JAKARTA – A Nigerian hijab-clad Muslim young woman has been named as 2013 ‘Muslimah’ Miss World in a celebration in Jakarta, offering a role model for pious Muslim girls worldwide.
"We're just trying to show the world that Islam is beautiful," Obabiyi Aisha Ajibola, Miss Musslimah 2013 winner, told Agence France-Press (AFP) on Wednesday, September 18."It was not really about competition.”
In a celebration held on Wednesday evening, 21-year-old Ajibola was crowned the winner of Muslimah World beauty pageant 2013.
Launched as a rival to Miss World beauty pageant, participants in the Muslimah event were judged not just on their beauty but their ability to recite Qur'an verses and on their views on Islam in modern world.
Dropping to her knees and thanking Allah, Obabiyi cried while reciting Qur'an verses after her name was announced as the winner.
Among 20 finalists hailing from Bangladesh, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria and Brunei, the Nigerian girl, a student of the University of Lagos, was awarded 25 million rupiah ($2,200) (£1,375) and trips to Mecca and India.
More than 500 pious contestants participated in the in the online pick up, where they were answers questions about their relationship with Islam, and when first began donning the Hijab.
The 20 finalists, who were required to wear Hijab, presented fashion shows in loose embroidered dresses.
They also attended a 3-day spiritual training, gathering before Fajr prayer to recite Qur'an.
The contest is not the first in Indonesia.
In 2011, a beauty pageant for hijab-clad Muslim women who can recite the holy Qur’an in Arabic and participate in the welfare of their society was held in West Jakarta to choose Muslims’ ‘Miss Universe’.
Preceding 'Miss World' pageant, Muslimah Miss World aims at offering a non-violent answer to the Miss World competition and provides an Islamic alternative.
“This year we deliberately held our event just before the Miss World final to show that there are alternative role models for Muslim women,” Eka Shanti, the founder of the Muslimah pageant told AFP.
“But it’s about more than Miss World. Muslim women are increasingly working in the entertainment industry in a sexually explicit way, and they become role models, which is a concern.”
Shanti founded the Muslimah pageant three years ago after she was sacked from a TV station, for donning Hijab while presenting on the screen.
An Indonesian actress and pop star, Dewi Sandra, who has recently showed adherence to Hijab, hosted the Muslimah pageant, where a twin of Muslim and pop music were performed, PM News Nigeria reported.
A number of Indonesian Islamic designers attended the pageant.
The pageant was concluded as Indonesians continued their protests against the 63rd edition of the Miss World pageant, which is due to take place on 28 September in Indonesia.
Miss World has come under the ire of protesters in the Muslim majority country.
The organizers have already agreed to axe the famed bikini round from this year's contests, with participants instead set to wear more conservative sarongs, but the move has failed to appease protesters.
Last month, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) voiced support to scholars opposing the government’s decision to host the Miss World beauty pageant.
After repeated protests, government officials announced last week that the Miss World final would be moved from the outskirts of the capital Jakarta to the resort island of Bali.
The organizers, however, were not satisfied with the last minute change.
Despite the decision, protesters from the Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia demonstrated in the central Java city of Yogyakarta Saturday, its spokeswoman saying "Miss World is not welcome in Indonesia at all".
The decision to move the final round was the latest victory for Islamic fringe groups, who are wielding increasing power and have succeeded in getting several events they deem un-Islamic changed or cancelled in recent years.
Related Links:Muslim Miss Universe
Malaysia Women Contest For Best Preacher
Vying for Best Young Muslim Imam
Malaysia's “Young Imam” Goes Global
Malaysia's Idols… “Young Imams”