Scoring her future into the thousands, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir hoops with her hijab to holding the Massachusetts state high school scoring record. As a young women of 24, she spirals to her natural passion and undeniable ability in the sport that she hasn’t left since the age of 3. “It was innate for me to play, as I grew up going to games,” Abdul- Qaadir says.
And it certainly was. It was her ability that outstanded those around her, and even herself. Her logical step from scoring the highest score record at High School led her to take this up to the professional level.
But to Bilqis, her hijab was her identity, it is what defined her just like basketball did. The Hijab is an apparel, a form of identity and action of modesty and nothing close to religious anonymity variably exercised by many in sports. But to Bilqis this had never seemed to be an issue: “Living life as [an] athlete allowed me to be able to conform to any environment,” she added. “Sports are so universal; wherever I went I fit right in regardless of my race, ethnicity or religion.” But so natural of a multi-cultural and diverse society to be accepted no matter what ethnicity. It seemed as though this very environment played no problem for her in her state; her hijab had no effect on those around her and they supported her because of her innate ability of playing great basketball.
With the FIBA — the international basketball’s governing body, things weren’t that easy. It did come to her attention that there were many issues with the way she had covered up especially if she were to play at a far more professional level. The mention of the unacceptance of headgear was a shock nonetheless. “I kind of just cried once I found out,” Abdul-Qaadir says. “I didn’t even know if we could take action, trying to get the rule banned. At that point, I thought I couldn’t do anything about it.”
But with great support and the rising population of hijaabi sports players, FIBA had loosened much of their rules and regulation become more indirect in its wording. But it is undeniably true; the ability and the work of Bilqis is and will be phenomenal. Her ability to do what she loves without religion undermining her ability opens doors for development and success.