Friday, November 13, 2009

Taking Back the Gym

Click for Photo CreditAlhamdulillah, my masjid has a basketball court--although depending on who you ask, that could be good or bad for the youth. The good is that it brings youth to the masjid, but the bad could be that it takes them from the halaqaat and into the gym, giving them an excuse to avoid the blessings of the masjid. But today I'd say it was mostly good.

A friend of mine, one of the more athletic sisters in the community, has organized some weekly basketball time for sisters, on Friday afternoons. Last weekend with the wedding and everything I was much too busy, but this week I wanted to give it a try. Six sisters showed up, and found the gym occupied for about a half hour past the time we had planned to start. So we tried various stretches and exercises using body weight. Then we had to basically kick some brothers out of the gym so we could play.

Honestly, I didn't feel too bad about it since pretty much it's almost always just brothers playing basketball in there. There should be time for sisters too. When we came back to play again after breaking for maghrib, however, a larger group of guys (including an adult, unfortunately) were not interested in letting the sisters play at all. To be honest, though, they did have a point because the gym wasn't officially reserved, and so I'll imagine that if it had been (and that next week when it will be inshaaAllaah) they won't mind clearing out for a little while so sisters can play.

As I haven't played any basketball in over a decade, I thought I'd be pretty much useless on the court. On the other hand, while I couldn't quite run as fast as the other girls and had little experience in practical maneuvers, I wasn't a terribly bad shot. So I had a lot of fun (it's so fun when you score!) and really enjoyed the workout (mostly running.)

I hope that other masajid with gymnasiums and basketball courts make arrangements to ensure that sisters are also able to play. A lot of times sisters aren't given the chance to exercise--sometimes it's even frowned upon or considered too masculine--and that only makes it more likely for sisters to turn to other, unhealthier avenues to vent their frustration. Exercise promotes health, no doubt about that. And if we as Muslims promote health, we should also promote exercise, even, if not especially, for sisters. And having an environment where it is "safe" to exercise (without the leering eyes of men) is just one important step.

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