Minnesota start-up develops athletic hijab for Muslim women

Nike recently announced its newest product, an athletic hijab made for active Muslim women, but a Twin Cities start-up has already created its own version and is testing it with young athletes.

“It’s really fun,” said Jamila Bihi, a basketball player. “You get to move a lot of your muscles while playing move arms and legs.”

14-year-old Bihi spends a lot of time playing basketball, but now she has a piece of equipment to make her uniform appropriate for both her religion and one of her favorite activities.

“I like how it’s soft and it’s like has different colors, we're girls we like to look good on court too,” said Bihi.

Bihi says it can be hard for Muslim girls to play sports because they have to keep their heads covered when they are out in public.

But a local start-up called Asiya is now making sports hijabs that are tight fitting, lightweight and made out of breathable material to help Muslim female athletes be physically active, while upholding their religious and cultural beliefs.

“A lot of researchers say Muslim girls are not participating in sports as much as their peers and we want to change that and make this a movement where it’s regular and they should be playing sports,” said Fatimah Hussein, Asiya co-founder. “A barrier of clothes shouldn't be the reason they are not playing.”

Hussein came up with the idea a couple of years ago after working with these same girls from the Brian Coyle Center's traveling basketball team to develop uniforms that respect their religion. She later found a partner to turn her pet project into an actual business.

“We're really hoping by launching Asiya that we're helping to spread the word about the value of inclusion and helping more girls get involved in sports,” said Jamie Glover, Asiya co-founder. “Having the chance to play, be part of a team, build leadership skills, and not having something as trivial as clothing getting in the way.”

The team wore the sports hijabs for the first time during their playoff game in the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation league. Bihi hopes the newest piece of her uniform will be in fashion for years to come.

"If you have the right equipment, covering up like respecting religion and respecting the game, a lot of girls will play more and you'll have more girls playing," said Bihi.