Haleema Sadiya breaking stereotypes for her devotion to fitness

Mumbai: Meet the middle-class Muslim girl breaking the stereotypes balancing both fitness as well as Islamic customs that respects women, maintains so as to save women from the prying eyes of perpetrators.

At the very first glance in this air-conditioned gym in Mumbai’s Jogeshwari West nothing seems out of place, but if noticed clearly, you can find this college girl in a black hijab and loose tracksuits, TOI reports.

Momin Haleema Sadiya perfectly balances this pistol squat which is to balance her body on one leg with the other one stretched out.

Ms Sadiya has got silver and gold medal in powerlifting, martial arts in state-level competitions under her belt.

This “power-packed” calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) performer, fitness trainer and martial arts athlete has over 3,500 followers on her Instagram which she says it only “explains my instinct to remain fit and denotes my mental strength”.

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This young girl will be one of the performers at the World Hijab Day event on February 1 in Mumbai which is being organized by city-based NGO Al Hadi Organisation, to demonstrate “hijab empowers and not subjugates women”.

This girl is fighting the entrenched societal prejudices with many disapproving her devotion to fitness, but nowhere in Islam, it is prohibited or a woman is forbidden from staying fit. This all comes to an understanding that societal prejudices are according to their limited understanding of the religion.

“I am not into body-building shows where you have to be in bikini and flaunt toned biceps and abs (abdominal muscles). I am into exercises which strengthen body, improves immunity and concentration,”  Sadiya explains.

She grew up watching elder sister Saima doing martial arts. “She couldn’t continue as my parents didn’t encourage her. She quit and she got married. But I got hooked to it and pestered my parents to let me follow my passion,” says Sadiya.

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Sadiya credits martial arts trainer Mohammed Sardar “for whatever I am today”. “He really encouraged me a lot and showed that I only had to shed my inhibitions,” she adds.

Besides Sadiya, calligraphy artist Salva Rasool, karate referee Shaheen Akhtar, educationist Asma Zaidi and politician Fatima Muzaffar, dancer-turned-blogger Halima Shaikh, all in hijab, will be part of a panel to share their success stories despite wearing hijab on February 1.

“Our purpose is to tell the world that hijab is not a hindrance to career path. Many female talents get wasted as they wear hijab and are hesitant to take initiatives as they think perhaps their progress will be blocked because of how they dress. We want to break that notion,” said Shabana Sadik Hussein Pattawala of Al-Hadi Organisation.

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