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I Cannot Cheer for you Sister Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010: Too Much is at Stake


The following guest post by Hena Zuberi caused great debate and discussion among the MM staffers as to whether to ignore the subject or let Sr. Hena’s voice be heard. There were concerns about being too reactive as well as piling on a “non-practicing sister”. However, some of us felt that what was at stake was above and beyond the Miss USA competition. Rather, it was about role-models and the type of role-models that Muslims have become so desperate to cheer on. It was about our own dignity and integrity. It was about being sandwiched between terror and bikinis. Here’s to highlight the diversity among us!

I Cannot Cheer You on Sister Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010: Too Much at Stake

by Hena Zuberi

As a Muslim woman, who is passionate about the using the best of our abilities to make this world a better place alongside our men, I cannot cheer you on Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010; too much is at stake. I detested beauty pageants when I didn’t wear hijab,  and detest them when I do now. I wish you had used your “passion, courage, and self-confidence” for a better cause.

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People do stuff, it gets reported in the papers, the end. But when blogs, Muslim magazines here and all over the world have commentaries that celebrate this as a Muslim victory then it is too much. Even “Muslim feminists,” like Fatemah Fakhraie of Muslimah Media Watch, who normally think beauty pageants are “gross” because of their “history of sexism, exploitation and exclusion” are excited. So sister if one of our own does it, its ok? Talk about letting go of your values.

Fakhraie asks, “Why would any self-respecting feminist cheer at the fact that a Muslim woman has been objectified along with the rest of the Miss USA contestants?” She answers herself, “because she is excited about seeing another female face of Islam in the mainstream media. Rima Fakih is another representation: she doesn’t look like the headscarf-wearing Muslim women usually profiled in human-interest stories (the ones who open their own businesses or are fired from Abercrombie & Fitch stores). She doesn’t look like the war-torn women of Iraq or Afghanistan–representations in the media that Americans are used to seeing.”

Even if she has to agree that that “Rima’s crown represents sexist ideals and expectations…As a media activist and Muslim feminist, I am fully aware of these issues, and I know that her victory is not a real one for Muslim women or Arab American women.”

If you believe that the victory is not a real one then why applaud it? Have we lost all sense of identity that we have to rejoice at a Muslim woman stripping down to her undies as a breakthrough  in Arab/Muslim acceptance in this country? Are we so desperate for any “good” publicity that we will take the bottom of the barrel? My Arab ancestors must be turning over in their graves somewhere. This is not a triumph for any self-respecting Muslim/woman who upholds true feminist beliefs.

“Muslims are moving up,” says a Berkeley brother who identifies as a “liberal”. Trying to make sense of the celebration, Janan Delgado adds in a solid piece on altmuslimah, “Seeing that one of us gets to make it in spite of being Muslim and Arab is another welcome relief.”

I wonder too, how can people think this is making it? What does that mean? If making it means pandering to the ogling crowds of the lowest of low males- like cattle or cars are paraded, being judged on the size of their undergarments. This is wrong on so many levels as an American, as a Muslim, a parent, a teacher and as an immigrant.

Delgado further points out (Jazakillah khair sister): “We are integrated! We can be Muslim and get to do the things other Americans do! We also get to have our bodies paraded like horses at expensive Vegas casinos! Hurray! Except, of course, that when this happens, women like Rima who agree to appear in tiny bikinis are cast as the progressive ones [CNN actually used this word]. In the meantime, those of us who cover up head to toe are contrasted to these beacons of progress, in hopes that one day we see the light as well, and shed off our scarves, and while at it, perhaps all the rest as well.”

Rima, herself is quoted as saying, “I think it would prove that Arabs don’t always try to separate themselves, but instead are integrated into American culture,” she recently told the Global Arab Network.

“What are we doing? We are saying here we are and we are naked like you,” says Sarah Siddiqui, while celebrating her JD from the University of Arizona Law School where she was the Articles editor of their Law Review. ” This is going to change our image, I don’t think so. Most people will look at her and think this is one (anomaly), this is not a typical Muslim.”

“Perhaps a pretty girl like Rima Fakih in a shiny bikini will help dispel the ominous rumors and generate interest in, or at least Google searches on, Islam.” What?! Is this what we are going to do for dawah- strip and spread? An article in Elan the magazine for global Muslim culture says “You go, girl. One small step for a Muslimah, one giant leap for Muslim-kind, as we go from being stereotyped as hairy/angry/terrorists to hot/giggling/beauty queens. I love it”, read Elan’s article.

We need to celebrate another stereotype? Don’t we get a choice about who represents us- it has to be terrorists or winner of beauty pageants? This is an insult to all Muslimahs who are working hard in their respective fields, becoming scholars, lawyers, designers, chefs, professors, doctors, engineers, writers, business women, scientists, teachers and mothers. They struggle everyday to establish themselves, to build the Muslim image despite what Americans see on TV everyday.

“First Muslim Winner of Miss USA,” announces the Guardian’s headline. This is not an achievement of literary, athletic or scientific pursuit to be celebrated at Pita Pits around the country and the Arab world. It is a fact that she is an immigrant of Lebanese descent but do not make this about her Islam. Just as no mention is made of the Ms. Oklahoma, the runner-up’s religion, lets leave the Muslim out of it. When Ashwayria Rai won Ms. World- she was celebrated as an Indian, not a Hindu. Do you know which religion Vanessa Williams, the first African-American Ms. USA practices? Probably not. Read Ahmed rehab’s article in the Chicago Tribune

She wants to be a babe in a bikini then let it be just that, don’t make her the unwilling representative of Muslim women.

I am not saying Muslim women all around the way dress the same way or Muslim women have not dressed this way before. From singers in Arab countries to Pakistani models (some college buddies from Kinnaird are supermodels now) do dress like that but they don’t have headlines in respected papers like the Guardian calling them first MUSLIM anything- they are just singers or models from whatever country. Nor are they being asked in Newsweek to address Muslim women issues and “visit France as a good-will ambassador. She should bring her bikini.”

Making this about her religion, gives our girls the wrong role model to look up to. I am dreading the moment when one of my kids will get congratulated for a Muslim winning the pageant. That will stop my “Muslims don’t do that” line stone cold. When I tell my daughter that Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) may do certain things because she is a non- Muslim, what do I tell her now? Maybe I will tell her the same thing I told her when suicide bombers blew my uncle and nephew up while praying Jumu’ah in Rawalpindi, “that they are not following Islam.” It felt lame then and it feels lame now.

I know sex and all that is sexy sells and that’s what people are into but Muslim teens need stronger Muslim women highlighted in other fields, whose behavior they can emulate. This is why for years I drove the extra 35 miles so my daughters could see their Muslimah pediatrician, she didn’t wear hijab but dressed modestly and would greet them with salaam. They look at her and say, “hey I could do that.”

When Tanya from the youth group asks me ‘Sister Hena, but she is the first MUSLIM isn’t that cool?’ Is it cool? I attend a very liberal masjid, I can see where the girls are going with that – ‘everyone is doing it now even Muslims,’ ‘This opens up door which hasn’t been opened before, and sometimes that is not good’, says Sarah Ahmed, a mother of four college kids.

I am going to call it the David Chappelle syndrome, he cussed, is famous and is Muslim and, so there is a stream of comedians of Muslim backgrounds, who started off innocently but now are on mainstream media cussing away. What is amazing about Brother Chapelle is that quit his 50 million dollar show because of his increasing spirituality, this fact our young brothers ignore. It doesn’t matter that Rima is smart or wants to become a lawyer- she is hot and famous that is the focus.

