LONDON – Countering stigma associated with hijabi Muslim women, a British Muslim writer has penned a new book to encourage Muslim youngsters to get into sports and be brave, Metro reported on Wednesday, January 23.
“My own experiences and the lack of representation within children’s books of kids who may look different or have different beliefs led me to write the book,” Hafsah Dabiri said.
In her new book, Basira the Basketballer says Inshallah (God-willing), Dabiri portrays a young hijabi Muslim girl who plays basketball.
She said that the book reflects her own experience in sports.
“I myself used to play netball and basketball and I wanted to write something for the little girls who also aspire to pursue sports. I wanted to get rid of the stigma surrounding the hijab and wanting to be sporty. It’s important for kids to see themselves within the books they read. It can be a form of empowerment for them,” said Dabiri.
“Aside from this, there is also a lack of black representation within the books that are created within the Muslim community. This is symptomatic of a larger racial issue that the Muslim community, especially the next generation is recognizing and working on.”
Inspired by Asma El Badawi and Ibtihaj Muhammad, Dabiri’s main character is a two-time minority, a black Muslim girl, who experiences otherization.
“The illustration plays a big part in the depiction of the character as a young black girl. Her hijab and then her curly hair adds to the realism which I wanted the character to have in being relatable to little girls who look like that,” she said.
“This does not stop other children of other genders and races from finding inspiration or learning from the story but it does provide a source of empowerment for those little girls who do not see themselves within literature that is given to them.”
In September 2017, Simon and Schuster publishers released a new book that addresses young Muslims growing up in today’s America.
The book, “Yo Soy Muslim: A father’s letter to his daughter” was published by Salaam Reads, an initiative of publisher Simon & Schuster focusing on Muslim-based picture chapter books.