Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

At the Beijing Olympics, the Hijab Emerges


So far, the 2008 Olympics has been all Michael Phelps, Dara Torres, Chinese divers, Liu Xiang bowing out (gasp!), gymnastics, Usain Bolt, Redeem Team, U.S. men’s water polo, Kerry Walsh and Misty May-Trainer (this list is getting so long!) and Jamaican sprinters. Very inspirational stuff.

But for me, the excitement kicks into overdrive Tuesday night when Bahrain’s Ruqaya Al Ghasara takes the track at the Bird’s Nest stadium in the 200 m sprint–in her specially designed, flaming red hijood. What’s that?

A sports hijab, natch.

The Beijing Games has featured an unprecedented number of Muslim athletes performing in hijab (or headscarf) and within the technical parameters of Islamic modest dressing. Track & field, taekwondo, fencing, rowing, archery–all these sports feature strong Muslim women athletes fully covered up and in various types of hijab as they contend for medals. The athletes hail from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Bahrain, Yemen, the Gulf Nations of the United Arab Emerites, and Oman.

Al Ghasara, the flag bearer for Bahrain, is the golden girl of the hijabis (an affectionate term Muslims give to women who wear the hijab), as she was first to strike gold on the international circuit, winning at the 2006 West Asian games in Doha, Qatar.

Al Ghasara believes her specially-designed hijood and clothes is the perfect combination of modesty and high performance, saying “I hope that my wearing the hijood sports top will inspire other women to see that modesty or religious beliefs don’t have to be a barrier to participating in competitive sports.”

As a fellow hijabi, I am excited by what she and the other headscarf-wearing athletes are doing in Bejing. And though I know the verdict is out on whether what they do (competing in fitted, but fully-covered up clothing) truly adheres to the strict definition of Islamic modest dressing, it’s just so cool to see them out there, competing with their hijabs.

Want to learn more about the hijab and what modest Muslim dressing is about? Check out this gallery on the hijab. Also, readour FAQ about the hijab.

  • Fatima

    It’s good to find a Christian blog that handles this respectfully. I’ve actually been harassed other places because of my name and even though I am NOT Muslim, it’s nice to know there is a place like this that would respect that. Some of the commenters however…..

  • Anonymous

    well done!!! so proud of you…

  • Bint Hakim

    I think that this is cool too. People associate modest covering with being oppressed. They assume that women who cover are not allowed to accomplish anything and some have even gone so far as to assume that we do not care to accomplish anything.
    I especially like that this shows women covering while competing in physical events. When I go to the gym or when I participate in long-distance walks, I cover. I do not see it as an obstacle.
    My parents always raised me to have confidence in my abilities and to make use of my talents. I was raised to believe that I should get married and have a family, but that I should still pursue whatever interests and goals I wanted to pursue. And that is exactly what I have done.

  • Mohamed Zarook

    Many Thanks for high lightening Ruqaya Al Ghasara in her modest Hijab.
    I ma doubly happy to note this coming out of a Christian Blog. May God bless you.

  • Kristina

    I was so GLAD she won! I watched her from the start and was pulling for her!!!!
    She is an example of the proper way for women of Islam to be in the Olympics!!!
    I hope her fellow team mates and others get to know her and that she is much more peaceful than the world thinks of the muslims.
    Yes, this was so great with God’s strength through her to win!!!!

  • Shareda

    Congratulations Ruqaya Al Ghasara!!!! Thanks for helping the world see Muslim women as fully self-expressed within their own rules and guidelines. Keep breaking down the barriers in your modest way. The world is large enough to honor many styles of self-expression. Keep the torch alive to fully live your dreams as you have done in this olympics. You are blessed.

  • Anonymous

    Such an inspiration for women wearing hijab; who think hijab is a restriction,… it is actually liberation!

  • thebipolarmuslim

    Masha Allah!

