Abtaha Maqsood: Scotland spinner on Ramadan, fasting and wearing a hijab

Meet three young British Muslim cricketers observing Ramadan this month

Observing Ramadan as an elite sportsperson, who always has to be at the top of their game, can be incredibly difficult.

Just ask 21-year-old Scotland cricketer Abtaha Maqsood.

"It's quite tough - it can be pretty intense at times," she told BBC World Service's Stumped podcast.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which began on 12 April this year, involves a month of fasting and means Muslims will not eat or drink anything during daylight hours.

"It's just knowing your limits and not overdoing it because obviously Ramadan is a quite important time for us and we want to fast as much as we can, but if that means it's going to hurt us or affect our health, then we really need to think about that," Maqsood said.

Maqsood, who is set to play for Birmingham Phoenix in this summer's inaugural Hundred competition, travels to England for a lot of her games and she says that makes fasting easier.

But match days are a different proposition.

"When we have two Twenty20s in one day I just sometimes find that a wee bit too hard, so I don't fast on those days," she said.

"However many fasts I miss during Ramadan I make up before next year's Ramadan."

Maqsood, who has taken 19 wickets in 14 T20 games for Scotland, says her team-mates "always have questions" but they always have her best interests at heart.

"They're quite a curious bunch and I love that," Maqsood said.

"I love all the questions that they have and they're constantly making sure that I'm OK and I've got enough food in me."

Abtaha Maqsood celebrates taking a wicket
Maqsood says she hopes her participation in his summer's Hundred will inspire Muslim girls

The left-arm leg-spinner wears a hijab while playing, and has been since school, and she says it was "quite daunting" initially.

"It's super important - when I was younger I never really saw a Muslim athlete who wore the hijab," Maqsood, who combines playing cricket with studying dentistry at Glasgow University, said.

"It was daunting for me to walk into that hall for the very first time. I was scared, obviously people were going to look at me and stare but you just kind of get used to it after a wee while.

"That is one thing that I am genuinely excited about; playing cricket at a high level and wearing the hijab and making sure that people see that and young girls who also wear the hijab see that."

Maqsood, who dreams of leading Scotland to a World Cup, says she has not found wearing the hijab a barrier, but accepts that it can be tough for other girls.

"It is more what would people say kind of thing, it's not a physical barrier or anything," she said.

"I do know mentally it can be quite tough to go into playing sport and also wearing the hijab just with some people's mentality, like cultural mentality, not religious at all.

"I can understand that it is probably a barrier, but physically for me in particular it's been completely fine and I'm super happy with it."

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