Living in Los Angeles, I have seen the Kim Karadashian effect. It was bad enough when cheering the acceptance of petite bodies, long dark hair, naturally tanned skin as beautiful and mainstream, many modest Muslimahs shed their clothes, hoping to make it BIG; they are hip, cool and very fashionable. Karadashian is not Muslim, she is of Armenian descent and practices Christianity. It doesn’t matter if you are talented, Kim isn’t. And now we have Rima. Both these women are very pretty no doubt about that, but it keeps coming back to their “sexiness.”

Spengler’s article “Rima Fakih and the fragility of Islam” hit me hard. The article’s premise is “a nation is never really beaten until it sells its women.” It is depressing to see them gloat over our “adoption the habits of the ambient culture.”

A conservative non-Muslim commented on it “As much as I’d like to celebrate this small victory [notice how this is a victory because some believe that Islam will fail, Ma’adhallah], I really can’t believe that Muslim parents reading about Ms. Fakih are terribly overjoyed at the prospect of their daughters becoming pole-dancers and strutting around in bikinis and lingerie… If Muslims in America are presented with a choice of whether to assimilate into larger American society as decadent secularists or remain segregated as pious Muslims, then my guess is they’ll choose the latter option more often than not.” He has more faith in us than I do. Maybe I have too many acquaintances who are rooting for Rima, who are viewing this as a victory, who are proud today to see a “new” image of Muslims.

I keep thinking I may not have a problem with any of this if Ms. USA’s religion wasn’t being made a center point. Well, maybe I would still have a problem as an American mom trying to raise kids with so much immodesty in our society- may be this can be something that Muslims, Christians, and Jews following their faith traditions can all agree on. Maybe we may not concur on how modesty should be practiced down to that last detail but we can agree to the upholding of decent, modest language and dress in the public arena, and speak out about the sexualization of women & girls. We could use this opportunity for interfaith dialogue and action.

Illume magazine’s article by Sister Carma calls it every American girl’s dream- I asked my daughter’s All-American Girl Scout troop what their dream is, what they want to become (my daughter is the only Muslim in the troop). They talked about becoming vets, candle store owners, authors, marine biologists, teachers, graphic designers and pediatric physical therapists, none of them said winning Miss USA.

Rima, I do not know you or what is in your heart and what action of yours Allah (SWT) loves. I can only make dua for you according to my beliefs; may Allah bless you with the love of modesty and haya so you cover the beautiful body that Allah gave you. I promise I will do my cheers for you when you graduate from law school.

P.S. Apparently Rima has declared she isn’t even really a Muslim. But that doesn’t really change the context of this post. The question is about role-models, and remains relevant whether Rima is a Muslim or not. (Removed. Information relating to this is quite vague, so we’ll not speculate)

For a real alternative to a “beauty pageant,” how about the Miss Beautiful Morals?  Now, that’s a celebration of women as humans, not a celebration of women as bodies!

Photo courtesy Peter Sanders

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  1. iMuslim

    May 22, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    I wonder if Rima publicly dissociated herself and her actions from Islam out of respect for it? There may still be embers of emaan burning somewhere in her inner core, insha’Allah. Before anyone scoffs, remember the behaviour of Umar, radiallahu anhu – named as one of the leaders of Paradise – before he accepted Islam.

    May Allah guide her and us, ameen.

    • commonsense

      May 25, 2010 at 1:30 AM

      Why does religion have to enter everything …????? She is a human being first and chose to participate in an event. Period. You don’t want to watch it, don’t !!! And she doesn’t have to be your role model or anybody else’s for that matter. The idea that a celebrity or any public figure should also be a role-model to you or your children is ridiculous – is there no-one in your families or close to you who can be a positive role-model …? Are you not capable of thinking for yourselves without having a role-model tell to you what to do & how to think …? Are we not capable of being decent human beings, doing good and being virtuous without religion dictating to us what/how to live at all times? And who decides what morality is btw – is a woman wearing a skirt ok? If so, how short should it be? Can she have a relationship before marriage – if so, how many …? How many women can a man have …? (no surprise, religion seems to be pretty easy on men, which is a dead give-away that all this is man-made i.e. man made god and not the other way around – i’m a guy btw).
      And as for people making statements to the effect that this is a positive thing for islam/muslims etc. – i don’t think those comments should be taken literally. I think what they’re actually trying to say is that, for a change, they are getting to see/hear news of a different kind with regards to a muslim. Usually what we hear/see in the news wrt your religion & its followers, is unfortunately, news of a very different kind. So, pointing a finger at her is, with all due respect, nonsense. There are much bigger fish to fry. You folks who take religion too seriously have a lot of soul-searching to do. We’ll all be better off and get along much better, if we kept religion where it belonged – within the confines of our homes; and go easy on rendering judgement on others and telling others how to live.

      • amad

        May 25, 2010 at 2:18 AM

        Why does religion have to enter everything …?????

        exactly. But the headlines of “first Muslim Miss USA” weren’t ours. If they left religion out of it, we’d be out of the topic too.

        and no one is pointing fingers at anyone.

        Finally, Islam is not a religion that we neatly stack up in our bookshelves. It is a way of life. You should learn about it, and why we are so passionate about it.

      • Hena

        May 25, 2010 at 10:59 AM

        Why does religion have to enter everything …????? She is a human being first and chose to participate in an event. Period. You don’t want to watch it, don’t !!!

        That was my point why bring her religion into this AT ALL. Leave her as Ms. USA.

        Making it ABOUT her religion is where all this hoopla is about. If I didn’t have to wake up to First Muslim blah blah I would not have cared enough to write this.

        This doesn’t affect your life, it does affect mine. To me this is about media responsibility- as a reader I can comment on magazines that are geared towards me as a Muslim, I am their target audience and when I do not find a reflection of my thoughts there, then I can ask for them can’t I?

        The idea that a celebrity or any public figure should also be a role-model to you or your children is ridiculous – is there no-one in your families or close to you who can be a positive role-model …? Are you not capable of thinking for yourselves without having a role-model tell to you what to do & how to think …?

        Common sense do you work with kids or have kids? We all were teens once – have we forgotten?
        Little girls want to be like Dora the Explorer, as they get older they imitate tween popstars walk into your local Walmart/Target it will be filled with Hannah Montana clothes, room decor, even shower gels and shoes. They start talking like her, singing her songs watching her show, for some its a phase and it passes, some start thinking that that how she lives is how life should be lived.
        When teen artists exploit their sexuality to make a more mature and “edgier” version of themselves as they cross the line from teenage icon to adult musician, our girls can not tell the difference hence we get 5th graders having conversations about how Miley Cyrus let some camera man take explicit pictures of her. “Girls have much less ability than adults to comprehend and cope with cultural messages”. APA

        As teens they start emulating celebrities, you start seeing reports 40% of teens want plastic surgery. because they feel the pressure that came from celebrities with perfect bodies. “They also feel tremendous pressure from boys who increasingly expect their girlfriends to resemble the perfect celebrity body model they’ve been fed by a looks-obsessed society.” We as Muslim are not insusceptible to this we suffer from this as well- especially as we try to coexist or ‘make it’.
        “And when teenage girls look to their mums for reassurance and guidance they see an older generation of women who are also haunted by their imperfect body shape and size.” These issues affect Muslims too we are not immune to our surroundings, we have pressures too. Do you see why this is a very complex issue and not just about judging someone. By the way that comment about how I want to be up on stage- made me smile. If my insecurities prompted me to write this -it would serve me better to get on a treadmill. :)

        If you want to learn more about the effects of media on youth go to the shaping youth forum.
        According to the APA Taskforce on the Sexualization of Girls (American Psychological Association)
        “With the plethora of media options available today, it is possible to access the latest news or the most popular song almost anywhere and anytime, yet it is also possible to be inundated by unwanted messages and material. Media content responds to demand and is a reflection of culture, but it also contributes to it.Throughout U.S. culture, and particularly in mainstream media, women and girls are depicted in a sexualizing manner.These representations can be seen in virtually every medium, including prime-time television programs (e.g., Grauerholz & King, 1997;L. M.Ward, 1995), television commercials (e.g., Lin, 1997), music videos (e.g., Gow, 1996; R. C.Vincent, 1989), and magazines (e.g., Krassas, Blauwkamp, & Wesselink, 2001, 2003; Plous & Neptune, 1997). THIS occurs increasing in Muslim countries too, before we get on our high horses.

