Abdullahs choose faith over football

Vikings safety Husain Abdullah and his brother are eschewing NFL offers to serve their Muslim faith.

Two years ago, Husain Abdullah taught Vikings fans about the extent to which his religious beliefs are an overriding factor in his life when he observed the Muslim practice of fasting during Ramadan – refusing to take in food or water while the sun was up even though it fell during the heat of training camp.

Abdullah and his brother Hamza have taken it one step further this year, as both announced they will sit out the 2012 season to speak at mosques throughout the country this summer before making a pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

Both of the Abdullah brothers are free agents and the Vikings claimed that they had an offer on the table for Husain, who was a starting safety for the team last year. He also received offers from other teams that he turned down. However, just as they taught the players, coaches and staff of their respective teams about the practice of Ramadan, the Abdullah brothers showed that nothing will come between them and their faith.

"It has been a blessing to play in the NFL for both Husain and I," Hamza Abdullah said in a statement. "But we would be remiss if we didn't give thanks to the One who made it all possible."

Husain said that a recent overseas visit made up his mind that the time was now to make a faith-based decision to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

"I visited Makkah, Saudi Arabia in March and a strong sense of urgency overcame me to attend ‘Hajj' in October," he said. "I love the game of football, but it would directly coincide with my pilgrimage. So, I'm taking some time off."

There had been some questions as to whether the Vikings would make Husain Abdullah a contract offer because, over an 18-month span, he had suffered four concussions and was sent to a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh to determine if he was facing long-term health risks by continuing to play. At the end of last season, Abdullah told Viking Update that he was ready to return to the NFL, but shared his own concerns about his life after football and whether he would be willing to take those risks.

The Abdullah brothers have made it clear that their religious beliefs are the overriding factors in their lives, but with Thursday's announcement they showed that their works are as important as their faith – even if it costs one or both of them their NFL careers.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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