Amidst the ever diminishing graph of social morality, the call to replace Miss Universe contest with the Miss Morality one is a bold initiative, sincere and earnest. This call, first given by a UAE-based Muslim women’s rights group and endorsed by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed Farid Wassel, and seconded by other Islamic scholars last week, is long overdue.
It was about a century ago, in 1926 to be exact, that the title “Miss Universe” was first used as part of International Pageant of Pulchritude. Though the modern exercise of beauty pageants is said to have no direct relationship with the 1926 event for the exercise that began in that year lasted until 1935 when the Great Depression and other events preceding World War II brought it to a halt, the 1926 pageant can be traced as the beginning of this mindless hullabaloo.
This call on the part of Muslims is timely too as this year’s international beauty pageant is in the offing. But voices of dissent are being continuously raised against such contests. Sometimes even former contestants refuse to participate in a pageant anymore. Only some western and westernised cosmopolitan models participate in such contests as parents of a majority of girls, who happen to be really beautiful by the Grace of God, do not allow their daughters for such stage-shows. Therefore, the so-called ‘crowned beauties’ do not truly reflect the best of beauty and talent from the nations concerned.
A beauty contest serves the purpose of fashion and cosmetics houses, advertisement firms and tourist companies. It is an attempt to make women in general, and Muslim women in particular, a cheap product that has no aim but to arouse men. It is in fact a ticket to permissiveness. To Muslims, it violates the Shari’ah and weakens the moral health of society.
Thus it would be in the fitness of things that Muslim countries and the rest of the world at large should pay heed to the advice of Mufti Wassel and, instead of racing to hold beauty pageants, ought to hold competitions to discover the woman who adheres to righteous principles best. And Miss Morality should be chosen on the basis of her knowledge in religion and evident good behaviour towards others as well as her active participation in useful work to her respective society. This will help women to live a decent life with the dignity and honour they deserve – a life they can find with its pristine beauty only in the shade of Islam.