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Islam, Hijab and Young Shia Muslim Canadian Women’s Discursive Constructions of Physical Activity

This article focuses on the results of a study exploring young Shia Muslim Canadian women’s discursive constructions of physical activity in relation to Islam and the Hijab. The aims of the study were primarily informed by feminist poststructuralist and postcolonial theories. Poststructuralist discourse analysis was used to analyze the transcripts of conversations with 10 young Hijab-wearing Shia Muslim Canadian women. The results show that the participants discursively constructed physical activity in terms of being physically active (involved in fitness activities rather than sport), feeling good about themselves (i.e., being physically and mentally healthy), and losing weight or remaining “not fat.” The participants mentioned that they would choose Islam over physical activity if they had to make a choice between the two. Participants strongly resisted the Islamophobic discourse present in Canada, and appropriated an intersectional discourse that legitimates their refusal to choose between their right to religious freedom and their right to physical activity.