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A Message of Hope - Ibtihaj Muhammad Rocks a Billboard in New York!

Posted on Mar 04, 2019
Dilshad Ali


“Be the hero you didn’t have,” is the tagline.

What you see is a sky-high billboard of fencer and Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad in her fencing gear and Nike sports hijab, celebrating her victory, face turned upwards in glory and gratitude. This billboard is larger than life above the 34th street subway stop on the corner of 7th Avenue and 34th Street in New York City. And, it’s kind of apropos that another big billboard to the left of it is one featuring FOX News, with the tagline - “America is Watching”

Indeed, America is watching!

As Women’s History Month gets underway, it’s especially gratifying and uplifting to see this huge image of Ibtihaj defying stereotypes and being a hero for Muslim women and girls and people all over in ways that were relatively missing a decade or so ago. As a self-professed Olympics junkie, the last few Olympics I chronicled and shared the rise of Muslim women athletes in the games, many of them being from Middle Eastern, African and South Asian countries.

And so, it was especially inspiring to see Ibtihaj, who won a bronze medal, along with Dalilah Muhammad, who won gold in the women’s 400 hurdles, as part of the U.S. Olympics team in 2016. When I head to New York for work, I plan on taking a special trip to 34th Street to see this billboard myself.

This month we are sharing interviews with other prominent Muslim women leaders and changemakers - women who are the heroes I tell my daughter (and sons) about all the time. We hope you will enjoy getting to know these wonderful women who are pursuing their dreams and affecting change in ways both big and small.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy and support the hard work and successes we already see before us - Ibtihaj, U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, Muhsen Executive Director Joohi Tahir, model Halima Aden, author Umm Juwayriyah, graphic book author Huda Fahmy and so many more. Insha’Allah, onwards and upwards!