  • Cherz

    Congratulations to a Liberated Muslim female who was bold enough to come out in her HIJAAB and thanks to ALLAH ALMIGHTY…..she has won

  • Fatima

    Mubarak(congratulations) to the sister. What a wonderful example for all little muslim girls around the world. We(Hajabis) are very proud of you for not only winning but wearing the Hijab while at it. congrat :)


    Congratulation… MashAllah !!.You are an inspiration for all the hijabis out there…Thank you so much for setting such a good example for all the muslim women around the world.

  • Meenu

    MashAllah …..Congratulation…MAY ALLAH BLES YOU!!! You’re really an inspiration for all the Hijabis worldover. Giving them the example that HIJAB is indeed not a HINDERANCE or RESTRICTION….

  • masarrat husain

    its a moment of proud for all those muslims girls who are Allah fearing , and slap on those faces who are more afraid of society more than allah.

  • Ayo

    MashAllah…..Thanks for breaking down barriers and being a excellent representation of the Muslim Women. The hijab is the outward display of our love for Allah. It is an inspiration for young Muslim girls think that the hijabs limits us. The only limitations are those that place upon ourselves. Islam is is beautiful and peaceful religion.

  • Sana U.

    Congratulations with all of your accomplishments, may Allah swt reward you generously!

  • Rahimah

    Congratulations. We pray for your continues success and proving that a being a Muslim women is not tantamount to being oppressed, and unable to prove your worth. Thousands of Muslim covered with headscarfs are also holding high ranking positions in certain countries of the world, head to head with non-covered Muslims and non-Muslims alike. being modest is between an individual and Allah.

  • erica aisha

    Sallam Sis,
    Al-Gassra sure has made us hijabis proud for sure. There are quite a few of us blogging about it as well. She made it to the semifinals which was neat. I wrote updates on her races as well as other hijabi Olympians. Good for those ladies right :)
    erica aisha

  • Anonymous

    Supannallah, indeed Allah is merciful and all encompassing of the believing men and women. Sister, may Allah bless you as you wear your hijab with pride and dignity, not afraid to be recognised as a Muslim. Jazakalah kairun as you are undoubtedly a role model for your Muslim sisters, especially the young.
    Ma Allah bestow His bountless blessings upon you. Ameen
    Walia from Bermuda

  • hossein

    IN the name of GOD, i am from IRAN (MD)and are very happy for muslim sisters that participate in olympics with HIJAB .I am sure GOD LIKE YOU AND others that hed HIJAB.CONGRATULATION

  • Ansar

    asalaam alaikum Sister
    This was a great post and one that encourages women also to participate in these activities.
    Unfortunately there is much work needed in this arena, remember one thing and this is my opinion. As you also mentioned, that the verdict was out already – yes that is true that on one hand we are trying to show that Alhamdulillah we are trying to adhere to the commands of Allah,swt, but on the other hand we will show all the curves of our physique. I think the second part of the hijab is the loose fitting clothes so the physical features of the womans body are not exposed, I think you will agree with me on this. And if we are covering our head per the shariah and not doing the other part, is it hypocrisy ?
    Sorry but I do not want to discourage but as I said in the beginning there are a lot of challenges in this arena and one needs to consult and read up that while we are trying to please Allah, swt, we not committing a grave sin while doing it.
    Allah swt knows best.

  • dr. abdul-hakeem, sham sud deen

    all praise is do to Almighty Allah (swa) to see our beloved sisters in hijab at the Beijng Olympies. They were like shining stars.

  • Muslimah

    mashallah these women are realli doing a wonderful job portraying the muslim women as more than oppressed and forced to do things. if all the muslimah’s in this world accomplished their goals while following Allah’s will then the non-muslims have something to think about….
    the only objection i have is that the clothing they are wearing is very tight and i believe that as part of the hijab us muslimah’s have to wear loose clothing as to no body parts show…but this is just me saying this and others may object but that is what the hadiths say…it’s something us msulims need to think about.

  • Pingback: Friday Links — August 22, 2008 » Muslimah Media Watch

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