MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Girls in stylish athletic wear walk the runway as the sounds of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry blare from speakers. The crowd claps and cheers as the young models strike poses with basketballs, lacrosse sticks and boxing gloves. Finally, the big reveal: the Lady Warriors community traveling basketball team takes the stage in their cardinal red uniforms. This is no ordinary fashion show. The models are East African, primarily Muslim girls living in Minnesota who designed their own culturally sensitive sportswear that lets them move freely without worrying about tripping on a long, flowing dress or having a head scarf come undone at a crucial point. “The girls for years have been telling us, ‘We would like clothing. We would like clothing,’” said Chelsey Thul, a lecturer in kinesiology at the University of Minnesota who helped lead the two-year project. The uniforms’ roots stretch back further, to the day in 2008 when then-college student Fatimah Hussein founded a girls-only sports program that now includes the Lady Warriors and began claiming gym time at a community center in the heart of Minneapolis’ Somali neighborhood. The girls quickly learned that traditional dress and basketball don’t mix well, said Thul, who was a volunteer research consultant to the program. The answer, Thul said, was a functional yet modest uniform “so they could do that between-the-legs dribble, make that three-pointer, and not have clothing be a barrier.” She worked with Hussein, girls from her sports league, the University of Minnesota’s College of Design, the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the university, coaches and community members on the project. Sertac Sehlikoglu, a social anthropologist working on leisure, sports and the Muslim communities at the University of Cambridge, noted that Iran has been developing culturally appropriate female sportswear for years. She agreed with the Minnesota project’s organizers that the girls’ designs could catch on in other cities with large Muslim populations. The U.S. “has been an important actor in triggering global trends, if not leading them, and thus I believe that would have a positive impact,” Sehlikoglu said in an email. Starting in 2013, the girls attended female sporting events to see how uniforms worked. University designers helped the girls get their ideas on paper. The project culminated in the fashion show this June at the university. The girls came up with two designs. One teal-and-black uniform with stripes — good for all sports including swimming — features leggings and a knee-length tunic. Both the everyday active wear and the basketball team’s bright red outfit include a tight black headpiece. Arms, legs, hair and neck are all covered. Style was important, said Amira Ali, 12, who helped with the design. “I want to look good,” she said. ___ Online: Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports: http://www.girlswinmn.com ___ Follow Jeff Baenen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeffBaenen Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. http://thegrio.com/2015/07/04/uniforms-muslim-girls-basketball/
Hijab ain’t holdin’ these sistahs back!
Medni Kadyrova, the wife of the Head of Chechen Republic, has displayed her Islamic fashion collection in Dubai.
“My designs are inspired by natural beauty and grace of Arab women, to whom I dedicate my collection,” Kadyrova said. Veiled Chechen models displayed over 70 full-covering couture dresses on Saturday evening. The show was crowned with a display of wedding dresses. It was the first appearance of the Firdaws label outside Chechnya since its foundation in 2009. Medni Kadyrova said it was “the first step towards the organization of many others in the region,” AFP reports. The label can now only be bought in Grozny; however the fashion house plans to expand to other countries including the UAE. The Lady Chechnya collection is a reflection of the Islamic values and dress code imposed on the Chechen Republic by its leader, 35-year old Ramzan Kadyrov. The head of Russia’s Chechen Republic came to power in 2004 and since then has been actively promoting Islamic values in the region encouraging women to wear veils and men to take multiple wives. Source
Arms and heads covered; tight trousers and skirts above the ankle a no-no. For many, this may not sound like a typical fashion glossy, and Ala – a new Turkish monthly for Muslim women who wear a veil – is not typical, but it is extremely successful.
The first issue of this so-called Vogue of the veiled hit the newsstands last summer, AFP reports. And it seems to have a market – after just a few months, it started selling just as many copies as Turkish Elle.
The mag was launched by two Turkish businessmen, both Muslims. Meaning “the most beautiful of the beautiful”, the name Ala is meant to show that the veil and Islamic traditions are “perfectly compatible with style and femininity,” AFP reports.
“We realized that there was a gap to be filled for conservative Muslim women in Turkey who have a different worldview,” one of the founders, Ibrahim Burak Birer said.
