Tour De Farm and BBQ: Join MADE’s first annual London to Oxford cycle ride

MADE in Europe is a Muslim youth-led organisation working to mobilise Muslim communities in the UK to live more ethically and sustainably. 

Join MADE for a 100km ride through the glorious Oxfordshire countryside to Willowbrook Farm ending with a delicious ethical BBQ of tayyib meat produced on the farm. Experience off­-the-grid sustainable living in action and explore Willowbrook Organic Farm, the UK’s first organic halal farm.

Get your friends and family to come along to spend the day on the farm and join you for the BBQ at the end of your journey. Everyone is welcome!

Please raise upwards of £100 for the cycle or just £12 for the farm visit and BBQ.   

Sarah Javaid
Executive Director


I'm a Footballer Who Happens to Wear Hijab -- I Didn't Need FIFA to Tell Me That

By: Shireen Ahmed

Here is my reality.
I have been contacted many, many times since March 1 when FIFA announced that IFAB formally overturned their decision to ban headcoverings on the pitch. 
Family, friends and colleagues have sent me congratulatory notes and news reports. 
Since July 2012, I have blogged, written and expressed happiness, hope, gratitude and sometimes frustration with this process.
One more step towards the pitch! 
I was elated. 
Women from all qualifying nations will attend the Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada. My country. There will be women from Asia, Africa and from Europe. There will be women in hijab, in pants and in shorts.
As it should be. I was thrilled initially.  
Now, I am exhausted.
I am drained from the process. I lost time away from the sport I have know and identified with since I was a very young child.
It was a part of my identity. It was a part of my routine. It was a part of my life.
I have written and opined about FIFA’s stance. I have shared pictures of radiating women who love the game and who defy cultural norms to enjoy it. Those connected and inspired by it.
Got this beautiful picture from Lela Ahmadzai’s website.   This particular image makes me incredibly happy. My mother always taught me I could “be anyone and play anything”.   I hope young women all over the world hear that message at some point in their lives.  It doesn’t have to be football. It can be something they love and something they crave. Women’s Advocacy, Sport, Environmentalism, Hobbies but something. So that they know, and the world understands, that everyone has a contribution to make.  Women need that chance. And that encouragement.   Lela has captured the resilience and passion of the women in Afghanistan and their love for the beautiful game.  Do check out her amazing work: http://www.ahmadzai.eu/en/allgemein-en/a-wmans-goal  I watch this short film a lot. It reminds me of my privilege. I am very aware of my ability to play safely and teach my daughter the same.   I have posted it and will continue to post it again. And again. And Again.
And those who risk their lives to play it.
What I did not say was how I suffered from sheer resentment and difficulty when I was not allowed to compete. 
I am allowing myself to say it now. 
I longed for the the thrill of the sprint, and the rush of the challenge.
And the goal. The beautiful goal.
I even craved the hit of the post or the uncontrolled shot that went wide. 
I missed it desperately.
But I chose to cover for personal reasons and told myself my connection to my Creator was stronger than my connection to football.
What I didn’t recognize was those two connections were not mutually exclusive. 
I understand the anger and frustration of women who were told “NO”.Who were told “NO” by an organization that is supposed to create opportunity and advocate for the Beautiful Game.
I started wearing hijab in 1997. I played my last season in the fall. I was told I had to either “take it off on the pitch” or “wait until I was ready to commit fully to the rules of the game”.
There was no specific law against (that would come in 2007) it but nothing allowing it either.
I walked away from the pitch.
My heart broke. But I quickly wiped my angry tears with my hijab. It provided me tight comfort and strength against this sporting injustice.
I played pick-up. I played at picnics. At family gatherings. I played at any opportunity. I played against my husband. I played with my children.
But I was used to playing in leagues, in matches with referees and full of politics and drama. 
I remember watching one of my heroes, Zinedine Zidane hoist the World Cup over his head in glory in 1998.
It was the first summer I did not play.
His victory as a Frenchman of Muslim-Algerian descent was bittersweet for me. He was of my faith. But he was playing.
I practice his roulette anyway. Just in case I might need it someday.
Life went on. I cheered, I watched and I fooled around with a ball. I did not play regularly. 
After what seemed like several lifetimes, I found a league that would accept me. 
I went back hesitant and I went back happily.
I tasted the joy in the sweat rolling down my face.
I loved it. I stayed for years and then I found the courage to venture out and challenge this.
I found a club that agreed.
And I remember what I always knew: I was a footballer who wore hijab.
Not a hijab-wearing woman who played football.
Fast forward to 2014 when Jerome Valcke announced: "It was decided that female players can cover their heads to play". 
Muslim women *could* always play.
Now they are *permitted*.
How can I laud FIFA for striking down a law that should have never been implemented in the first place?
How can I be grateful for someone allowing me to do what I should ahve always been allowed do?
Why was I made to choose?
How can you choose between your heart and soul?
Thank God my daughter won’t have to face that choice.
Someone pointed this out to me: “funny how the west tells us that hijab is oppressive yet they use it to oppress hijabis by banning them from playing sports”.
That isn’t funny. It is horrible. 
Last year, I was sidelined from football due to what turned out to be a full blowout of my ACL . Being ripped away from the game in this manner was painful. But it was of my volition. I was injured in a match, while in play. My choice.
Being ripped from the game because a lot of white, privileged men decided it was dangerous for me and the sport was torturous. Their choice.
And it was unfair.
So, today I am not “happy”. I am disappointed that I lost time and energy.
My joy is tapered with simple relief. 
In future, I will not let it ruin other childhoods and affect and exclude people.
Football is for all of us.
It should always have been.

