05 Muslim female gymnast‘s controversy

Southeast Asian (SEA) Games just ended at 16th . During the game, a controversy happened on a Muslim Malaysian female gymnast, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi who is a double gold medalist. She has gained a big honor for our country, but she is criticized by religious leaders because of her outfit.

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi during gymnastic competition.

Before religious leaders, some conservative Facebook users first started to critic her for wearing a leotard instead of appreciate her hard work of winning total 6 medals in the SEA Game. The claimed she revealed the shape of her “aurat” which refers to genitalia and other areas of the body which required to be covered for Muslim (Mae and Smith, 2015).

Senior Islamic cleric Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria supported critics and suggested that gymnastics is not an appropriate sport for Muslim women. “If Muslim women want to participate in gymnastics, they have to find outfits which cover the ‘aurat’ and this, in turn, might not be suitable for the sport,” he told publication Astro Awani (Mae and Smith, 2015).

Soon the comment had drew to a hot topic around the world especially in our nation. However, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi have defended by the public, especially teenagers and even sports minister.

Malaysia’s minister for youth and sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, tweeted: “In gymnastics Farah wowed the judges and brought home gold. In her deeds only the almighty judges her. Not you. Leave our athletes alone (Mae and Smith, 2015).”

Our sports minister is showing respect and support towards her succeed. However, the head of the National Muslim Youth Association, Roszida Kamaruddin said

“Women should not be stopped from sports, but they must prioritise the Islamic codes in sports attire. Furthermore, there are many Muslim female athletes who succeed even by covering their aurat (Straitstimes.com, 2015).”


A female athlete’s success or failure should not be identify by their outfit. I think each sport wear is designed according to their tournament so that they could performed well in sports. Athletes should feel free to choose their most comfortable outfits to achieve the outstanding results.

The whole issue has involved both feminism and fashion in women. From the angle of Muslim women, wearing the headscarf, hijab has become a feminist act which served as a sign of their identity and a way to counter cultural imperialism (Pbs.org, 2012). Feminism in Islam also always be a debatable subject as they usually have many rules have to obey regarding their religion.


Mae, L. and Smith, E. (2015). Why supporters of this gold-winning Muslim gymnast are shaming her critics. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/muslim-gymnast-farah-ann-abdul-hadi-criticised-for–revealing-leotard-worn-in-doublegold-win–but-her-supporters-are-out-in-force-10325444.html [Accessed 18 Jun. 2015].

NewSPort, (2015). Muslim gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi offends Islamists with revealing leotard. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53zRJzz_dLk [Accessed 17 Jun. 2015].

Pbs.org, (2012). ‘The Light in Her Eyes’ in Context: Muslim Women’s Movements | The Light in Her Eyes | POV | PBS. [online] Available at: http://www.pbs.org/pov/thelightinhereyes/photo_gallery_background.php?photo=3#.VYUbnfn0fnc [Accessed 18 Jun. 2015].

Pleasance, C. (2015). Muslim gymnast criticised for wearing leotard praised by thousands. [online] Mail Online. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3128607/Muslim-gymnast-criticised-wearing-revealing-leotard-double-gold-victory-SEA-Games-praised-thousands-Malaysian-fans-bringing-glory-country.html [Accessed 18 Jun. 2015].

Straitstimes.com, (2015). SEA Games: Thousands back Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann in ‘aurat’ row. [online] Available at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/sport/more-sport-stories/story/sea-games-thousands-back-malaysian-gymnast-farah-ann-aurat-row-2 [Accessed 18 Jun. 2015].


One thought on “05 Muslim female gymnast‘s controversy

  1. In Malaysia, there is always an issue of exposing body parts. Recently there are news like a visitor with short pants is required to put on towel to cover the legs and a lady is required to put on Sarong in JPJ office.
    Magazines show the trendy fashion clothing and styling, but in reality, we as a Malaysian are arguably to dress up like that in daily life. What do you think about this?


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