Call of the Good Example

The Washington Post wrote in the sports section on 20 January 1997 an article titled “Fasting Olajuwon wins.” Olajuwon is a well-known American Muslim basketball player whose full name is “Hakeem Olajuwon,” and is considered by some sports analysts as the best basketball player in America. On Monday, 19 January 1997, he played the most important match in the season between 1-4 o’clock while he was fasting, and everyone knows the muscular and neural effort required by this sport, besides the quantity of fluids lost from the body which need to be compensated quickly and lead to extreme thirst that is hard to control under such circumstances. However, Hakeem Olajuwon, known for his religious practices and high Islamic morality, was able – by God’s help and bless of fasting – to appear in the best shape and score the majority of points during the match, leading to the victory of his team.


When asked after the match ended and victory was announced about the impact of fasting on him and whether it weakened him physically, Olajuwon answered “Fasting teaches a person how to control his desires and lusts, and there lies the real strength so I didn’t think about thirst.”


Even though I am not a big fan of basketball and don’t follow up with sport events in general, these simple words had a great impact in America, as the number spectators who watched the match could reach millions. I was surprised by the abundance of questions I received during the days following that event from American doctors I worked with, and even a lot of my patients, which opened an unexpected door to me to invite people to Islam and explain the Islamic philosophy of fasting and its effects on the body, mind and soul.


The simple words that Olajuwon said had more effect than the efforts of hundreds of Muslim preachers; especially that he spoke the language of his own people and talked about his own experience.


Islam spread through the Muslim world by displaying good examples, such as the role of Muslim merchants in the spread of Islam in Indonesia – one of the biggest countries of the Muslim world – as well as throughout Africa.


We are in need of missionaries who can prove their success and be outstanding in their fields of expertise, and those are the real missionaries and the creators of life.