In recent years, an increase in Muslim women participating in sports activities has been noticed. The stories of the hardships they face to pursue their dreams and excel in it have inspired women all over the world. When it comes to women athletes, they often do not receive the exposure and recognition they deserve. While being Muslim women athlete brings additional issues with them. Hence it is important to bring forth their stories to provide encouragement and hope to million others who are still struggling at various levels. Let us discuss how these women overcome obstacles while participating in their choice of sports
As with many countries, many Muslim women wear hijab and many don’t. It is a matter of personal choice. Few countries have made it compulsory for women to wear hijab. The most common challenge that these athletes have to face is in terms of athletic dress codes. However, this challenge has also opened up opportunities for them, so that they can find a middle ground in wearing a dress that is modest enough by the standards of their faith and also that does not prevent them in participating in their preferred field of sports.
FIFA, for instance, previously put a ban on headscarves or hijab while participating in matches for the fear that it could cause accidental choking of the players while playing. However, after plenty of discussions between different authorities, this ban was lifted which allowed Muslim women to participate in soccer without feeling burdened to choose between faith or their dreams.
Likewise, Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first American Muslim fencer to participate in Olympics wearing a hijab. As her faith requires women to dress modestly, she chose fencing that also requires players to stay completely covered while playing.
Women athletes are often not perceived as someone to be fierce and serious. As a result, they have to work much harder to prove their worth. They have to prove them continuously through their actions, participating in competitions and also through their achievements. And this is also applicable in terms of getting funds and sponsorship. Amna Al Haddad, while sharing her life story mentioned, how she was rejected for no apparent reason, or how she was promised support, but it never worked out.
She started her career as a journalist and later decided to pursue a career in weight lifting. She gained recognition in 2012 when she became the first Muslim female athlete to compete at Crossfit Asia wearing a hijab. The following years witnessed her progress as a weightlifter. In 2015, she won six gold medals and three silver medals at the International weightlifting Federation Asian Interclub Championship held in Jordan. When Nike, decided to sponsor her, and she went to their training campus, their research team was focused on finding ways that could improve her performance. Whereas, her basic need was to wear a hijab that would stay in place and not cause her excessive sweat. She has proposed the idea of a sports hijab which leads Nike to launch Pro hijab.
There has been a lot of misconception regarding women athletes such as weightlifting cause women to become bulkier, or women are not good athletes and many others. Female athletes are breaking all these stereotypes. While Al Hammad, being a weightlifter inspired both men and women, Zahra Lari break the stereotype and become an Emirati figure skater and also the first in the world to compete in a hijab. The latter has won national championships in UAE ice skating for five times and also the first one to represent UAE in Winter Games Qualification in 2018. Thanks to her, UAE become the first Arab state to join the International skating union. She is truly an inspiration to millions of women in UAE who proved that nothing can stop one from pursuing their dream if they put their heart and soul to it. Popular sports brand Nike introduced Pro Hijab, a sports hijab to support the Muslim female athletes so that their faith should not prevent them to achieve their goals.
Apart from getting inspired by these Muslim women athletes to join sports, women in the UAE have also shown a keen interest in fashion as well. While brands such as Nike have introduced sports hijab, many fashion brands also offer designer clothes for women. Again, brands such as Mumzworld, an eCommerce site launched various maternity products for new mothers and offer Mumzworld Coupon codes on both products for babies and children as well as their mothers.