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Beauty Pageants and Islam in America

Muslim Beauty Queen?Islam condemns such objectification of women and demands its followers show respect for women on the merit of their intelligence and manners. Instead, many are exhibiting a sense of pride in the fact that “one of our own” won a contest based on how a group of middle aged men scored her evening gown and her performance on a stage.

Muslim Beauty Queen?Muslim Americans have contributed immensely to the United States as doctors, teachers, lawyers, pharmacists, authors, scholars, public servants, and writers. Add to that ever growing list: beauty queens. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the media’s Cinderella story of Miss Michigan Rima Fakih, who is believed to be the first Muslim and Arab-American winner of the Miss USA pageant.

In the age of sensational media reporting coupled with a community severely conflicted with an ever more liberal identity, two sides are emerging in this lamentable prose presented by the media. There are two types of Muslims in the world according to the dichotomy. On one hand we have the supposedly educated Muslims, who are carrying the banner of a more inclusive and welcoming Islam, and on the other, there are the backward conservatives. You know, those same people who still believe in the Hijab and praying five times a day. Last time I checked, these were the basic tenets of Islam, and there is no such thing as “conservative” or “liberal” Muslims. These terms are thrown around by pseudo-intellectuals in who attempt to justify their deviation from Islamic teachings. We must have missed the memo that declared enjoining the good and forbidding the evil made someone a “backward conservative” who refused to assimilate into American society.

The problem is not necessarily Miss USA 2010. It’s very easy to disparage her for taking part in superficialities such as beauty pageants and acting in a manner that eliminates any self-respect and dignity. However, the impetus should be on us to remind our own community that beauty pageants are not an acceptable outlet for any woman to take part in. Islam condemns such objectification of women and demands its followers show respect for women on the merit of their intelligence and manners. Instead, many are exhibiting a sense of pride in the fact that “one of our own” won a contest based on how a group of middle aged men scored her evening gown and her performance on a stage. Why isn’t anyone sounding the alarm at the perverted sense of morality we have coming and the direction our community is going? Where are those voices of Islam to speak out?

For a very long time, many of us in the West have been complacent and have turned a blind eye to such issues. The concept of Amr Bil Maroof and Nahi Anil Munkar (enjoining the good and forbidding the evil) has become political, and many religious leaders and people of conscience seem unwilling to speak up, further allowing the community to digress towards evident moral decay, as has been the case for a number of years. Our community has become notorious for young Muslims attending events such as prom amongst other culturally accepted functions which are Islamically prohibited. Concepts such as gender mixing and its limitation are foreign, and those who attempt to adopt the Islamic perspective on the subject are condemned and labeled as extremists. Our own Islamic centers unfortunately have also fallen prey to this liberalism and have become a breeding ground for inter-gender mixing among the youth. The fact of the matter is, Shia youth today are dating, getting in relationships, and engaging in unmentionably abhorrent behavior. In such a situation, it’s a surprise it took this long to produce a beauty pageant contestant. The community has been in decline for a very long time, and it’s come down to apathy.

Once the shock wears off and the possibility that a self described Muslim would abandon all moral and religious constraints to prance around on national television in the most immodest clothing possible is allowed to gel, we must address the situation in a two-fold approach. First and foremost, we must make it clear to those supporting such degradation of women that they are on the side of injustice and moral decay. The second step is more vital than detracting from the support given to an increasingly warped form of Islam, and that is to ensure this does not occur again. To what extent are we willing to go to protect our young girls from taking on pageant queens as role models? Is our divided community able to educate its youth (both male and female) about embracing the grandeur of Islam’s most graceful female role model – Lady Fatima al-Zahra (peace be upon her)?

If the past is an indication of our future, we may not go very far. Nonetheless, the Prophet, His Holy Household, and respectable companions (peace be upon them all) have taught us that adhering to true Islam is the key to attaining salvation in this world and the hereafter. Only by doing our utmost to uphold and promote the teachings of the Prophet, the Qur’an, and the Ahlul Bayt will we be serving our purpose as true servants of God and followers of Islam.

About Arsalan Rizvi

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14 comments

  1. Finally. An intelligent response to a very important issue. The AP had an article about her family proudly saying they were Shii.

  2. unfortunately, this article would be considered rather conservative from a liberal standpoint

  3. PLEASE. Stop spreading the concept of “hijab” as a “tenet” of islam. Hijab is NOT required, as you know – it is a bizarre interpretation based upon the OBJECTIFICATION of women and as objects, and only found in severely repressive regimes. It objectifies women as sexual objects. inferior objects. hidden objects. possessions of men. Seducers of men. people to be ignored, hidden, wrapped in a LIVING SHROUD. Until you drop this medieval, oppressive, sexist, offensive portrayal of women as OBJECTS Islam cannot be understood as anything other than a medieval and bizarre oppressive regime that takes the oppression of women to the ultimate extreme: hide them, kill them, keep them ignorant, mutilate them genetically, control them like dogs and cattle. You cannot have the luxury of a fancy blog and presumably ‘modern’ discourse when you STILL ADVOCATE treating women as pariahs and less than dogs.
    And I talked to a college-educated arabic man giving out the koran in Central Park in New York last year, from Cairo, and when I asked him about the PURPOSE of the hijab, he just smiled, and said, ‘well, really, it’s to keep your sisters for your 2nd cousins’.
    If MUSLIMS don’t deal with this terrible misinterpretation of ‘modesty’, then no one will take them seriously in another other topic.

