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Hijab ban threatens basketball phenom


Hijab ban threatens basketball phenom

MEMPHIS – A basketball phenomenon, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir has always dreamed of a flourishing future as a professional basketball player who has reserved the title of the best player in the state during her high school years.

“As of right now I’m really in a holding pattern because of FIBA,” Abdul-Qaadir told on Thursday, June 12. “I think in many ways the key word in FIBA is international. I think that’s what upsets me most.”

The youngest of seven children in a devout Muslim family, she was always taught to practice her faith and be proud of whom she was. And basketball came naturally to her, as she shot hoops as a toddler and kept working at her skills as she grew older, emulating her older brothers. She was encouraged to put time into her studies as well and remained a top student throughout high school.

During high school, the talented Muslim player made history becoming the top scorer in Massachusetts high school history, breaking the mark of 2,710 points achieved by Women’s National Basketball Association star Rebecca Lobo 17 years ago. Later on, she joined Division I basketball team at the University of Memphis, becoming the first female athlete to play Division I sports – the highest level of sports at the US college level – in full hijab.

Those dreams no longer exist due to the rules of International Basketball Federation (FIBA). According to FIBA rules, Islamic headscarf or hijab is banned in matches. The ban was justified by FIBA as a way to remain religiously neutral.

Yet, for Bilqis, these rules mean no chance of playing basketball overseas. “International means everyone, and FIBA isn’t inclusive because of its ban on wearing my hajib,” Abdul-Qaadir said. “People have this impression of Muslims like they’re afraid of us. What some people in the Muslim religion are doing has nothing to do with the rest of us. We’re not all the same, just like any religion isn’t the same. FIBA says it wants to remain religiously neutral but this is discriminatory.”

Feeling the injustice of FIBA rules, Adul-Qaadir expressed insistence to fight for allowing hijab in international games. “There was an all Muslim women’s team that made it to a championship game that FIBA was sponsoring and they wouldn’t let them play. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s going to take time for them to change the rules and I’m not going to wait around until they do. I have no plans to change the way I am so I can play basketball. I’ve come so far and my religion has taken me this far. I’m not going to change.”

The 5-foot-4 Abdul-Qaadir has a masters degree in coaching and seems to have a strong connection to her hometown. “I’d like to find a job somewhere, maybe coach on the high school level, Abdul-Qaadir said. “I think I’d like to do that. Even in the next couple of years. I know a place like Commonwealth Academy in Springfield doesn’t have a team. They have girls there that might want to play basketball. I think I could go to a place like that and make a difference. We’ll see how things go. Right now I’m just trying to weigh my options.”

Though her future career in basketball remained unclear, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir name has been recorded as a phenomenon in America’s female basketball players. “I learned a lot along the way,” Abdul-Qaadir said. “In college you meet a lot of people that aren’t like you. I’ve had a lot of stepping stones, and I really think that everything happens for a reason.”

The case of young Bilqis has won support from the leading American Muslim advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which called for allowing hijab in basketball matches.

“Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, an American Muslim woman who wears an Islamic head scarf (hijab), is unable to pursue a professional career as a basketball player at the international level due to Article 4.4.2 of the FIBA Official Basketball Rules banning ‘headgear.’ We believe this rule violates Ms. Abdul-Qaadir’s religious rights and contravenes international human rights norms,” CAIR wrote in a letter to FIBA President Yvan Mainini. “No athlete should be forced to choose between faith and sport. Muslim women seek to participate in sporting activities should not face artificial and arbitrary barriers to that participation.”

The leading Muslim group has also called for negotiations to reach a mutual agreement on athletes’ attire. “The issue of religious attire for athletes can be addressed successfully in a mutually-agreeable manner that maintains the legitimate rights and needs of all parties,” the letter added. “FIFA’s International Football Association Board recently acknowledged the religious rights of athletes by changing its rules to allow hijabs and Sikh turbans.

“As America’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, we formally request that FIBA’s Technical Commission meet as soon as possible to discuss changing this discriminatory rule to allow Ms. Abdul-Qaadir, and athletes of all faiths, to compete while maintaining religious principles.”

OnIslam, 13 June 2014

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  • rookie

    “We hope Isis will establish the caliphate and you will have …”.

    Another brainwashed loon who had been made to believe that:
    1. Only ISIS fights in Iraq (lie)
    2. ISIS`s aim in Iraq is to establish a Caliphate (lie)

  • Nur

    I am sure that, since YOU started expressing YOUR interpretation of Islam here, all of us would enjoy YOUR scholarly presentation of Islam here. I am sure that you will enlighten us on how you have arrived on your personal interpretation of Islam, specifically, how Muslim women are imposing their way to dress on others, simply by making a legal petition to a venue.

    Please present your case, citing the scholars, Imams, teachers, and other experts you have used to make the conclusions you have presented in the forum about Islam and any related topics.

    Oh, and please…let my try my first case here. I have just completed my exams for a Shari’a judge.

    Alhamdulillah !!!

  • momoney

    i’m some what well studied. why don’t you email me.

  • momoney

    strange. i responded more than 6 hours ago. yet a guy’s response to my earlier comment came through. his discussion of the battle of camel was interesting to say the least.

  • momoney

    yes, and she lostr in the battle of amel.
    but the verse says not to stomp you feet or in some translations, not to swing your legs.

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    That doesn’t verse even remotely support that point. As I said Hijab doesn’t mean women disappear completely from any public life.
    Like Aisha(RA) who was a general and had her own army and was a scholar.

  • momoney

    “clothes or jewelry aren’t religious.” of course clothes and jewelry are religious. a priest’s collar, a jew’s yamaka, a cross and the hijab. a sikh’s turban, the list goes on and on.
    you do know most schools ban the confederate flag. actually it is the battle flag. most southerners who cliam it as some great symbol of heritage don’t even know what it is either. after the civil war no one flew that flag. it magically re-appeared in the south at the start of the civil rights movement in the 50s.
    i don’t know why she can’t wear what she is wearing, that looks more like a doo-rag than a hijab to me. but than again doo-rags may be banned for gang purposes. i don’t know, but perhaps this rule came into effect after yugoslavia broke up. the greatest achivement by european basketball was the 92 men’s gold medal. divac, kucoc and the guy who played for detriot and died in the car crash, petrovich maybe? anyway the team split down the etinic lines. or maybe it was written in 1932 in switzerland when fiba was founded. the swiss are kind of known for their attempts at neutrality.

  • Nur

    Then you have made my point. It is a contradiction to make a rule banning religious dress, and then claim to be religiously non bias when clothes or jewelry aren’t religious.

    To the young lady, covering her hair is ‘religious’, to the supposedly non bias, it is a cloth that covers her hair.

  • Nur

    I am not sure what ‘Islamic theology’ you are reading. I would ask YOUR scholars, teachers, clerics and so on where they get the notion that Islamic theology teaches Muslims that they are superior to anyone else.
    I certainly disagree with their notion of Islamic theology teaching Muslims that they are superior over someone else, but if you can provide their names, and the credentials they have in order to speak on behalf of all of Islam, I would give them a read.
    Thank you.
    …but, back to our topic, and addressing your other comment.
    This young lady is using the American Constitutional right to civilly address her grievances to authorities in her petition to give parity to devoutly religious women to play a truly American sport.

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