WASHINGTON: In a society increasingly concerned by Islamophobic hate crimes and terrorism, hijab-wearing mum-of-four aims to empower Muslim and non-Muslim women by training them in self-defence.
Khadijah Safari, from Milton Keynes converted to Islam in 2009 at the age of 27. She gave up her job as a graphic designer to get a black belt in Muay Thai and ended up marrying her instructor, a former world champion cage fighter.
Speaking to MailOnline, she said to have a ‘stereo-typically negative view’ about Islam. However, years later, she got a copy of Holy Quran from one of her friend and said, ‘that was when everything started to piece together perfectly’.
“There is a lot of negative stuff in the media about Islam and women – there is this idea that Muslim women are oppressed. But a lot of that comes from the culture of countries where the majority of people are Muslim – not Islam itself.”
The now 36-year-old has gone into business with her husband and the couple decided to teach separate classes for men and women.
“We were teaching in mixed classes and I didn’t feel comfortable with that anymore and I had made the decision to wear hijab and I didn’t want to train wearing it, I wanted to be able to remove it and train as I was before. So we set up mens only and womens only classes which was a huge risk because he had a lot of high profile clients which were women… but we did it, we went into it with full passion and it was successful from the first course that we launched,” reported iTV.
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Segregation of men and women only leads to integrating Muslim women more with non-Muslim women.
“I’m not segregating anything, I’m uniting and I’m integrating women into society and non-Muslim women and women from all different faiths and backgrounds are learning about each other… for me, when I was at university, I would never have made friends with a woman who wore hijab because I thought she would be very different to who I was and now women are learning, we’re all the same.”
Khadijah says that the self-defence gives women strength in all aspects of their lives.
“It’s now become something bigger than I ever thought it would be because of what the women get out of it that train with us. When women come and they say this training saved me, this training was therapy for me, this training has got me through some of my hardest times, it’s my responsibility now to spread that as much as I can and to give more women the opportunity to have that in their life.”