The Miss World pageant, like other beauty pageants, had drawn its fair share of criticisms from those that come from nearly all walks of life. Backlash against the immodesty, sexism, and other troubles likewise associated with the display. Some of the most vocal opponents have been those from the Muslim community, particularly the more conservative sects, who have labeled the show “smut” and “an affront to Islamic morals.” Enter the solution; the Miss World Muslimah Pageant.
The World Muslimah Foundation holds this pageant annually, and this is its third year running. The pageant is only open to Muslim women, and while the glitz, glamour, and general fabulousity that comes with the Miss World pageant was present at this event, as well, there was also a strong emphasis on piety, modesty, and religious knowledge. Clontestents were clothed in beautiful, long, loose-fitting gowns and head scarves, with smiling faces, dolled up hands, and fabulous stilettos the only visible sources of skin.
This is the first year that the pageant has directly competed for visibility and air time with Miss World, and it has competed pretty well. According to pageant founder Eka Shanti, “Muslimah World is a beauty pageant, but the requirements are very different from Miss World. You have to be pious, be a positive role model and show how you balance a life of spirituality in today’s modernized world.” She went on to clear up any misunderstandings that might be present in concern to animosity towards the Miss World pageant, saying, “People think we are against Miss World. What we’re against is nudity. For the sake of education, I want to give another example.”
In the face of the disgusting, racist backlash against Miss America winner Nina Davuluri, seeing a pageant devoted entirely to women of both cultural and religious minority is an awesome and refreshing thing. Despite religious differences, and putting extremes aside, it is undeniably a good thing that there is at least some kind of alternative to Miss World and Miss America-esque pageants that aims to peddle good will and generosity as valuable assets, rather than just how good one looks in a bikini.
Image courtesy of the official Miss World Muslimah Organization Facebook page.