Muslim student athletes observe Ramadan

Junior Rayya Haider is a dedicated tennis player (Sophie Cullum)

During the month of Ramadan, many Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown, reflect on their faith and spend time with family. Because the Islamic calendar is based on the moon, not the sun, Ramadan often occurs at different points throughout the year. This year, Ramadan falls from April 1 to May 1, which is also the spring sports season. 

Junior Rayya Haider is on the girls’ varsity tennis team. 

“I’ve played tennis since the end of 8th grade,” Haider said. “I really like the way you move in tennis; I like the experience of being on a court with other people.” 

During Ramadan, Muslims eat their first meal early, before the sun rises, and have another meal at sunset. During the day, they refrain from eating or drinking, unless it is medically necessary. 

“Usually in between games you drink water, since I can’t drink water, my mouth feels really dry. But I can pull through it,” Haider said. “Hydration is the biggest part of it.” 

Ramadan occurred during Haider’s sophomore year tennis season as well. She enjoys the routine and spending more time with her family during meals. 

“I really like observing Ramadan,” Haider said. “There’s a really good idea in it, for a month your routine changes.” 

“The thing with school and Ramadan is that it’s hard to move time around. By the time I’m finished with tennis, I have an hour or an hour and a half until I can eat,” Haider said. 

For some sports, such as track, athletes practice before school begins, soon after their first meal. 

“We’ll do some practice before school, so they have more energy,” said boys’ track coach Alexis Madsen. Though observing Ramadan while playing sports presents challenges, many athletes adapt well and excel in their sports. 

“The combination of any sport with Ramadan tests your strength,” Haider said. “It’s a very rewarding experience overall, to challenge myself physically and mentally.”