The 2012 Summer Olympics conflict with Ramadan for the first time since 1980. For the 3,000 Muslim athletes who plan to compete, this confliction presents a challenge of balancing observance of the holy month, which requires Muslims to fast from sunrise to sundown, with performing in the high-stress environment of Olympic competition.
Iman Adam Kelwick, whose mosque is in Liverpool, joins the show to examine this conflict between sport and faith. He says that plans have been put into place to accomodate Muslim guests of the city. "I think we can applaud the British Muslim community and the scheme that has been developed with the Olympic Committee, and this program will make sure that all guests on the streets of London, at the time to break the fast, are welcome into [Londoners' houses] to come and join them for a meal."
Mohamed Sbihi, a rower on the British team, is a devout Muslim who is unconcerned by the overlap. "If you were to push [the Olympics back] it would benefit us, but it might not benefit others," he says.
"Everyone is equal, and that's what Islam teaches and preaches, but one of the things that we must understand is not everyone can be pleased." Sbihi, along with many other athletes, is planning on eating and drinking during Ramadan, and will either make the fast up at a later date, or give money to his family to donate.
"I think it's inspiring for me to see many different athletes that are Muslim that have chosen different ways and different methods to abstain from the fasting, or not to fast," Sbihi says. "One thing that we must all understand is everyone is under their own personal discretion and personal choice, and no one can judge what is right or wrong other than Allah."
The High Egyptian Islamic council has issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, permitting athletes to break the fast during training or competition. Egyptian pentathlon coach Sherif al-Eryan's thoughts were similar to Sbihi's.
“I guess there is no problem. Our athletes could never achieve anything if they fasted this year,” al-Eryan said. “They have religious permission for this. But it is necessary for them as Muslims to fast after the month of Ramadan for the days they had to eat during the Olympics.”