For Muslim women, religious beliefs and values determine the ways they structure and approach their life.
Islam is a fundamental aspect of their identity and their approach to sport is often determined by religious, cultural, and ethnic factors.
In line with this, a 21-year-old Muslim woman has started a running club in East London to create a safe space for Muslim women and women from different backgrounds to unlock their inner athlete and maintain their fitness.
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“When I was 18, I had just finished my A-levels and decided I wanted to get back into running because I used to do it when I was younger. However, by that time I started wearing the hijab,” Sahra-Isha Muhammad-Jones told PA New Agency.
“And I didn’t really feel comfortable running outside, just as a young woman in general.”
Failing to find running clubs that she felt comfortable enough to be part of, she decided to create her own running club after discussing it with other Muslim women on social media.
Comfortable, Safe Environment
Muhammad-Jones said she wanted to create a space “for women who don’t want to run with men” and to create an environment where women can feel “comfortable in what they’re wearing” and not “worry about any one other thing than running”.
ASRA runner Fatima Mohamed, 27, will take part in the 13.1 mile Vitality Big Half in London on Sunday, August 22. She is also helping to prepare other members for the race.
She said she is “really excited” to get back into racing but added the most rewarding part of being in the club has been being able to “support people over the past couple of months”.
“Most of the runners haven’t run a half marathon before, so it’s going to be momentous for them. We’re looking forward to the environment, the atmosphere, the cheers and even the crowds,” Mohamed added.
This is not the first running club to help Muslim women find a safe space to practice sport.
In 2019, Fatma Ramadan, a Muslim woman from Toronto, created ‘A Women’s Run’ club, providing a welcoming running space for women.
A growing number of Muslim women have been taking part in different sports recently, in a celebration of diversity.
According to Sport England, only 18% of Muslim women practice sports, compared to 30% of the total female population.
Six years ago, the figures were as low as 12 percent. This indicates a rise in Muslim women taking up sport and fitness.