Home > Blog > 5 Must-Know Self Defense Tips for Muslim Women

It seems that every few days, an unfortunate hate crime against Muslims is once again reported in the media, making safety for Muslims – and particularly for Muslim women – a very real concern. These Islamophobes tend to target Muslim WOMEN more than men because of their vulnerability and the ease with which the can be identified. When we read about these chilling events, many of us respond with sympathy for the victims and deep concern for our Muslim brothers and sisters around the globe. However, it is vital that Muslim women also consider these racist attacks as a personal wakeup call. Use these 5 essential self defense tips to stay safe, sisters.

  1. Mental Preparation is Key — STAY ALERT and AWARE.

The Globe and Mail reports that “Anti-Muslim crimes have been on the rise in Canada for the last few years. Several Muslim Canadians said Tuesday that, despite the events of this week, such incidents still feel rare.”

However, we must understand that rare events CAN happen to any one of us in order to be prepared and ensure our own safety. Ask yourself the question: Do YOU know what you would do if you found yourself face to face with one or more attackers screaming racist profanities at your face, and charging towards you? By mentally preparing yourself NOW, you can reduce the effects of fear paralysis and shock in the unfortunate event of an attack. If you are completely confident that your daily walking routes are “safe”, you may drop your guard and become a more likely target for attack.

Being ALERT is not just a verbal warning that your mother calls at your back as you leave the front door. Being alert is ACTIONABLE. Do NOT lose focus when you are by yourself in public places, EVEN if there are other civilians around you.

Do not chat on your phone, check text messages or plug in your headphones while you are walking, standing in line, waiting for the bus, or sitting in a train or in the subway. Even if your headphones are hidden under your hijab and no one can see them, they can distract you from your environment.

PAY ATTENTION to the people and places around you. Walk wide and away from building corners and dark areas to avoid a surprise attack – even in broad daylight. Scan the streets in front of you and the people walking towards you. Always gravitate to areas in which there are larger groups of people and walk at a fast pace with confidence and caution. Ideally try to always travel with a partner or in a group. Do not look distracted, absent or idle. If you are aware, you not only identify potentially dangerous situations and avoid them, but you also make yourself a less convenient target.

hijab textIOU

Don’t be distracted – you never know what danger you could be missing! 

  1. Be hyper-vigilant for how you look and dress as a target.

Imagine how you might appear to a violent and racist person on the street who hates Muslims. Even if an attack is not premeditated, if a hateful person sees a Muslim woman who could make a convenient target, they may be motivated to attack.

While you are dressing yourself in the morning, pause and think, “Are these clothes comfortable enough to allow me to suddenly run if I need to?”

Your choice of footwear is particularly important. If you are tiptoeing on narrow, uncomfortable shoes, your means of an explosive escape from potential attackers is slowed. Try to avoid high heels because you could roll your ankle while trying to run. Many women wear also loose flats that slip off your feet with every step you take. These make running difficult and could trip you if you need to escape. Winter is coming, so it should be easy to go for close-toed, fitted shoes that can move easily with your feet in an emergency. Save your fancier shoes for later, ladies. Keep your feet comfortable and mobile while in public.

  1. Always keep your eyes in front of you. Remain mobile and unhindered in public.

If you are shuffling through your purse or backpack, your head is down and you are not alert. These brief moments of inattention to your surroundings may be enough to make you a target.

If your hands are full of bulging grocery bags, your movements and reaction times are slowed, and you become a more convenient target for attack. Try not to carry large tote bags or purses, which are convenient items for attackers to grab onto and yank you off balance. Carrying bulky or heavy items that reduce your mobility may motivate an attack from a hateful person.

If you have a lot of groceries to buy or need to carry a lot of items, take a friend or take a car. For students especially – do not walk home from your local convenience store lugging several bags of food with you. ALWAYS stay mobile and keep your arms and hands accessible.

Stay vigilant at all times to avoid danger!

  1. ESCAPE is the best defense

If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, never try to “win” against your opponent. Your focus is to protect your life, and the most reliable way to do this is to escape your attacker. If you feel threatened, exit the area by initially running as fast as possible, preferably to a safe, well-populated and safe public area. Get away from from moving vehicles that you could be pushed into. Focus on CREATING DISTANCE and ATTRACTING ATTENTION. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself – attract attention of others by shouting for help if you feel endangered, or duck into a populated store, mall or restaurant.

Remember, remove yourself from the situation FIRST before calling the police or using your cellphone to communicate with anyone. Your first priority is to get yourself into an immediate safe-haven, and then coordinate how you will get home, next steps, etc. Make sure you are 100% safe from potential attackers before dropping your attention to your phone to call for help.

