Breaking the Boundaries of Stereotypes with Hijab in Sports


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In an era where we're talking about feminism, women in sport are a crucial thing to ponder. Well, do you remember what made the 2016 Olympics momentous? It was the female Muslim Olympians who made continuous headlines. In spite of their glorious and inspiring achievements the authorities kept on constraining on the attire.


Later, there was the image of an Egyptian and a German women at Olympic volleyball that went viral. Playing against each other, one in a bikini, the other in a hijab received remarkable media attention. The BBC Africa account tweeted as "Bikini vs. Burka”. While their accomplishments have been applauded, the media focused on the fact that these athletes chose to compete in the hijab.


Muslim women face many barriers such as hijab bans, religious intolerance etc. The attire or uniform of a player should not be considered a symbol of negotiation in the show as long as they are safe. Yet, hijab is a point of discussion, Why? Islamic tradition does not hinder a female from participating in sports unless it’s within the Islamic values. When discussed openly hijab should not be considered as an adverse symbol.



Should Muslim Women Be Allowed To Play Sports?


Muslim women have been involved in sports even in the history of Islam. During the period of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), there have been various events that demonstrate that women were physically active in those days too. The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, “Entertain and play, for indeed I dislike harshness to be seen in your religion” (Suyuti, al-Jami) and moreover, Islam favors good health.


Islam have been always encouraged both male and female to be active in practical life. In fact, Islam places strong emphasis on the importance of healthy body and mind. Thus participation in sport is not against the religion if it’s within the Islamic principles.


hijab in sports



Interestingly, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also used to have footraces with his wife, Aisha (RA) and she won many times. Also, there were many women who dynamically participated in the battlefield with other soldiers. Thus, Islam has never placed any constraints against women from participating in sports.


Going back to 1984 Olympic, Nawal El Moutawakel, a Moroccan hurdler, was the first Muslim female to win Gold medal in the inaugural women's 400 meters hurdles. There are others such as Majlinda Kelmendi, Sri Wahyuni Agustiani and Ibtihaj Muhammad, who have been flabbergasting in the Olympic Games.



Being a Hijabist Athlete is not a big deal


The discussion about hijab in sport seems somewhat new for most. But, not for Muslim women who choose to cover their head. There have been quite a lot of instances where it has been banned, forcing some athletes to select between honoring their faith and not participating, or removing the Hijab.


Hijab does not refrain one from her sporting abilities. And, if a Muslimah aspires to dress up modestly, it should not be hyped as a global issue. 

Rizwana Anjum

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