|Born||November 11, 1990
|Education||Memphis University, Indiana State University|
|Alma mater||New Leadership Charter School (Springfield, MA)|
|Height||5 ft 4 in (163 cm)|
|Weight||140 lb (64 kg)|
Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir (born 11 November 1990) is a female Muslim American collegiate basketball player for the University of Memphis. She began playing varsity basketball in high school when she was an eighth grader and played for five years. She is notable for playing basketball while being completely covered showing no skin, except for her hands, and while wearing a hijab - a head-dress for Muslim women.
Not only is she successful on the court, but she is also successful in the classroom, in which she is an honor student. She had a very successful high school career, scoring over 3000 points, breaking both male and female scoring records in Massachusetts. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in health and human performance/exercise science from the University of Memphis.
She finished up her college basketball career at Indiana State University, where she is currently the Graduate Assistant with Indiana State's Women's Basketball team and is completing her master's degree in coaching.
Early life and high school career
Bilqis was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on November 11, 1990, to Tariq and Alooah Abdul-Qaadir. Her brother Yusuf Abdul-Ali also had a successful basketball career where he played at Bentley College and helped lead his school to two NCAA Division II final four appearances. Bilqis attended New Leadership Charter School.
She began playing varsity basketball in the 8th grade at New Leadership Charter School where she recently visited once again to speak to this years eighth grade. She not only played there but started as well. As a freshman in high school, Bilqis scored her 1,000th point, being the only freshman in Massachusetts history since Rebecca Lobo and Kelsey O'Keefe to do so. As a senior in High school, she scored 3,070, surpassing Lobo's previous record of 2,740 points. Lobo began her varsity career in the 7th grade whereas Bilqis started in 8th grade, which gave Lobo an extra year and yet Bilqis still managed to surpass Lobo's scoring record.
In her final game in high school, Bilqis scored 51 of her team's 56 points in a regional loss. She also graduated New Leadership Charter School as an honor student.
From a young age, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir knew she wanted basketball to be a part of her life. After first picking up a ball at the age of four at a local YMCA, Bilqis’ love for the game grew. Growing up in a practicing Muslim household, Bilqis was to follow her religious beliefs as she grew older. She began wearing a hijab, a traditional head covering for Muslim women, and practiced modesty on the court by covering all skin except her hands.
She became a standout at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Mass. where she excelled on the court and in the classroom. The school’s valedictorian, Bilqis set the Massachusetts state record for both boys and girls, with 3,070 points scored – breaking Connecticut and WNBA star Rebecca Lobo’s previous state record of 2,740. She was also named the state’s 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American nominee. Her skills transitioned into a full ride scholarship to the University of Memphis where she played four years (2009–13) and graduated with magna cum laude with a degree in exercise science. During her freshman year at Memphis, she was invited to the White House for Ramadan feast and was acknowledged by President Barack Obama for being the first Muslim woman to play covered in collegiate basketball.
In 2011, Bilqis was awarded the United States Basketball Writers Association “Most Courageous” award at the NCAA Women’s Final Four for being recognized as the first Muslim woman to play covered in NCAA history. Bilqis battled through a torn ACL during her freshman season and wrapped up her time as a Tiger in 2013. Using her extra year of NCAA eligibility, Bilqis transferred to Indiana State where she led the Sycamores to a Missouri Valley Conference title on her way to becoming the league’s Newcomer of the Year. She ranks 10th all-time in a single season for points scored (454), was also named First Team All-MVC, Second Team Scholar Athlete and earned a combined seven conference Player, Newcomer and Scholar Athlete of the Week awards.
Her hopes were to continue playing professionally in Europe, but were quickly diminished when she was informed of the rule from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) that prohibits head gear larger than five inches. Unwilling to stray in her beliefs, Bilqis has stood up to the international rules, petitioning to the league for an exemption to the rule. Without any success, Bilqis has had to put her dreams of playing professionally aside as she works to now pave a way for other Muslim women in sports. She has started an online campaign called “Muslim Girls Hoop Too” to raise awareness for Muslim women in sports with emphasis on female basketball players. Through her campaign, Bilqis was once again invited to the White House in March 2015 for the Muslim Leaders Meeting as one of 15 representatives that met with President Obama and his senior officials. That experience led her to an invitation to the 2015 White House Easter Egg Roll where she was able to raise awareness for physical activity under the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign.
After finishing her master's degree in May 2015 at Indiana State, Bilqis looks to continue inspiring young Muslim women by starting her own non-profit organization under the name “Muslim Girls Hoop Too.” In its beginning phase, Bilqis hopes to use the organization to travel the world to empower young women to stay true to themselves while using physical activity and basketball as a platform.
Bilqis signed with the University of Memphis after her senior season. Due to her name being hard to pronounce, the team called her by her nickname Qisi in order to make calling her name quicker and more effective.
As a freshman, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (a major ligament in the knee) in the preseason and had to be red-shirted for the 2009–2010 season. The following 2010–2011 season she played in 34 games and averaged 3.9 points per game and 1.3 rebounds per game. Her freshman season marked the first time in NCAA history that a player played in a hijab, which is a traditional Muslim headdress.
In her 2011–2012 season, Bilqis upped her scoring from 3.9 to 7.8 points per game and became the third Tiger point guard to record over 100 assists in a single season. She set a team record by making 26 consecutive free throws in the regular season.
In the 2012–2013 season, she only played in 25 games, due to breaking her wrist early in the season. She averaged 10.6 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game. She was very successful in class as well, being awarded numerous academic honors.
Bilqis graduated from the University of Memphis and used her final season of eligibility at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. Bilqis adopted the nickname, "Qisi" and continued her outstanding play with her new team, the Sycamores, being named Conference Outstanding Newcomer of the 2013-2014 season.
In the 2014-2015 season, Bilqis works as Graduate Assistant on the Women's Basketball staff.
- 2009 Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year
- Western Massachusetts Player of the Year
- Boston Globe All-Dream Team
- Massachusetts Scoring Record
- ESPN High School National Honor Roll
- Graduated first in her class
- C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll (2010, 2011, 2012)
- Tiger 3.0 Club (2009, 2010. 2011, Fall 2012)
- Dean's List (Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2012)
- C-USA Academic Medalist (2010)
- C-USA All-Academic Team (2013)
In 2009 Bilqis was invited to the White House by President Barack Obama, to break the day-long fast of a traditional Muslim holiday of soul-searching and reflection. The president spoke about how much of an inspiration Bilqis was, due to her being an honor student as well as an athlete, and how she was not only an inspiration to Muslim girls but an inspiration to everyone in the world today.
He also joked and said how he wanted to play her in a game of 1-on-1.
In attendance were multiple ambassadors as well as the Defense Secretary and Attorney General.
Closed-door White House meeting
- Muslim women in sport
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