LAGOS - Nigerian Muslim community has been buzzing with excitement after a young student was named Muslimah Miss World 2013, a global beauty pageant designed for Muslim women as a counterweight to the criticized though popular Miss World beauty pageant.
We congratulate Sister [Obabiyi] Aishah Ajibola of the University of Lagos for emerging the winner of the world Muslimah contest, Prof Ishaq Lakin Akintola, who teaches Islamic studies at the Lagos State University, told onIslam.net.
We align with the contest in view of the fact that the criteria were not indecent exposure and provocative postures. The contestants were tested in the areas of recitation of the Glorious Qur'an, Islamic historiography, Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic current affairs.
In a contest held in Jakarta last Wednesday, 21-year-old Aishah emerged winner of the Muslimah World 2013.
Miss Aishah, a student at the prestigious University of Lagos, beat 19 other challengers from across the world to emerge Muslimah Queen 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia, at a competition that tested not just the Islamic appearance of the ladies but their understanding of the Qur'an and issues facing the Muslim world.
Aishah won $2,200 (N356, 000), hajj journey to Makkah and a visit to India.
Prof Akintola, who hosts an influential Islamic television program and gives comparative lecture about Islam and Christianity across Nigeria and beyond, added that Muslimah World competition offered a relief from the immorality of the Miss World contest.
We equally congratulate the organizers of the contest as they used the global event to create great awareness for the rest of the world to show that Muslims have their own values and norms concerning beauty and intelligence, the scholar said.
The scholar, who also heads the vocal non-profit organization, Muslim Right Concern (MURIC), added that the Jakarta event is a peaceful and commendable way of expressing Muslims' outrage at the Miss World beauty pageant which he insists violates the chastity of women.
The event has also proved beyond reasonable doubt that Islam does not repress its women. Neither does it teach pushing them to the background," he said.
The demonstration of high level of exposure to education in various fields by the contestants also point to the fact that Muslim women pursue education and that Islam is not averse to educating the womenfolk.
The feat has excited many Nigerian Muslims, especially young ladies who described the competition as charting a different course away from the well-known Miss World beauty pageant which is criticized across the Muslim world.
Seeing a woman in such beautiful hijab and Islamic dress being honoured before the world is a pride for me as a Muslim woman, Fatimah Adesokan, a 20-year-old lady nursing student, said.
Aishah has brought honor to her family and to me as a Muslimah.
Adesokan stressed that reports about Aishah's victory excited her and confirmed her belief that hijab is a pride of the Muslim woman.
I don't see anything bad in it. It is a welcome development, more so that the contestants are not exposing their bodies or doing anything that is haram, she said.
This is a contest that tests their intellect and knowledge of Islam. Is there anything bad in our women exhibiting the beauty of hijab? I view it as a way of promoting Hijab which is our pride.
Ruqayyah Bamigbade, 25, journalist, said she was glad Aishah has brought honor and not disgrace to the country, especially the Muslims.
We have had instances of Muslims being accused of wanting to bomb innocent people. we have seen fellow citizens being nabbed for drug trafficking, Bamigbade said.
Here is a young woman who has placed the Nigerian Muslim woman on the global map of not exhibiting her nakedness but of expressing a dress sense in the Islamic way and of giving lie to the tale about Muslim women being second fiddle and who are not educated. Aishah's intellect contradicts all that.
Musa Abdulkareem Agbelepawo, a 28-year-old Muslim biochemist, said Aishah's story is worth celebrating for Muslims, although he admitted that the beauty pageant could prove controversial among Muslim scholars.
I will say there's nothing wrong with Muslim beauty pageant based on some reasons, Agbelepawo said.
Firstly, let's us look at Eka Shanti, the founder of this great show who lost her job as a TV news presenter for refusing to remove her Hijab. She was removed just because she refused to lose her fundamental right and identity as a Muslimah.
And if such person can come up with something of this nature to promote Islam and being an advocate for the less privilege who have been denied their fundamental right as a Muslimah, why won't I support her.
As you know, for every topic in Islam there's always controversy about it, no doubt.
Agbelepawo added that the idea of the competition encourages Muslims to avoid indecent shows.
Many Muslim girls are facing discrimination all over the world today just because of their pride (Hijab). And we all know how our governments/private sectors are spending huge amount of money to promote indecent dressing, gambling, pornographic movies and so on. For instance, Big Brother Africa: anyone with moral upbringing will cast off such show yet the number of people watching it keeps increasing.
So, for any organization to prop up Hijab and Islamic values, I think it's our duty to encourage such organization or people. For the Muslims who reject this as western imitation' my poser to them, what's their contribution to Islam today?
Despite general welcoming for the idea of Muslimah Miss World, a strong segment of the Nigerian Muslim community sees the Muslimah World beauty pageant as a dangerous and unacceptable mimicry of western values.
In an attempt not feel left out of the things in vogue, and probably not wanting to be tagged as being anti-modernity,' the organizers came up with this idea of the contest, Hajiah Fadeela Odubanjo, Ameerah of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) Lagos State Area Unit, told OnIslam.net.
But unfortunately, they have succeeded in luring the young Muslimeeh into the new world order of immorality! I can assure you, Nigerians will replicate the contest soon, she lamented.
Hajiah Fadeelah added that the event confirmed the Prophet Muhammad's prophesy that Muslims would copy the actions of non-Muslims even if they enter the hole of lizard.
You will recall that the Muslims in Indonesia also protested against it being staged in their country. That tells you that the idea is alien to Islam and cannot be said to be an alternative to the western version as claimed by the organizers. No reasonable Muslim will support this latest aberration.
The MSSN leader rejected suggestions that Aishah's feat could encourage the use of hijab among young Muslim women in Nigeria or turn them away from taking western pop stars as their models.
The victory of Miss Aishah Ajibola will have no positive impact whatsoever on young Muslimah. It will rather inculcate in them the idea of showcasing wrongly their natural adornments in the Ajibola-style of hijab, she said.
Hijab is not meant to showcase your beauty. It is meant to cover those adornments in obedience to Allah and the protection of their chastity. Her victory will not achieve that, I am certain.
There are notable female Muslim personalities across the globe that our sisters can take after in terms of mode of dressing and character. So, like I said earlier, we do not support the contest in whatever way and we urge our sisters to disregard it.
Tunde Akanni, a media and conflict scholar at the Lagos State University, also expressed reservations about the beauty pageant.
Allah knows best. However, personally I believe the program was exhibitionist but Islam doesn't encourage our women to flaunt their beauty for any reason. They are not even supposed to wear perfume, Akanni, a Muslim, told OnIslam.net.
So, Muslim girls will now be paraded before the whole world? For what reason? And feelings from opposite sex would not be provoked? Lady Aisha Obabiyi should please be more modest than before.
We have to be very careful as Muslims and not be dragged into whathas no proof in the Qur'an or Sunnah. May Allah guide us all.
But some of the Muslim scholars were not entirely dismissive of the event, saying the intention and actions of the contestants would determine whether it would be rejected like the Miss World beauty pageant.
There is no doubt that Islam abhors ostentatious behaviors by Muslims. This is particularly unacceptable for Muslim women. But we must ask ourselves whether this event falls under such category, Ustadh Tajudeen Folorunsho, an alumnus of the iconic Centre for Islamic and Arabic Studies (Markaz, Agege), said.
I am reluctant to categorize it as such because I have read that the essence is about showcasing the beauty of hijab and telling the world that Islam is not about repressing women. But like others, I will warn that organizers and participants do not transgress.