Farmington Hills, MI–Rahaf Khatib of Farmington Hills is a marathon runner who is competing to become the first Muslim woman in hijab on the cover of Runner’s World Magazine.
Khatib came across an ad while reading Runner’s World Magazine. The publication was looking for one male and one female runner to be featured on the cover of its December 2015 issue. Never before has a hijabi been on the cover, so Khatib thought to herself, “why can’t it be me?” “I run with soul and heart. I run with my head held high even when I’m being started at. I’ve found that is the best propagation of the faith I could give my beautiful religion. Being at marathons while covered is a message I am physically carrying to everyone,” said Khatib.
Khatib entered her photo, answered a few questions, and since this contest is based on votes from the general public, she began to drum up any exposure she could get. There are links to support her on her Facebook and Twitter pages, or just by going to http://bit.ly/1Cp4NMy. “It literally takes 5 second to vote, and you can vote up to once a day,” Khatib said.
Her goal to make it to the top 10 by August. Currently, she is ranked 12. After July 22, Runner’s World will choose the top 100 out of the 800 plus semi-finalists. From there they will choose the top 10. Launched in 1966, Runner’s World is the top magazine for runners worldwide. Their magazine and online forum provides advice and motivates runners of all ages and abilities.
Khatib was always active in her general workout routines, as well as in the PTO of her three kid’s schools. This stay-at-home mom kept this schedule up for 10 years. Then, in 2012, while volunteering at an activity day at her son’s school, his PE Teacher told Khatib about a 10K Marathon that some of the parents and teachers at the school were participating in, and encouraged her to join. It was a 10K, six-mile run that just happens to be in the same city she grew up in, Dearborn, MI. “After crossing the finish line, I knew I was hooked! So I signed up and completed the half marathon (13.1 miles) the year after at that very same race,” said Khatib.
The following year, Khatib completed her first full marathon at the iconic Detroit Free Press Marathon, a 26.2-mile run. “What I hope to accomplish is a few more marathons and triathlons insha-Allah, if God wills. I also hope to inspire many stay-at-home moms, and hijabi/Muslim females to get fit and active no matter what the sport of choice is, just get moving,” added Khatib.
This is the drive that pushes Khatib, to be a positive role model and influence not only for her children, but also for the local community, and Muslim females at large. When at any typical marathon crowd, Khatib says that she is usually one or two of the Muslim women there in hijab, out of the roughly 10,000 people. She says that this is a way for her to give a positive image for all Muslim women, “hijabis should get more involved, whether it may be running, or like Amanda Saab of Master Chef – just try your best and get out there,” Khatib said.
ISNA is one of North America’s largest conventions for Muslims of all cultural backgrounds living in the west. The organizers of their Detroit convention last year approached Khatib to work together to plan the first ever ISNA 5K run. It took place on the Detroit River Walk and was said to be one of the highlights of that year’s convention.
Last April was the well-known Le Marathon De Paris, a race that draws in crowds from all over the world. Khatib was one of those, and even encouraged her husband to join in on the run. She got her whole family into running, including her 10-year-old son who also has a couple of medals to proudly show off. A local mosque even joined in by creating a running club.
Khatib says that training for a marathon is 50% mental and 50% physical, and feels that it’s the same for the hijab she feels. “Its mind over matter … You can’t have one without the other. I hope to inspire other hijabi females to pursue their dreams,” Khatib said.