        Girls are major consumers of media and receive and engage with these messages every day.According to Nielsen Media Research (1998), the average child or teen watches 3 hours of television per day, and the numbers are higher for Black and Latino youth.When various media are combined, children view 6 hours 32 minutes per day” That is more time than that spent with family.

        Girls develop their identities as teenagers and as women, and they learn the socially acceptable ways to engage in intimate relationships by modeling what they see older girls and young women doing (Bussey & Bandura, 1984, 1992; Lips, 1989) and by imitating the ways in which women are represented in the media (Huston & Wright, 1998).

        Now when a person is depicted as a MUSLIM and is celebrated in any way even if it is a relief and people are just trying to put a positive spin on a sad situation what happens? Up til now we have been lucky, since there are very few people of Muslim faith or rather who want to flaunt their faith are shown in media, we have been complacent. Its not our problem we think, our youth has been getting this influence from outside. So may be with this event our false sense of security is shattered. Now we have no excuses left. We have to get in this debate.

        It isnt all bleak though the APA report also found that “through media education and literacy, the creation of media subcultures, participation in athletics, comprehensive sex education programs, activism, and religious/spiritual practices, girls, their peers, adults in their lives, and institutions that support them help to challenge the narrow prescriptions for girls in this culture.”

        some resources I found were
        girls,women+ media project
        Parents TV Council

        Not to play victim but its a big country that we are scattered across, many of us are immigrants or first generation- “Immigrant girls and girls and women of color have historically suffered stereotypes that focus on their sexuality and their bodies (Hill Collins, 2004)” many times we do not have the support system to foster intimate relationships, where we form bonds with other Muslim women who can be role models.This forum is a place where we gather to exchange ideas, to seek help from our brothers and sisters in Islam. I come here to learnand have often left checking myself- hoping to become a better person. aH

        If readers would get over my non- cheering and look at the TOO MUCH AT STAKE- I would really appreciate it. My problem is not with Rima or with anyone else- they choose to live life according to whatever dictates their choices- to you it may be your logic, to us it is our God. Our religion is everything, it is our total way of life.
        – Show quoted text –

        • commonsense

          May 26, 2010 at 12:39 AM

          Live your life however you choose to. Be passionate about your faith or don’t. Nobody really cares. Just don’t forget that there are others living here who don’t subscribe to your views and beliefs. No concessions need to be made to you or anyone else on the basis of any religion. This country allows us freedom of speech/expression, separation of religion/state among other things that you would be hard-pressed to find in a lot of other countries. She chose to participate and present herself in whatever attire the pageant requires. She’s fine with it. She didn’t ask to be a role model and she doesn’t have to be concerned with how it will influence you and your image. Media reports it in a certain way – switch the channel. It’s called choice. Not everything has to be legislated. There are so many more seriously negative influences everywhere – on tv, on the internet, hate speech, fundamentalist ideology available at the click of a button. Are you going to block it all out …? Are you not aware of all the hate that is spewed in the name of your religion – and a lot of the time folks just dismiss it and don’t get too worked up about it. As soon as religion (yours or anyone else’s) leaves the home and gets injected into public, trouble isn’t far away. And we all know very well what mixing religious ideology with politics does. The moment everything is viewed only through the prism of religion, especially in a secular society such as ours, there is bound to be friction. Hence the importance of keeping religion private and using it constructively for personal growth. This society is comprised of many diverse groups and it will do just fine without religion dictating to it what needs to be done and how it needs to conduct itself. There are laws that govern this land and religion is private; not the other way round.

          • elham

            May 26, 2010 at 8:43 AM

            ”Media reports it in a certain way – switch the channel. It’s called choice.”

            Individualism. Its all about the individual,his rights,his needs. Wheres the responsibility of the individual towards others,the society around him/her?. The Media has responsibilty towards the society.

            Whereas in Islam you have to look at the community as a whole, how it affects people in a society,the pros and cons of every outcome. This is problem with Liberalism.Its all about the ”My” : ”My needs,my rights,” .

            All of those facts and stats mentioned in Hena’s comment is totally irrelevant to them,its so trivial.Up until it haunts them,and all those damages done cannot be undone.

          • commonsense

            May 27, 2010 at 12:25 AM

            Just 1 last thing … it’s an interesting point regarding an individual’s responsibility towards society & not just ‘my my my …’ as elham points out. The ‘N’ word (nig**r) is extremely derogatory to African Americans and it is very offensive. However, there is no law against using that word. Still, most people do not use that word anymore …
            … There is no law against shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded mall and causing a panic – yet most people will not do something stupid like that … Something to think about

        • shiney

          May 28, 2010 at 5:58 PM

          looks like you did a lot of research. thank you so much for addressing this issue. I didn’t even know there were such immoral things going on until i saw the post.. i’m like shocked.

  2. sheik fathima

    May 22, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    All some people wanna do is look, glare and stare at you. Muslim women never will give a chance. If a women shows herself open to this world and entertains people – I am sorry to say please do not use ISLAM and MUSLIM for all these.

    Sister Rima Fakih, Do not have pride that you are beautiful. Instead thank allah (Swt) for making you pleasant for your family. Regret for what you have done and ask ALLAH (swt) to forgive for your sin.
    Don’t wear clothes for the people, cuz they change like the weather, wear hijab for the sake of allah (swt) cuz good deeds last forever.

    Everything Allah (swt) has made valuable in the world is covered up and hard to get. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. ALLAH (swt) has made islamic women precious too; thats y they are covered too. If one exposes herself she is going astray and she is forcing herself to be under pressure.

    • paagle

      May 27, 2010 at 10:04 AM

      You choose your things “made valuable” by Allah rather selectively. Isn’t fruit growing on trees or bushes valuable? I’d say they’re more valuable than diamonds, but then I’ve never understood what makes diamonds so valuable, but I love me a juicy strawberry! What is more valuable than water? Mostly it just flows, sits and sloshes about right out in the open. Of course we need to be responsible with food and water even though it is right out in the open. But I’ve always found some of the greatest pleasure floating down a river, sitting by the beach, watching life teem right out in the open in a wetland. I don’t need to own any of it. I certainly don’t want to cause it harm. I’m just happy its there. Perhaps human beauty should be viewed the same way?

      (please no responses about how disruptive female beauty is – the disruption caused by female beauty is completely based on the dominant culture. Women can be openly beautiful in, say, the USA and still life goes on pretty well. But an openly beautiful woman in, say, Egypt – where Islamic religiosity is on the rise – can cause more uproar and get herself in trouble. Not to say we’re perfect, but this covering up is throwing the baby out with the bathwater)

      • faryal

        September 14, 2010 at 5:37 AM

        Indeed food is valuable but the only reason that its not considered more valuable than diamonds is cos its easily available. Anyone can have it whenever they feel like it. One will never leave food items out in the open had the food been scarce in this world.

        The problem with your analogy is that we do not consider women to be out there on the display for everyone to touch and enjoy, thus comparing food and women is really not correct.

        Peace and blessings on you paagle.

  3. Zeba Khan

    May 22, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    I have to say that when I read the news about ‘First Muslim Ms. USA,’ I was quite sad. Winning over the rest of the non-Muslim world is something Muslims need to do *with* their Islam, and not by abandoning it. I sincerely believe that the media highlighting her religion is politically motivated coverage- “Look, she’s Muslim, she’s sexy- you want to be a cool Muslim? You can be like her too! There’s no need for all this ‘fundamentalist’ stuff…” In this day and age, it’s hard enough trying to find your Muslim identity without it being remade by people whose agenda is assimilation instead of coexistence.

