This story begins with an innocent question posed by two young sisters to their parents: Mom, can we also go with our brother to the swim class? Maria and her sister, like their other classmates, are eager to learn to swim. Their mother is quick to respond: No! You can’t go! Muslim women follow the Islamic guidelines for dress code and you cannot practice that during the swimming classes.
Maria’s parents later approach Salman and Huma, who are arranging classes for their sons and their friends. The plan is to have a swimming class at the Triangle Aquatic Center for a group of Muslim boys. Maria’s parents would like to explore the possibility for Muslim women classes. Salman and Huma discuss the possibility with the Program Manager at the Triangle Aquatic Center, Doracy Harrison, who promises to discuss the issue at the management meeting.
Later Doracy contacts Salman and Huma and informs them that the management is keen on helping the Muslim community. Salman and Huma inspect the facility and select the pool where they feel Muslim women can best learn to swim in an Islamic, Shariah-compliant environment. According to the Shariah guidelines (Islamic law derived from authentic Islamic texts), Muslim women should not be without Hijab (hair covering and modest clothing) among men who are not related to them. The selected pool has eight windows looking on the other side of the pool where many swimmers will be present. This problem is resolved by covering the windows with large shades. Doracy contacts the shades vendor and is learns that they cost $3000. Doracy informs Salman and Huma that, due to the current financial situation, the Triangle Aquatic Center will not be able to cover the cost of the shades. At that moment, Salman and Huma begin to think that they have no other option but to drop the idea. Realizing the situation, they decide to contact the Muslim community in the Cary and Raleigh area. They are pleasantly surprised to find that the idea appeals to the Muslim community, including the Imams (scholarly figureheads) of the mosques in Raleigh and Cary. People quickly start sending checks, ranging from $20 to $500, to cover the cost of the shades. Even individuals and families who do not intend on participating in the class find an opportunity to contribute, with the intention of giving for Sadaqat-ul-Jaaria (a form of charity that continues to benefit people over time and rewards the original donor even after their death). When the Triangle Aquatic Center sees the tremendous support, they start registration – and within days, more than thirty women are registered. Doracy makes special arrangements to schedule only female instructors and life guards during the classes.
This story gives a message to the Muslim community that they can live their lives according to Islamic Shariah in a modern western country without compromising their faith. All it takes is dialog to make it happen. The Muslim community is growing and it makes sense for business and service providers to accommodate for the needs of this growing portion of the community.