|Cover of the WOW Magazine.|
Happy Friday my lovelies!
Just as I've promised (well it wasnt quite a promise) but I've kept my word. My full interview with the WOW Magazine is now available for you guys to read. My interview was done in light of my representation of Trinidad & Tobago in the Miss World Muslimah 2014 pageant, held in Indonesia last November. I was one of the 25 finalists (the first person ever, from my tiny island and the wider Caribbean region) vying for the title of Miss World Muslimah. Although I did not capture the title, I made it in to the top 10! I think that's pretty rad for a first try. What sayest thou?
Enjoy a blast from the past where I dished out about my wonderful experience as the Trinidad & Tobago delegate at Miss World Muslimah 2014. CLICK HERE TO READ.
|Interview as was featured in the WOW magazine of the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Newspaper.|
WOW: Age?NC: 25
WOW: Current Residence?
NC: Belize, Central America
NC: No kids….yet. There is a definitive biological drive pushing me to become a mother but honestly I’m not ready to cut myself off from the freedom and other satisfactions of child-free living. Besides I’m taking time to work on myself before I push out a child into the world.
WOW: There has always been a view that beauty pageants are somehow demeaning to women. How is the Miss World Muslimah Award different?
NC: I want to firstly clarify that the Miss World Muslimah Award is not a beauty pageant, solely because it does not assess contestants' appearance, but their devotion to their religion and religious knowledge. I consider all beauty pageants to be a living manifesto to patriarchal commodification of women, but I also understand the necessity for alternative ways of seeing ourselves to break away from the oppressive nature of socially constructed beauty. Miss World Muslimah works against these established lines of constructed beauty. For a start the three Bs of Miss World — brains, beauty and behavior — have been replaced by the three Ss: Sholehah (devotion), smart and stylish. In a sea of conventional beauty pageants, Miss World Muslimah offers an alternative for Muslim women that involves no bikinis or racy dresses. It is based around an Islamic term Sholehah, which means someone who is pious, has good morals and observes Islamic rules and codes. This is an international event, exclusively for Muslim women, to appreciate those who have talent, dedication, and a reputation in their communities for being upstanding.
WOW: What inspired you to participate in Miss World Muslimah?
NC: My desire to fulfill personal goals.
WOW: What were the prizes?
NC: Hajj pilgrimage trip, a gold watch, educational trips to Europe, Middle East, Turkey, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, India and Iran, scholarships, internship program and funds from Islamic Banking to support economic development.
WOW: Many people are under the impression that beauty pageants are ‘haram’ in Islam. What is your opinion?
NC: I’d rather not comment on others’ opinions, their praise have not made me complacent and their criticism has not deterred me. I will say, that the event has been aligned in such a manner that there are no criterion for indecent exposure as others claim. Events such as these prove beyond reasonable doubt that Islam does not repress its women nor push them into the background. It demonstrates a high level of exposure to education in various fields. Miss World Muslimah’s philosophy is taken from Al-Qur’an and Hadith in order to facilitate young Muslim women with tremendous opportunities. Not many people know about Islamic activities that are implemented and supported by WMA in Indonesia and around the world. So if there is a negative perception of the WMA I choose to be silent because those who speak negatively just look on from the outside.
WOW: Who was your favorite contestant?
NC: I really admired Miss India. She had such a beautiful spirit. So inspirational, humble and very well spoken. She has an immense concern for quality education in her country her stories were so engaging.
WOW: How long has this pageant been in existence?
NC: The World Muslimah Award is in its fourth year running and still blazing strong. Insha Allah 2015 this platform will be hosted in Malaysia. It was founded by CEO Eka Shanty in 2011, after losing her job as a TV news anchor, for refusing to remove her hijab.
WOW: Pageants are notorious for acts of sabotage and meanness, did you experience anything, what was the competitiveness level of the other contestants?
NC: The girls were all quite down to earth, funny and so accepting of one another. We had such a great time together. I think coming from diverse countries and cultures made us so receptive and keen to learn from each other. I experienced absolutely no competiveness. Even now we have a whatsapp group where we all keep in touch with each other and share whats happening in our lives. As Muslim women we understand our duty to each other and that is to uplift, protect and want for others what we want for ourselves.
WOW: Where did you place in the competition?
NC: In random order, I was selected as one of top the 10! *Brushes shoulders*
WOW: What was your pageant question and how was that experience?
NC: I was asked to introduce myself and describe my goals after the World Muslimah Award. I believe I had one of the most fluid answers, in terms of not stumbling and being able to forge a sensible answer simultaneously.
WOW: What are the segments (e.g evening dress, swimsuit etc of the competition?
NC: There were four segments that must be passed by the finalists to be crowned and awarded as the winner of The World Muslimah Award. The segments are as follows:
SHOLEHA: All finalists were required to recite Al Qur’an in beautiful harmony with exquisite technique and tajweed (rules governing pronounciation during recitation of the Qur’an. From the twenty-five finalists, only ten were selected to proceed to the next round.
SMART: Ten finalists who made it into this segment were required to present a one-minute speech about her life, achievements and her future dreams. From this segment, only five finalists wereselected to the next round.
STYLISH: In this segment, the short listed finalists interacted with the judges who gave questions about women and Islamic lifestyle that were to be answered within 30 seconds. From this segment only two finalists were eligible for the most thrilling round to determine the winner of World Muslimah Award.
