dawn), usually in the early hours of the morning to eat and hydrate for the day ahead. This is then followed by the first prayer of the day which is called Fajr. Once done, I sometimes either go back to sleep or stay awake and read. Throughout the day I try to stay as focused as possible. In the evening at Maghrib, I open my fast with my family.

Covid 19 restrictions have been lifted, but not quite back to ‘normal’ has this had an impact on how you observe Ramadan?

It hasn’t had a major impact, but l am more aware that going to the mosque to pray will be a lot more socially distanced and disciplined. However, I am looking forward to seeing fellow Muslims and praying together.

How did you manage your training programme during Ramadan when you were an athlete?

During Ramadan when l was an athlete, I trained after opening fast and ate foods that enabled me to retain muscle mass and also provide me the energy to train. It was also a good tool to use when l needed to lean out after a big hypertrophy programme.

What support could organisations offer to employees who observe Ramadan?

I think organisations, could provide employees with flexibility around their jobs where appropriate e.g., start earlier and finish later.

What support could athletics clubs offer athletes who observe Ramadan?

Clubs could support athletes by providing nutritional guidance on foods to eat and avoid subject to their events. This will not only help the athletes but also support them in returning to full training post Ramadan.

From an educational perspective, what one thing would you want to share with people who do not know about Ramadan?

As well as fasting, Ramadan is also about charity and during it, Muslims will give more to charity during this month than any other month throughout the Islamic calendar.