    And Allah knows best.

  4. Janan D

    May 22, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    “Seeing that one of us gets to make it in spite of being Muslim and Arab is another welcome relief,” comments Sister Janan Delgado on altmuslimah, although she redeems herself in her conclusion.”

    Salaam Sister,

    May Allah SW reward you for your intentions. A quick note; That “make it” should not be taken out of the context of the paragraph in which I used it. I also do not wait until the “conclusion” of my article to “redeem” myself. I invite you, and your readers, to read my article again (or for the first time), and think of the nuance I am trying to capture in my paragraphs (and note the tone in which I use that “make it”).

    I do not at all see Rima Fakih’s crowning as a victory, I simply see why it was a cause of joy for some people. I think this rejoicing in spite of our recognition that pageants are undesirable enterprises for a range of different reasons is the product of our situation as Muslims in this particular time and place. This situation is complicated (with constant media bashing, discrimination, racism, a natural need for recognition and fair treatment, etc, etc, the factors are countless). Complicated situations tend to produce complicated responses. Hence the title of my article.

    Miss USA 2010, It’s Complicated

    Janan D.

    • Hena

      May 22, 2010 at 6:52 PM

      Wa alaykumasalam wa rahmatulahiwabaraktahu Sister Janan,

      Please understand why I picked on your choice of words as many may pick at mine. I was amazed at the general reaction of so many people thinking that she ‘made it’. Maybe your sane voice and nuances got lost in the avalanche of back thumpers. What I meant by ‘her’ conclusion was what your readers garnered from the overall article-which I agreed with. You were the only one who had the courage to point out the effect on Muslimahs who cover.

      Why do we as a people blame the western media, we say they project stereotypes- look at what happened with us here. Our own Muslim media over and over suggested this as a victory, emphasising yet another stereotype, the age-old belly dancer type this time. Again I agree that we have set the ‘bar too low’.

      Muslim women have so many other accomplishments under our belt. Why remain silent then and celebrate now? This is my request to Muslim media everywhere- use your power, don’t remain silent when other Muslims achieve thing worthy of celebrating.

    • Amad

      May 23, 2010 at 12:13 AM

      Janan, overall, that was a solid piece. jazakillahkhair.

    • Umm Zakariyya

      May 23, 2010 at 10:36 AM

      Asalaamu alaykum

      It is every writer’s nightmare that a paragraph, sentence or phrase will be taken out of her writing and misconstrued, and that has clearly happened with Sister Janan’s piece. I followed the links and after reading her article to the end, I could not possibly have come to the same conclusion as Sr Hena about Janan’s views. The whole is more than the sum of the components. Just as you cannot read the Qur’an and argue for the legality of alcohol based on the verse “there is a benefit and a harm for you therein,” you cannot come make an inference about Sr Janan’s opinions based on any particular sentence or paragraph. She explores her own thought processes and other arguments that made be made in favour of beauty pageants and Rima Fakir’s crowing, addresses this each in turn, and comes to a very water tight conclusion. Her “sane” voice did not get lost, it was there all the time – it just needed readers to work towards the end before making a conclusion about the writer’s views/

      An error like this detracts from what is other wise a very well written and courageous piece of writing. In my opinion both the writer and Muslim Matters (who should double check all links and facts) should edit the article as it appears here and apologise to the writer. There is great benefit in this piece, but it doesn’t need to misconstrue the work of another writer in order to make its case. I would love to applaud Sr Hena, but until that error is rectified, it stands a flawed piece of writing.

      • amad

        May 23, 2010 at 12:32 PM

        Pls note that in general, as MM, we cannot possibly check and verify all links and contexts. As a volunteer organization, we have limited resources and we do the best we can with them. Each author is responsible for his or her own work, and as such blogging is a forum where the author faces considerable scrutiny through comments, and they provide much more policing than a few staffers of MM could. So, careful readers like you are part of the fact-checking team like all of us, thanks for your attention.

        If Sr. Hena agrees with your assessment, we will make the necessary adjustments for her on request. That is our general protocol.

        • Hena

          May 23, 2010 at 11:15 PM

          I do- I am sorry I was not clear that Sister Janan’s article was a very responsible one in Muslim media- my issue was with people thinking that this was making it not that Sister Janan thought this was a victory.

          When I thanked her I meant it from the bottom of my heart-
          After reading pages and pages of people cheering maybe it was a moment of someone saying no no getting lost in a room full of people saying YEAH YEAH.

        • Umm Zakariyya

          May 24, 2010 at 12:34 AM

          I understand. There are two ways you can amend it:
          The first and easier way would be to omit the two paragraphs that make reference to Sr Janan. It still reads easily even without them.

          The second and longer way would be to cut both paragraphs where they currently appear in the text, and for Sr Hena to make a positive reference to her article and to insert it just before the last paragraph where she addresses Rima directly.

          The article will still flow easily.

          • Amad

            May 24, 2010 at 3:57 AM

            The post has been updated as per Sr. Hena’s amendments.

            Thanks Umm Zakariyya for helping smooth out what may have appeared as unfair criticism, even though I know Hena didn’t mean it that way.

  5. s

    May 22, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    “When Tanya from the youth group asks me ‘Sister Hena, but she is the first MUSLIM isn’t that cool?’ Is it cool? I attend a very liberal masjid, I can see where the girls are going with that – ‘everyone is doing it now even Muslims,’ ‘This opens up door which hasn’t been opened before, and sometimes that is not good’, says Sarah Ahmed, a mother of four college kids.”

    Definitely the scary part…there’s nothing redeeming about it at all…

    • Full Metal

      May 22, 2010 at 12:52 PM

      off topic: Nice Edward Elric Avatar

  6. Kashif H

    May 22, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    salaam aleikum,

    I don’t see why all the fuss over the “Miss USA” Pageant, after all a Muslimah, Rana Raslan, did win a “Miss Israel” pageant in 1999:

    I am sure it made such a HUGE difference and got Muslims such “acceptance” that the Israelis must have thought long and hard about this when they invaded Lebanon as well as when they subsequently bombed Gaza.

    Those pro-regressive modernist types should cheer on Rima to enter the “Miss Israel” pageant next if she isn’t chosen as “Miss Universe”, after all its the least that we owe the dead children in Gaza.

  7. Sayf

    May 22, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    In my opinion this serves to create a false dichotomy within the Muslim world, causing people to look at Muslims in black and white, those who practice and cause problems and those who don’t and win pageants. But then again there are those racists who still hate her very existence.

    Not to mention this is all fuel to the fire for the niqab bans going around.. “Look how awesome Muslims can be when they aren’t acting like such -err Muslims!” Seems like a slippery slope to me, I wonder where this will all lead in 10 years? May Allah protect us, ameen.

  8. Farhan

    May 22, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    My thoughts exactly…

  9. ummmanar

    May 22, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    salam aleikum
    Mashallah sister sheik fathima”s comment is very true.I really love that saying valuable things are hard to get add pearls and so does muslim woman.jazkallahukairn I will always use this word if I get into hijab discussion you said it so beautiful.The fact is muslim or not beauty is not taking your clothes is deep in your heart,remember allah doesnot judge us by our looks he judges us with our deeds.This is the beauty of islam our beauty shows in our action.Leave the so called miss Usa for people with low selfesteem and confidence.

  10. Sagacious Muslim

    May 22, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    Personally, I don’t see what the large hype is concerning Miss USA.

    Although she is a Lebanese American, that doesn’t make her a Muslim. Yes- she could have been born to Muslim parents. However in my opinion, if someone doesn’t practice their faith, then that person should not be associated with their religion whatsoever.

