What about these Muslim athletes powers them in their competition?

Image and video from author.

An incredible phenomenon has been occurring in the top tier of combat sports. A pattern of characteristics unifies the most brutal Mixed Martial Arts fighters in the world. A new wave of disciplined, hardworking fighters in the most painful sport in the world are practicing Muslims. They often express gratitude and humility, accrediting their success to the plan of God and their faith in Islam. With Ramadan in full swing, we take a look at Washington High’s Muslim athletes to see how their faith influences their athletic ambitions.

Combat sports are especially unique examples of competition as athletes are ultimately alone in the ring. This form of sport acts as a metaphor for the struggles and successes each of us endeavor in our daily lives. “After getting hit and knocked down constantly, combat sports really force you to dig deep,” says WHS’s Angelo Mariano, a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt with 10 years of experience. Pushing yourself past your boundaries, dedicating yourself to learning, and practicing your craft are universal skills applicable to all corners of human life.

To research the habits and lifestyles of Muslim athletes we look toward Washington High Schools own faith-driven student athletes, questioning how their religion affects their ability to compete and their perception on life as they pursue their goals. 

So what about Islam at its core helps student athletes perform both on and off the field? In short, it’s the discipline of doing what needs to be done at all costs. Fending away distractions and temptation, Islam teaches to stay focused on your life’s mission. MJ, a Washington high school junior Soccer player agrees with the sentiment of UFC fighter Khabib Nurgemasov that Islam’s practice of praying 5 times a day helps him structure his day and keep him focused. Saying, “Islam taught me to be dedicated in whatever I do, and to never give up…it’s the foundation for my every day,” his faith guides him to work hard and stay grounded. He often finds that his meditative prayers help him remember his purpose and fuel him to work hard. This translates to the field as MJ runs drills over and over, perfecting his craft.

Furthermore, Muslims find peace in believing their destinies are predetermined and that God has a greater plan than their own. They deeply believe that whatever the outcome of their competition, God willed it that way and therefore it is part of a greater plan. Iman Abdella, WHS’s Varsity Tennis player and track competitor says that her faith in Islam and trust in God has greatly improved her performers anxiety. She says, “The most important thing to me is staying true to myself, this normally translates to praising God before every race, saying Bismillah, which eases my performance anxiety and causes me to remember that no matter how things go, it’s in God’s hands.” Without the fear of failure she’s able to do her best and know that it’s good enough, relieving her stress and giving her more capacity to bond with her teammates.

On top of promoting extraordinary performance, Islam teaches character, respect, and humility. Just as top UFC athletes like Khabib Nurmagamedov and Islam Makhachev, Edrees, a WHS senior and varsity wrestler, says that the most important principle in his sport is respect. Respecting his coaches, his opponents, and his teammates, he believes respect is the root of sportsmanship. He says, “Respecting your elders is very big in Islam, which relates to your experience with coaches and teammates.” He explains how respecting his elders, he follows the Islamic tradition of mentorship, bettering himself as a wrestler and a man following the wisdom of his elders. 

The success of Muslim athletes in sports is not solely attributed to their physical abilities but rather their discipline, focus, and character shaped by their faith in Islam. Through prayer and a belief in predetermined destiny, they find peace and purpose in their pursuits. Their respect for their opponents and mentors showcases the principles of sportsmanship and the values that go beyond the ring. The habits and lifestyles of Muslim athletes serve as a reminder that success is not only about talent but also about the dedication and determination to do what needs to be done, both in sports and in life.

Zahi Imaduddin is a senior at Washington High School. He was born and raised in Fremont, California, and this is his first year at the paper. He hopes to discuss the intersections of technology and psychology and how technology shapes culture. His hobbies include coding, cooking, creating 3D art, and working out. He hopes to study computer science in college and eventually start a company. With a strong interest in the ocean, he hopes to one day sell all his belongings and live on a boat.

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