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These teens run track for Sexton High School while they fast for Ramadan

Posted at 12:07 PM, Apr 22, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — During the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world abstain from food and water from before sunrise until after sunset, which can make strenuous physical activity a challenge.

But two Muslim student-athletes at Sexton High School said they’re finding inspiration in their faith and on the track.

Nene Issa and Zara Djibrine are juniors at Sexton High School observing Ramadan and running track.

“I was always telling my mom like, 'How can I run when I'm fasting?'" Issa said. "She was like, 'You never know, just do it. You never know what will happen, just run and fast.'"

Ramadan started on April 1 and ends on May 1, which means for an entire month Zara and Nene only eat and drink early in the morning and after nightfall.

During the holy month, Djibrine said she wakes up at 4:30 a.m.

“I have school so I usually try to get rest after I eat and then we pray,” she said.

Issa and Djibrine are not new to this. Issa has been fasting during Ramadan every year since she was 10 and Djibrine since she was 7.

Continuing to practice and compete is a challenge physically, but they say their energy doesn’t come from food, it comes from their faith and dedication to the sport.

“Coming to track to practice being able to run gives me like energy or like hope,” Djibrine said.

Issa added that running track makes fasting easier.

“If I'm at home doing nothing, I'd be weak," she said. "So if I do something I'll be strong.”

Assistant Athletic Director Claude Hoggan volunteers with the track team. He said, even though they don’t get the same nutrients as other athletes during the day, they’re still placing well during meets.

“They said that the religion actually influenced them to be better people,” he said. “I think it just shows who they're going to become. There's going to be no quit in these young ladies.”

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