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Though a Muslim, I have no problem in saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’- Najma Heptullah

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Minister for minority affairs: Najma Heptullah Image source: blogs.dw.com

New Delhi, April 6 : Terming the controversy related to chanting of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ as “unnecessary and uncalled for”, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah has said that there was nothing wrong in praising the motherland and religion has nothing to do with this.

 “Whichever country is your ‘vatan’ (motherland) you should be loyal to it,” the minister told IANS in an interview.

Heptullah emphasised that there was some politics behind the controversy and said she herself being a Muslim had no problem in saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

“By saying so I am not doing anything against my religion. My ‘imaan’ (faith) is not that weak. In fact there is no religion involved in it,” she said, adding that even Prophet Muhammad had endorsed this.

“I want to ask every Muslim where would they go after dying?” and answered: “It’s their motherland which would take them in her arms.”

The minister, however, said that there are different ways of showing or expressing loyalty towards the nation.

Commenting on yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s controversial statement where he had said that he would have “beheaded” those who refuse to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” if the law of the land was not there, she said people should refrain from making such comments.

“My freedom of speech must not hurt anybody. We should be careful,” she said.

Asked whether these kinds of statements, which often come from various leaders of the BJP and other people related to it, affect the working and moral of the Modi government, the minister said she was “focused” and other ministers and functionaries were also busy doing their work.

Speaking about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the policies of his government in relation to minority communities, the minister said that the central government was actually doing a lot for every single minority community of the country.

She accused the previous UPA governments of “doing nothing” for any of the minority communities and said they were busy labelling Modi as anti-Muslim.

“Whatever was to be done (for minority communities during Congress-led governments) was not done,” she contended.

Heptullah said 8.6 million scholarships were given to students of minority communities and she was inspired by Modi’s vision for the development of Muslim community — that he would like to see a copy of the Quran in one hand of a madrasa student and a computer in the other hand.

The minister also said that 27 madrasas are working with the central government’s skill development programme.

(Sushil Kumar could be contacted at sushil.k@ians.in)

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Sport Hijab: A Sportswear Solution for Muslim Woman and Girls

Hijab, a head or body covering that conforms to Islamic standards of modesty.

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Sport Hijab, Sportswear Solution
Many young Muslim girls when they start playing sports, can’t focus completely on the game, because they are also focus on their hijab. Pixabay

When in public, Muslim woman and girls may wear a hijab, a head or body covering that conforms to Islamic standards of modesty. These women may also want to participate in sports without compromising their religion and clothing, and with a sport hijab, they can do just that.

Fatimah Hussein is co-founder of ASIYA (pr. ah-SEE-yah), an activewear company that is changing the lives of Muslim girls and women by producing culturally-appropriate athletic wear. Hussein owns the business with partner Jamie Glover, and the company is named after a woman revered in Islamic history.

“Many young Muslim girls when they start playing sports, can’t focus completely on the game, because they are also focus on their hijab. They either take it off or don’t play,” Hussein says. “They didn’t have any accessibility of a sport hijab that they felt very comfortable with. Many hijabs require pins as fasteners. When playing a sport, hijabs can be hot and unwieldy. If it comes unraveled, another player could trip on it, or the pin could jab the wearer or others, making it dangerous for everyone. So, I was like, there should be some kind of a solution for this,” says Hussein.

A sports hijab was the answer. ASIYA markets hijabs that are for fast paced physical activity. The headwear is made from a sweat-wicking fabric, designed to be comfortable and safe for play.

Sport Hijab, Sportswear Solution
ASIYA Sport. VOA

Hussein, a Muslim woman was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and came to the United States at age six with her parents and sister, fleeing civil war. She says that she played sports in school as a child but was preoccupied with thoughts of her hijab.

“This doesn’t look right, this is falling, I don’t feel comfortable inside,” she says she remembers thinking.

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Hussein is still involved with sports in her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her free time, she is a basketball coach. She is also a licensed social worker.

“A lot of girls in our community want to try new things and play sports, but they aren’t confident, says Hussein. “They’re constantly told they shouldn’t be doing something boys are able to do, they get intimidated,” she says.

Hussein also found an indoor neighborhood gym for girls to play sports on their own.

She also established Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports (G.I.R.L.S), a nonprofit program for Muslim girls.

Sport Hijab, Sportswear Solution
ASIYA Sport. VOA

Hussein talks frequently of identity, community, and taking pride in being a Muslim. She says the hijab is important for Muslim women.

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“It makes a statement about her identity. Anyone who sees her will know that she is a Muslim, she is modest and has a good moral character,” says Hussein.

Sport Hijab, Sportswear Solution
Fatimah Hussein, CEO & Co-Founder of Asiya. VOA

Hussein says ASIYA is helping to break down barriers for Muslim girls who want to participate in sports.

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“We view ASIYA as a social venture looking to increase participation rates, as we believe there is huge value in sports participation for young girls in developing critical skills that set them up for success later in life.” (VOA)