American football star Husain Abdullah says his Muslim faith is important to him
He left football to travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia
He now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs
He fasts during Ramadan, even if it means playing football hungry
American football – particularly at the NFL level – requires stamina, which is usually in short supply when you’re hungry.
Husain Abdullah, a safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, doesn’t let an empty stomach ruin his game. A devout Muslim, he observes Ramadan, which means adhering to a month without food or water during daylight hours.
Far from hurting his performance, Abdullah says the act of fasting actually enhances his game.
“When you’re on that spiritual level, it actually kind of transforms you into being better, and playing better,” he says.
“I’ve had some of my best performances while fasting.”
It’s not the first time religion has played a role in his professional decisions.
When he graduated from Washington State University, he landed his dream gig: backup for the Minnesota Vikings. Three years later, he quit the team travel to go on the hajj – the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are expected to make during their lifetimes.
“This is what I needed to see in terms of advancing my level of faith in Islam,” he says.
“Everybody’s coming to Mecca to do the same thing. Everybody’s asking for forgiveness. Everybody’s asking for guidance.”
When he’s on the field, Abdullah says he can feel a higher power guiding him.
“When we make a play, we’re not going to say I did that. We’re going to thank God,” he says.
Though his faith is more of a personal journey, there are some who take offense.
“People say it shouldn’t be on the field,” he admits. “But you can’t get away from it. If someone believes in God, you can’t get away from it.”