"The success of one woman is an inspiration to another."
I had such a wonderful experience representing my country at the Miss World Muslimah Award 2014. I know I will forever treasure the memories I have of being a part of the WMF organisation. In fact, I will still continue to be involved in the activities of WMF. I am thankful that they gave me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and that in itself has been the most meaningful aspect of my experience. There is a purpose for having the title of Miss World Muslimah. There is the glamourous side of it, but the bigger part of it is the charitable work that the organisation does all over the world. It can be overwhelming at first, but each winner and finalist have some form of advocacy or charity that they support. Unfortunately, most people don't know how hard the WMF team works to carry out their activities, they'd rather speak negatively about the foundation, but more than anything else, the WMF is a positive entity for the Hijabi Muslim woman. May Allah reward the CEO, Ms Eka Shanty for creating wonderful opportunities for the young Muslimah.
There was a lot of stress preparing for this momentous opportunity, but indeed after hardship comes ease. The event took place in two beautiful cities in Indonesia: initially Jakarta and then moving to Yogyakarta. For two unforgettable weeks the finalists were involved in enriching social activities, visiting, communities, old age homes, the orphanage, visiting palaces, temples and a breath taking lava tour. There were a lot of meetings, phone calls, interviews, media appearances, and photo shoots. Thank god, for my communication skills, they were truly an asset in these situations. The best part of my role as a finalists was my ability to directly impact the people around me. I have been given so many opportunities to speak about issues that matter to me as a individual. With these events and appearances I get to meet so many incredible people!
My biggest challenge as a finalist was asking for support. Many of us find it so hard to ask for help and so we become self-reliant to create success, but having support is so important and powerful. I have received an amazing amount of feedback. Interviewed by international journalists and the local media made me realize that my story and my purpose is more meaningful than I think. To be a brand ambassador for a cause, representing your country outside in the world is a lot of hard work but not many can understand it or accomplish it. Having support makes it possible as being a part of a community allows us the luxury of relying on one another. Where I may lack, others have something to offer and when they need help I will have something to give. I believe communication skills are a huge asset for anyone in a community spotlight role. Being able to speak to those around you in a way everyone can understand and relate to is pivotal in being an ambassador of any kind with a message to send. A desire to relate to and understand the people around you is also important. As a finalist representing Trinidad and Tobago, a country of immense diversity, I need to be able to and have the desire to listen and understand my countrymen to best represent them, as well as their needs.
My biggest fear when competing was feeling inadequate. I was with so many amazing women with astonishing accomplishments. I feared that after hearing their stories mine would be dull in comparison. I think this is a fear for everyone when entering a competition. During my time as a finalist, however, I realized that each person’s accomplishments are important. Even during competition, win or no win those accomplishments are great things. While they may not bring me a crown, or an award, they continue to fuel my ambitions and allow me to better myself as an individual.
I believe that a diverse skill set is an asset for any finalist and generally speaking, everyone. I have proud moments academically, socially and occupationally. To choose just one is very hard because each area of my life is important in its own way and to say one is better than another is impossible. The basis of all of my accomplishments however is the support I have at home with my family. So perhaps my proudest accomplishment is having a supportive family, especially my mom. She is a strong determined woman and I think I have inherited those traits from her. She's always there to catch me when I fall.
One of the goals of the WMF is female empowerment, in particular for Muslim women. I believe the greatest challenge faced by women today is feeling inadequacy due to gender roles. Each person has a skill set unique to their individuality. It has nothing to do with gender. Social causes that focus on equality are the most important to me because I grew up having experienced a lot of racism. Even within my own religion I have experienced racism. I believe the single most important message any titleholder can convey is one of openness and acceptance; an appreciation for the people they represent and the opinions they hold and value.
While all of the moments leading up to the Gran Final night were important perhaps the most meaningful were the times I got to know the other finalists one on one, listening to their individual stories in our hotel rooms. These were the moments I most value and prize when I look back. I was exposed to opinions and perspectives that opened my mind to new experiences. This was such an important lesson for me and I feel it is important for the world. The lesson is that each person in every country, every culture, has a valid view of the world that should be respected and considered.
