BIRMINGHAM – A British Muslim has become the first hijabi to compete in Miss England beauty pageant, reaching the semi-finals after finishing runner-up in last week’s Miss Birmingham.
“It’s pretty rare for a Muslim woman to be in a beauty pageant but there’s nothing to stop us entering,” Maria Mahmood, 20, told The Daily Mirror.
“I entered Miss Birmingham and the organizers were delighted to have a hijab-wearing Muslim in the competition.
“They fast-tracked me through to the final where I competed against 30 girls and came second. I couldn’t believe it.”
Maria said her father, a cab driver, and a mother, who works part-time in a school, have been supportive.
“When I came runner-up, they were delighted for me. I’ve got three brothers and they’ve also been so good. Most people have been supportive.
“There have been a few negative comments and I’m fully expecting some criticism from old-timers and conservatives.
“But what I’m doing is empowering for Muslim women. I’m anticipating most people will back me.”
Maria will take part in Miss England’s swimwear round, wearing a burkini.
“Obviously, I’m not going to parade on stage in a bikini as that is going against my religion and beliefs. I’ll wear a burkini.”
For Maria, the pageant is a chance to correct misconceptions about Muslims.
“Muslims are associated with negative things like terrorism. I’m determined to do my bit to challenge those views,” she said.
Miss England director Angie Beasley said: “We’re delighted Maria will be wearing a hijab. It’s the first time that we’ve had a hijab-wearer taking part.”
Maria is not the first Muslim woman to join beauty pageants while donning a hijab.
American Muslim teen Halima Aden made history in 2016 by competing at the Miss Minnesota competition in her traditional dress and modest swimwear, reaching the semi-finals of the beauty pageant.
Islam is the religion of morals. It keeps woman’s honor and dignity raises her status and preserves her chastity.
It also intends to safeguard Muslim women from all attempts to render them into mere beauty objects.
According to Muslim scholars, the Islamic Shari`ah obligates covering the `awrah and protecting honors.
In these contests, the contestants are demanded to display their God-given architecture for the whole world to review and this is absolutely haram.
Therefore, neither Muslim individuals nor the Islamic states are allowed to organize or participate in these contests.