Every four years, people from every country together to celebrate the achievements of athletes around the world in the Olympic Games. This year is a significant landmark in American Muslim history, as Ibtihaj Muhammad represents Team USA for Women's Fencing in Rio. Muhammad is the first Olympian to compete while wearing hijab and has shattered the stereotypes of how Muslim women are portrayed in the media. In an interview before her Olympic qualifiers, Muhammad said,
"Never let another person's misconceptions about your race, gender or religion hinder you from reaching your goals." (Ibtihaj Muhammad)
We saw her bring this to life as she accepted her bronze medal on behalf of Team USA.
In addition to the many who Ibtihaj's accomplishments have inspired around the world, her impact has been felt very close to home here at the Islamic Center. As classes resumed this week for New Horizon Los Angeles, one of our students brought a collection of photos and souvenirs for a special show and tell. On Thursday, he told the class about what it was like to see Muhammad, his family relative, compete in the Olympics before his very eyes and the room full of children buzzed with excitement and hope. Jolanda Hussain-Hendriks, the newly hired Principal of New Horizon Los Angeles said,
"It is critical that these children know that they can be whoever they want to be; irrespective of skin color, gender, or religion. And it is wonderful that it can be reinforced by these powerful images in the media that break stereotypes." (Jolanda Hussain-Hendriks)
As an exciting week comes to a close at New Horizon, the Islamic Center prepares for Sunday School and JYG program to begin again on August 21. MYG has not yet announced an official start date for their 2016 program, but they are aiming to begin meeting in the second half of September.
Ibtihaj Muhammad after winning bronze medal at 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
(Photo credit: Tom Pennington)