Inspired By Muhammad Ali, First US Team Member To Compete In Olympics With Hijab Opens Up On Her Journey

Published 09/20/2023, 1:00 PM EDT

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If it comes to breaking stereotypes and creating history, then one of the most suggested names will be Ibtihaj Muhammad. This Olympic medal-winning fencer has created history and has made everyone proud. Not just her skills, but the amount of bravery the talented entity has is commendable. Inspired by the ideals of Muhammad Ali, who was known for his social message of black pride and black resistance to white domination; she iconically ignored the stereotype and stood at the Olympics, representing all Muslim women globally.

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Just when the anti-Muslim sentiment was the talk of the town, Muhammad stood up and portrayed that talent beats all. However, it was not that easy for her, as is common knowledge. She has been through her own share of struggles during this period. Let us take a panoramic view of everything that Muhammad said and did at that time.

Ibtihaj Muhammad represents Muslim women to another level

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While anti-Muslim sentiment spread like fire, the US Olympic medal-winning fencer represented Muslim women globally. This step of breaking the stereotype helped her create history. She was the first woman in the US-team to wear a hijab while performing in the Olympics.

However, it wasn’t easy for Muhammad to reach the stage of the Olympics. Initially, she had to face a lot of issues when it came to diversity. She had to overcome external barriers that were created because of race and religion. And not just these external barriers, she also had struggles of her own like depression and anxiety.

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She has tried to represent and stand for Muslim women in every way she can. She could have easily been involved with just herself, but she followed the paths of Muhammad Ali and other similar entities. Speaking to AlJazeera, she said, “Through sport and learning about the history of people like Jackie Robinson or Muhammad Ali, I had the opportunity to understand that my journey is bigger than me and I can actually create meaningful change with my platform.”

After she won her medal at the Olympics, she published her autobiography which had all the insights of her experiences. Not just this, she also started her own clothing line called Louella that delivered to Muslim fashion-conscious women. And she used this platform to support and represent hijabi women.

There is more to Muhammad besides this, she doesn’t just represent Muslim women, but the community as a whole. Especially their struggles beyond the United States. She now doesn’t think twice before speaking out about issues related to concerns like this.

The US fencer shares her thoughts about stereotypes

Ibtihaj Muhammad is doing her best to represent Muslim women through Hijabs and other necessary steps. She expressed, “Historically, the world has been obsessed with the hijab for whatever reason.” She further added, “I think that it is rooted in racism. I think it is rooted in Islamophobia. It’s not really about the hijab.”

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She has spoken about issues going on in Palestine, in China with the Uighur Muslims, and the recent fiasco in France with the killing of a 17-year-old Muslim. She feels deeply connected with her community and will never step back from standing up. When she went to the Olympics, she was asked about the anti-Muslim agenda going on.

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She had apprehension talking about these topics at such a big platform. But she didn’t back down. She said, “I felt like this was my opportunity to dispel a lot of stereotypes that people have about the Muslim community, about where we’re from, what we look like.”

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What do you think about a prominent figure in sport like Muhammad standing up against Islamophobia?

Watch this story: 11 months before Paris Olympics, move that broke Gymnastics’ 100 year long gold drought goes viral

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Written by:

Nancy Singh

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Nancy Singh is a US sports writer for EssentiallySports. She is an avid sports enthusiast and comes with a staunch background in content writing and marketing. With her Bachelor’s degree in English, Nancy created a penchant for all things journalism and delved into the world of sports.
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Edited by:

Donna Eva

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