Hijab in Sports
How Muslim Women Athletes Are Fighting for Acceptance
"I think hijab in sport has always been part of the conversation; it just seems that the larger community is all of a sudden coming to the table."
In 2016, Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first Muslim woman athlete competing for America to wear hijab during the Rio Olympics. As one of the most-talked about Olympians in a group that included names like Michael Phelps and Simone Biles, she did her best to deflect the hyper focus on her religion or what she wears while still competing on a world-class level
Instead, ibtihaj Muhammad used her platform and voice to educate as she showed grace and humility on the biggest athletic stage in the world, making history along the way by becoming the first Muslim-American to stand on a podium at the Olympics, winning a bronze.
6 MUSLIM COMPANIES THAT CREATED SPORTS HIJABS WAY BEFORE NIKE
Athletic Powerhouse Nike won major cool points for inclusion in February, with their Nike “Equality” ad (for Black History Month) which featured a Hijabi (Nurah Regan) running alongside Muslim Olympic Gold athlete (400 hurdles)
During the same month overseas, Nike launched an ad geared toward Middle Eastern female athletes, challenging cultural norms, called “What will they say about you?” — displaying the stories of five Middle Eastern Athletes, including Zahra Lari, a figure skater currently training to qualify in the 2018 Winter Games.
Although the inclusion and diversity displayed by Nike is appreciated, they are about 13 years late to the Sport Hijab rights.
Nike confirmed (3.6.17) their next move. Yes, it is true, the Nike Pro Hijab has landed. (Available Spring 2018 as seen on figure skater, Zahra Lari). Nike has created a breathable fabric, stretch fit, performance hijab for Hijabi athletes (complete with huge Nike swoosh, for your side profile selfies), and being hailed as the first of it’s kind.
Umm, Nike, I’ma let you finish but…
Although the inclusion and diversity displayed by Nike is appreciated, they are about 13 years late to the Sport Hijab rights. Muslimah designers worldwide have already tackled this problem for the hijabi athlete.
Pioneer, Australian designer, Aheda Zanetti was inspired to create the “Hijood” a mix of hijab and hood, creating a breathable, easy-to-slip-on garment to cover the head and allow modest Muslim women to play sports easily. The design was inspired by seeing her hijabi niece wear traditional Islamic clothing under her ball uniform. Zanetti launched Ahiida, in 2004, a full sportswear brand, and eventually moved into swimwear, being the originator of the popular, trademarked, controversial “Burkini” design, a modest swimwear solution.
Muslimahs are encouraged to “Be Raqtive”, Raqtive, is a Malaysian active brand founded in 2010, that advertises the “Sports Hijab Pro” hijab line (hmm, where Nike may of gotten it’s inspiration perhaps?!), utilizing high-quality microfiber sports fabric, which allows better perspiration, absorbency, high breathability without compromising comfort.”
If you are seeking hijab made in the USA, here are 3 just for you:
In 2009, LiaWear Action, was launched by Muslimah American Designer, Latifa Ihsan Ali of Delaware. Ali, is a University of Delaware graduate in Apparel Design. Her passion lies in helping women, get active or remain active, while keeping modest. LiaWear Action offers modest swimsuits, sportswear, and headwear so that you can enjoy a healthy, active, lifestyle. The website will launch soon, but you can buy directly from their FB Shop!
4. Asiya Sport
Asiya Sport, named their brand after “highly revered Asiya bint Muzahim, known for being courageous and standing up against injustice. We thought she was the ideal role model and champion for our mission.” The Founder of Asiya Sport is , Fatimah Hussein, of non-profit program — G.I.R.L.S. (Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports), which created girls-only gym time several nights a week catering to Muslim girls.
The Asiya Sport website showcases 3 hijabi styles: Lite, Fit, and Sport in a variety of colors.
In a collaboration with the Cedar-Riverside community and the University of Minnesota, prototype basketball uniforms were developed in 2015. The uniforms gave Muslim girls freedom of movement to play. Asiya Sport launched an indie-gogo campaign, being fully funded in November 2016. The Asiya Sport website showcases 3 hijabi styles: Lite, Fit, and Sport in a variety of colors. The Ultra-lightweight and soft ASIYA™Cool Technology Fabric, features their sweat-wicking performance & breath-ability, keeping you cool and dry, starting at $40 USD per style.
5. Sukoon Active
A new line has emerged out of New York, and founded in 2015. Designer, Arshiya Kherani, of Sukoon Active, a line of active wear that caters to “the modest, Muslim woman who wants to look good while exercising, without compromising her values.” Sukoon Active offers breathable, dry wicking, comfortable, fabric and currently have prototypes for four pieces in the collection — the classic hijab, the up-do hijab, the classic tee and a signature bag. Look for Sukoon Active out soon. Ig: @sukoonactive
Muslim Girl Ally Honorable Mention goes to Capsters, designed by Capsters designer, Cindy van den Bremen. Cindy, who isn’t Muslim, is married to a Muslim man. She was touched by the story of a Dutch hijabi, and ultimately launched the first sports hijab in 2001. The Capster story starts when, as she put it, “a Dutch girl gets expelled in 1999 for her supposedly unsafe hijab.” The case went to court. The court’s solution? A swim cap. A swim cap! Cindy’s solution: the invention of a sport hijab.
Capsters boasts itself as being the world’s brand in sport hijabs, with an aim to empower women through sports. Capsters has also been active in the fight to lift hijab bans in sports. They have ambassadors that are hijabi Muslimah athletes from all over the world., including, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, who is the all-time leading scorer in Massachusetts high school basketball, and hasn’t turned pro yet because the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) doesn’t allow religious head coverings in official competitions. Bilqis has campaigned with #FIBAAllowHijab for two years, and hopes for a change to the rules.
It just makes sense to buy from Muslimah brands.
So while the Muslim world awaits the Nike Pro Hijab, why not actually get familiar with Muslim brands worldwide, that have done their homework to bring quality sport fit solutions? Brands that have already been working with hijabi athletes, hiring them in their advertising, being role models to the next generation of Muslim girl athletes, and catering exclusively to the fit Muslimah lifestyle!
These brands know you, because they ARE YOU!
These women know what it feels like to want to be active and not compromise your modesty as a hijabi. It just makes sense to buy from Muslimah brands. The best thing you can do this women’s history month is to support other Muslimah brands catering to Muslim women. These brands aren’t as big as Nike. But do you know why? It’s because Muslim buyers are exercising their $170 billion dollar buying power (as reported by the Huffington Post) to buy from brands like…Nike. What would happen if we collectively supported the Muslim designers above? That’s more Muslim dollars supporting a Muslim woman or family, that hire other Muslims in our communities.
Yes, you, the Muslimah consumer can do that, without even breaking a sweat in your hijab.