A Burqini™ is a piece of swimwear which is designed to meet the stipulations of appropriate wear for Muslim women. These standards are collectively known as Hijab, and many modest Muslim women comply with them as an expression of religious faith. The development of the Burqini™ represented a major breakthrough for female Muslim athletes, who had previously struggled with appropriate sportswear. The Australian-based manufacturer of the Burqini™ is also working on other pieces of Muslim sportswear, designed so that Muslim women can actively participate in a wide range of sports.
The standards of Hijab are sometimes difficult for non-Muslims to understand. Essentially, Hijab dictates modest dress for Muslim women, who are expected to keep their hair and chests covered while in public. Women are also supposed to wear loose fitting clothing, and many also cover their legs and arms for additional modesty. Hijab is worn in various ways in various nations, from the Afghan burqa which covers the whole body to more casual headscarves and modest blouses worn by Muslim women in other parts of the world.
Hijab may seem extremely restrictive to non-Muslims, but for Muslim women, it is an important part of their religious practice. Active Muslim women have struggled with Hijab for decades, since the loose fitting, modest garments required can be a liability in sportswear, and non-Muslim opponents have mocked or taunted female Muslim sports teams for their modest uniforms. Aheda Zanetti, a Lebanese Muslim living in Australia, realized that she could fill a niche in the sportswear market by creating Muslim sportswear. She wanted to promote participation in sports for Muslim women, to keep them healthy, active, and fit. One of her first contributions to the market was the Burqini™, manufactured by Ahiida Sportswear, the company she founded to produce and market the Burqini™. The Burqini™ can also be worn by modest religious women of other faiths, or by women who might have other reasons to want to cover up.
In accordance with the restrictions of Hijab, the two-piece Burqini™ fits the wearer loosely, while still allowing her to move freely. The garment is made from a thick material which will not turn translucent when wet, and it includes a hood to cover the hair and a tunic which extends partway down the thighs, along with a set of matching swim pants. The Burqini™ is designed with the same state of the art materials used in other high-end swimwear, and it comes in a range of colors from basic black to pastel shades.
The development of the Burqini™ was hailed by modest Muslim women around the world, since it allowed them to swim freely and comfortably, without wearing heavy clothing or improvised Hijab. The Burqini™ attracted international headlines in 2006, when several Muslim women qualified as lifeguards in Australia and wore their Burqinis™ on the job, demonstrating that the garment could be worn exactly like a regular swimsuit.