    Just log onto any mainstream gossip website & look for the keyword “Rima”. You will find a typical Miss USA partying away either on a pole/boat/dance floor.

    The media most probably saw her as an opportunity to stir anger and hostility within our Muslim community, similarly to the Prophet cartoon saga.

    My sisters & brothers in Islam……………….. let’s NOT let these people get to us! Let us go on with our lives & react to what is most important- AKA the suffering of the Palestinians.

    There are countless other “Muslim” leaders in every community of the world who do not identify themselves as Muslims. So in essence if we must care about who’s a good Muslim and who’s a bad Muslim, we should scrutinize those in power, and NOT those who wear princess tiaras.

    (Btw, I’m not criticizing the article above, just offering my opinion :-)

    • Hena

      May 22, 2010 at 8:23 PM

      Her being practicing or non practicing is not the point- are we 100% practicing? This is Shaytan’s trick -making us get all judgmental on each other- I am the first to fall for that trap. May Allah forgive me.

      Now that all of this has happened and will keep happening- what now? what language do we talk to our girls in- how do we explain it to them? How do we brush away the nonsense and reach out to our teenage girls who face this pressure everyday? To look a certain way, to starve themselves to achieve that perfect figure, judged by only their bodies not for in their heads, covered or not. It happens when its time for marriage, our own judge them, for jobs, they are judged again. Nothing I am saying is new but we get very little Muslim dialogue about this.

      You can say turn off the TV, throw away the magazines, lock down the internet so ok two % of us will do that what about 98% left?

      • Sagacious

        May 22, 2010 at 10:53 PM

        Salaam Alaikum

        I also think it’s immensely important to guide our daughters (and sons) the right way to live their life through Islamic etiquette and not what they see in the media. Although I’m not married (with no kids) I still know this is crucial.

        Surely if any Muslim parent strives to raise their children to the best of their abilities with the assistance of Allah (SWT), they will not need to worry about such influences. InshAllah.

        I wasn’t being judgmental, in fact that is exactly what I was trying to communicate- to not be judgmental towards this certain person. But I also think instead of concentrating so much on her, we should also look at other things that affect our Muslim community. (In my opinion) Pointing out the mistakes of Muslim leaders who sit back and let their people die at the hands of Western occupational armies is not being judgmental, because as Muslims we should demand these changes. That’s what I attempted to communicate in my comment.

  11. Truth

    May 22, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    If you think you can represent Islam better then do it. Until then, leave other Muslims alone.

    • Sagacious Muslim

      May 22, 2010 at 5:30 PM

      Truth- you’re correct, but it’s important to identify the wrong doings of others in order to set a good example and become better Muslims ourselves.

  12. PakistaniMD

    May 22, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    Good analysis. This article articulates my viewpoint(s) exactly.

    Though, I do think we need to be less critical of the brothers + sisters who wrote CAUTIOUSLY optimistic anecdotes about Rima Fakih’s win. Both Elan and Illume Magazines’ are great (but slightly less conservative) publications.

    • Amad

      May 23, 2010 at 12:15 AM

      I think Hena’s criticism was of the posts, not of the magazines.

      However, I disagree that they were “cautiously” optimistic on the issue, or that they are “slightly less” conservative :)

  13. HOV

    May 22, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    everybody could tell you how to do it, but they never did it

  14. Phil

    May 22, 2010 at 9:46 PM

    “P.S. Apparently Rima has declared she isn’t even really a Muslim.”

    What is this based on?

    • Sayf

      May 22, 2010 at 10:48 PM

      I’m wondering too.

      • Amad

        May 23, 2010 at 12:06 AM

        Fakih subsequently told MSNBC on May 19 that she is “not Muslim,” but did not identify belonging to a certain religion.


        I haven’t been able to locate the MSNBC link yet, though thinkprogress is a major site that should be quite accurate.

        In any case, I think this will always be a byline… the identification as Muslim will stick whether she later claimed otherwise or not.

  15. SonicSoriyah

    May 22, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    Fakih did an interview on the Joy Behar Show, where she said something about how she preferred to be seen more as an Arab woman as opposed to a Muslim woman, and seemed uncomfortable answering questions about her or her family’s religion. For some reason the media has focused more on the illusive matter of her religious background as opposed to her ethnicity as an Arab woman (much more concrete), which is often conflated with stereotypes of Muslim women is general. So for some reason, her religion has trumped her ethnicity when both carry similar connotations.

    The issue of someone’s religion is usually seen as very a personal matter in the US, so it becomes very uncomfortable for someone to have their religion made very public as Fakih has. So I actually feel sorry for her that she has the title of the “First Muslim Miss USA” thrust upon her when I don’t think she desires all this attention in terms of her religion (especially as opposed to her ethnicity)

    On another note though, I think its important that we don’t create an ideal of what it means to be a Muslim woman. Many Muslims have an idea of how a Muslim woman *should* dress or carry herself (there was an article on here a couple of weeks ago on here that talked about how a Muslim woman *should* carry herself), even though many good Muslim women may not dress that way or carry themselves that way. Even if a Muslim woman does something like participate in a beauty pageant, we should not begin to malign her from the title of (real) Muslim as some Muslims seem to be doing with Fakih.

    • Phil

      May 23, 2010 at 12:41 AM

      The 4 perfect women give plenty of evidence for how woman should act.

      • Hena

        May 23, 2010 at 2:07 AM

        good use of jawami al kalim :)

        • test22

          May 24, 2010 at 10:36 AM

          mashallah sister

    • HOV

      May 23, 2010 at 7:10 AM

      great response sonic!

  16. Rita

    May 23, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    I was born in this country and raised in Lebanon. I speak the language, however I am not a strict Muslim. In my opinion she is a bimbo who did not impress me and nor will I identify with her actions, as I think her pole dancing is a disgrace.

    The next time Arab Americans, or Muslim Americans want to point fingers at the Western way of life, lets not forget we have acted in the same manner, except we hide behind our vail while Americans are out there.

    I must say when she won, all I could do was think of my daughter who is a graduate of ivy league college 26 years of age. I must have done a hell of a job, to have instilled values morals, and told her to use her brain and not her body and I am so proud of her as she is an example of what a true Middle Eastern Woman should be , well educated with class and morals and values and brains.

    Sorry MS USA you do not speak for me as woman , setting aside Muslim just as a woman.

    I hope to hear that you will go back to attend law school, as I do not see that happening. You have entered a life style that is going to either bring you up or bring you down.

    Young girls of all faith please go to school and make something of yourselves having brains is what you need to succeed in life.

  17. Jamila

    May 23, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    Good article.

    But honestly she is NOT pretty or good looking, I think they just made her win as a publicity stunt and show a ‘liberated’ Muslim woman. What a stupid contest anyway.

  18. Yousra

    May 23, 2010 at 7:53 AM

    I live in a so called Muslim country so my problems as a Muslim are “limited” to (among others ) the fact that they let hotels serve alcohol and casinos and night clubs are a norm or that new housing projects catering to thousands of people forget to factor in the need for a mosque within their community. I cannot even begin to comprehend the problems faced by our American sisters, especially the ones raising kids in the current scenario.

    Working in a multi cultural society in a “Muslim” country, I am often asked this question by my male and female colleagues who follow various different faiths, “so why do you wear a scarf”. The answer “because being modestly dressed is what our religion prescribes” usually leads to a stupid one like “don’t you feel hot” (which usually implies: poor you! You’re probably MADE to do this) or the other dreaded question “so why doesn’t XYZ (also a Muslim) wear it”.

    At times where we are constantly being stereo-typed, compared and compartmentalized as either extremist or liberal (where liberal usually stands for not following our faith at all) and our religion is the object of great speculation and negative publicity, this just serves to add fuel to the fire and confuse our youngsters of where they stand as Muslims even more! I agree, we need more Muslim role models who should no doubt be “Liberal” but within the boundaries set by our religion.