I was fortunate to be amongst the top ten finalists. That moment made me realize one thing: that life is unpredictable...as I did not expect it. Of course there's the hope deep down inside that you advance as the night progresses, but some how it comes as a surprise when your name is called. In the final moments a wonderful young lady named Fatma from Tunisia seized the crown and the title of Miss World Muslimah 2014. As if one of us had won it ourselves, we all were happy for her achievement and wished her all the best. There were many individual prizes for those who excelled in various areas. Honestly, I am so proud of us. I think we all represented our countries well and the overall experience has molded us into better Muslimahs. The hardest part of it all was saying our goodbyes as we all became so close during our short but undeniably, unforgettable two weeks.
This experience brightened my eye to the world that I have never seen and I am grateful for that. I met these orphan kids, who are a lot less fortunate then we are. These children treated me as if I were a superstar. They are so respectful, full of happiness and humble. I saw things I never thought I would see. Indonesian people are by far the kindest people I have ever met in all my life. Subhanallah, one thing I never forget in life is how people make me feel and I will never forget how awesome and relaxed they made me feel. I was privileged to see the things I saw and do the things I got to do. The most important part was our group of finalists became a family instead of just a group vying for a title. This entire experience reminded me of what else is out there in the world and how others live. It's something in my life that I would never take back, despite the obstacles I had to overcome to get to Indonesia. It's something that made me grow stronger as a person both spiritually and mentally. Experience is something that has the ability to reshape a person mentally and physically causing them to alter the course of their lives.
My advice to future World Muslimah finalists is to focus on the journey and building your character. Preparing as a finalist is a learning and growing experience and it needs to be focused on. Not only will it better prepare you as a candidate for the Miss World Muslimah Award, but it will increase your skill set for the long successful life that you are entering into. Most of all have fun! Whether you capture the title or not we are all winners and the experience is one to be enjoyed and relished upon. I am forever thankful. Cheers to grrrrreatttttttt times and great new friends!
Special thanks to my Laision Officer/ Assistant Mar'atus Salihah for taking all my photos. Wouldn't have been able to capture this wonderful experience without your help. Love you girl! Muahhh!
Malaysian finalist, Ainur and I take a photo with Malaysian designer, who designed the dresses we wore.
Fellow finalist from Malaysia, Ainur. Her skin is everything...its just glowing!!!
Chit chatting with fellow finalists before the show.
Assisting Tasnima, with her number.
The beautiful Bilquis Adebayo from Nigeria, and I pose for a photo before showtime.
My African sisters: In the dressing room with Aisha from Nigeria (Miss World Muslimah 2013) and Bilquis.
Dina and Aisha are all smiles ;)
Aisha and Fatma.
Dina Torkia and I pose for a photo in the dressing room (BBC in the background)
Aisha, Fatma and I.
These ladies are absolutely gorgggg!!!!
Nazreen and I, love her to death, such a sweet lady muah!
Gracing the stage...
Standing proudly, but humbled by everything and everyone.
All 17 finalists on stage.
A cross section of the finalists, soothed by beautiful Indonesian music.
Indonesian artists rocking the house...
:) Wearing a beautiful dress designed by Dian Pelangi
Proud to be representing our respective nations.
Awww will miss these ladies :'(
Yours truly ;) strutting on stage.
Miss Biquis of Nigeria making her entrance.
Introducing myself and my dreams for Miss World Muslimah...in 60 seconds.
"Introducing ourselves" segment...60 seconds were given for us to do this.
The amazing hosts...they did a great job...Kudos!
The judges....inclusive of Dian Pelangi and Miss USA-Somalia 2014.
Dina Torkia, one of the top six at World Muslimah 2014, answers a question.
Meeting Dian Pelangi, one of my favourite designers :)