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11 Inspiring Hijabi Women Around the Globe

Misbah is a Muslim woman who loves to share her knowledge about her religion and culture with the world.

This article celebrates Hijabi women shattering glass ceilings around the globe as athletes, politicians, musicians, and activists

This article celebrates Hijabi women shattering glass ceilings around the globe as athletes, politicians, musicians, and activists

In Praise of Hijab

It's always inspiring to see women breaking down barriers worldwide. However, seeing a Muslim woman compete and become a champion in her profession makes one proud.

Hijab is a modesty and privacy concept in Islam. It is a notion shared by several religions, including Judaism (where the value of humility is known as Tzuniut) and Christianity. The Islamic practice of hijab is most common in women's clothes. Hijab garments include headscarves (known as Khimaar or just hijab) to full-body coverings known as Burqa and Abaya.

"What is the point of wearing a hijab?" I am sure that this fundamental question must have arisen in the mind of someone who has never experienced a hijab-wearing Muslim. If this question were left unanswered, they would have most likely reached a conclusion described in one terrible word, "oppression."

February 1st is World Hijab Day, and in honor of this occasion, we celebrate Muslim athletes, politicians, musicians, and activists who break glass ceilings around the globe. The article shines a light on the Hijabi women who continue to inspire from time to time.

11 Barrier-Breaking Hijabi Women

  1. Kulsoom Abdullah (Weightlifter)
  2. Raianne Alameddine (Boxer)
  3. Raffia Arshad (Judge)
  4. Nura Afia (Beauty Vlogger)
  5. Halima Aden (Model)
  6. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Fencer)
  7. Zahra Lari (Figure Skater)
  8. Neelam Hakeem (Rapper)
  9. Ginella Massa (News Anchor)
  10. Noor Tagouri (Journalist/Activist)
  11. Ilhan Omar (U.S. Representative)
Kulsoom Abdullah, Portland 2019

Kulsoom Abdullah, Portland 2019

1. Kulsoom Abdullah (Weightlifter)

Kulsoom, a Pakistani-American weightlifter, was the first woman to compete in the sport wearing a headscarf. She competed in the 2011 World Weightlifting Championships in Paris, France, as Pakistan's first female weightlifter. She's also competed in the Asian Weightlifting Championships in South Korea, where she represented her country.

An athlete's knee and elbows should be visible to verify if a lift is executed correctly, according to the old International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) guidelines. On the other hand, Kulsoom competed following her Muslim beliefs after the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) authorized athletes to wear a full-body covering as part of the standard weightlifting uniform.

17-year-old hijab-wearing Australian boxer, Raianne Alameddine.

17-year-old hijab-wearing Australian boxer, Raianne Alameddine.

2. Raianne Alameddine (Boxer)

Raianne Alameddine was inspired by her elder brother after witnessing his training. She was the first amateur boxer from New South Wales, Australia, to fight while wearing a headscarf. She wants the independence that she possesses to be able to defend herself.

Firstly, her trainer told her that she had to remove her hijab during a fight or she would never be allowed to part in a sanctioned fight again. She asked the authorities why they wanted to force her to make such a difficult decision about her Muslim beliefs. It's great to see young people as enthusiastic as she is.

Raffia Arshad

Raffia Arshad

3. Raffia Arshad (Judge)

After a 17-year legal career, Raffia Arshad was appointed Deputy District Judge of the Midlands circuit in 2020, becoming the UK's first hijab-wearing judge. Ms. Arshad was no stranger to discrimination and prejudice in her field of work, despite having a successful career dealing with issues concerning Islamic law, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.

In 2001, the judge had one of the most life-changing experiences when a family member urged her not to wear her hijab to an interview for a scholarship at the Inns of Court School of Law.

In an interview, upon asking about her profession and hijab, she said, "I chose to wear my headscarf because accepting people for who they are is so important to me, and I wouldn't want to change who I am to pursue my profession."

Nura Afia

Nura Afia

4. Nura Afia (Beauty Vlogger)

Nura Afia is a Moroccan-American beauty vlogger. She shot to fame in 2016 when she was named a brand ambassador for CoverGirl cosmetics.

Afia is the company's first hijab-wearing brand ambassador. She's known for her creativity and many talents, using her social media accounts to share various unique content.

The Moroccan-American vlogger has joined the ranks of other CoverGirl ambassadors, such as Halle Berry, Katy Perry, and Sofia Vergara.

