At Westfield State University, Dr. Kamal Ali presented the event “Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir: A Talk on Hoops, Hijab & Hypocrisy” which is a talk about his niece’s experiences playing basketball as a Muslim women who covers herself with a hijab. Bilqis is a 24 year old young woman who lives in Springfield, Massachusetts and has been one of the best basketball players on the court since she was a little girl. For Bilqis, basketball to her was her common ground, her life, her everything, it was the one thing that made her unique. She completed her high school career with the title of leading scorer in Massachusetts state history. Bilqis has not gone unnoticed; during her senior year at New Leadership she received the Goodnow Award while also being named as the Gatorade state player of the year. As a traditional Muslim woman, you have to separate yourself from certain things. Bilqis says she never had the chance to truly love her religion because she was born into this “slab.” She was the first women to wear the hijab in the NCAA Division-I. She was discriminated because of her type of religion required her to wear the hijab, an organization called FIBA wanted to remain culturally neutral, all while making excuses that the veil created a safety issue. Bilqis has been a huge part of the history of women, because of her great strides through her experiences and standing up against the religious discrimination of women in sports.
After high school, her achievements continued at Memphis and Indiana State University, not only excelling in the classroom she too was an exceptional student athlete. Suddenly something changed and her professional career came to a halt, her religion was tested because of politics. An organization called FIBA changed all of that for Bilqis, this organization determines the rules that govern international basketball. The rule forbids her from playing professionally overseas; women are banned from wearing hijabs while playing the sport. This reasoning has shocked the Muslim community; FIBA stated they want basketball to remain religiously neutral. Bilqis’ religious values were tested. How could she take off her hijab which she holds strongly and put it to the side just to be able to play the sport that she loves? Bilqis herself stated that she was not mentally ready to be an inspiration to others while holding the image.
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir still struggles to understand why an organization such as FIBA would discriminate against Muslim women who wish to pursue a professional sports career. She stayed strong during this very draining ordeal. Bilqis made the following statement, “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.” Her statement has made an everlasting impression on others, she shows us her continuing strength towards what she believes is right. When FIBA was questioned by the Muslim community on their decisions in regards to the ban on hijabs they stated that the hijab presents a safety issue and could cause injuries to others. From Bilqis’ experience, she stated that she has never encountered anyone who has endured injuries because of a hijab throughout her entire basketball career. All of these road blocks are completely discriminatory towards the values of a Muslim woman’s wishes to dress with modesty.
Abdul-Qaadir, Bilqis . "." Abdul-Qaadir: A Talk on Hoops, Hijab & Hypocrisy. Dr.
Kamal Ali . Westfield State University, Westfield. 9 Apr. 2015. Lecture.