It was a challenging story but with a happy ending for Valor College Prep freshman volleyball player Najah Aqeel who won her right to don the Islamic hijab in matches.
The story of Aqeel started in September when she got disqualified from playing after a referee cited a rule that the athlete needed authorization from the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) to wear hijab, Texarkana Gazette.
The happy ending came as Tennessee’s high school athletic association voted Thursday (Dec 10) to allow religious headwear during sporting competitions.
The new laws allows religious headwear, such as hijabs, turbans, and yarmulkes, as long as it is not “abrasive, hard, or dangerous to the participant and any other player.” It also must be attached in a way that it is “highly unlikely to come off during play.”
Aqeel said in the news release that she feels honor to have been part of a change that will affect so many people.
“I want to thank the TSSAA for their part in taking such a huge step in making everyone feel included in the sports arena,” she said.
Stronger in Hijab
Around the world, Muslim women are defying cultural barriers and stereotypes to compete at the highest levels of sports.
In football, fencing, weightlifting, basketball, ice hockey, and more, hijabi Muslim women managed to achieve their dreams while preserving modesty.
Several Muslim women have made achievements across the world.
However, other sports continue to experience similar discrimination against hijabi women. For example, Indonesia’s judoka Miftahul Jannah could not compete in the Asian Para Games in October 2018 for refusing to remove hijab.