  4. also known as .

    ^ Those who want to warp Islam to fit their own liberal (ie secular) agendas will always complain about conservatives caring too much about what the Quran and Ahlul-Bait say. That’s what is unfortunate, not this article.
    8)

  5. Sayeda Hakeema

    It is most interesting and humorous that you have stated that Islam OBJECTIFIES
    women by having them cover and be shielded away.
    To objectify, is to treat as an object
    Islam approaches women as a Gem whose beauty is for only deserving eyes
    and whose intellect is for all the world to learn from not only by her personal teachings but by the children she raises in the sanctity of a solid home.
    Whereas the West approaches women as sexual beings, women who are valued for her sexuality and physical beauty, claiming to value their intellect yet appreciating them for their lack of it. Apparently the west has an ever changing definition of what this beauty is, today it is posing in lingerie for the world to see her goods.
    Polar opposites, both objectifying
    one objectifies for her protection and dignity(islam)
    while the other objectifies for her exposure and declining morality (west)

    so we can easily throw this word “OBJECTIFY” around
    and use it in a negative manner
    but the negative application
    that which hurts the women and society
    is that which has been conducted and expected of women in the West

    Our task is only to see the choices which stand before us
    there is truth
    and deviation from truth which has been accepted by the masses
    make a decision
    and apply the prinicples to our life

    Hijab is most certainly a tenet of Islam 😉
    An honor for those women who choose to identify themselves as BELIEVING & CHASTE WOMEN, read the Quran and you will see it clearly!

    “A tree stands strong on a firm foundation
    should its foundation be flimsy changing from day to day
    based on the latest changes
    it would collapse”

  6. also known as .

    Bravo Sister Hakeema, you have given a strong response to “dr”.

    Hey doc. Many sociologists say that Islam is the fastest growing religion in America. Most of the converts are WOMEN. They wouldn’t choose Islam if it didn’t offer them so much. Islam gives women dignity, not take it away.

    I would think a person who cares about objectification of women would recognize a bikini contest for sexualizing women. When women cover up, they make sure their sexuality doesn’t become public!

    And what does your meeting some guy in New York from Cairo have anything to do with anything? So he tried making a lame joke, it doesn’t mean we need to base our whole policy about what Islam is around it. And his being a university student doesn’t make him an expert on our religion.

    Check your attitude at the door and go talk to some Muslims who know what they are talking about.

  7. ah, well. The same tired arguments and apologia, over and over. Islam OBVIOUSLY despises all women – while ‘pretending’ to respect them – and you can listen to the poetry of the poetry winner from Abu Dhabi who won with her poem stating she hoped for a world in which her daughters would be FREED of the oppression of the niqab imposed by men. I have certainly talked to many many muslims who are full of despair at the despicable treatment of women in the ‘new’ islam, which is only political and has nothing to do with spiritual life. Every women who consents to be covered like a possession, every MAN who insists upon covering up his possession, is personally responsible for the deaths of the Yemeni girls, the Agfhani women and girls, the Malaysian girls, the Saudi girls, and all of the women who have been MURDERED by male muslim men. AND the victims of female genital mutilation. AND the millions of girls who are beaten, hidden, married at 13, sold, abused, burned to death and abandoned. NO OTHER RELIGION DOES THIS! ONLY YOU!!!! UPON ALL YOUR HEADS BE THEIR DEATHS – now and forever, – the women you have killed with your political games. Shame, shame, and forever shame. If you want to wear a token scarf, wear the the neck scarf, like Pakistanis – but NEVER submit to the terrible crime of COVERING UP HUMAN BEINGS by ANOTHER HUMAN BEING WHO OWNS YOU. The guy from Cairo, as you know, was not making a lame joke, he was talking about women as possessions, and women who could be SOLD. You can spin your fantasies about dignity all you want, but some day you’re going to have to take responsibility for the [b]terrible terrible crime against humanity and all the women of the WORLD you are murdering. [/b] Upon your heads be their deaths. Upon your heads be their deaths. Stop the dressup games and ego trips and start saving their lives. Or your faith is worth nothing.

  8. also known as .

    Dude, I think you should go see a psychiatrist. You’re ranting like a loony. 😉

    You don’t know anything about us, stop playing God.

  9. Dr Miracle

    What are you talking about?

  10. Iranians make up the largest group of Shias and if even here in the United States, Iranian-Americans make up the largest Shia community. Yet, Iranian-Americans are the most secular-minded muslims here because they are sick of being forced into these medieval practices that date from 1,400 years ago. Get it through your head, hijab is not Koranic, it was part of the culture in the Arabian desert. Today it has been revived by mullahs who want to control people.

