Husain Ibn Muhammed Abdullah is a strong safety for the National Football Leagueâ€™s Minnesota Vikings. So, the punishing game of football is his livelihood. And between the two-a-day practices in August, and the games beginning in September, it is a physically rigorous routine. But that does not make him exempt from fasting in the month of Ramadan, and Abdullah knows it and embraces it.
Ramadan begins the second week of August this year, and that hits just a handful of days before the first set of exhibition games. And the regular season will begin for most teams on September 9th, which will most likely still be two days before Eid-Ul-Fitr. But Abdullah clearly has his priorities straight.
â€œIâ€™m putting nothing before God, nothing before my religion,â€ Abdullah told Yahoo Sports. â€œThis is something I choose to do, not something I have to do. So Iâ€™m always going to fast.â€ There was some concern amongst Vikings brass last year not only about Abdullahâ€™s wellbeing but also his performance.
â€œLast year it occurred in early September, and we saw a dip in his performance,â€ coach Brad Childress told Yahoo Sports. â€œWe said, â€˜Whatâ€™s wrong with Husain Abdullah? It doesnâ€™t seem like he has enough spunk.
â€œI think we have our arms around it now and know when he is going to wake up and when he is going to eat and what we can pack on him before the sun comes up.â€
â€œIâ€™m in awe of his commitment, and Iâ€™m glad he is doing what feels right. That said, I ask him to please, please be as careful as he goes through this. Weâ€™ve seen way too many times that heat-related illnesses are real, extreme and unforgiving dangers.â€
This year Abdullah and the team have a plan in place. He has set up a regimen with the team nutritionist to have him wake up at 2 a.m. each night to quickly drink a protein shake, followed by a big breakfast for suhoor. The day culminates of course in an iftaar meal at maghrib time.
Abdullahâ€™s older brother, Hamza, also plays safety in the NFL, for the Arizona Cardinals. And he has a similar plan in place. The Abdullah brothers grew up in Los Angeles, and Hussain played college football at Washington State University. He went undrafted in 2008 and subsequently signed with the Vikings. Hussain and Hamza are 2 of 12 children, and they also grew up watching Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon refrain from drinking water when he had day games that fell during Ramadan.
â€œThey talked about it during games, and we would get so excited,â€ Abdullah told AOL Fanhouse. â€œMy mom would be like, â€˜If he can do it while heâ€™s playing, you guys can do it.â€™ Weâ€™ll be excited to do it.â€â€Iâ€™ve been doing it since I was 7,â€ Abdullah told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. â€œTo a Muslim, Ramadan is what we wait for every year. The holy month of Ramadan, we love it.â€ Mashallah!