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Inspiring Muslim Paralympians

by in Soul on 11th September, 2016

The Olympics are still on, it is the second leg of the event with the Paralympics currently underway. One thing is for sure Muslim Women are choosing unique sports, we saw Ibtihaj fencing at Rio 2016 and  Zahra Nemati representing her country in Archery and Nurul Taha leading in Boccaccio. Some of the sports like Boccacio are new whilst others are sports our ancestors used to partake in. Archery was recommended by the Prophet Muhammad thus a sunnah sport. who would have thought ibadah and sport could be combined.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once passed by some people of the tribe of Bani Aslam who were practicing archery. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“O Bani Isma`il ! Practice archery as your father Isma`il was a great archer. Keep on throwing arrows and I am with Bani so-and-so.” [Bukhari]

Source: Productive Muslim

From Fencing to Archery to Boccaccio, let us find out more about these sports and more importantly incredible women behind them.


Zahra Nemati (Iran) – Irans first female athlete to win gold at a Paralympic or Olympic Games, Nemati became a role model after her success at London 2012. She aims to compete in Olympic and Paralympic games.

Her Story: 

Thirteen years ago Zahra Nemati met with an accident, one that changed her life and took away mobility, she was hit by a car, her spine was shattered and thus use of both legs. She was a black belt in Taekwondo and set for the Olympics. Her dreams were shattered and Taekwondo was no longer a possibility. 

Despite what happened she’s now defending her title won in London 2012; she was the first Iranian woman to win a gold in either event: Olympics & Paralympics. Her favoured sport Archery, she recently told a Japanese documentary crew. “As a taekwondo athlete, not being able to use my legs was like a pianist losing their arms,” she told wow TV. She was ranked 49th in the world for Archery. 

After winning in London she said:

“I wanted to show the Iranian youth, especially girls, that the Iranian women are no worse than others, and we may even win the Paralympic and receive medals. I wanted to break the stereotype and I’m very glad that I did it.”

Determination has always been Nemati’s strong suit. That and not feeling sorry for herself. After her accident, she refused to mope about being miserable, her mum, Fatemeh, told the documentary: “She was always smiling. Never complained or cried. Can you believe that?”

The only bad thing about having Nemati on the squad is that she makes everyone else look lazy, one team-mate told the WowWow director:

“I get embarrassed because Zahra is always training even when her able-bodied team-mates are tired. She really encourages us,” he said, somewhat sheepishly.

When it became clear that Nemati was going to have to switch sports, it was on the archery field that she found her new home. She picked up her bow in 2007, three years after her accident. “Archery made me strong — and taught me the meaning of strength,” the 31-year-old said in the documentary. “When I was 18 I lost the ability to walk in a car accident. I was close to losing my life. But I had a chance to live.”

Source: The Guardian


Boccia is played on a court measuring 12.5 × 6 m with 2 m of empty space around it. The surface of the court is flat and smooth. The throwing area is divided into six rectangular throwing boxes in which the athletes must stay completely within during play. On the court is a V-shaped line over which the jack must cross for the throw to be valid. At the end of the court is the ‘dead ball container’ which balls are put in if they are thrown outside of the time limit, out of the area of play or the athlete violates a rule during his or her throw. A cross marks the position where the jack must be placed if it touches or crosses the boundary line or in the case of a tie break. The balls themselves are made of leather and are slightly larger than a tennis ball, weighing approximately 275 grams and measuring 270 mm in circumference. They are available in different grades of softness and hardness.

Nurul Binte Mohammad Taha.  She is a Singaporean boccia competitor” Taha  is a professional boccia player and is currently the top-ranked.

Her Story: ” Taha  is a professional boccia player and is currently the top-ranked BC3 woman in the BISFED BC3 individual rankings where she is ranked tenth overall in her class. Next Monday, she departs for Beijing and the last boccia qualifying event for the 2016 Summer Paralympics.

The Muslim Singaporean competed at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in the individual BC3 event, where she finished seventh overall.   Only two women finished higher than her in the mixed gender competition, Belgium’s Kirsten De Laender who finished sixth and South Korea’s Ye Jin Choi who took home gold.  In 2010, in the lead up to the World Championships, she spent four to eleven hours a day in training, at an event that was her first outside the Asia-Oceania region.  She worked to customize her ramp to improve her shot performance, and has been continuing to work with Nanyang Polytechnic in 2015 to do more improvements.

Taha, who has cerebral palsy, is very engaged behind the scenes with her sport in Singapore.  She attended a Boccia Introductory Workshop at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore Multi-purpose Hall in March of last year. She was the Master of Ceremonies for the 2015 Asean Para Games ceremony where the sporting program was announced, and has been active in trying to encourage people to volunteer for the Games. She has spoken before the National Youth Council in Singapore.  She spoke at the National Secondary School Student Leaders Conference 2015. As an advocate for her sport, she has been quoted as saying:

 “We participate in sports for the same motivations as able-bodied athletes to bring glory to the country. We compete because it’s fun and exciting, and because it’s a way to entertain spectators.”

Source: Quora


Selina Bakkar

Selina Bakkar

Co-founder of Amaliah amongst many other roles. Selina is passionate about empowering those around her and just trying to be a better person. She loves looking after plants and a good cuppa because motherhood and running is not for the faint hearted. She is also Co-founder to Aishah and Eesa and currently a one digit mother, Alhamdulilah. You will find her in the local charity shop, garden centre or park with her kids. Have a listen to the Amaliah Voices podcast. Link in bio peeps. To join the Amaliah Writer Community email me at [email protected]