Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir is a female Muslim American collegiate basketball player for the University of Memphis. She began playing varsity basketball in high school when she was an eighth grader and played for five years.
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Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir broke Rebecca Lobo’s state scoring record in high school and went onto to becoming the first Muslim American to play college basketball at the Division 1 level. After being highly recruited her agent told her she couldn’t play professional basketball due to a FIBA rule banning headscarves. She is now fighting the rule and the subject of a feature length documentary film titled “Life Without Basketball.” More info available at: http://lifewithoutbball.com/
She has petitioned with more than 130,000 signatures to overturn the rule, but nothing has been done. FIBA said they would revise the rule in August of 2016, but now claim it will be announced at some point this year.
Bilqis has been featured in Time, the Huffington Post, Muslim Girl, and has spoken to colleges and organizations across the country. She began the first of its kind girl’s basketball program at an Islamic school where she currently works and continues to be an advocate for the Muslim American community.
Thank you for all of the questions! I appreciate the the interest...I am no longer answering questions.
My Proof: http://imgur.com/Rc6HHT4
Why can't you accept the rules that are there for everyone? Do you think sports federations should bend over to religious customs that have nothing to do with the sport? Aren't you afraid of validating those who impose the hijab by asking to allow it to be worn, instead of asking for people to be allowed to not wear it?
The real question is, why can't people accept people for who they are?The beauty of sport is that it is universal! It brings people from all over together. Religion, race, height, weight, etc., shouldn't hinder anyone from following their goals or dreams. We live in a world where people are too judgmental, too discriminatory, and hateful. We need to be better people all around, in every area in life.
FYI: FIFA removed the hijab ban for soccer competition! Awesome right?
But it's not the sport that's hindering anybody. You are shifting the issue.
The issue is not that women aren't allowed to wear a hijab, same as they aren't allowed to wear any other head garment.
The issue is that lots of women all over the world can't play certain sports because they are forced or peer pressured to wear an unnecessary garment that disallows them to play those sports.
Now, I know that's not your case, but you do have the freedom to not wear the hijab, you are just choosing to make your religious/cultural beliefs a priority over the sport.
So the question is, again, should sport rules be changed in order to accommodate religious customs even when they interfere with said sport?
For the record, if this was, let's say, baseball, I'd be 100% in agreement with hijabs, turbans or any other similar garment being allowed, since there's no contact and other headgear is already allowed.
Actually, hijab is not an option for me; and I do not have that freedom to choose. My priority is with God, and I put God before any and everything. Yes, I do believe the federation should accommodate for Muslim women. Why shouldn't they? My hijab is a piece of material and wouldn't hurt anyone.. And there's no difference of it being allowed in baseball, basketball, or any other sport for that matter.
What was it like growing up as a Muslim in Springfield, MA? How much did Islam influence your home life, and what was the Muslim community like?
Congratulations on your success! I hope that FIBA overturns the rule asap, and I look forward to seeing your documentary and recommending it to all the other Muslim girls I know.
Growing up Muslim in MA wasn't at all bad. Our community was very diverse and pretty big for being in a small city. I honestly miss it; the mosque was like my second home!
Islam had a huge impact in my home life. My parents were converts and learned Islam without any cultural background, which made things a lot easier. We followed the Quran and the way of the Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) life, and it made everything clear and easy to follow. If anything, our own personal wants/desires make following any religion difficult.
What was it like playing basketball with President Obama?! Can he hoop?
It was an awesome experience! He's a pretty good shooter. We played a game of HORSE to "H", and I won :)
How are you fighting against FIBA's headscarf ban?
Well, myself and a few other muslim women have been petitioning the rule. I've been doing speaking engagements and speaking on panels to raise awareness for the issue.
I also am an athlete ambassador for Shirzanan Global which is an organization that helps fight against injustices against Muslim women in sport.
Did you make your first tryout and what grade were you in? If not, you obviously did not give up and maybe that's the heart of sports, the FIBA fight and letting your students know they can work on their dreams and goals no matter what.
Yes, fortunately, I did make my first try-out! However, I hope that through my struggle and my fight, my students can see the beauty of never backing down. There's always beauty in the struggle, and that's what I want them to see.
Are you trying to play in an actual headscarf like the one you played in in High School? Or ones like we saw in the Olympics from the Egyptian team? Is there a difference for either you or FIBA?
Well I'd play in either one. There's no difference with FIBA that I know of.
Besides basketball, are there other sports you like to watch/play? and if so who do you support?
I recently gained a little love for soccer. I am actually not that bad, :) Tennis would also be a sport that I'd enjoy.
Who's your favorite basketball player currently in the NBA and in all of NBA History? Same question for WNBA. Thanks :)
My fav basketball player right now is Steph Curry. He's an awesome human being, in general. So his skills on the court are an extra plus! However, Allen Iverson will always be my all time.
Yeah! Steph is my favorite current player as well! As for my all time fav, mine is probably Wilt Chamberlin, Hakeem, or Bob Pettit (big Hawks fan). Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Hmm...My pre-game ritual would vary. Usually I'd pray one of the 5 prayers I do during the day. There was always one that would time right before warm-ups. I'd also listen to a song called "Go Hard" by Nicki Minaj. I like her! Haha.
If FIBA remains staunchly opposed to the headscarf, what does your Life Without Basketball plan look like?
To be an inspiration and a motivation to not only Muslim girls/women, but to all. I truly believe that women are still put on the back burner in many areas. I am currently doing this through speaking engagements and through sport.
Why do you expect organizations and societies to change based on your stupid clothes? How about you adopt the culture and rules and identity of the organization you actually want to join? Are you actually that self centered?
Pretty mean question.... :(
I'm not self-centered. There are over a billion Muslims in the world! I am fighting for more than just myself.