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CC ISSUE: MAR 2012 Last updated: Mar 8, 2012

Muslims achieving leaps and bounds in sports

Ayesha Qazi

Many Muslims have extensive knowledge in the accomplishments Muslims have achieved in the realms of academics. However, few Muslim athletes’ names are known in this community as examples or role models. In mainstream America, any advances in the athletic field lead to stardom, celeb-like status, and popular role models for youths. Though there are few legendary Muslim athletes to quote, share, or discuss, this should not prevent the encouragement in physical activity.

I spoke with two Muslim athletes to get their views on their sport.

Name: Ali Rouzati
Sport: Boxing
Major Achievement: Youngest Golden Glove Winner in Chicago (17)
Age: 23
Team: Evanston Boxing Club

What is success?

Taking potential and developing it through hard work, discipline, and belief in oneself.
Do you feel a responsibility to show your Muslim identity to sports that don’t have many Muslims participating in it?
I haven’t dealt with this issue personally since boxing actually has a history of successful Muslim boxers.

Does faith play a part in regiment?

It depends. Only in terms of having faith in myself and staying disciplined with my training and diet. God has provided most human beings with the potential, tools and common sense on how to obtain success in one’s endeavors. It is simply up to the individual to put in the time and effort in order to achieve the goal that they desire.



Name: Sophia Khairallah
Sport: Basketball
Major Achievement: District 3 pt champion
Age: 16
Team: Aqsa School (Bridgeview, IL)

What is success?

Success to me is accomplishing a goal that you set for yourself. When I play in a game, it is how I played the game and not the score at the end of the game that allows me to measure my success and the success of my teammates.

Do you feel a responsibility to show your Muslim identity to sports that don’t have many Muslims participating in it?

Yes, I do. I love when we make duaa right before entering the court. Non-Muslims stare at us in a quizzical manner when this happens. I feel when we take our iman and faith with us on the court, that we are empowered. I enjoy explaining who we are and I am proud to say we are from an all Muslim female high school. When we play non-Muslim competitors, I feel that we carry a heavy load of responsibility to represent our religion. My teammates and I take this responsibility seriously and I hope we make everyone proud.

Does faith play a part in regiment?

As I mentioned before, we make duaa before we go on the court and during our breaks. It is our faith that keeps us dedicated in representation of Aqsa high school. Whether we win or lose, we know were always on the winning side.

Sports, exercise, and physical activity create an incredible atmosphere that encourages honest competitions, challenges, and social relationships. Involvement in the athletic field increases personal self-esteem, health, and decreases illnesses and drug usage.

Encourage friends and family to participate and continuously stay physically active. As Ali and Sophia showed, the involvement in sports leads to endless benefits and life-learning lessons.



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