February 28, 2017

While the main justification for these restrictions is often ‘safety concerns’, it is not a convincing argument. Many female Muslim athletes have been wearing the hijab as part of the sporting uniform long before they decide to go pro. For them, these “restrictive” attire makes them more comfortable competing in front of many audiences---competing is stressful enough without the worry about a possible embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

So is the hijab an obstruction or opportunity?

Ibtihaj Muhammad, Hedaya Malak and Sara Ahmed, through their success, have readily proven that the hijab doesn’t obstruct a Muslim woman from achieving success in their career and passion. Therefore, why is there still a negative connotation when it comes to the hijab? Why are we still debating about it and feel the need to highlight the garment when someone doing something positive happens to be wearing it?

Furthermore, if the hijab does not restrict one’s sporting abilities, as these Olympic athletes have proven, then it is a question of personal choice. If a Muslim woman wishes to dress modestly in her life, why should her sporting career by any different?

Truthfully, the hijab provides an opportunity to encourage discussions surrounding Islam, women and balancing between now and the hereafter. Having these Muslim women visible in the media also provides Muslim girls positive role models to give them aspirations to pursue their passion and interest. It demonstrates that the hijab does not need to be a hindrance. Eventually, this will promote more religion tolerance and understanding so that barriers or stigma towards Muslim women in sports can be removed.