Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Thoughts on the New Miss USA

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone,

I thought I'd start off my postings on this blog with a little discussion of the new Miss USA who was crowned last night.

So, if you haven't heard, the winner this year is a Lebanese-American woman by the name of Rima Fakih. Why am I bothering doing a post on this, may you ask? Well, because the media is making a big deal out of the fact that Ms. Fakih is the "first Muslim to win the Miss USA pageant." I really think that "first non-practicing Muslim" or simply the "first Arab-American woman" would have been a MUCH better choice for the title...but hey, that wouldn't have sparked nearly as much controversy or grabbed the attention of the public quite as well now, would it have?

Before I go any further, Allah(swt) knows best how practicing or non-practicing a Muslim Ms. Fakih really is, and I would like to state that in order to prevent back-biting, I am going to try my best not to pass judgement on Ms. Fakih's character. Instead, I will be commenting on the situation in general, and not specifically on Ms. Fakih as a person.

I am very much an opponent of beauty pageants in the first place, and this situation just strikes me as being very contradictory. This is exactly the type of behavior that Allah(swt) wants us to avoid! Islam came to protect women and to give them rights...and beauty pageants which encourage the objectifying of women, and the reduction of a woman's worth down to her physical beauty do the exact opposite of that! So why a Muslim woman would want to degrade herself by participating in a beauty pageant is beyond me. Personally, I would shudder at the mere thought of parading in front of millions of people in only a skimpy little bikini, but hey, maybe that's just me...

Modesty (for BOTH men AND women) is not the only aspect of Islam, but it certainly is a very big aspect of my faith. A beauty pageant, like the Miss USA pageant, encourages the exact opposite, not only in dress, but also in actions. Beauty pageants go against what Allah(swt) says in Surah 24 Ayah 31:
"And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known; and turn to Allah all of you, O believers! so that you may be successful."

and in Surah 33 Ayah 59:
"O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

as well as what the Prophet(saws) said:
"Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya (This term "Haya" covers a large number of concepts which are to be taken together; amongst them are self respect, modesty, bashfulness, and scruple, etc.) is a part of faith." (sahih Bukhari book 2 hadith 8)

...so it just baffles my mind as to why any Muslim woman who has knowledge of her deen and respect for herself and for Allah(swt) would want to participate in a beauty pageant and objectify herself in front of millions of people...many of whom are men who have very dirty thoughts (if you don't believe me just read through some of the comments on pageant videos, if you are so inclined). However, Allah(swt) has blessed all human beings with free will, which means that we are not forced to follow what He(swt) states in the Qur'an, or the sunnah of the Prophet(saws), and if you really want to, there's nothing stopping you from parading yourself around in skimpy outfits for people to judge you on your physical beauty. It's just personally, I choose to obey Allah(swt), and I cover myself and try to incorporate the principles of haya in my life to the best of my ability out of respect and love for my Creator.

I guess the real problem I have with this is that the media is playing up and pushing the fact that Ms. Fakih is a MUSLIM woman (even though they don't really even know if she actually is Muslim or a Christian...it's kind of vague, but Allah(swt) knows best). I really wish they would have just stuck with "Arab-American" and had forgone the "Muslim" part altogether. It bothers me because it seems like they're trying to send a message that "hey, this woman is a Muslim...therefore her beliefs and actions reflect how all Muslim women should believe and behave. More Muslim women should take a cue from her and 'integrate' themselves into society and behave more 'modern.'" I'm probably going to be getting questions now along the lines of, "so, she wore a bikini on national television, why can't you?" To which I would respond with the aforementioned statement about how Allah(swt) gave us all free will. And yes, I would still have a problem (probably even MORE of a problem) if Ms. Fakih wore hijab.

So what do you think?