Halima Aden

Halima Aden

5. Halima Aden (Model)

The initial chapters of Aden's life story are entirely unrelated to the fashion industry. She was born in Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp, which is arid and bleak and home to over 160 000 refugees. It's a complex area to live in, with scorching heat, sickness, and no ways of earning money or starting an agricultural business.

Aden made history as the first veiled competitor in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant when she was six years old before making her New York Fashion Week debut at Kanye West's Yeezy Season 5.

With the June 2017 issue of Vogue Arabia, she became the first hijab-wearing model to be on a Vogue cover. Subsequently, with the April 2019 issue, she appeared on Vogue's first group Hijabi cover (with models Ikram Abdi Omar and Amina Adan).

Aden has left the fashion business, but as Vogue Arabia's diversity editor-at-large, she continues to empower Muslim women to pursue their dreams while being loyal to their values.

6. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Fencer)

Fencing champion Ibtihaj Muhammad was born in New Jersey in 1985. She started fencing at 13 and has won many trophies and honors for her achievements. In 2016, she represented Team USA.

In qualifying for the Olympics, Muhammad made history by being the first Muslim woman to represent the United States while wearing a hijab, a traditional Muslim head scarf. She was the first female Muslim-American athlete to win an Olympic medal.

The New Jersey story made headlines in 2017, telling she was the inspiration for Mattel's first hijab-wearing Barbie.

In a 2016 interview with Teen Vogue, Muhammad said, "People told me that my ambitions weren't attainable for whatever reason—especially when attempting to achieve a milestone that had never been made before—it was disheartening."

Her message to the future generation of Muslim sports stars is, "Never allow someone to direct your path."

7. Zahra Lari (Figure Skater)

Whether wearing a burqini or creating a stylish figure skating costume, Muslim women are finding inventive ways to compete in sports without compromising their religious observance.

17-year-old Zahra Lari is not only the first figure skater from the Gulf to compete in an international competition, but also the first to do so while wearing a hijab, an Islamic headscarf.

"Women don't practice much sport in my country, and much less figure skating; I skate with the hijab, my outfit follows the Islamic tradition," the quietly spoken youngster told AFP after participating in the European Cup with skaters from 50 nations.

A practicing Muslim girl with her black colored headscarf and a sober outfit stood out among the flashy orange tutus and fluorescent pink tights.

We look forward to seeing what Lari accomplishes next as she uses her sphere of influence to spread positive messages to girls worldwide to pursue their aspirations no matter their hurdles.

8. Neelam Hakeem (Rapper)

Neelam Hakeem is not an average female rapper. Through her music, she advocates for women's rights and speaks out against social and political injustices while representing modesty and Islam.

She converted to Islam in 2007. In an interview, she told Vogue Arabia about her difficulties with modesty, saying, "I never felt like I was truly ready to commit to hijab —my hair was a crutch for me." In terms of fashion, I had no idea you could be modest and powerful simultaneously; you could enter a room and command it. I've never been a skin-shower; I don't have a Kardashian physique", she chuckles.

With millions of followers on Instagram, Neelam Hakeem may appear to be just another modest influencer, working for companies like Dulce by Safiya, Culture Hijab, and Hayah Collection.

When you play one of her videos, she begins rapping about everything from political and social injustices to women's rights. Her lyrics, sung to music by Jaden Smith and Kanye West, went viral on social media, and her tracks were played by Diddy, Will Smith, and Erykah Badu.

9. Ginella Massa (News Anchor)

In 2015, Ginella Massa made history when she became Canada's first hijab-wearing television reporter. On November 17, 2016, she made even more history by anchoring the 11 p.m. broadcast of CityNews in Toronto, Ontario, thus becoming the first Hijabi woman in Canada to anchor a significant late-night newscast.

Her selection was a significant step forward for diversity and inclusion in North America and for that she won the prestigious Canadian Screen Award.

10. Noor Tagouri (Journalist/Activist)

Noor Tagouri is a journalist and activist who wears a hijab. Born in West Virginia to Libyan parents in 1993, her family relocated to Maryland, where she grew up and discovered her passion for journalism.

In an interview, she stated, "I simply knew I wanted to ask questions for a living." Tagouri studied Broadcast Journalism at the University of Maryland when she was 16 years old, and she obtained an internship at CBS radio a year later. She is the creator of the thought-provoking documentary series A Woman's Job, which focuses on women working in male-dominated sectors.

11. Ilhan Omar (U.S. Representative)

Ilhan Abdullahi Omar was born on the 4th of October, 1982. She is a politician from Minnesota who has been the United States Representative for the 5th congressional district since 2019. She is a Democrat–Farmer-Labor Party member.

