In 2011, Indonesia with world’s largest Muslim population, held Muslim world’s first ‘Muslimah Beauty‘ contest to counter Western ‘Miss Universe’ pageant. It was organized by the ‘Indonesia Islamic Fashion Consortium‘, a NGO. Read more here.

The pageant, originally reserved for young Indonesian Muslim women (ages 18-24), turned international this year. It attracted Muslim contestants from Indonesia, Nigeria, Iran, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Brunei, and several other Muslim majority nations.

The requirements for the contestants are very different from the western beauty pageants. It’s not the bikini and sexual appeal, but Islamic modesty (fully clothed from head to toe) which is the basic criteria for the contestants. Furthermore, they’re judged on their skills of recitation of Holy Qur’an and Islamic social activities. The photo on top left shows Miss Dika Restiyani, the winner of 2011 contest. She is a doll entrepreneur.

This year the Muslim pageant was held on Wednesday at a shopping mall in Jakarta, ahead of the British-run Miss Universe pageant which has been moved from Jakarta to Hindu majority state of Bali after mass protests, denouncing it “pornography”.

Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola from Nigeria was declared winner of ‘Muslimah World’ title from among the 20 finalists. Upon hearing her name, the 21-year-old knelt down and prayed, then wept as she recited a Qur’anic verse. She will receive $2,200 and fully-paid trips to Makkah (to perform Hajj) and India.

“The event is not really about competition. We’re just trying to show the world that Islam is beautiful,” said Ajibola.

Eka Shanti, who founded the pageant three years ago after losing her job as a TV news anchor for refusing to remove her headscarf, bills the contest as “Islam’s answer to Miss World”.

Indonesia?s ?Muslimah World? pageant | Rehmat's World