Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 19:04 pm (KSA) 16:04 pm (GMT)

Hijab-wearing basketball star scores big in US

Bilqis says she wants to be a heart surgeon (Courtesy Masslive.com)
Bilqis says she wants to be a heart surgeon (Courtesy Masslive.com)

For most teenagers high-school is tough enough facing peer-pressure and acne, but being a Muslim female who wears a hijab, or headscarf, can make it even more daunting, especially when you are a top-scoring, history-making basketball player.

For Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, who is on her way to becoming the first player in Massachusetts state history--male or female--to score 3,000 points, wearing the hijab was not an option but she was determined not to let it be an obstacle either.

 I'd like to really inspire a lot of young Muslim girls if they want to play basketball 
Bilqis--young basketball star

"It really wasn't a decision. I had to." Bilqis told Sports Illustrated. "I had to get used to it, no matter how hard it was for me. I know the first few weeks in school kind of tested me."

At 5' 3.5", Bilqis started playing as an eighth-grader for New Leadership Charter School in Springfield but it was not until she reached puberty that she put the Muslim veil on and consequently start playing in full Muslim dress with her arms and legs completely covered beneath her uniform.

Bilqis said it was not easy and she frequently turned heads as people taunted her about the "tablecloth" on her head or for being a "terrorist."

"Sometimes they yell out, 'Terrorist!'" one of Bilqis' teammates told the Boston Globe. "She gets mad, but she doesn't lash out. I don't know how she handles it. She just takes it."

Things changed for the honor student when she stunned critics and proved to be an exceptional player with her major skills on the court. Bilqis is now expected to become the first Muslim player in NCAA Division I history.

Bilqis is set to start college on a full basketball scholarship next fall in Memphis and hopes to become a heart surgeon.

"I'd like to really inspire a lot of young Muslim girls if they want to play basketball," Bilqis told the paper. "Anything is possible. They can do it, too."

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