Omar formerly participated in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2017 to 2019, representing a region of Minneapolis. Her congressional district encompasses the entire city of Minneapolis and part of its surrounding suburbs.

The Somali-born Democratic brought up in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to America at the age of 12, was also the first African refugee and a Hijabi woman to serve in Congress.

Final Thoughts

Hijab is an essential aspect of women's belief in Islam and is worn in different Muslim and non-Muslim countries worldwide. If we go back in history, the hijab was part of many religions as a custom form.

She carries the hijab, which is the way of her submission to God and honoring and pleasing God. There's nothing to worry about seeing her wearing a hijab. She is as normal as others. The hijab covers her head, not her brain.

The above-mentioned inspiring women have proven that they can be successful in every path of their life with their skills while wearing their hijab. They are not the only inspirational Hijabi women; there are dozens more.

Hijab is just a cloth to cover their head, and there is nothing to fear. A Hijabi can do everything like any other woman. She is just a faithful and obedient servant of God. She follows and practices what her religion teaches her.

Do you not wish to be a faithful and obedient servant of God?

It was the Almighty who decreed that men and women must cover their nakedness by wearing proper and modest clothing.

— Mark E. Peterson


Kulsoom Abdullah Didn’t Set Out to Become a Weightlifter, Yet Ended up Forever Changing the Sport

Meet Dr. Kalsoom

Ilhan Omar- Biography

Muslim Journalist, Activist, and Speaker Noor Tagouri Has a Message

Raffia Arshad Becomes First Hijab-Wearing Muslim Judge in the UK

17-Year-Old Muslim Boxer From Australia Wins Right to Fight Wearing Hijab

How Ginella Massa, CBC’s Newest Anchor, Made Her Own Dream Job?

12 Questions With Rapper Neelam Hakeem

Hijabi Trailblazers Who Are Smashing Stereotypes and Paving the Way for Inclusivity

International Figure Skating Competition Wearing a Headscarf

Ibtihaj Muhammad Biography

Halima Aden Model

Nura Afia

6 Inspiring Hijabi Athletes

Muslim Teen Boxer Wins Right to Fight Wearing a Hijab

© 2021 Misbah Sheikh


Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 05, 2021:

Thanks, Rawan

I am glad you liked it


Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 05, 2021:

I love it

Keep going

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 05, 2021:

These 11 inspiring hijabi women have proven that they can be successful in every path of their life with their skills while wearing their hijab.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 02, 2021:

Thanks a lot for your kind response, Devika. I am glad that the article helped you to understand the reason behind wearing Hijab.

Many blessings to you

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 02, 2021:

Interesting about these women and now I understand more about Hijabi women.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 01, 2021:

Thanks a lot for your kind response, Rosina. I am glad to know you admire them. They are inspiring and powerful women as they haven't compromised their faith for making their career or to achieve their goals

Much love

Blessings and Peace

Rosina S Khan on June 01, 2021:

These Hijabi women are truly special. Although I have never considered wearing a hijab, I admire these women who attained success, beating all odds in their lives, wearing a hijab. Thank you for this wonderful article.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 01, 2021:

Moon, thanks for your beautiful response. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me. I don’t wear a burqa or niqab but I too wear head scarf sometimes. My mother is a full time Hijabi. While living in Europe, I have experienced many good and many bad things regarding Hijab. I have met westerners who love women wearing hijab and have also met the people who don’t like women wearing a hijab. It’s not only an Islamic practice or belief. As Islam, every other religion also a ask women to be modest.

Yet, sadly, hijab only symbolizes a Muslim.

I would love to quote a westerner here: It was the Almighty who decreed that men and women must cover their nakedness by wearing proper and modest clothing. Mark E. Peterson

I know about the class of people in Pakistan who don’t like a woman wearing hijab and make fun of them. It’s sad that even hijab being a symbol of Islam worldwide People of Pakistan forget to respect it even being a Islamic republic country. Most of them are girls and boys of yours and my age who think themselves as very modern and up to date. But I believe there are many who respect it.

Much Love and Gratitude

Stay happy and safe

Many blessings from me to you, dear sister

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on June 01, 2021:

Brenda, I truly appreciate your kind comments and your honesty. Gratitude, dear friend. I am glad my article helped you understand the reason behind their head covering. It’s that to wear a hijab or to not wear is a woman’s own choice and a part of the practice of her belief. Many politicians try to ban hijabs and niqab in many foreign countries, above them all is France every time.

Political leaders do it for their benefits. I would say, To wear the hijab is a choice. It is a choice that no one should take away or impose on them. Those who force a Muslim girl/ women to remove their hijabs are just as immoral as are those who force them (Muslim girl/ women) to wear it.”