  1. AVOIDING the situation is the best defense.

If you find yourself cornered in an attack, execute a SIMPLE defensive STRIKE using your BODY WEIGHT to create an OPPORTUNITY TO ESCAPE. Many people think that in an attack, you should focus on defending yourself or blocking your attacker’s moves. What do the pros recommend you do to defend yourself? Tim Larkin, founder & creator of Target Focus Training,  is a world leader in personal-protection training and author of “How to Survive the Most Critical 5 Seconds of Your Life”. He explains why in any attack situation, you really only have 5 seconds to respond to save your life. And the best thing you can do to protect yourself is cause a FAST, SIMPLE INJURY so you can ESCAPE:

Many self-defense classes teach you to react to an attacker’s actions. This defensive thinking can make you hesitate (“What is he going to do to me?”), lose focus (waiting to get hurt makes most people freeze), and ultimately be one step behind the attacker.

If you’re in danger, you need to throw all your weight into a single target, or “strike.”

IF you are cornered with no means of escape, be prepared to make one SIMPLE, EFFECTIVE defensive strike and then run as fast as you can. You don’t have time for any fancy techniques or precision! Aim for the eyes, nose, throat or groin. The objective is NOT to just cause some pain to the attacker – the objective is the INJURE the attacker momentarily and create an opportunity for you to RUN and ESCAPE. You want to throw your body weight behind your attack and connect with their body using an elbow or knee to create your opening to escape with your life. Your elbow is one of the hardest parts of your body to use to protect yourself. Leverage your weight no matter how small you are to concentrating your strike in one area, and get away while your attacker is momentarily incapacitated.


Always look for your opportunity to ESCAPE. If there is no opportunity, create it.

BONUS TIP: Realize That Being Active & Fit Can Save Your Life

We all know that running away from a dangerous situation is the best defense.

According to the National Council on Strength and Fitness, “the average man can run about 15 mph for short periods”.

In an emergency, do you have the cardiac capacity to be able to escape from an attacker? And, do you have the endurance to be able to make it away from a dangerous situation into a safer location?

Dear sisters, of course, avoidance is the best way to keep yourself safe. Always travel in groups and avoid dangerous areas. Remember your adkhaar in the mornings and evenings. However, it is just as important to maintain your body to ensure that if you need to escape from danger, you are physically able to do so.

Strengthening your heart through aerobic activities will improve your ability to run and escape danger. Spending just a few minutes a day doing effective, well-planned exercises will increase your endurance and stamina no matter how young or old you are, so you are better able to defend yourself and escape from any situation, inshaAllah.

Even if you don’t love to run, you can still build up your endurance with some of my favorite at-home cardio aerobic exercises! Click here to download a FREE exercise guide from Amanah Fitness with 10 cardio exercises you can do ANYWHERE without ANY equipment. Practice these exercises regularly to improve your cardiac capacity, endurance, and stamina, to prepare yourself before you ever need to use any of the tips in this guide, inshaAllah.     

It is times like this, we find comfort in the words of AllahSWT:

“Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light.” (Baqarah: 257)

 Are there any more tips you would like to share? Please post them in the comments section below. 🙂

About the Author

Amina Khan is a CANfit-PRO Certified Group Fitness Instructor Specialist and Founder of Amanah Fitness. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Health Psychology. Her mission is to help others improve their health, via physical exercise and nutrition programs that are practical and life-changing. Amina’s goal is to spread the message that physical health is a component of enhanced spiritual health and a part of being a Muslim. She hopes to create a mass movement towards a healthier Ummah, inshAllah. Click HERE to learn more about the Amanah Fitness ONLINE Self-Defense for Muslim Women course! 



You may also like
Showing Kindness to non-Muslims in an Era of Islamophobia
Islamophobia: What, How and Why-Part 3
Islamophobia: What, How and Why-Part 2
Islamophobia: What, How and Why – Part 1

41 Responses

  1. deathsilence55@gmail.com'

    Aslamoalikum wr wb sister!
    This article is actually very awsoume,informative and benifical.
    Jazak’Allah for sharing =)

  2. abdulkarimyussif54@gmail.com'

    I am a guy but after going through all what our sister Amina has written, they are very good ways to avoid anything dangerous to happen to our lovely muslim ladies. May Allah protect you all and us tooo. Ameeen thumma Ameen.

  3. sayeeda65@gmail.com'

    Jzk allahu khair for a v informative article on self defence. It is a wake up call for me not to b complacent and to b aware of my surrounding. I’ll endeavour to make myself fit which I am not at this precise moment due to a bad ankle.

    1. ALhamdulillah, a wake up call for all of us inshAllah! Remember that there is a lot we can do to always improve our fitness even without our feet – in the meantime while your ankle heals iA! Core work and upper body strengthening are great examples! 🙂
      – Amina

    1. Interestingly, It seems that pepper spray does not work on everyone! Also, digging through your bag to look for pepper spray may distract you from the situation around you! Vigilance always inshAllah… 🙂

  4. deiyaa@hotmail.com'

    I’m a blue belt in gjj . And the first thing we learn is to avoid fight at all cost . There is telling what ur attacker might do . I also help teach wwomen how t defond themselves in case attached. Sisters when u Walk walk with confidence. An attacker is looking for a weak target . I ask Allah sw t protect all my sisters

  5. asifa25@yahoo.com'
    Asifa Salehmohamed

    Assalamualeikum warrahmatullahi wabarakatuhu. Jazaka Allah for the very informative nd educative self defense technic lessons. It’s a must read nd learn for us ladies very true.

