Inspired by the growing popualarity of the Olympic games, does being a competitor in the Olympics really give a legitamite reason to break your fast?

Many countries have allowed their athletes to break their fast, but is it allowed in Islam?

  • 2
    No ,if he prefer islam, yes if he prefer sports
    – Tachyons
    Aug 1, 2012 at 14:21
  • Recently South Africa player Hashim aamla scored triple century while he was fasting.
    – RobinHood
    Aug 2, 2012 at 3:34
  • @RobinHood very good example of Muslims sticking to Islam even if it means hardship, scholars for dollars will find fatwas for whoever as long as they are being bank rolled (sad but true)!
    – Abu Nooh
    Aug 2, 2012 at 15:24

4 Answers 4


One of my friends is actually competing (10,000m) in London this week representing Canada. He consulted with the major Ahlussunnah scholars of Toronto and they told him since he would be travelling, it was up to him whether to fast or not depending on how difficult it would be. He decided to not fast in the days leading up to his competition, and then fast in the days after it.

Allah SWT says in the Qur'an:

So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up].

These athletes are clearly travelling and so they have the option of availing of this concession. The thing to realize is that these participants are not undertaking a frivolous trip simply in order to avoid fasting. For many of them it is a very important part of their careers and livelihoods. It's not something that can be optional to many of them. As such, they are on legitimate travel and these scholars were of the opinion that the rukhsah applies to them.

This answer from IslamQA states:

If fasting and not fasting are the same, in the sense that fasting does not affect him, then in this case fasting is better. If not fasting is easier for him, then in this case we say that not fasting (when traveling) is better. If something will give him hardship, then in his case fasting becomes makrooh, because doing something that causes hardship when there is a concession indicates that one is spurning a concession granted by Allaah.

Note that the concession is due to travel, not due to hardship in competing in the Games. It's not as if these athletes are ignoring something that is fard upon them in order to compete. There is a clear concession for those who are travellers. For many of these professional athletes, this is their job, no different from if you or I had to undertake a business journey during Ramadan and having the option of fasting or not fasting.

And Allah SWT knows better.

Source: IslamQA answer linked above, and personal communication with athlete mentioned above.

  • I would agree with this one. I was taught that it was fine to break fast (as long as you replace it later) if it was a part of your job. This is clearly an athlete's full time job. In this case, it would also cause them physical harm to fast.
    – Muz
    Aug 1, 2012 at 2:22
  • 1
    some do arrive 2 weeks before competing, and the olympics are about 2 weeks is 4 weeks really still considered travel?
    – NesreenA
    Aug 1, 2012 at 9:48
  • @NesreenA that's a good point! Also I know many competitors will be from the UK, perhaps even London and thus will not be travelling (as far), is this argument still valid for those? Aug 1, 2012 at 18:58
  • @Pureferret no it wouldn't be valid for those who aren't travelling as the hukm (rule) is only for travellers for whatever reason (within Islam) not only work. So they are pardonned not because of games but for travelling. So the answer is no not pardonned for games but for specific reasons found within shariah i.e. travelling, sickness etc. and Allah knows best.
    – Abu Nooh
    Aug 2, 2012 at 1:01
  • @abushahin that makes sense, but it seems unfair if with two Muslims competing only one of them is fasting. Aug 2, 2012 at 6:46

All things that are mandatory (fard) in Islam must be observed. Unless there is a rukhsah (excuse) to not do it i.e. it is obligatory to fast unless you find some daleel (text) to say that you are allowed to miss it and it must fall on those conditions and nothing else. So when the ayat says:

“but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days” [al-Baqarah 2:184]

“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day)” [al-Baqarah 2:184]

According to the scholars these include travelling a distance of 48 miles or more (there are differences of opinion). The sick includes pregnant women.

Please look up tafseer of Quran for more detailed explanations.

So according to this not fasting in the olympics isn't a valid reason.