    • Hena

      May 24, 2010 at 1:12 AM

      In this beautiful story I found a everyday role model for our girls- this is someone I would want to represent me. It takes a special kind of woman to make this choice.

  19. imzaa

    May 23, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    stop judging her and worry about your own necks.

    she is of “muslim heritage” ie non-practicing, so don’t hold her to standards she isn’t trying to achieve!

    this is good news. much better than if her parent’s disowned her for competing, if the mullah put out money for her head, or some stupid nonsense like that.

    the world and let feminists rule every decision…….good luck with that. (i wish, don’t get me wrong)
    you could always try to get a more women in congress and a woman president. that would be a start.

    until then…. i hope you eventually come around and stop hating her, she’s doing great things for Muslims in the eyes of the AVERAGE AMERICAN.

    • amad

      May 23, 2010 at 12:36 PM

      I am sorry but are you reading the same post that everyone else is?

      Who is hating Rima? She is responsible for her own actions, just like we all are. But because she has been thrust out there as a role-model for Muslim women, one of those sisters, Hena, took umbrage to this characterization for the sake of her own daughter and other Muslim daughters.

      You may be right about the “Average American” comment, though I would severely disagree with you (average Americans are not that dumb to suddenly start loving Muslims because one of “our women” dresses down), but there is another audience at stake here. Muslim girls. And the harm there is more than the perceived benefit to the “average American”.

  20. Kashif H

    May 23, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    salaam aleikum,

    three more follow ups to this:

    1. Alhamdullillah she does NOT identify as a Muslim and neither for that matter do most of her family, most of whom have given interviews stating as much.

    2. That being said it is the media as well as Arab nationalist and secularist groups who are pushing her as some kind of “role model” for Arab and Muslim girls to follow.

    3. Her own statement here leaves NO ambiguity as to what she hopes to accomplish and promote:

    She (Fakih) hopes that fellow Arab Americans will be inspired by her experiences.

    “From what I see in their reactions, a lot of (Arab American) girls might be applying for Miss Michigan next year,” she said. “If not, I’m going to feel like a failure, that means I did not prove to these girls that they should feel proud of who they are.”


    • Zeba Khan

      May 23, 2010 at 12:19 PM

      “From what I see in their reactions, a lot of (Arab American) girls might be applying for Miss Michigan next year,” she said. “If not, I’m going to feel like a failure, that means I did not prove to these girls that they should feel proud of who they are.”

      Ethnic Pride = Pageant Competition?

      • Kashif H

        May 23, 2010 at 3:54 PM

        More like..

        inferiority complex + low self esteem = pageant competition.

  21. Omar

    May 23, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    – Stop worrying. She isn’t the first or the last “Muslim” to completely dissolve in the big melting pot. The only difference is she is high profile.

    – The Muslim community need to understand that much of this is aimed at “integrating” the Muslim culture and making it the same as everyone else.

    – The Islamic way of life will always flourish. It may be hit hard once in a while, but it jumps right back up.

    – To those who like this, our goal is not to win a popularity contest and improve our image at all stakes. Islam first, image second.

  22. Slave of the Most Loving One

    May 23, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful!
    Peace and blessings be on Prophet, his family, his companions and all the righteous believers.

    Salam wrt wbrt..

    May Allah Swt reward u for writing this article sister Hena!

    Regarding kids…make one thing clear to them…there are good and bad Muslims, there are practising and non practising ones…i mean explain to them this concept clearly and giving examples from the Quran and maybe relate some parables…

    by the way…shaytan’s soldiers will keep on trying to extinguish the light of Allah’s deen….but guess what Allah AlMighty sends His soldiers to fight the devils and will definitely make truth get an upper hand over falsehood!
    So letz take the necessary action (like how sister Hena did by writing this article) but at the same time let’s not feel like we have to justify rima’s behaviour to everyone on the road…. if anyone is gona come and ask u “hey why cant u be like Rima?” tell them that “just like how there are practising and non practising christians and jews, there are practising and non prac Muslims…and i wish to obey my Lord as much as i can!!”

    May Allah, the All Powerful One destroy the evil shaytan’s plots and keep us steadfast in His deen.ameen!

  23. Yahya Ibrahim

    May 23, 2010 at 7:46 PM


    One never knows which route they take towards Allah. We all eventually return to Him and He will Judge us. We seem to forget that Allah will change the sins of a person to righteous deeds on account of their repentance and belief in Him. Some individuals Allah will Pardon. Fullstop.

    A lady of the night gave water to a thirsty dog and was forgiven the Prophet would say.

    Abu Dhaar would ask if a murderer, thief or fornicator could ever hope for Paradise and our Prophet (s) answers him repetively YES…and finally He (s) says, “They will enter Paradise whether abu Dharr agrees or not!

    Allah forgives and pardons. Like it who likes it, hates it who hates it.

    We ask Allah to make this person who a source of Dawah and make her deserving of His Divine Mercy.

    Her news is on 60 minutes in Australia and all over the papers:

    The Prophet (s) said, as is in Bukhari:

    “Allah (may) give strength to this faith by using the tongue of a Faajir (Open sinner).”

    • Hena

      May 24, 2010 at 3:41 AM

      to Brother Yahya and iMuslimah’ comment Ameen – this is the reason why I refered to her in respect as Sister-

      Some get an easy journey on the straight path others take the loop di loop coaster route – some loops are longer than others- I know, mine was and every day we fall off and try to get back on again. I remember the people who pointed me back to the right direction so vividly even if I did not appreciate them at that time. Some don’t even know where their words took me.

      Once a young man was drinking at a college mixer- I asked him “err- isn’t drinking alchohol haram in Islam”, he replied- “you being here in this room is haram”. Brother set me straight.

  24. Brother

    May 23, 2010 at 10:11 PM

    In my opinion I think that American’s want Muslims to become like them so bad that they blow stories like this way out of proportion and then publicize it to no end. Rima Faikh may be a Muslim but her statement that she also celebrates Christian holidays should be a factor in this whole thing. All in all she seems to not be a devout Muslim. Like a commenter noted there may always be an ember of Imaan withing oneself so Khayr inshallah. I respect my Muslimah sisters who wear their Hijabs with pride. All young sisters who see their older Muslim sister wearing a Hijab should take them as a role model and not be ashamed to embrace it. If I have offended anybody please forgive me. This is my opinion and I have no intention of displaying bigotry, backbiting, anti-West rhetoric etc. Wa’asalamualaikum.

  25. madam

    May 24, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    First Michael Jackson then this… are we Muslims so shallow and silly?

  26. Pingback: A tall glass of haterade, anyone? « Fatemeh Fakhraie

    • Amad

      May 24, 2010 at 12:42 PM

      To Fatemeh: just a technical correction in your pinged post. Sr. Hena is a guest writer on MM, not “from MM”.

  27. Reality

    May 24, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    There is a time for everyone, just as there was a time for us “proper” Muslims. There is even a time for sister Rima. She may be a better person than all of us put together. A beauty contest doesn’t necessarily reverse that possibility, and we shouldn’t assume it does.

    We should also not forget that all of us are imperfect Muslims. Some of us may also be projecting our own insecurities on the matter as we criticize sister Rima. There could be jealousy, envy, or other unIslamic feeling propelling some of us to take a ‘self-righteouss’ stand. This, of course, says more about the criticizer and little to nothing about sister Rima. This should not be lost on anyone, even when some of us choose to not face their own insecurities and faults as Muslims.

    I wouldn’t doubt for a second that some sisters out there would relish the spotlight in such a contest as Rima (who is no doubt beautiful) did, if they could. Because they can’t, they behave self-righteously. Allah Knows what is in your hearts — so beware.


