Jakarta - Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola of Nigeria has been named World Muslimah 2013 during the third Annual Award of World Muslimah in Jakarta held on Wednesday.
The annual pageant, held exclusively for Muslim women, assessed not only contestants' appearance but also their piety and religious knowledge.
There was no shortage of sparkles, high heels and sashes when Miss Nigeria was crowned the pageant winner.
She dropped to her knees and cried tears of happiness.
The contest was for Muslims only, and the contestants wore scarves and floor-sweeping gowns that covered their chests and shoulders.
The top 10 finalists for the World Muslimah on Wednesday shared their thoughts on the importance of motherhood, dangers of the Internet and the value of Islamic finance.
They were vying for the “crown of modesty,” a golden statue of a woman giving thanks to Allah and an all expenses paid trip to Mecca.
The event took place for three years now but this year’s happened at the same time and in the same country as the Miss World competition, a pageant that raised angry protests from Islamic hardliners who described it as pornographic and demanded it be stopped.
The founder of the World Muslimah Pageant, Eka Shanti, said “the pageant is aimed at showcasing women who are smart, stylish and display good Islamic morals.”
“It is an international event to appreciate women who have talent, dedication and a reputation in their communities for being young, but also giving back to others.”
“The pageant is based on Sholehah, an Islamic term for someone who is pious, has good morals and observes Islamic rules and codes.”
“It is an antidote to the Miss World pageant, which is taking place this week just 730 miles away on the resort Island of Bali, also in the Indonesian capital.”
“It is also a formula for understanding the ideal woman, regardless of her religion.”
Shanti said the pageant was not intended to challenge the Miss World pageant, but as a way of expelling negative stereotypes about Muslim women.
“People think we are against the Miss World pageant but we are not. We are only against its nudity. We now want the world to know that there is beauty in the covered woman because the woman’s beauty is supposed to be a jewel which must be treasured.”
“The protests against the Miss World competition started in Indonesia in June and in response, the London-based organisation agreed to swap bikinis for one-piece swimsuits and more modest Balinese sarongs out of respect to local customs and values.”
In recent weeks, she said, the protests heated up again in opposition to a pageant being labelled as an affront to Islamic morals.
Under pressure, the government requested that the Miss World event, parts of which were to be held outside Jakarta, be confined to Bali, which is majority Hindu.
The event’s organisers fumed, saying the change of plans was typical of a government that often capitulated to the demands of religious extremists.
More than 90 per cent of Indonesia’s 250 million people are Muslims, making it home to the world’s largest Muslim population and some have become increasingly conservative in recent years.
The Miss World, which started in 1951, had faced its share of controversy. In the 1970s and ‘80s, feminist groups protested the bikini section and scrapped it in previous competitions.