Source: http://footybedsheets.tumblr.com/post/78519986470/my-thoughts-hijab-on-the-pitch


This MMA Fighter Is Asian, Female and Muslim

In the first round of her professional mixed-martial-arts (MMA) debut, Malaysia’s Ann Osman took close to 30 knees to the midsection from her opponent, Singapore’s Sherilyn Lim.
“You’ve broken her!” Lim’s trainer could be heard shouting, as Lim leaned against the cage of the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
In the second and third rounds, Osman took more devastating knee and head strikes, but responded with knees of her own along with takedowns and crushing ground and pound. Both fighters were unloading whopping lefts and straight rights as the final bell rang. But after 15 minutes of brawling, Lim’s hand was raised in a split-decision victory.
ONE Fighting Championship’s Total Domination event, held in October, was a disappointment for Osman, but “I definitely gave my best during the fight,” the Malaysian tells TIME.
And despite her defeat, the bout captured the public’s imagination. On March 14, following immense pressure from both fans and media, ONE FC, the largest MMA promotion in Asia, will host a rematch between Lim and Osman — only this time in Osman’s home country.
The fight, which will be broadcast in 28 different countries, will contain several firsts. This will be Osman’s first fight in front of her fellow Malaysians, and it will be the first time a female Muslim fighter has competed on the global stage in a country where the official religion is Islam.
“There’s an empowering element to women in Asia to see a strong, confident, fit female competing on a world scale, on a world stage, especially if you’re Muslim or if you’re from a Muslim country like Malaysia,” says ONE FC CEO Victor Cui.
Not many sports give women similar prestige as their male counterparts, but the growing prominence of female UFC stars such as Ronda Rousey, Liz Carmouche and Miesha Tate has almost given MMA that distinction. And with the meteoric rise of MMA in Asia, ever more women are taking up the sport, and breaking fresh ground as they do.
“Having a female fight in a Muslim country like Malaysia is going to be a first,” says Cui. “There’s a huge cultural implication.”
Malaysia may not be Saudi Arabia or Iran, but religious conservatism is increasingly prevalent there. In October, the country’s courts ruled that only Muslims have the legal right to use the word Allah, sparking fierce protests from the nation’s Christian minority, who have longed used the same word for God.
Nevertheless, Osman, 27, says she has never felt ostracized because of her gender or decision to push boundaries. “I’m fortunate to not have felt any of that pressure about me being Muslim and a female MMA fighter at the same time,” says the Sabah native. “I’m very fortunate to have the support from everyone I know.”
According to Malaysian MMA pioneer Melvin Yeoh, Osman’s acceptance comes from both ONE FC’s assertive marketing in tandem with MMA’s official recognition by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, one of three sports to have the state’s blessing.

One Fighting Championship - Total Domination: Weigh In
Ann Osman of Malaysia poses on the scale during the official weigh-in for her bout against Sherilyn Lim of Singapore ahead of the One Fighting Championship bout in Singapore on Oct. 17, 2013
“She’s a Muslim and people saw what she can do and then they thought, this we can also do,” says Yeoh.
While only 10 or so women trained at Yeoh’s fighting camp in Johor Bahru throughout 2013, in the wake of Osman’s October bout and the hype surrounding the upcoming rematch, interest in MMA from female athletes has snowballed. In January alone, he saw more than 20 women sign up.
According to Cui, it’s emphasizing narratives like Osman’s and playing off historical geopolitical rivalries like the one that exists between Singapore and Malaysia that is essential to MMA sinking deep roots into emerging Asian markets. “It’s Malaysia vs. Singapore, and those guys have a very, very extremely heated competition,” he says.
When ONE FC started investing in Malaysia in earnest two years ago there were only a handful of MMA gyms. Fast-forward to 2014, and there are now more than 30 operating in the capital Kuala Lumpur. This only adds to the competition between the nations. Singapore currently has around 10 fighting gyms.
“Singapore says they have better fighters, Malaysia says they have better fighters, so it’s a never-ending debate,” explains Yeoh.
But it’s not just regional rivalry that is stoking anticipation, as these women can actually fight. MMA blog Bloody Elbow nominated the third round of their previous encounter for the site’s “Round of the Year” for 2013.
For Osman, though, there’s only one prize in her sights. “I am definitely taking home the win in front of my hometown crowd,” she says. “First-round knockout!”

TIME.com http://keepingscore.blogs.time.com/2014/03/04/muslim-female-mma-fighter-ann-osman/#ixzz2v2VIwl6J