Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|sports for women|
|10/20/00 at 23:01:40|
For Sunday's Race, She's Got It Covered
By Elissa Leibowitz
The Washington Post
Thursday, October 19, 2000
In the middle of the summer, with the heat bearing
down on the sun-baked,
dusty gravel path along the C&O Canal in Georgetown,
El-Wafi ran with as much ease as her marathon
training partners. No matter
that she was wearing long pants, a long-sleeved
shirt and a black head scarf.
Her athletic attire may not seem appropriate for a
sweltering summer day in
Washington--or even for Sunday's Marine Corps
Marathon, which she is
planning to run. But El-Wafi, 20, is Muslim. She
practices the tradition of
hijab, which among its tenets encourages women to
maintain modesty in
dress. Keeping the arms, legs, hair and neck covered
is standard practice,
regardless of the activity.
So when El-Wafi, a junior at George Washington
University, decided to train
for the Marine Corps Marathon through the AIDS
Marathon Training Program,
continuing the practice of hijab--in her case,
wearing cotton pants and a
long-sleeved CoolMax shirt and a black cotton head
scarf--did not receive a
"The concept of hijab is not only a dress code but a
whole concept of
modesty--covering up what's private," El-Wafi said.
"I consider my hair to
be private, shown only within my family. A lot of
people think it's an
oppressed thing, but my life is just the opposite."
Women in Muslim nations often are not encouraged to
athletics. In general, they are discouraged from
interacting with strangers
and from wearing clothing that is considered
immodest; sports, which more
often than not involve both, are therefore
During the Summer Olympics in Sydney, for example,
refused to broadcast a close-up shot of Australian
Cathy Freeman lighting
the Olympic flame, because her form-fitting white
body suit was considered
too revealing. No women's events were aired,
according to the Wall Street
Journal, including the performance of Iran's sole
female athlete, pistol
shooter Manijeh Kazemi, who wore a head scarf and
"Usually women are not encouraged to exercise, or
even to just go for a
walk," said Mona Moursi, El-Wafi's mother, who grew
up in Cairo before
moving to the United States 28 years ago. "Some
women also think that
they're already married and have children, so
there's no reason to be fit."
Although it may be more common for Muslim women to
participate in athletics
in the United States, where El-Wafi was born, it's
not as prevalent to find
women wearing the head scarf--which also is called a
hijab--while they are
involved in sports.
Moursi works out and runs on a regular basis but
does not wear a hijab.
El-Wafi's friend and frequent running partner, Sadia
Ashgar, 20, is also
Muslim but chooses not to wear a scarf on a regular
basis. She does wear
long sleeves and pants, but instead of a head scarf,
she often tucks her
hair in a baseball cap.
"I feel uncomfortable, as if the world is judging me
on a different scale,"
Ashgar said. "It's been completely different for
Layla, though, because
she's inculcated it into her life. I can definitely
say that Layla is a
stronger person when it comes to that, not that my
faith is less."
El-Wafi's parents encouraged her and her brother and
sister to be active in
sports from a young age. The children even took
swimming lessons when they
were young, wearing regular bathing suits. Hijab is
important when girls
reach womanhood, so swimming is more acceptable for
children than adults.
Still, swimming and other sports taught the children
early on to take care
"We're told that our bodies are trust-given from
God. We're trusted with an
able body, and physical fitness definitely falls
under that," El-Wafi
Certainly, El-Wafi's dress has attracted attention.
Initially, some of the
program organizers were worried by clothing they
considered too warm for
running in the summer, according to Doug Ward, an
AIDS Marathon program
representative. Other runners also kept an eye on
her to make sure she was
"I would look at her to see what kind of condition
she was in, because they
really stress to us to pay attention to your team,"
said Spencer Abruzzese,
30, an online sales representative training in the
program. "She always
looked fine. Other people seemed to be in worse
Other runners were intrigued by her outfit and
"One of my thoughts as the days kept getting hotter
was that I found it
hard to believe that someone would wear so many
clothes while running, even
if it was her religion," said Tim Kanaley, 30, a
sales support engineer.
Still, El-Wafi has faith in her running abilities
and faith that she will
finish the marathon.
"At mile 16 when my feet are killing and I want to
stop, in my head I call
out to God. 'Please, God, get me through this,' "
she said. "There are
moments of feeling extremely blessed to participate
in something like this."
Marine Corps Marathon
* When: 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
* Entries: 24,588.
* Start-finish: Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima) in
* Friday's paper: Special 25th anniversary section.
© 2000 The Washington Post Company
|Re: sports for women|
|10/20/00 at 23:10:41|
|assalam alykum warahamatullahi wabarakatu|
*I received the previous letter from a muslimas newsletter and this was my answer to it:
"It is very strange that you seem to be circulating this as if it is something good.
It is good for her own sake to stay covered and wearing long sleeves and pants,but the idea of running in front of all those people.
Come on people who are you kidding???
Allah asks women to be modest and not to show their beauty,when this woman runs doesn't her body show?I mean the curves of her thighs and the rest of her body???
This is so unislamic and when you circulate this letter it is as if you are applauding her for making a general spectacle of her self and of being in the headlights.
Muslim women are supposed to be modest,remember the daughters of the old man in surat Al-Qassass??When they stayed far away until the shepherds finished from the well, and then Moses came and asked what was wrong and they said we wait until the men finished,then afterwards one of them came to him BASHFULLY.....???
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