Virginia Tech junior Youssef Ramadan always observes the holy month of Ramadan through fasting and prayer, but his Muslim traditions were complicated this year by the 2023 NCAA Championships starting on the same day as the religious holiday last Wednesday.
Youssef was unable to fast while competing last week in Minneapolis, where he won the Hokies’ first individual NCAA title and became the second-fastest swimmer ever in the 100 butterfly (43.15). After the victory, he added the best post-race interview of the week.
Volunteering, performing righteous works, or feeding the poor can be substituted for fasting if necessary, so Youssef opted to observe Ramadan a different way this year.
“I have paid money for people back home who aren’t as lucky and don’t have food, for four meals for four people because I missed four days,” said Youssef, a native of Cairo, Egypt. “When I go back to Blacksburg, I will begin fasting for the rest of the month.”
The holy month of Ramadan begins 10 to 12 earlier each year, allowing it to fall in every season throughout a 33-year cycle, because the Muslim calendar year is shorter than the Gregorian calendar year. It begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon during the ninth month of the Muslim calendar.
Last year, Youssef fasted after NCAAs amid swim practices and into finals season at school. Fasting is typically broken after the sunset prayer during a meal called iftar that is often shared with friends and extended family.
“Practice was definitely hard, not being able to drink in practice and not being able to eat a big meal after hard sets was definitely hard,” Youssef said of his fasting last year. “And no one celebrates with me at Virginia Tech — some days my friends just try to fast to see what I experience, but that’s about it.
The painful exercise in self-restraint ultimately leaves Ramadan with a lasting feeling of gratitude.
“The suffering you go through really makes you appreciate food and appreciate things that you have,” Youssef said.
Louisville’s Abdelraham Elaraby also observes Ramadan, but he said the structure of collegiate swimming in America makes it “impossible to follow” the religious holiday as strictly as he would back home in Egypt.
“Everything is almost set against it unless you are really having a death wish,” Elaraby said. “In Egypt, we push practices to after iftar, which is when we break the fast, and during the day is for study and maybe lift on some occasions.”
JESUS CHRIST ALONE IS THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE JESUS CHRIST ALONE AMEN JOHN 14:6 AMEN❤️✝️🙏🙌❤️
Kudos to Youssef and all on this post who respect spiritual and/or religious choices.
The fortitude of this guy not to drink water during practice is astounding.
Props to him for sticking to something important to him.
Congrats on your win sir!
I hope him not drinking water during practice doesn’t lead to dehydration, but nevertheless the discipline in this man is a whole new level.
there’s some crazy xenophobic people in these comments lmao. just nasty. go find somethin else to be mad about. y’all are just sad
Thank you for this article. Youssef is awesome!!
A consistent group seems to be downvoting all of the positive comments about this article and this young man. Would any of you who are downvoting willing to explain your reasoning? I’d be interested and, of course, you are certainly able to keep your identity confidential if for some reason you feel that is necessary. Thanks.
America is toxic
I’m not one of those people but bro you gotta find something better to worry about
I’ll know whether it’s worth worrying about when someone has the guts to defend their downvote
“I DEmAnd aN eXpLAnaTiOn fOr tHiS dOwNVoTe” – you sound ridiculous dude
nah I’m wondering too, is there some scandal he was in that I’m unaware of
In his defense it really wasnt like that. Im kind of interested in an explanation, I don’t see the harm in inquiry in the comments. Isnt this the place for discussion?
Its kind of funny youre worried about what NoFastTwitch is worried about while telling him what not to worry about
It’s kinda funny you’re worried about what I’m worried about when I’m telling other people not to worry about things. See how stupid and circular that logic is?
Well the thing is i didn’t tell anyone not to worry about anything i just let them go about their business
The fact that no comments are being made negatively says more about them, to me.
I noticed that voting distribution too, and honestly, it might just be one person doing some botting.
Might be optimistic thinking on my part, hoping that it’s not a dozen absolute clods but just one slightly larger clod.
Easier to downvote than to be exposed as a racist.
Would have been a lot funnier if you said “he looked in a mirror”