Sports Hijabs for the Active Muslimah
Set your heart racing with these hijabs made for sports and fitness activities. Ready… set… go! By Maryam Yusof.
There was once a point in my life when I could happily declare that I loved sports. While studying for examinations and poring over my history notes in school, I’d text a friend to tell her that I needed a break. We’d either head to the bouldering wall to climb for an hour, run a few rounds around the track, or do some pull-ups until we felt satisfied enough to head back to our books.
I don’t know if it’s just my general laziness, a lack of time, or that my participation in any sport ended when I decided to start wearing the hijab (excuses, I know…), but today, participating in any sport just seems like a bother.
The recent Olympic Games, however, have reignited my desire to do something about my health and become more active. Watching the female Olympians participating in sport and breaking barriers (in their respective sports and in some cases, cultures) was very inspirational to me.
So for myself, as well as other sisters in hijab who are looking for sport-friendly options, here are a few sport hijabs available on the market:
A recognised player in this niche, Capsters has been synonymous with sport hijabs for some time. Their products are known for their quality. Most Capsters sport hijabs feature a fuss-free Velcro mechanism, ensuring comfort for their wearers while allowing the hijab to be pulled off quickly and safely should the need arise.
Their hijabs in the sport range (they have several models of hijabs catered to different sports) are made with lightweight, breathable and stretchable material, making them extremely comfortable to wear. Interestingly, they make hijabs for water and winter sports as well.
One qualm I have is that the hijabs do not cover the chest area, which is important to me when I run. Fortunately, I have heard rumours that they’ll soon be coming out with a chest-covering model in the sport range.
This athletics brand catered to Muslim women is based in Botswana. It was established when its owner, Fatima, identified a gap in the market for comfortable, modest, yet well-designed sportswear for active Muslim women in hijab like her. She then meticulously designed her line, which includes a chest-covering sports hijab, to ensure comfort for its users.
‘I wanted a sports hijab that had all the performance requirements for high-impact sports: moisture-wicking to keep you cool and dry, breathability for comfort, and lightweight,’ says Fatima. ‘But another big requirement was that it should appear like regular hijab.’
Indeed, the hijab looks good enough for everyday use, and this is further helped with the wide range of colours available. The Friniggi sports hijab comes in 15 colours to suit the tastes of the customer and also comes in specific sizes. Although selecting your size might be slightly confusing, Fatima is very helpful in assisting you to select the best fit to ensure your comfort.
ResportOn started as a graduate project for designer Elham Seyed Javad, who wanted to create a functional, uncomplicated and comfortable hijab for Muslim athletes who’d been expelled from a taekwondo competition because of their hijabs. She sought to create a piece that could cover the head while maximising athletes’ performance by avoiding the need to frequently adjust their hijabs.
What she designed was the ResportOn, which is like a sleeveless hoody top that keeps the headpiece in place. It is lightweight, uses dry-fit material and is highly comfortable. The ResportOn is particularly good for sports that require a lot of movement, and isn’t limited solely to Muslim women. Athletes, including men, who want to keep their hair out of their face when exercising have also expressed interest in the ResportOn. The hijab made an appearance at the Olympics on the head of Sarah Attar, who competed for Saudi Arabia in the 800m event. A new variation of the ResportOn that is detached from the hoody top will be available soon.
Queendom Athletica Basics
Like the other sport hijab variants, Queendom’s Athletica hijab is a high quality, easy-to-wear one-piece slip-on. Interestingly, the hijabs are made of bamboo and organic cotton, which are breathable, absorbent and block UV rays to protect your skin. An inner hair-reinforcement keeps the hair off your neck inside the hijab.
Exercise in Comfort
Although sports hijabs are on the market, some Muslim women may find it difficult to find suitable workout attire. I took a trip to a sports retail chain recently and noticed that there were very few long-sleeved shirts available. The ones I miraculously found were far too indecently tight for any hijabi to wear.
I’ve noticed that many Muslim women in my area wear tight long-sleeved dry-fit shirts and layer over with a loose T-shirt, or opt for sport jackets, to stay modest and still look great. This alternative is less than optimal, however it works if nothing better is available.
You could also wear a comfortable loose-fit long-sleeved cotton T-shirt from high street stores like Uniqlo or Forever 21 while exercising, though you would have to compromise on dry-fit comfort. If dry-fit material is important to you, Friniggi offers specialty sports tops for Muslim women.
Thankfully, though, comfortable track pants are aplenty in sports stores, with my favourite being from Nike. Their innovative dry-fit options ensure your modesty while keeping you comfortable.
Easing the Transition
These players on the market have varying designs, but they agree on at least two things: Hijabs should not deter their wearers from playing sports, and Muslim women should go out and lead active lifestyles.
There’s still considerable controversy surrounding hijabis in sport – the 2007 FIFA ban on hijabs (recently lifted) and the case of Saudi Arabian Judoka Wodjan Shahrkhani, who was almost banned from competing at the Olympics, are just two examples.
So it is my hope that these well-designed, comfortable and safe hijabs will help to ease the transition to full acceptance of hijabi athletes by sporting bodies and associations.
With that in mind, let’s get out there and get active! As the old saying goes, there’s no better time than the present.
Article updated Aug 30, 2012 to include information on non-hijab workout attire.