Muslim beauty asks: what’s the fuss about?

You almost have to ask yourself, “Is this for real?” It would be amusing if it were not so sad how the father of the girl who by the way attends a Catholic school keeps saying that her participation in a beauty pageant is not about religion. May Allah protect us and increase us in haya.

On a side note: Why do some Muslim parents send their children to Catholic schools to be educated? I know far too many Muslims that have attended Christian schools in their formative years and are now in danger of falling out of Islam.

And what is even worse, these same parents now complain that their children, now in adulthood, do not respect them nor do they observe many of the tenets of Islam, and some may be undergoing some difficult trials and tribulations. Indeed, it was the parents who failed in their amana to their children. May Allah rectify our affairs and guide us to that which pleases Him. Ameen.

Which reminds of the story of the man who complained to Umar radiyAllahu anhu about his son’s poor behavior. Umar radiyAllahu anhu asked for the son to be brought and questioned him. The son said that his father had never taught him anything about the deen not even a single ayah of Quran. Umar radiyAllahu anhu concluded that it was the father’s fault that the son mistreated him.

Source: The Australian

Michael Davis
August 28, 2006

A MUSLIM teenager accused of casting “a slur on Islam” by entering the Miss Teen Australia beauty pageant says she can’t understand the fuss.

“I’m quite shocked. It’s something I never expected,” Ayten Ahmet, 16, said yesterday during a break in judging at Melbourne’s Federation Square.

“As long as you present yourself well, respect yourself and respect others, that’s what’s important. Religion’s not an issue.”

The Melbourne teenager of Turkish descent became the subject of a Muslim morality debate after Melbourne cleric Sheik Mohammed Omran was quoted at the weekend as saying Muslim girls cast “a slur on Islam” by participating in beauty contests.

But Ayten, who attends a Catholic secondary school near her home in Craigieburn, north of Melbourne, has the support of her family.

Her father, Salih, said the fact his daughter was Muslim was irrelevant to her participation in the pageant. “Religion doesn’t enter into it. This is a fun day for her and that’s the way we see it,” he said. “It’s about respecting and treating people fairly. That’s what it comes down to.”

Yasser Suliman, chairman of the Islamic Family and Children’s Agency, said questions needed to be raised about the “whole issue” of beauty pageants. “This is a non-issue. There are far more important issues to be debated and discussed,” he said.


  1. Regarding your side note, this exact same question was asked of me recently. There is an Anglican primary school located within walking distance of my apartment that is ranked consistently among the top five schools in this country. Did we want our daughter to go there when she’s ready for school in a few years? Of course, as a parent I want what’s best for my daughter. But I also worry exactly about the issues you raise in your note. No decision has been made, nor need it be for a few more years, but at the moment I would prefer that my daughter attend the school my wife teaches at, which is also very good but not quite at the same level as the Anglican school.

  2. JDsg,

    Wow, reading this post was like a blast from the past from when I first started blogging in August of 2006. Corrected some of the poor grammar. In the intervening years, I’ve met a lot of Muslims who have attended Christian schools simply because they were the best schools in the area. The outcomes vary but I think have a lot to do with the surrounding culture and the home environment. I see a lot of parents emphasizing school studies and barely anything on religious literacy or practice.

    Thank you for sharing your story, I really appreciate it. I pray for the best for you and your family. Over the last five years, I’ve become more open to seeing the shades of gray in these sort of situations and some of that I attribute to hearing more voices and perspectives that add layers of nuance for me.

  3. Salaam!

    Similar sentiments were expressed here in the States when the woman from Dearborn, MI became Miss USA…and now she’s doing wrestling or something, scantily clad and saying the F word on television.

    I guess I don’t look at women such as these necessarily as a “slur on Islam.” Is what they are doing condoned within Islam? No, not at all. It is un-Islamic. But do all people who call themselves Muslims practice Islam? No. Same can be said with other religions. Now…if she were up on the stage and emphasized the fact that she is a Muslim woman and that she intends to do this representing all Muslim women and Islam itself…that would be a problem. I don’t know that this was the case. If her name were Ashley Jones, and she were white, and her parents were converts to Islam and she attended Catholic school in Australia and then participated in a beauty pageant, same story, same parental excuse…would there be the same concern about this being a slur on Islam?

    I see it as problematic that “Muslim” name and Muslim descent automatically make one representative of Islam. People who call themselves Muslim and have the affront to say they are representing Islam in our time have done much more horrible things than stride up and down a stage in a beauty pageant.

    We have to come to terms with the fact that some Muslims who call themselves Muslims are really secular, even to the point of being nominally Muslim. Name and ethnicity should never represent Islam more than doing things in the name of Islam does. More than this girl, I condemn those who commit atrocities and practice immorality explicitly in the name of God, in the of Islam.

    In terms of the Catholic school issue…I went to public school myself, and the yield for Muslims wasn’t that much better. The trick is (and there’s this book about it) that parents have to be more of an influence than peers. I could go on about this, because raising children is one of my interests, hehe, but this is a long enough comment…

  4. To partially answer your side question, Muslim private schools really are some of the worst (at least here in Toronto). I know some of these private schools where the principal is overworking the teachers, the owner is sometimes not paying the staff, classes are grouped together (so grades 4,5,6,7 are taught together!), the teachers are not certified and sometimes, even the halal meals are not halal.

  5. Salam Chinyere, your long comments are fine. I think part of being a minority or a multiple minority is that we are often asked or maybe not even asked to “represent” our various identities. We are labeled as the “first” xyz or simply by living our lives we become “teachers” to the dominant majority. Growing up in a mostly white town, I became the go-to person for everything black and African. Didn’t ask for it, it’s not fair and is intellectually lazy but it’s a reality. So it’s understandable why a Muslim in the news becomes news that is somehow supposed to be reflective of the community as a whole.

    Mezba: Yes, some Muslim schools are not up to snuff. There are enough horror stories to go around. Personally, I think young Muslims can excel and retain their faith in any school environment but one key is the strength of that faith outside of school and in the home. By the way, I’ll be in Toronto next month, any recommendations for mosques to vist?

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