Targeting working Muslim women, Ala offers a much-in-demand mix of Islamic values and high fashion. These ladies respect the Islamic tradition, yet don’t mind sporting a Burberry trench or Chanel purse with 10-centimeter heels.
“Until now, most fashion magazines have offered a lifestyle centered on being sexy, being skinny and eating sushi. But not all women dress like those girls from Sex and the City,” Birer said.
Ala has already drawn around 30,000 subscribers since its launch.
ATLANTA – An Atlanta Muslim woman would be allowed to compete in international weightlifting tournaments while observing the modest dress of her faith as the sport’s world governing body modified its rules to accommodate her Muslim beliefs, the CNN reported on Thursday, June 30.
“Weightlifting is an Olympic Sport open for all athletes to participate without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin in accordance with the principles of the Olympic Charter and values,” Tamas Ajan, IWF president, said in a statement released Wednesday announcing the change.
The change of rules was first prompted by an American Muslim woman, Kulsoom Abdullah, who wanted to participate in the tournaments in the United States, including one coming up in July.
But USA Weightlifting informed her that those events are governed by IWF rules, which at that time precluded her dressing in keeping with her beliefs.
Abdullah, who holds a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering, is not an Olympic athlete, but enjoys lifting weights.
She can deadlift 245 pounds (111 kg) and get up 105 pounds (47.5 kg) in the snatch, in which the competitor lifts the barbell from the floor to over her head in a single motion.
Abdullah generally wears loose, long pants past the ankles, a long-sleeve, fitted shirt with a loose T-shirt over it, and a hijab covering her hair.
The outfits, officially called “costumes”, worn at competitions must be collarless and must not cover the elbows or knees, according to the IWF’s technical and competition rules.
Under the new modification, Abdullah would be allowed to make her dream come true and compete in American and international weightlifting tournaments.
“This rule modification has been considered in the spirit of fairness, equality and inclusion,” Ajan added.
Abdullah hailed the decision as a great victory, hoping it will increase Muslim women participation in sports.
“I am hopeful for more participation in sports for women,” she said in a statement cited by the Daily Times on Friday, July 1.
Gaining the approval of the IWF, she dreams of extending the new rules to the Olympics.
“I have a positive outlook on getting costume details finalized for Olympics Lifting competitions,” she said.
“Additionally, I hope other sporting organizations will follow example to allow greater inclusion and participation in their respective sport.”
Abdullah cited the recent ruling by FIFA that the Islamic dress of the Iranian women football team broke its rules, which ban the manifestation of religious symbols.
The FIFA ruling dashed dreams of young Iranian women to play in the 2012 London Olympics.
“One example is FIFA’s disqualification of the Iranian women’s team.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which raised Abdullah’s case to the US Olympic Committee (USOC), applauded the IWF’s ruling to modify its policy on competitor apparel to allow modest Islamic attire.
A day after the IWF decision, Abdullah filed to compete in the national weightlifting championships coming in July 15-17 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“We welcome her participation in our most prestigious domestic event,” USA Weightlifting CEO John Duff said, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Contrary to popular images, the hijab is not a hurdle to the Muslim woman’s progress. In fact, it probably helps. Don’t believe me? Well what would you say to a 15-year-old Harvard freshman, a Division 1 basketball star, a fencing champion, an Olympic sprinter, a newsanchor, a sportswear designer, and successful active women all over the world who choose to wear the Islamic veil? These are their stories…
Saheela Ibraheem, 15-year-old Harvard Freshman
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, Division 1 Basketball Star
Ruqaya al-Ghasara, Olympic Sprinter
Ola al-Barqi, Awtan TV Newsanchor
Aheda Zanetti, Owner and designer of ahiida Islamic sportswear
HijabisDoingThings.tumblr.com- a site showcasing successful, active and happy hijabis
Ibtihaj Muhammad, Fencing Champion
Piscataway girl, 15, decides to go to Harvard after being accepted to 13 colleges
Saheela Ibraheem wasn’t sure any college would want to admit a 15-year-old. So the Piscataway teen hedged her bets and filled out applications to 14 schools from New Jersey to California.