It’s just a part of their belief and it should not be a part of game of politics for politicians. I belief this spread hatred and fear among people, while head covering is not a part of only Islamic belief but it is also mentioned and observed in Christianity and Judaism and many other religions. Whatever religion we follow, We all love God and if a Muslim women wear it to please God, she should be respected for doing this.

Much Gratitude, dear friend. I really appreciate your kindness and support. I loved your honesty and I appreciate it.

Take care and Stay happy and safe. Lots of Love

Bundle of Blessings from me to you


EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on June 01, 2021:

Well done Misbah! This is the way to change the minds of the entire world. Many people taunt you for wearing hijab, but we must have faith in the teachings of our religion. But all this is for our own good.

And I have no words to praise Rafia Arshad; I salute her. And you know here, in Pakistan, we don't just cover hairs but also cover our faces. I wear a full gown from head to toe when going outside of my house. We do this because our Prophet liked the women with hijab. And there are also some traditional values that we have to follow. At least, I don't feel embarrassed about wearing a hijab. Misbah, you can't imagine there is a class in Pakistan that makes fun of hijab. I just can't understand them.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece of writing.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on May 31, 2021:


Your article speaks volumes for these women and their accomplishments while staying true to their beliefs.

Being in the United States it is hard for me to understand the purpose of wearing this covering, but your article has helped me to know more about it..

I admire their strength and courage and their faith in God.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on May 31, 2021:

Peggy, Thank you so much for your kind appreciation- Highly appreciated, my dear friend. There is no doubt that these women are extremely inspiring and beautiful. Halima Aden and Ilhan Omar both started their journey from refugee camps. They are truly amazing and impressive.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Gratitude.

Stay happy and safe. God bless you. Much Love!!

Blessings always

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on May 31, 2021:

Mr. Bill, I highly appreciate your kindness and your generous comments. You never miss making me smile. For this I am always grateful. I am glad you liked it.

Take care and stay safe

Blessings always

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on May 31, 2021:

MsDora, Thank you so much for the appreciation. No doubts these women are really very inspiring and beautiful. I am glad you liked it. Gratitude... Stay safe and healthy.

Lots of Love and Blessings to you

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 31, 2021:

I commend all of these women for their accomplishments in life. Thanks for showcasing many of these women who wear hijabs as a form of clothing honoring their beliefs. I am particularly impressed with the women who started in refugee camps and who went on to become so successful in their fields of endeavor.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 31, 2021:

Thank you for sharing these wonderful "stories" of these magnificent women. I learn about cultures through articles like this one, and my eyes have been opened through you. I appreciate the information greatly.

Blessings to you always, my friend!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 31, 2021:

These are some really empowering stories and I love them all. Really impressed by the district judges. The women are also beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on May 31, 2021:

Thanks a lot for your kindness, Pamela. I appreciate it. Your lovely comments always brings smile to my face. I am glad you enjoyed reading this article. God bless you, dear friend

Stay happy and safe. Much Love

Blessings and Peace

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on May 31, 2021:

Thank you so much for your beautiful response, Rozlin. No doubts that these women are inspiring. I am glad you liked it. Allah bless you and keeps you happy. Much Gratitude


Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 31, 2021:

This is a very interesting article about women who will be remembered for their wit and their skills, Misbah. I enjoyed reading about these women and you answered some questions about their dress. Thank you for sharing this information.

Love and blessings.

Rozlin from UAE on May 31, 2021:

This is an amazing, well researched article, Misbah. Hijab is truly Allah's hidayah. These women are inspiration for others. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful hub. Stay safe and healthy.

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on May 31, 2021:

John, Thanks a lot. I am so glad to see your kind and generous response. Yes, they surely are inspirations to others. They have made their careers without compromising their religion. God Bless you and keeps you healthy and safe

Blessings always, dear friend

Misbah Sheikh (author) from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on May 31, 2021:

Thanks a lot for your kind and generous comments, Amara. I do appreciate it. Yes, Indeed, for a noble cause. God Bless you and keep you healthy

Blessings and Love, dear sister

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on May 31, 2021:

Misbah, what a wonderful article. This women should be praised for fighting to be successful in their chosen fields without compromising their beliefs and choice to wear a hijab. They are an inspiration to others. Thank you for sharing. Blessings.

Amara from Pakistan on May 31, 2021:

Misbah its an interesting article, for indeed a noble cause.. I truely appreciate your efforts.. Well done sis.. Proud of you..