Mumbai— This Mumbai teenager in Hijab is not just a fitness enthusiast but a professional fitness trainer. Perhaps first female in her family to visit gyms, Haleema Momin, a resident of Jogeshwari in Mumbai, has broken stereotypes of a Muslim society.
A short documentary by Pluc TV/South Asia Monitor with support of Frank Islam Foundation captures the achievements of the 19-year-old girl who calls herself ‘Hijabi Beast’
“My name is Haleema Momin and I’m popularly known as ‘Hijabi Beast’. I work out for four hours each day – two hours of martial arts and the rest calisthenics (bodyweight exercise). I am also a personal trainer and visit many homes and train girls,” says Haleema who is about to start her bachelor’s degree this year.
This fitness enthusiast is breaking stereotypes. Haleema, 19, is a fitness trainer from a middle-class neighbourhood of Jogeshwari in India’s commercial capital Mumbai. This teenager, curiously, calls herself ‘The Hijabi Beast’. She is a gold medallist in martial arts and silver in powerlifting state-level competitions. She proudly shares how she maintains a fit and a healthy lifestyle with her over 4,000 Instagram followers from all over the world.
At the World Hijab Day event in Mumbai on Feb 1, 2020, she was feted as a ‘Positive Voice’ for Muslim women.
Haleema uses her vigorous exercise regime to do the talking about the importance of being fit and healthy. She doesn’t let any negative comments affect her.
“Talk about negative comments. I don’t bother about negative comments. Recently, on Jan 26, 2020, an article about me was published in The Times of India newspaper. I went through the article and came across a comment which said ‘Shame on the Editor for glorifying Hijab – a symbol of oppressing and subjugating women’”.
“I want to ask, what is the meaning of liberalism? If a woman wants to cover her head. It’s her own choice and you are no one to interfere and I completely disagree that it’s a sort of oppression for us. In fact, I am proud to wear a Hijab.”
She further says: “People always appreciate me for doing calisthenics and practicing martial arts in a Hijab.”
It’s the support of her family that keeps Haleema focussed on her fitness goals.
“Haleema is a bit different from us. She is more focusses on fitness and healthy life. It’s very different for us and on one in our entire family has done this before. But we have accepted she is her own person,” says her sister Saima Momin.
Haleema hopes to inspire others, especially young girls by her actions to adopt a healthier and fitter lifestyle irrespective of their faith, clothes or circumstances.
“It’s not only about Muslim women. Actually, women in general are perceived as docile and timid by society. But I think that’s not how it is. I have always been a rough and tough kind of a girl and believe no one should be able to dominate or exploit you. Don’t let anyone break you. Don’t be fragile, be strong mentally, physically and emotionally,” says Haleema as a parting gift.