The woman figure in the muslim world is often linked to a violation of her rights or to the gender state, but rarely we consider her role in the sporting field. Sociologically, sport is a really sexist field which makes a recognition towards women difficult, also in the world areas in which women have the same rights as men. Not everyone has the possibility to do sport in freedom and security. Surely this possibility is denied to muslim women. The women exclusion from sport is mainly caused by customs and traditions regards to patriarchal system, which has characterized and continues to characterize numerous regions of muslim world. In general, sport is considered a main element for female empowerment; in fact, the social and moral progress of a country is linked not only to male gender, but also to woman contribution to social, political and cultural life.
In muslim culture some behaviours linked to sport, like excessively showing the body, being photographed or filmed by social media, are not accepted and mean that there will be conflicts especially during international sporting events.
Over the years it is happened a huge change and, in the same time, adaptation mainly in international competitions.
London Olympic Games in 2012 represented a big turning point because two Saudi athletes took part in games, Sarah Attar and Wojdan Shaherkani.
Sarah Attar is the first Saudi woman to tread an Olympic track. Sarah is a Saudi marathoner and a long distance runner. During the race she got on the track for the 800m race completely covered from top to bottom: white hijab covered her head except the face, a long-sleeved shirt and a black tights. The athlete finished her heat half minute after the penultimate competitor, but getting on the track was a great victory and satisfaction for her. Sarah Attar want to launch a message to every woman of Saudi Arabia: engaging in sports and dreaming to become athletes too, like her. She has shown to be able to become an athlete at higher levels reconciling sport with current Islamic tradition in the Saudi monarchy, where women cannot travel abroad o work without getting permission from a man of the family.
Wojdan Shakerkani is a judoka and she took part for the first time in 2012 Olympic Games. The judoka was defeat on the tatami, but her participiation to the race was a great triumph for herself and Saudi society. Her participation to London 2012 had been questioned several times, because International Judo Federation did not want her to race with her hijab. However, at the end they have reached a compromise and a special hijab has been drown with a velcro fastening to allow to take part to it and avoid choking hazards.
An other important event was the international competition in Rio de Janiero 2016 Olympics. An icon to Islamic women of these Olympics was the Emirati Amna Al Haddad, qualified in female weight lifting. During Olympics other athletes become established: the 18 years old Kimia Alizadeh, the first Iranian to win an olympic medal in taekwondo in Rio, the Egyptian couple in beach volley, who on the beach of Copacabana have challenged breathtaking biking of the competitors with their typical hijab, and the Saudi Kariman Abuljadayel, who has been presented to Brazilian Games despite of her Government turns his nose up at it and she has crowned her dream to run the 100m.
The participation to international sporting events allowes to muslim athletes to break down preconceptions and prejudice of the Islamic society showing brave, determination, talent and dedication, not only to conquer a medal but especially to represent a whole category and fight with it for new future opportunities.
In 2018 in Saudi Arabia female gyms were legalized. Women feel the need to cure her body and learn to defend themselves respecting islamic values. In the meantime gyms attend by either men and women are prohibited because Islam forbids any attendance between not related men and women.
In the last years we are living all these changes which have created a real revolution for Islamic women, despite of the conservative regime of the muslim religion. The challenge for these last is to defend them sportive freedom and have more and more brave to affirm their rights.