August 29th, 2011
10:16 AM ET
By Chris Welch, CNN
Eden Prairie, Minnesota (CNN) - Watching Minnesota Vikings starting safety Husain Abdullah on the sun-drenched field during practice on a recent afternoon, you’d never guess he hasn’t had any food or drink since sunrise.
Abdullah is an observant Muslim, which during Ramadan - the Islamic holy month that ends Monday night - means no eating or drinking from sunup to sundown, not even water.
“My religion is very important to me," Abdullah said after practice. "I mean, it’s the basis of my life.”
He credits his parents with instilling the Muslim values he holds dear today.
"The month of Ramadan is something that we wait for every year," Abdullah said. "When it comes, we actually celebrate it.
“People think because we’re fasting that we should dread it, but we actually celebrate the month because it’s the month in which the Quran was revealed," he said. "Everybody gets excited.”
Even, he says, when that means 95-degree heat and high humidity on the practice field here.
This will be Abdullah's fourth full season playing professional football, a stretch that he says has given him time to perfect a Ramadan diet, aided with the team nutritionist.
“Dinnertime, I will eat whatever my wife cooks; I’m not gonna be picky about that,” he laughed. “Then it’s mainly about the fluids.”
“I try to drink until I can start using the bathroom regularly, so I can keep hydrated," he said. "And then around 2 in the morning …we have lunch in the middle of the night. So I just drink a protein shake, probably eat some fruit and again drink some fluids.”
All that followed by what he called a “regular” breakfast of oatmeal, fruit and eggs. Then, he says, he’s set for the day.
The fast lasts until an after-sundown meal, called an iftar dinner.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama invited Abdullah, along with his brother Hamza, a defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals, to the White House's annual iftar dinner.
“It was kind of surreal,” Abdullah said. “(We) got to snap a couple pictures, they cleared out a room, and we got to pray inside the White House, which is awesome.”
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.