London, NU Online
With the participation of about over three thousand Muslim athletes at the grandest universal event, the 2012 London Olympic Games became an important historical event for Muslims around the world. Can Muslim athletes abandon their religious tasks of fasting in the midst of a heated and world-level competition amongst other non-Muslim opponents?
The fighting spirit of Muslims in the month of Ramadan does not have to weaken in the face of struggle, which had in fact been practiced since the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Everything depends on the Muslim athletes themselves, if they are able to carry out the fasting practice throughout the event.
The opening ceremony is in sight, commencing on July 27, with even a few branches already started before the opening. The compromise between religious duties and competition had actually not only emerged this once.
At the 1924 Olympics, Scottish sprinter Eric Lindell withdrew from the match held on Sunday and decided to attend mass at church, while Jewish baseball player, Sandy Koufax, refused to play in 1965 because it coincided with Yom Kippur.
Joanna Manning Cooper, spokeswoman for the 2012 Olympic organizing committee says that organizers did not know of the issue when accepting UK’s proposal six years ago to host the grandest sporting competition. Even so, she was sure that all these obstacles can be overcome.
However, it turned out that Islamic Human Rights Commission six years ago had filed an objection letter to organizers. They requested that the grand event be rescheduled so as to not clash with consecration of the religious month of Ramadan. The National Olympic Committee refused the request, saying it was the consequence of the athletes and that the organizers are not responsible for it.
Fasting in the sub-tropical regions of Europe differed to that of the tropical regions. Daytime spans longer before nightfall, namely about 17 hours. Hence, Muslims athletes in the zone are subject to a longer period of refraining from eating and drinking.
Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council allowed athletes competing in the Olympics London, England, to postpone their fasting until after the Olympics. The reason was that they were competing in an international event in honor of the nation.
“They competed in the Olympics for the name of the nation. They can resume fasting when they return to Malaysia,” said prominent religious figure in the Malaysian state of Perak, Mufti Harussani Zakaria.
“In the Quran, it says that if you have a mission to accomplish, then you can put off fasting first. However, the number of days dropped must be repaid,” said Zakaria.
“The situation is extremely way-out compared to Indonesia. Here, fasting starts from 3:15 am London time and breaking fast is at 21:30 pm London time. Then, tarawih starts at nearly 23.00, sleeping hours are at 24.00, and later we must get up again at 02.00. For the weather here, it’s still a bit cold,” said Chairman of the Indonesian Olympic contingent, Erick Thohir.
“Islam is a religion of tolerance. This is not a religion that forces obligations on its people. Actually, when “venturing” to London we can be called pilgrims. Islam thus allows us to suspend our fast,” he said.
Editor : Sudarto Murtaufiq
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