By Guest Contributor Izzie, cross-posted from Muslimah Media Watch
Sania Mirza is a source of pride in India. She is the first Indian woman to:
- Win a WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) tour title of any kind
- Win a Grandslam Title
- Surpass $1M in career earnings
She has also won the Arjuna Award, which is the highest sports honour in India, and the Padma Shri, which is the fourth highest civilian award in India; she was named one of the “50 heroes of Asia” by Time, and named by The Economic Times in the list of “33 women who made India proud.”
She also happens to be a Muslim woman, who according to her father and coach, is a deeply religious girl who prays five times a day, tries hard not to play during the holy month of Ramadan, and reads the Quran every day.
However, to many Indian Muslims, she is a media personality, who doesn’t wear the “proper” attire that a Muslim woman is supposed to be seen in. She dresses like any other tennis sports star, and is popular for her style statements as for her skill with the racket. This resulted in a Maulvi in Midnapore (West Bengal, India) issuing a fatwa on her dress code stating “The dress she wears on the tennis courts … leaves nothing to the imagination.” He also said she should follow the example of Iranian women who wore head scarves and long tunics when they played in badminton tournaments. Islamist groups such as Jamiat-ulema-e-Hind allegedly threatened to disrupt her tennis matches.
Recently another fatwa was also issued against her, for living together with her current husband, before their marriage: the fatwa stated that ”It’s un-Islamic for a man and woman to see each other during the ceremonies before the ‘nikah.’” (Mirza’s husband stayed in her parental home for few weeks prior to their wedding. )