MIZAN: The Mizan segment was the most decisive round, where a hundred honorary judges consisting of orphaned or underprivileged children made a choice through a voting system to determine the finalist who deserves the Crown of Modesty. The finalist who received the most votes was awarded the winner of The World Muslimah and the other was titled as the 1st Runner Up. The children’s hands are the representation of the truly blind selection to choose who is the one who has the heart of GOLD without being affected of physical attraction and beautification. Every year orphan kids are chosen as the final jury to uplift them. They are not regarded as just charitable objects, but special individuals whose help of “conscience”, through transparency and objectivity choose the winner. They are without sin, and as children they are the most honest thing in the world.
WOW: What are the benefits of such a competition for women?
NC: Since 2011 there has been so much happiness achieved by winners and those involved in the event. Dika Restiyani, the 2011 winner, and 12 Indonesian Muslim fashion designers flew out to Paris for the Int’l Fair of the Muslim World at Le Bourget for the development of Muslim fashion. In 2012, 13 finalists were sent to perform pilgrimage, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many people and even still there are millions of Muslims worldwide who long to make the Holy pilgrimage but never live to see it. Opportunities to embark across the globe to help the global community is also a benefit. Winners travel to multiple countries such as Turkey, Brunei and Malaysia, India, Saudia Arabia and even Europe on educational tours. While winning the title of Miss World Muslimah is a great honour and a fantastic opportunity, the competition is also about self discovery and developing new skill sets that will give one a competitive edge in life. All of the finalists have dreams and aspirations and MWF helps make them a reality. WMF believe that knowledge is power, and as such, provide each contestant with training and workshops to help them better understand themselves and the world around them. The result is boosted confidence, lasting friendships and having the opportunity to shine in front of a welcoming audience as you grace the stage and speak about your beliefs and dreams. While receiving an international title will bring you publicity by international media and other opportunities the most remarkable experience is the human interaction with people from different backgrounds. There are cash prizes to be won including scholarships for skills in academics, fashion, leadership and more. Winning the grand title of Miss World Muslimah will open a realm of opportunity that will enrich one’s life and give one exciting and varied new experiences. All finalists as well as the reigning title holder have the opportunity to take centre stage to represent the organization as well as their respective countries as an ambassador and spokesperson through events, interviews and speaking engagements. There are many interesting stories behind the lives of Muslim women. The reality is many of us are denied opportunities because we wear hijab. Through this event, we there are no limitations to what we can achieve. Being involved in the event is also a total inspiration to work for the cause of humanity and carry out a well-rounded life.
WOW: A commenter on your blog seemed disapproving “should Muslim sisters be advertising or showcasing their bodies in such a manner? I doubt only women are there on the runway...” What feedback have you received from your Muslim community?
NC: I’ve received quite a lot of positive feedback which I appreciate. Of course there were those who disapproved. This event changes people’s lives year after year. It does more positive than negative (if any). I always seek guidance from God in all my endeavors and I believe that as long as I seek His guidance I would be never led astray. After all what in this world can we do that will not be criticized.
WOW: Did you meet your husband at UWI?
NC: Yes I did. We attended the same university. We weren’t in the same class or from the same faculty or even social circles. We met one night by chance or rather destiny. I actually didn't like him at first! NOT the best start to a relationship! However we became part of the same group of friends, and were good friends by the time he asked me out. After a couple months of courting we got married (yes, you read that right). We will celebrate 4 years of marriage in 2 months. Cheers to passionate perseverance!
WOW: Describe your most memorable moments in Indonesia
NC: Oh where do I even begin? Being in Indonesia, every single day was memorable. I didn’t want to sleep because I didn’t want to miss a conscious moment of being there. My most memorable experience was my Jumbo Jungle Adventure. Only in TAMAN SAFARI INDONESIA was I able to feel the sensation of adventure into the wilderness by riding a 48 year old Sumatra Elephant. We went through a river on elephant back, observed monkeys in the trees and bears down below. It was a bumpy ride, which had me swaying in all directions, but nevertheless it was truly unforgettable. I also enjoyed meeting pioneer Indonesian fashion designer Dian Pelangi and modelling her designs; as well as meeting Langston Hues, Detroit photographer and brainchild behind the “Modest Street Fashion” photography project. Another memorable moment was when my friend and I decided to visit the zoo, before I was scheduled to fly back to Jakarta. This was my first adventure in Indonesia and the highlight of it had nothing to do with the zoo itself. It's actually HOW we got to the zoo..........
Motorcycles in Indonesia are as ubiquitous as cars in Trinidad. Nothing compares to the efficiency, ease and affordability of the motorcycle. Like a school of fish, motorcycles weave in and out amongst traffic jams, taking on an energetic life of their own. They can navigate narrow streets, overtake cars, angkots (mini buses) and trucks, and there is never a problem with finding a place to park. I have even witnessed motorcycles steering through markets, giving a whole new meaning to fast (and fresh) food drive-thru! The ingenuity and skill of Indonesians in balancing all sorts of things on a motorcycle is second to none.
WOW: What’s next for Naballah?
NC: I’m currently working on my own line of Hijabs and Scarves, something with my own signature style. I’m pretty excited about my venture in to the world of entrepreneurship.
End of Interview. Thank you!
BEHIND THE SCENES (MAKEUP & PHOTO SHOOT)
|My makeup artist and I, after getting my makeup done.|
|At Bling Boutique, with Dianne John, my talented MUA.|
|Second outfit change.|
See you guys in my next post.
Have a safe and wonderful weekend!