Aiming to change the stigma that surrounds hijabi Muslim women, the pageant has given Muslim women the chance to participate in beauty contests without compromising their faith.
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“We’re visibly Muslim, it’s us who will be attacked first,” Maghrib Shahid told New York Times.
“I wanted to give Muslim women the opportunity to change misconceptions about themselves.”
Miss Muslimah Pageant USA was founded in 2016 and crowned its first pageant winner in 2017.
In 2019, it was Rahma Mohamed, from Madison, who took home the crown as the new queen.
Dr. Khadijah Ismail, who resides in Newark, New Jersey, was the winner of Miss Muslimah USA, 2017 the first Miss Muslimah pageant.
The 2018 pageant’s winner is Ifrah Hashi from Minnesota, who earned a $1,000 prize.
Contestants joining the 4th edition of Miss Muslimah USA must be practicing Muslims aged 17 to 30.
Once they are enrolled, they can prepare to compete in five categories: abayah, burkini, modest special occasion dress, and talent, which may be a spoken word poem or a Qur’an recitation.
For the first time, non-hijabi Muslims will be allowed to enter and compete alongside hijab-wearing contestants. Two international contestants, from Kazakhstan and Britain, will also be competing.
“It’s not about becoming rich or wealthy. It’s about making a true difference, a real impact,” Maghrib Shahid said. “I want people to really benefit from this, I want to change your life, I want to change your soul.”
Her passion for pageants began in childhood; she told herself that someday she would enter a competition. “As I got older, I realized, I don’t see anybody like me — who looks like me and the way I dress,” Shahid said. “It became a distant dream.”
Now that she has Miss Muslimah, she said, “I’m living my dream through these women.”
Shahid thinks there’s still so much work to do to reach the pageant’s full potential.
“It took time for them to build,” Shahid said. “If you support Miss Muslimah, in the next 10 years we’ll also have that great momentum.”