Just to give an analogy, All mandatory obligations work the same way unless there is text (daleel) to allow you abstain .

  • @ansari I agree with your answer partly, yes it is allowed for him to abstain from fasting because of travelling not for olympics. If it were spefically for games then no as people in London don't have that option to not fast as they are not travelling.
    – Abu Nooh
    Aug 1, 2012 at 1:45

Ramadan is the month in which we muslims fast, and only occurs once a year. The Olympics only occurs once every 4 years. Clearly missing out on the Olympics for a professional sports person is a big deal, but not as big a deal for some Muslims as fasting.

The question asks, does being a competitor in the Olympics really give a legitamite reason to break your fast?

I would ask, do you need to? Several muslim sports-people manage to fast and compete without any ill effects. For instance Hamza and Husain Abdullah, who are NFL players.

In fact various studies have shed light on fasting:

Whereas subjective feelings of fatigue and other mood indicators are often cited as implying additional stress on the athlete throughout Ramadan, most studies show these measures may not be reflected in decreases in performance. The development and early implementation of sensible eating and sleeping strategies can greatly alleviate the disruptions to training and competitiveness, thus allowing the athlete to perform at a high level while undertaking the religious intermittent fast.

I realise I haven't quoted quran or sunnah here, but this has been extensively covered by other answers. I only hope to show another side to the answer.


I don't think it is in regards to travelling, but the difficulty of fasting. The site in your question quotes the reason given.

“They are going to the Olympics to bring fame for the country. They can fast when they return to Malaysia,” Mufti Harussani Zakaria, the top religious official for the Malaysian state of Perak, told AFP on Monday.

“The Quran says if you have a mission to complete, you can postpone the fasting but you must replace the number of days you did not fast.”

Another site brings up the same ruling:

It is permissible for those who have hard jobs that require efforts beyond their capabilities to break their fast. Such permission is based on the Islamic ruling that any hardship must be treated with leniency in Ramadan or any other time. The worker must, however, have prior intention to fast. If he finds it to be extremely difficult to pursue fasting during the day, he is allowed to break it. Al-Nafrawi, the religious scholar, referred to the conditions that allow Muslims not to fast"... such as the harvester who needs the money to survive, he may go to the harvest even if he had to stop fasting provided he has prior intention to fast. Moreover, he is only allowed to stop fasting when he feels exhaustion".

To summarize, it all depends on the level of hardship. If one deems it to be beyond one's power, one may break his fast provided one makes up for the missed days after Ramadan. Allah Knows Best.

An athlete would certainly be exhausted after doing their job and it would make their job a lot more difficult!

I can only find two verses in the Quran which addresses this:

..but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) feed a needy person (for every day missed) But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you knew. [Quran 2:184]

Some argue that verse 2:185 abrogates verse 2:184, in the sense that you can fast on other non-Ramadan days instead of feeding the poor.

... So whoever sights the month (of Ramadan) he must observe Saum (fast) for that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number from other days. Allah intends you ease, and he does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him. [Quran 2:185]

  • A harvester who has to harvest to to keep alive and an athlete are hardly similar people, if the analogy was made it seems the harvester is in a position of life and death, and well for the modern day athlete(!) come on it's hardly a life threatening postion. We need to find ahkam based on our reality and not ones that fit our reality, then that would be picking and choosing. And Allah knows best.
    – Abu Nooh
    Aug 2, 2012 at 1:06
  • The Quran does not say how much difficulty it is before they are not required to fast, also why I highlighted "Allah intends you ease". A closer analogy would be menstruating women: "The reason why Allaah has forbidden menstruating women to fast at the time of their period is out of mercy towards them, because loss of blood weakens them and if a woman were to fast when menstruating, she would be weakened both by menstruation and by fasting, in which case fasting would be an unfair burden and may even be harmful. [al-Majmoo’, 2/386]" The athlete cannot perform his job outside Ramadan here.
    – Muz
    Aug 2, 2012 at 4:21

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