    • Amad

      May 25, 2010 at 12:35 AM

      I wouldn’t doubt for a second that some sisters out there would relish the spotlight in such a contest as Rima (who is no doubt beautiful) did, if they could. Because they can’t, they behave self-righteously.

      Perhaps. And I would also say there are a lot, lot of sisters, I daresay a majority of practicing sisters who would die before appearing in immodest clothes in front of 1 non-mahram man, let alone millions. So, I agree we should never be self-righteous regardless of the situation, but sometimes we may also be guilty of seeing self-righteousness in sincere anger.

      I think some commentators may have ventured into hating on Rima, but from my reading of the article, it was all about role-models.

  28. Omar

    May 25, 2010 at 12:52 PM


    Apparently she did not “declare herself free from Islam” as this article says. Please correct this egregious mistake – pertaining to someone’s deen. It just seems she was uncomfortable talking about her religion to the US media.

    On the Arab side to AlHurra TV, she said:
    “”العديد من الناس الذين يعيشون داخل الولايات المتحدة يخجلون من القول بأنهم يعتنقون الديانة المسلمة فأنا لا أريد أن اتبع هذه الطريق فأنا لم اخجل من الإعلان عن ديانتي كي لا تتزعزع صورتي أمام الجميع فأنا فخورة كوني مسلمة وأريد أن أتوجه للجميع وأقول لهم إن الإسلام ليس ما تشاهدونه من إرهاب فهناك نوعين من الإسلام المسلم الملتزم والمسلم الليبرالي Ùˆ أنا آتي من عائلة تجمع بين الاثنين Ùˆ نحن كمسلمين جميلين Ùˆ لدينا ايجابيات كثيرة.”

    Loosely translates:
    “Many people who live in the US shy away from saying they adhere to the Islamic faith, but I do not want to follow this way. I have not shyed away from declaring my religion so my image does not shake before everyone. I am proud of being a Muslim, and want to tell everyone that Islam is not the terrorism you see. There are two types of Islam, religious Islam (e.g. wear hijabi) and Liberal Islam, I come from a family that combines both, and respects religion. We as Muslims are beautiful and have many positive aspects

    Her Arabic is perfect, Lebanese accent, so she clearly did some of her growing up in Lebanon. The interview mentioned that she is from a similar area to Hezbollah’s hub.

    And the “pole dancing” contest apparently was a dancing class in a gym with women, and in the end she decided to dance on the stage

    I only heard the interview (didn’t see it), but she sounds like an average Arab girl, who isn’t particularly religious, but respects the deen, and speaks positively of her hijabi freinds. So don’t hate on her, but pray for her guidance inshAAllah

    • Amad

      May 25, 2010 at 1:31 PM

      Since there is no clear statements on Rima saying she is not a Muslim, we’ll go by what is apparent, so the statements related to it have been struck.

      • Hena

        May 25, 2010 at 1:37 PM

        Thank you Brother Amad for striking that.

        and you too Brother Omar- they were not a part of my original post – I do not have any knowledge of this.

  29. shirtman

    May 25, 2010 at 10:52 PM

    She said about her family ” we are Muslim” on HLN.

  30. anonymous

    May 26, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    SubhanAllah and Allahu Musta’an,
    Our Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa sallam) said Part of a man’s good observance of Islam is that he leaves alone that which does not concern him. (Sunan Abi Dawood and others )

    As a student of some of the teachers on this site, I am shocked and amazed that this issue has been given this kind treatment. A part of our religion is using appropriate speech. I understand the dilemma of an arab (and inshaAllah muslimah) winning the pageant, but in this day and age where we make the most of dawah opportunities, this is an issue of the winner’s understanding of imaan and tawheed, do we really want to post comments on the woman’s looks “(eg. Good article.

    But honestly she is NOT pretty or good looking).” . The media is turning this into “Muslim role model mode” Not her necessarily. Comment on their treatment of the topic not her winning.

    Looking at some of the other articles, this site is famous for SEVERE comment moderation, but didn’t the Prophet(sallalahu alayhi wa sallam) scold his beloved wife(radiaAllahanha) for saying a word that would darken the ocean ? (in some narrations she said so and so (a co-wife) was SHORT). so let’s stop slandering/backbiting in the comment section inshaAllah. Moderate that.

    The winner’s problem is not how she looks in a bikini (brothers and sisters lower ur gaze, she’s showing awrah that girls can’t look at either) it is an issue of imaan. Her focus was to win the pageant like every Prom queen’s dream. Maybe she wants to set an example for other muslim women (May Allah enhance our honor and the honor of our sisters Ameen), but is that really the most damaging ideological attack against pure Islaam, or are we able to address a larger problem? May Allah bless the site moderators, the authors and the visitors, but don’t turn this situation into the winner turning into Dajjal (we have bigger issues attacking our younger and older brothers and sisters ) or a backbiting/slandering session. Her looks do not matter, her misunderstanding on Tawheed got this ball rolling, not her teeny bikini, or her hairstyle, Allahu alim. May Allah forgive me, her and you. Ameen. She needs dawah to fix her inner appearance before she can fix her outer appearance, May Allah guide her, Ameen.

    NOTE to moderators : If you are serious on moderating/censoring comments on articles dealing with Eric Cartman, Stan, Kyle and “YOU KILLED KENNY, you !!!” and election articles to push the opinions endorsed by this site, I suggest you also moderate the comments here, EVEN if they be mine inshaAllah. May Allah increase us all in taqwa Ameen.

    • Amad

      May 26, 2010 at 10:51 AM

      We try our best to catch comments that are of personal nature, but we cannot obviously police the site 24 hours a day, as you can appreciate.

      The comment you highlighted has been removed. That’s all you and others need to do. When some comment seems out of place, highlight it or if its an older comment, you could even email us. Of course, we reserve the right to make the final judgment on the comment’s moderation, but with the help of all the readers, we can do only better.

      jazakallahkhair for the kind reminder.

      • Nasar

        June 2, 2010 at 11:58 AM

        I give people a lot of space on issues of sins and mistakes, as Allah knows I have done much wrong myself and He gave me time to repent and turn back.

        However, I am shocked at the liberal accepting views of many of the people on this post. So many commentary’s display no shame or fear of Allah in what they write. This faasiq sister stood in front of the world in a manner of dress which is Haraam for her to be in infront of anyone other then her spouse (if she has one) and then has the audacity to spread she is doing work for Islam.

        When an action is done in public is should be refuted in public. Part of Islam is enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, if we leave it we leave part of Islam. Such a disgusting and filthy act should never be taken lightly by Muslims. I am horrified to see that people on this post no only accept what she has done but think its a good thing.

        Also pulling out the “self righteousness” card every time some evil action takes place to squash voices that speak against this faahisha shows not only a lack of understanding but an acceptance of evil. The early Muslims would never accept such an action from a fellow member of the faith. What she did must be spoken AGAINST and its DISAPPROVAL made clear.

  31. Pingback: Indigo Jo Blogs — Miss USA, Muslim role models and the state of our blogging community

  32. shiney

    May 28, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    thank you so much for writing this article. it really clears a lot of misconceptions. it’s sad to know that the muslim youth of today have such immoral examples to see and that htey actually think it’s a good thing that a muslim woman is going and losing her morals and her modesty in fron tof the whole world.

  33. Susan

    May 31, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    Assalaamu alaykum Sisters and Brothers, I wish Miss USA chose or will choose to represent herself and our faith in a better way. Inshaa Allah, swt, this will happen in the future. In the mean while I would like to say instead of “do not do that” to “do this”. The “this” I refer to is represented by the above link. In my opinion these are the sisters who represent Islam, at least to me. Wonderfully strong sisters with steadfast faith, well educated, and good intentions.

