I’ve been playing organized sports since I was seven years old. From tennis to soccer to basketball to swimming to field hockey to track, I’ve just about done it all. I don’t play because I yearn to be a rebellious teenager; I don’t play because I seek attention; and I don’t play because it’ll enhance my college resume.
I play sports because it makes me feel good.
Athletics has taught me critical skills like unity, leadership, and working together. When I make a good pass or complete a perfect hand-off in a relay, I feel worthy of my teammates’ respect. It’s rewarding to be needed like that.
From a metaphysical scope, I sleep better in the night and I’m more energetic and aroused in the day. Productivity is another great byproduct of exercise; I’ve gotten better at time management and a regimented practice schedule forces me to not slack off.
And after an arduous workout, the next day when my muscles ache and pulsate with my every move, I feel strong.
Unfortunately, I seem to only be of a select few who gets to feel this way. According to ESPN, only 28 percent of high school girls say that sports is a big part of their life. And considering the stats for Muslim girls is nowhere to be found anywhere on the internet (suprise, suprise), I think it’s safe to assume these numbers would only be more harrowing.
Many assume that young girls playing recreational sports doesn’t follow the guidelines of our religion.
Let’s think. Muhammad (SAW) used to briskly walk everywhere he went, was an avid swimmer, and had a knack for archery. Physical exercise is the bedrock for a healthy lifestyle and it’s a sunnah — so, why aren’t we empowering our girls to to follow in the prophet’s footsteps?
Coverage seems to be the main concern, but many sports teams are accommodating of religious beliefs and values. Furthermore, one can opt for pursuing winter sports as well, like skiing or snowboarding.
If we really want to take back the mic and tear down the ill-conceived stigmas behind Muslims, then we need to stop sheltering ourselves from supposedly controversial activities.
Part of the reason I’ve dedicated endless hours to forge a career in collegiate athletics is so other Muslim girls can think, “Hey, I can do that too.”
When I step out on the field, I’m not just representing Jennah Haque, or the jersey on my back or even my entire high school team.
I play for the millions of Muslim girls around the world who are apprehensive to pick up the ball or dive in the pool. And I pray that one day, my story will give them the fortitude they need.