By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The mother of three who runs marathons to inspire other Muslim American women has become the first hijab-wearing woman to appear on the cover of a fitness magazine.
Women’s Running magazine made Dearborn native Rahaf Khatib, 32, the cover star for its October 2016 issue.
“I hope I can serve as an inspiration for other hijab-wearing women,” she said.
The hijab is worn by Muslim women on their heads along with modest clothing that covers their bodies as part of the practice of Islam.
Khatib was born in Damascus, Syria, before being raised in Dearborn and now lives in Farmington Hills.
She graduated from Fordson High School and graduated from Wayne State University with a major in biology.
Khatib began running marathons in 2012 after she registered for the Martian Marathon in Dearborn after her son’s gym teacher talked her into participating.
After the 2012 marathon, Khatib has run in at least 13 marathons including full, half and triathlons.
“As a mother of three, I wanted to get out there more to give others wearing hijab someone to relate to,” she said. “The clothing we wear doesn’t have to limit our passions or dreams.”
In May 2015 she entered to win the Runners World Magazine Cover Contest for the chance to be on the cover of the December 2015 issue, but had no luck.
Fast-forward to 2016, when Khatib contacted the magazine in July after she saw that the Women’s Running magazine featured a transgender woman.
“I noticed that the magazine had people from a variety of cultural groups on the cover over the years,” she said. “I commented that I was happy they had a diverse group, but that they were missing representation of a group in America.”
Shortly after, Women’s Running magazine reached out to Khatib and the discussion to be on the October cover began.
The shoot took place in downtown Detroit where Khatib said she likes to spend time on the weekends with her family.
“Running the marathons and crossing the finish line gives me a rush,” she said. “Setting the goal to finish allows me to serve as an example for my children.”
Khatib uses her social media accounts, including her @runlikeahijabi Instagram where she has gained over 5,300 followers to share her story.
She started her Run Like a Hijabi blog in 2015 as a place to share moments in her life with more depth in posts she writes herself.
You can read her posts at www.runlikeahijabi.wordpress.com.
The issue is available for purchase on newsstands and stores throughout the month of October.
“Positive reactions from the magazine cover have been coming in from around the world,” Khatib said. “There has been some negative things said, but I chose not to focus on that and instead focus on breaking stereotypes.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)