Wimbledon running club praised for bringing Muslimah community together
A running club in Wimbledon, South London, has received acclaim for bringing together a community of Muslim women to keep fit.
The ASRA club was started by Sahra-Isha Muhammad-Jones as a way for other Muslimahs not to feel under pressure or anxious whilst running or exercising. When the club began in September 2019, there were 40 members, which almost two years later has grown to nearly 70 members with three other branches across London. The club's Instagram account has also got 1,480 followers to date.
Sahra-Isha explained how before, she "didn't really feel comfortable running outside, just as a young woman in general."
"When I was 18, I had just finished my A-levels and decided I wanted to get back into running because I used to do it when I was younger. However, by that time I started wearing the hijab."
"I wanted to make sure that whatever I was going to create actually represented what they wanted and basically make it a space for us, by us," she said. "The first thing that I did was book in a track that was exclusively for us. I'd have the key, I'd made sure that it would be locked when you start the sessions and we'd all go home together after. Having that space for us to just run without having to answer why we're there is important. It's not some revolutionary thing – we're just running and we're all there with the same cause and same interest."
She added: "In schools, for me growing up, I was never really pushed to engage in PE. While that can create an element of insecurity, we want to make ASRA a space where you don't have to worry about that. It's not about how you look. We want to tell young girls that you don't have to be a certain way to engage in sports or that sport isn't for you."
And some of the ASRA team will be taking part in the Vitality Big Half in London, taking place on 22nd August, a 13.1-mile race.
One member taking part is Fatima Mohamed, who is preparing herself and others on the team for the big race in just under a fortnight.
"Most of the runners haven't run a half marathon before, so it's going to be momentous for them," said Fatima. We're looking forward to the environment, the atmosphere, the cheers and even the crowds."
Mohamed also said of the ASRA club: "I think for me, it's been really beautiful to keep growing and also just see the women who have come through the space and made friends and started their running journey, or who loved running before and then finally found a space. I've also made my closest friends through the club, and I have been so inspired by so many women who have come through to the running sessions."