“It’s the age thing. I wanted to make sure I had options,” said Saheela, a senior at the Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison.
In the end, 13 colleges accepted her — including six of the eight Ivy League schools.
After weeks of debate, Saheela settled on Harvard. She will be among the youngest members of the school’s freshman class.
“I’ll be one of the youngest. But I won’t be the youngest,” the soon-to-be 16-year-old said.
Saheela is among the millions of high school seniors who had to finalize their college decisions by Monday, the deadline for incoming freshman to send deposits to the school of their choice. Nationwide, this year’s college selection process was among the most competitive in history as most top colleges received a record number of applications.
Saheela joins a growing number of New Jersey students going to college before they are old enough to drive. Last year, Kyle Loh of Mendham graduated from Rutgers at 16. In previous years, a 14-year-old from Cranbury and two of his 15-year-old cousins also graduated from Rutgers.
For Saheela, her unusual path to college began when she was a sixth-grader at the Conackamack Middle School in Piscataway. Eager to learn more about her favorite subject, math, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants asked to move to a higher-level class. The school let her skip sixth grade entirely.
By high school, Saheela said, she was no longer feeling challenged by her public school classes. So, she moved to the Wardlaw-Hartridge School, a 420-student private school, where she skipped her freshman year and enrolled as a 10th-grader. Her three younger brothers, twins now in the ninth grade and a younger brother in second grade, all eventually joined her at the school.
School officials were impressed Saheela, one of their top students, didn’t spend all her time studying.
“She’s learned and she’s very smart. But she keeps pushing herself,” said William Jenkins, the Wardlaw-Hartridge School’s director of development.
Saheela also excels outside the classroom. She is a three-sport athlete, playing outfield for the school’s softball team, defender on the soccer team, and swimming relays and 50-meter races for the swim team. She also sings alto in the school choir, plays trombone in the school band and serves as president of the school’s investment club, which teaches students about the stock market by investing in virtual stocks.
Saheela began applying to colleges last fall. Her applications included her grade point average (between a 96 and 97 on a 100-point scale) and her 2,340 SAT score (a perfect 800 on the math section, a 790 in writing and a 750 in reading).
She was delighted when she got her first acceptance in December from California Institute of Technology. “I was so excited. I got into college!,” Saheela said.
More acceptances followed from Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Williams College, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Washington University in St. Louis.
On March 30, she got her sole rejection letter — from Yale. Saheela isn’t sure why the Ivy League school didn’t want her.
“My parents were thinking it was the age thing,” she said.
Saheela was torn between going to MIT and Harvard. A visit to both campuses last month made the choice easy. “She went to Harvard and she fell in love with the place,” said Shakirat Ibraheem, her mother.
Saheela said she wants to major in either neurobiology or neuroscience and plans to become a research scientist who studies how the brain works. As for her own brain, Saheela insists she is nothing special.
She credits her parents with teaching her to love learning and work hard. Her father, Sarafa, an analyst and vice president at a New York financial firm, would often study with her at night and home school her in subjects not taught at school.
“I try my best in everything I do,” Saheela said. “Anyone who’s motivated can work wonders.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported the number of Ivy League colleges. There are eight. Saheela Ibraheem did not apply to Dartmouth College.
By AIMEE BERG
When Ibtihaj Muhammad fastens her headscarf, or hijab, around her chin, one of its purposes is to deflect unwanted attention.
But when she wears a hijab in a sporting arena, it often has the opposite effect.
The New Jersey native is currently ranked 11th in the world in women’s sabre, a discipline of fencing. Only one American ranks higher: Mariel Zagunis, the two-time Olympic and world champion.
Both women will compete this weekend at a World Cup fencing event at the New York Athletic Club to earn points toward qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee do not track athletes’ religion, but if Muhammad makes the Olympic team, she would likely be the first practicing Muslim woman to represent the U.S. at the Games.
When she competes, photographers often zoom in on the name Muhammad on the back of her fencing jacket. Her mother, Denise, recently saw such a photo and said, “I realized: my God, she’s representing all of us.
NYC World Cup
Friday, June 24 ? Sunday, June 26
New York Athletic Club, 180 Central Park South
Night sessions/ medal bouts $15 and up All-day tickets $2
“You feel the pride. Muslim women are struggling around the world. She’s not on the front lines but when she stands up there, she’s making her mark for them, for freedom, to have their voices heard.”