  6. rosidah.nordin@gmail.com'
    Rose Nordin

    Assalamualaikum sister Amina. Thanks for the useful tips. My daughter is studying in the UK n I do worry about her safety as wearing a hijab makes her identifiable as a Muslim. I always advise her to go about in groups but sometimes it is unavoidable for her to walk/cycle alone. She has a personal alarm with her which I hope she still carries whenever she’s out. I’ll share your article with her. May Allah bless you always.

  7. drjamshedkhan019@yahoo.com'
    Jamshed Khan

    Sir whenever I do gym (usually ) or travel , I always Listen your great lecture, May Allah Accept your great Deeds and protect you from any trouble (Aameen ) Special Duas for me from China ❤️❤️

  8. Lrwebb82@gmail.com'
    Leslie Henderson

    Be careful out there. Wlahy I’ve always been immune to it I guess maybe because of my easy nature, and manners. But today an elderly lady looked at me with a look that could have killed me of course I smiled. As I walked passed her in the aisle she whispered to me you were in Paris I know you were. Wlahy didn’t know whether to stop and talk or keep walking and ignore I’m usually a social butterfly but she scared me. I hope I made the right decision and Allah forgives me if I did something wrong.

  9. abdullahibinabdillah@yahoo.com'
    Abdullahi Abdullahi Ginya

    Assalamu alaykum.
    Reading articles like this make me come to terms with what brothers and sisters go through in the West. It re-enforces the respect I have for their smart/small hijabs over the full, head-to-toe hijab of our sisters here. For, it is easy to wear a niqaab in Nigeria than to wear a smart hijab in US, UK, France or Canada. I am particularly impressed that dropping the hijab is an option to you. Only Allah knows the amount of rewards that will pile up in your accounts when hijab finally gets integrated into that society and everybody wears it.

  10. k@kmonsoor.com'

    May be i am sounding a little rude, a simple but very effective strike everyone missed. With the price of my vanity, i need to mention it.
    Whenever you(brother/sister) are attacked by a *man*, just hit his balls with your feet if you wearing strong footwear, or with your right knee. if you’re quite short than him, go for a strong punch there. Add a scream with that.

    It will make him immobilize for at least couple of minutes, enough to run away. This technique gonna work 100% of the time, unless the attacker is a shaolin fighter.

    However, best strategy is to make ALLAH to be with you by the duas HIS messenger(p.b.u.h) taught.

  11. kareemamunoz@yahoo.com'
    Kareema Munoz

    Jazzakum Allahu Khairan, thank you for sharing this useful tips. inshAllah this will be a good protection to everyone not only to the women.

  12. bashkasiyad2@gmail.com'

    Jazakuullahu kheyr to those who prepared/shared this wonderful article… I appreciate for it and i am going to #share with all my Muslim brothers and sisters around the world. May ALLAH bless and protect each and every innocent civilians around the world… Ameen.

  13. umartaitt@yahoo.co.uk'

    I’m a 6-ft 2 black male and have boxed for the past 30 years (from amateur to world title level) I’m also an Orange belt in Judo and skilled in Ju Jitsu. In spite of all of this the most important self defence I do daily is the dua for morning and evening, plus the ones for leaving the home. It’s so sad to see articles failing to point out ‘rememberance of Allah’ is the number one form of self defence . Ya Allah! 🙁

  14. umartaitt@yahoo.co.uk'

    We cant be bothered to learn our dua for daily protection but think we’ll be the next Jackie Chan with a few lessons. haha ain’t gonna happen. True Tawakul (trust in Allah) comes form doing those things the prophet (s) said would lead to our protection (physical and spiritual) number 1 being remembrance of Allah. Wake up people!

  15. umartaitt@yahoo.co.uk'

    Go to http://www.meccanperiod.com and print off beautifully designed posters (free of charge) place them at the front door or by a child’s bed (so many parents don’t know the dua to protect their children)

    If your native language is English and you want to improve your prayer go to http://www.meccanperiod.com then click on the link, 5 tips on salah (IMHO this is the best khushoo teaching recording in the world for English speakers)

  16. mnubee@gmail.com'

    As salaam alaikum sister,

    Thanks for the advice to our sisters. There’s one point in your article I’d like to bring to my brothers attention: the Muslim woman is “more easily identifiable”. Brothers, why is that? Why are our women more easily identifiable as Muslims? We brothers should be just as identifiable, letting our beards grow, wearing a koofi, a long shirt, thoub loose fitting clothing, etc. I’m amazed to sometimes see a brother walking with his wife in perfect hijab (and sometinmes niqab) while the husband looks like a typical non-Muslim!!! Nothing Islamically identifaible.

    My brothers, we have to do better. Let’s not leave our sisters alone in this struggle against Islamiphobia. Man up.

  17. Pingback : 5 Must-Know Self Defense Tips for Muslim Women – IOU Blog | kokicat

Leave a Reply