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  35. Miguel

    June 5, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    I’m sorry for being so crass, but it has to be said: If you look the way Rima Fakih does, men’s penises ultimately don’t discriminate. This whole issue really shows how true the hadith of Rasul Allah is that Muslims will follow the disbelievers into lizard holes. I don’t see a better simile than this. This event should not be celebrated by anyone. It’s disgusting. I’ve been around enough Islamophobes to know that while they would hate living next to a Muslim, they wouldn’t mind having sex with one. Yes, there are people who are this disgusting in this world. In this era of media frenzy, it’s nothing to be proud of when the world, to put it mildly, wants to have sex with you.
    All during the pageant when America discovered this girl and for everyday from that point until now, the lurid minds of men everywhere have been mentally raping this girl and she let them do it. While we are all accountable to our own sins, sin typically has a doer and an instigator. All actions are up to intentions, so everyone will be judged accordingly. There is no argument for one who willingly parades in front of the world in a bikini, inviting this kind of reaction. For those who don’t think this is the kind of reaction that drives men to judge and watch beauty pageants, they are either totally naive or totally stupid. That’s too much to account for and is enough of a reason to mourn for this girl and not celebrate or congratulate her.

    In other words, this is a disgrace and does nothing but illustrates how low in the dregs the Muslims are in North America to even applaud it. It will do nothing to dispel racism and profiling. I won’t be any less suspected at an airport because Miss America is an Arab of Muslim descent.

    If anyone needs a better illustration of how truly “integrated” Muslims and Arabs are in North America, they could have done so long before Rima came on the scene by simply looking at the amount of Arabs and Muslim in jail in North America, on drugs, abusing alcohol and getting pregnant as teenagers and out of wedlock.

    Nuff said.

  36. Naddie Simpson

    June 6, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Okay, what she is doing is not very islamic, but who are we to judge, she may be a better person inside than most of us. Just make du’a that she will be guided one day insha’Allah.

    • F. Ahmed

      July 29, 2012 at 7:47 PM

      She was caught and had her license for drunk driving as far as I heard.

  37. atheistdebater

    June 15, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Don’t be so obsessed about the female human body. It is perfectly natural. Let women be themselves. Don’t hold them to a double standard, just because they were born women. Do not be so judgmental. Believe it or not, woman can show their hair, their arms and even (gasp) their lower legs, and still be respectable, moral, intelligent, hard-working, successful and good people.

    Do you really think Muslim women are better than non-Muslim women, just because most of them wear hijabs and swim fully dressed? How stupid and insulting. Get over yourselves.

    I think the new Miss USA is beautiful. I don’t know much more about her than that, but I am sure she will go on to do other impressive things in her life.

    • elham

      June 15, 2010 at 8:52 PM

      We believe in a God and follow His Laws,so there is no question about Modesty being a part of our Faith.Simple.

      And no I am not going to waste my time and argue with you on whether you can believe in HIs existence or not.

    • Sayf

      June 15, 2010 at 11:18 PM

      So many straw-man arguments from a “debater”.

      Do not be so judgmental. Believe it or not, woman can show their hair, their arms and even (gasp) their lower legs, and still be respectable, moral, intelligent, hard-working, successful and good people.

      Sure, why not? For Muslims this is bad territory to be in, we’re not here to judge people, so take your own advice.

      Do you really think Muslim women are better than non-Muslim women, just because most of them wear hijabs and swim fully dressed?

      This is not true.

      Do you understand the difference between believing x action is better than y vs. doer of action x is generally better than doer of y?

      You seem to have forgotten rule #1 of “debating” – understand the argument.

      Please stop trolling.

  38. nate

    August 20, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    so here’s what i believe, I too am a muslim. Rima I will not detest you because of your beauty, nor will I detest you because of your notriety, and I wont write about why this is wrong and that I have you figured out. But what I will comment on is, if your not educated about islam please dont mention it. Islam is suppose to be about modesty and being humble, every strong muslim man knows, you need a even stronger muslim woman by your side. Some people enjoy fame and notriety and the attention that comes along with it, if i was put in that situation, i dont think i would want my pics, especially compromising pics on the web for the world too see. Our lil muslima’s growing in this cold world, need positive role models, and must know that you dont have to be beauty queen to be noticed.

  39. busana muslim

    October 28, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    What I haven’t seen before is a Muslim woman winning a beauty contest. From my point of view, this is just going to be more interesting. My personal feelings about beauty contests are not positive, but I wrote my articles to bring positivity to the discussions around her win. Muslim communities do a fair amount of complaining (most of which, in fairness, I believe is warranted. Not to mention that the basic premise of MMW is to be critical), so this time I wanted to take a positive angle.

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  41. Guest

    February 8, 2012 at 3:24 PM


    It doesn’t matter if she is talented or wants to become a
    lawyer.  Even when she drops all of this
    nonsense she will never be taken seriously in the corporate world and in the field
    of law. She can kiss her talents good bye. Not a really good brand image ( contrary
    to what  many people may believe!) I like this article but I wouldn’t drag this Rima stuff any further. There is nothing Islamic about what she is doing. This whole business is disgusting- as a muslim and as a woman.

  42. DesTinTee22

    April 4, 2012 at 3:05 AM

    Being the first Muslim to win Miss America is a very big deal!!!!  She has every right to feel proud and I will explain why.  After 911 there was so much hatred and hate crimes towards Muslims.  The reason was because of terrorist’s claiming they were following the Quran.  They gave a bad name to good Muslims and created so many negative stereotypes.  I for one was shocked she won because I thought they never would approve of a Muslim Miss America.   When she won it showed that she won because she was the most talented, most beautiful, and deserved the title as Miss America.  Like you said there are MANY MANY Muslim women who are models but they don’t say they are Muslim.  But what you don’t seem to understand is:
    1. They did not win Miss America (HUGE VICTORY FOR A MODEL) Give them that title and they will do the same!2. The reason she made it a big deal was because Stereotypes and negativity from 911 did not affect her in standing as Miss America this was a HUGE achievement for her.  She should feel honored that American’s did not care about her religion.  To be crowned as Miss America and be Muslim was a “HUGE SLAP IN THE FACE” to those American’s that hate Muslims for the wrong reason’s.  I was glad to see her win because it showed that they were not being prejudice.  Her race and religion did not affect her victory.  I am a Christian and have many Muslim friends.  We all respect one another because we are all trying to follow God. We all sin and God will judge her sin like he will judge ours.  If you must judge you should judge the hateful Muslims that give Good Muslims like my friends a bad name. I believe that there are good people in all races and all religions.  Islam and Christianity should make this world a better place where we judge less and make more Peace!  Because that is what both of our faiths teach us.  I understand why Muslims are angry but she was not flaunting it to give Islam a bad name. She was proud that being Muslim did not affect her in being crowned Miss America and I was too. SO IT IS A BIG DEAL THAT SHE BECAME THE FIRST MUSLIM MISS AMERICA FOR THAT REASON ONLY.

    • Kirana

      August 27, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      I don’t think the issue is if *she* is proud to be a Muslim Miss America. But I agree with the author that the *rest of us* in the Muslim larger community should *not* be proud that there exists the concept of a Muslim Miss America, given what we understand this pageant to involve. She identifies as Muslim, and she is Miss America. But this is not a great win for Muslims as it is a trade of our defining values (in this case physical modesty) for worldly acceptance. Just as we should not consider it a victory, to have similarly extremely incompatible concepts – Muslim bar owners, Muslim idol makers, Muslim shady car salesmen, Muslim fortune tellers, Muslim unethical bankers and so on, even if such things reflect local cultural assimilation. Such people may exist nonetheless, may be proud of themselves, but the Muslim community cannot be proud of them.

  43. Najla

    October 2, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    That’s why I like CNN Heroes. Now that’s a beauty pageant that I love to watch.

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