  11. You are making up stories that are not factual, mm. Go read Qur’an and see for yourself what it says – do you need the pertinent verses pointed out to you? Do you also need an explanation of what real hijab is and what its purposes are? – there are a few such articles on this site.
    For those of us who wish to follow Qur’an and Sunnah, leave us be.

  12. Following in Lady fatimas foot steps

    Dr miracle
    sounds like he/she is aggrevated, does not truly understand the roots of islam, the tteacings of alhyl bayt (as). as the DR stated himself/herslef “political games” thats what was feeding his/her mind, the political games of the western society,
    true some ppl (unfortunatly) take islam into thier own hands and try to process what the quran says in thier own way, which is obviously incorrect, and some people are misgueded and abuse the hijab, but there are extremists in all sects of society al over the world, but that shouldnt be ones main focus, take the ‘bad group’ and label them as practicing muslims
    Dr miracle, u gotta know the religion ur bashing, the most sacred, beautiful, peaceful, dignified, guided religion in all of time. May Imam al mahdis reappearance happen soon, so that the world be filled with justice and peace. islam isnt about supression, oppression, on the contrary it liberates women,

    OTHER RELIGIONS
    •”Did you every wonder why Mary, the mother Jesus (alayhes salam) wore clothing very similar to that of Muslims?”
    •”Why do Catholic nuns dress the way they do?”
    •”Did you know that in the Catholic church today there is a law that requires women to cover their heads in church?”
    •”Have you read in I Corinthians (Bible, 11:3-10) the verses that Paul wrote: ‘Every man who prays of prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And evey woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman doesn’t cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head.” (THE BIBLE SAYS TO WEAR A SCARF)
    •”Did you know that there are some Christian denominations, who still require women to wear the head covering?”
    •”Were you aware that is was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering and that some denominations still practice this today?”.

    By: Anonymous
    What do you see when you look at me, Do you see someone limited, or someone free, All some people can do is just look and stare, Simply because they can’t see my hair…
    Others think I am controlled and uneducated, They are so thankful that they are not me, Because they would like to remain ‘free’, Well free isn’t exactly the word I would’ve used, Describing women who are cheated on and abused,
    They think that I do not have opinions or voice, They think that being hooded isn’t my choice, They think that the hood makes me look caged, That my husband or dad is totally outraged,
    All they can do is look at me in fear, And in my eye there is a tear,
    Not because I have been stared at or made fun of,
    But because people are ignoring the One up above,
    On the Day of Judgment they will be the fools,
    Because they were too ashamed to play by their own rules,
    Maybe the guys won’t think I am a cutie,
    But at least I am filled with more inner beauty,
    See I have declined from being a guy’s toy,
    Because I won’t let my self be controlled by a boy,
    Real men are able to appreciate my mind,
    And aren’t busy looking at my behind,
    Hooded girls are the ones really helping the Muslim cause,
    The role that we play definitely deserves applause,
    I will be recognized because I am smart and bright,
    And because some people are inspired by my sight,
    The smart ones are attracted by my tranquility,
    In the back of their mind they wish they were me,
    We have the strength to do what we think is right,
    Even if it means putting up a life long fight,
    You see we are not controlled by a mini skirt and tight shirt,
    We are given only respect, and never treated like dirt,
    So you see, we are the ones that are free and liberated,
    We are not the ones that are sexually terrorized and violated,
    We are the ones that are free and pure,
    We’re free of standard’s that have no cure,
    So when people ask you how you feel about the hood,
    Just sum it up by saying ‘baby its all good’.

  13. Women suffered great injustices in the pagan Arab society and were exposed to diverse kinds of humiliation prior to the mission of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him). They were treated like material property to be disposed of at the whim of the male guardian. They were not entitled to inherit from their parents or husbands. Arabs believed inheritance should only be granted to those who had martial abilities, like being able to ride a horse, fight, gain war booties and help protect the tribe and clan territory.

    Since women in the pagan Arab society did not generally have these qualities, they were themselves inherited like any moveable commodity after the death of an indebted husband. If the deceased husband had adult sons from other marriages, the oldest son amongst them had the right to add her to his household, just as a son inherits other chattels of his deceased father. She was unable to leave the house of her stepson unless she paid a ransom. As a general practice, men had the freedom to acquire as many wives as they desired with no set limits. There was no system of law and justice that would forbid a man from committing any injustice towards his wives. Women had no right to choose, or even consent to being chosen as a partner for marriage; they were simply given away. Women were forbidden to remarry if a husband divorced them.

    Dr. Miracle don’t think I’m agreeing with you as this was the status of women in the pre-Islamic era, now however, Women worldwide demand equal rights. There is not a system of law that preserves, maintains and protects what are truly women’s rights, as much as Islamic law does, whether in the past or in modern times. This will be verified and substantiated in the following excerpt

    “The rules, regulations and verdicts concerning women in Islam are clear, frank and open. Islam capitalizes on the complete care that should be given to the protection of a woman against anything that may harm her personally, or cause ill-fame to her reputation or character.”

    By Sir Hamiltion; the well-known English thinker and doctor of philsophy! 😀

  14. Why talk only about Shiaa youth? Why discriminate? The Muslims in general are going through the same sad phase 🙂

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