“Girls compete with each other, Women empower one another”
All praise is due to Allah The Almighty, and great thanks to the organizers of this year’s World Muslimah Award for creating a platform that gathers Muslim ladies together from different parts of the world, not for promoting nudity & haram things, but for portraying Islamic culture and excellence particularly in a Muslim woman. It’s a great concept that should gladden the heart of everyone. And this is the reason why I say it is not a physical beauty contest but a form of striving on the path of Allah. May Allah accept it from us as an act of ibadah. We were all winners in the glorious event, mashallah!
To be honest, I had the most amazing time in my entire life representing my country Nigeria, during my short stay in Indonesia at the World Muslimah Award 2014 event which took place in Jakarta/Yogyakarta between 9-22nd November. I will forever cherish the priceless moments of sisterhood and togetherness that surrounded me throughout. I am thankful for aspiring, participating, challenging, and inspiring. I think the most important key in life is ‘purpose’. No matter how small the dream is, the purpose always keeps you going, regardless of how many challenges you face on your journey.
I am thankful for being given this opportunity to be part of the World Muslimah Foundation, a charitable organization helping muslim ladies improve themselves, spiritually and socially to be representatives of muslim women in their respective countries. The concept might seem very overwhelming just by thinking about it but every participant, each finalist, have some form of activism or propagation they support and the World Muslimah Foundation makes that advocacy a reality.
It was a beautiful 2 weeks experience for the 18 finalists from allover the world, who participated in the memorable event, including my humble self representing my beloved country, Nigeria. The event took place in the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta, and later moved to Yogyakarta, the Indonesian historical city. A lot of inspirational activities were organized from the breath taking lava tour, to exploring the ancient temples of Borobudur, visiting palaces, a humanity home stay at Penting Sari, the famous local batik experience, Yogya city tour, reality talk shows, modest photo shoot/make over sessions, and a whole lot more rewarding activities.
From Nigeria, I had the luxury to travel with World Muslimah 2013 winner, Aishah Obabiyi and I can tell you, she proved to be my best travel partner ever. We faced a lot of challenges throughout our journey, one of which was missing our flight at Dubai. We were completely exhausted, and had to wait over 18 hours for the next flight. It was horrific. But Subhannallah,’after every hardship comes ease.’ Finally, while at the waiting room to board, we were all smiles and thankful to the Almighty.
I had contacted Aishah Obabiyi months earlier for an interview on the Diary of a Muslimah segment on Official Hijabi TV program. The Diary of a Muslimah segment is a documentary/interview project that brings up-close and personal interviews on Muslimah icons in the society. Its purpose is to help rekindle the inner passion and inspire the muslim women to appreciate the fact that being a Muslimah does not restrict us in any way from achieving great heights in this life and also in the hereafter. Aishah Obabiyi came on the show which was aired on Silver-bird TV last Ramadan and shared her experience during the World Muslimah Award 2013 award in which Nigeria gracefully emerged the winner, MashaAllah!
And because my biggest inspiration as an individual totally surrounds female empowerment and the need to constantly promote the beauty of hijab and excellence of Islamic worship and character in a Muslimah through Official Hijabi, I applied to be an actual contestant for this year World Muslimah Award, so that I could get a real insight and a more vivid experience surrounding female empowerment internationally. I also wished to better myself as an individual, a representative of Muslim women in Nigeria, and a role model to the younger generation.
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Among the esteemed finalists with whom I had the opportunity of spending good time with were Tasnima Tarranum, a Medical Doctor from Bangladesh; Fatma Ben Guefrache, an ICT Engineer from Tunisia; Dina Torkia, a fashion blogger & stylist from the UK; Prima dita Rahma, a blogger from Indonesia; Elis Sholiha, an entrepreneur also from Indonesia; Naballah Chi, a youtuber & hijab stylist from Trinidad & Tobago; Nazreen Ali of India; and many more inspiring personalities.
The whole experience brightened up my sense of belonging to a whole new world with happiness and compassion like I have never experienced anywhere else. I met with orphan kids, and very old people who may be less fortunate than we are, but nevertheless are so humble, inspiring and full of happiness. I was awed by the kindness of Indonesian people, their pure hearts, hospitality, and joy that radiates just by being in their midst. You could be a colored total stranger walking down the streets of Yogya, and the people you pass by would grace you with loving smiles you’ll cherish for the rest of your life, Subhannallah, people are wonderful in that part of the world. It was a totally new experience!
The most important part for me was that our little group of finalists became a new family of sisters. Regardless of our race, color, culture, ethnic differences, even challenges and disappointments within the event, we didn’t succumb to be girls competing with each other but instead, women empowering one other.
Remember the good old saying, ‘We came, we saw, we conquered’?! That was the true definition of my experience at the World Muslimah Award 2014. I will confidently continue to help and support them next year, and years beyond InshaAllah. May Allah reward the founder Eka Shanty, her team of brilliant and dedicated members, the sponsors, contributors, participants, and all who helped make this years 2014 World Muslimah Award a reality. May Allah strengthen them in this beautiful cause, Amin.