To make the ultra-selective squad?a maximum of two women per country will compete in sabre in London?Muhammad has been training 30 hours per week at the Fencers Club on West 28th Street in Manhattan and another three to four hours a week with a conditioning coach near her home In Maplewood, N.J.
“I’m one of these people with tunnel vision,” said Muhammad, 25. “I’m convinced that I can do anything with enough practice and enough work.”
Playing sports was a given for the third of five children growing up in an athletic household, but Muhammad always wore long clothing under her volleyball and softball uniforms to conform with Islam’s emphasis on modesty.
When Ibtijhaj was 13, her mother drove past the local high school and saw fencers in the cafeteria who were covered from head to toe. Her mother turned to her and said, “I don’t know what that is, but when you get to high school, you’re doing it.”
Then, one day at practice, “Out of this mild young lady came a roar,” said her Columbia High School fencing coach, Frank Mustilli. “She got hit, got mad, and under that calm facade was a very aggressive individual.”
At 16, she dropped epee for the lightning-quick sabre discipline, which targets everything above the waist (except hands) and allows scoring with the edge of the blade as well as the tip.
As team captain, Muhammad helped her high school win two New Jersey state team titles. Later, her youngest sister, Faizah, became a two-time state individual champion in sabre. (Faizah, 19, will also compete at the New York World Cup.)
At Duke University, Muhammad was a three-time All-America and graduated in 2007 with a double major in international relations and African-American studies (and a minor in Arabic).
Two years later, she began to work with the 2000 U.S. Olympian Akhi Spencer-El in Manhattan.
“It completely changed my fencing,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve ever been taught to fence tactically.”
In 2009, Muhammad won the U.S. national title. A year later, she made her first quarterfinal at a World Cup event (losing to Zagunis, 15-8, in Brooklyn, N.Y.). And in November 2010, Muhammad finished 14th in her world championship debut in Paris. All the while, observing her Muslim faith.
Every day, Muhammad prays five times. The fourth prayer, Maghrib, usually coincides with training so she will say it at home later, or pray in a utility room.
Last year, during the holy month of Ramadan when eating and drinking are prohibited from sun-up to sundown, Muhammad woke up at 90-minute intervals in the middle of the night to hydrate during a high-altitude training camp in Colorado Springs. (In 2012, the entire London Olympics will occur within Ramadan.)
But what bothers Muhammad’s mother most is the fencing etiquette that entails shaking hands with male referees and seeing her daughter travel without a male guardian.
At airports, fencers are always scrutinized because they carry on bulbous facemasks, metallic jackets and electrical wires. A hijab adds to the questioning. In Belgium this month, Muhammad was told to leave the airport if she did not remove her headscarf.
Her father Eugene, a retired cop, taught her, “The more you [protest], the more you have to take off.” Diplomacy eventually prevailed. Usually, Muhammad speaks her mind. She used to be an emotional fencer. Now she is more controlled, but retains her trademark feistiness.
“On the strip, she’ll fight for every single touch and not budge,” Zagunis said.
But ultimately the referee decides who scored the first touch and, early on, Muhammad sometimes wondered if her minority status affected the outcome of her matches. If so, she figured it had more to do with being African-American than Muslim.
“I have a hard time imagining someone would treat me different based on my faith,” she said. “So when I come across anyone being rude to me or anything of that nature, I attribute it to race. I guess that’s my first instinct.”
Six-time Olympian Peter Westbrook told her, “You cannot allow ‘because I’m Muslim’ or ‘because I’m black’ into play in fencing. The minute you put those in, you’ve lost.”
“I have to remember my purpose,” she said.
Very few Muslim women have earned Olympic medals since Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco ran to victory in the 400-meter hurdles in 1984 wearing shorts and a tank top. Muhammad hopes to add to that in hijab.
“I’d love for other minority women and religious minorities [in the U.S.] to believe they can excel in something outside the norm?not just sports, anything where they’re breaking the barrier,” she said, “and not be deterred by what the image is just because they fall outside that box.”
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