In the name of Allah The Most Gracious The Most Merciful.
The concept that lies behind the beauty contest is, it serves as a platform to acknowledge intellectual qualities, humanity values and good manners possessed in women and does not merely value their physical beauty. This is a general concept held by the pioneer of beauty contests around the world, such as Miss Universe, which has led to the proliferation of beauty contests across the globe. Malaysia is not excluded.
It aims to bring positive messages which usually associate with humanity values and world peace where it assembles accomplished, urban women across Malaysia to represent their nations.
It is also an opportunity to show the world what Malaysian truly beauty is. As quoted by one of the contestants, “a beauty pageant is not just pretty but also intelligent, cultured, well-spoken, kind hearted, warm and friendly. The title crowned will be used to help others and participate in various charities worldwide. ” Nevertheless, it is universally acknowledged that there is some part of the contest that requires the contestants to be physically eligible.
So Why Prohibit?
Despite the positive values that the organizer of the beauty contest wanted to channel, one cannot deny the prerequisites that the contestants need to meet; physically beautiful and attractive. Which is when the contestants are required to pose themselves publicly during the swimsuit round. From the Islamic perspective, this is obviously against the fundamental islamic principles as the aurat is not covered, exhibiting their physical appearance to the public in the name of beauty.
It is ironic. As intellectually and culturally capable women, they do not have to exhibit their personal physical beauty in public. Yes, beauty is more than pretty faces. Does this reflect our society mindset? Are we judging our women on the basis of how good they are physically? There are other alternatives to demonstrate one’s talents and to measure one’s capability. Take Tatarstan as an example: the beauty contest organized is based on the intellectual qualities and religious values possessed by the women there.
Yes, it’s about principle as well. Our principle.
Of course, we are living in a democratic and free country so why must these 4 individuals be prohibited to perform their rights as free Malaysian citizens as well? The concept of freedom is frequently misused and often fallacied. Exercising your freedom isn’t just about doing what you want freely. Personal freedom is about freeing yourself from the worldly and human’s extreme desires. Exhibiting one’s body so that they can be judged which one is the best does not reflect personal freedom and liberty. Personal freedom is about freeing yourself from your nafs and committing yourself to what is holier than thou, which is Allah. That is when you possess personal freedom. JAWI prohibited the participation of the four muslim contestants solely because they wanted to protect their personal freedom and liberty. Our women are worth more than self-exhibiting women. We are more worth than that. The established fatwa in February 1996 is more than a form of restraint. It is a form of education, Islamic education. To establish a fatwa is not a walk in the park where they make decisions based on what they feel but there are deep and critical references from the Quran and sunnah. Critical discussion among qualified islamic scholars took place. It is not a form of an authoritarian rule but a collective decision. This is our principle as muslims; living life according to Quran and sunnah.
To label Islam as a stone-aged religion that rejects freedom and liberty is absurd. Even the famous greek philosopher Socrates criticizes democracy in The Republic and perceives it as the second worst form of society as it emphasizes freedom solely. Undeniably, it is very appealing (especially in the world we live today) as people will pursue what is pleasurable but not what is good. As if the predicted future is eventually happening, where democracy will lead to self-tyranny as people are free to pursue pleasure per se. Furthermore, fighting for liberty and freedom bluntly weakens the moral sanctity itself. It involves faith and reason to obtain freedom.
Beauty contest is important because women are worth more than that.
Even Indonesia, the host country for Miss World 2013 are concerned about this matter and addresses their worries that women are being used as a comodity for economic development and the rise of the culture of nihilism. In Islam, women are not subjected to exploitation. They are to be protected. This may seem simple, but for women out there searching for the true meaning of freedom, go to your local mosques or local Islamic NGOs to learn more about your faith. Talk to the people and engage. You will find that you are more worth than what you think.