The real story of Rima Fakih goes much further than has generally been reported.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 8, 2016 – There’s a big difference between saying you are a Muslim and actually being one. Unlike Christians and Jews, the distinction is far greater than a mere matter of semantics.
Case in point; Rima Fakih, a former Miss Michigan who was crowned Miss USA in 2010, recently announced that she has converted to Christianity. Fakih made news at the time because she was believed to be the first Muslim ever to win the title.
As so frequently happens, however, Fakih used the ignorance of the media as a propaganda tool to provide herself with an edge in the competition.
Time and again we hear cries for “moderate Muslims” to step up and speak out against Islamic jihad. The problem is that a high percentage of those “moderate” believers do not know enough about their own religion to speak out against it. Rima Fakih is a living example.
During an interview with Huffington Post in 2010 Fakih said, “We’re more of a spiritual family. Religion really doesn’t define me or my family” (emphasis added).
Ask yourself the question, do you honestly believe there is a single member of the Islamic State who would ever say “Religion doesn’t really define me”? It is a contradiction in terms.
For members of ISIS there can only be one thing that defines them, and that is Islam itself. Miss USA 2010 cannot have it both ways. Either she was or she wasn’t a Muslim.
Later Fakih claimed it was not until she went to the University of Michigan that she “connected with her Islamic” heritage. “I didn’t know much about Ramadan and other holidays, and my dad wanted me to take the opportunity to learn.”
Even the most detached Christian knows and understands the Christmas story. How can any Muslim in good faith say with a straight face, “I didn’t know much about Ramadan”?
Ramadan is the Muslim holy month. It lasts 30 days, and Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. They abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex during the fast. It is not possible to be a true follower of Islam and grow up in a Muslim household without understanding the meaning of Ramadan from an early age.
Added Fakih to Huffington Post, “My family’s been very liberal, and we appreciate all different kinds of religions. We’d go to church on Easter. We always had a Christmas tree and every year we’d go the Radio City Christmas Show, and watch Miracle on 34th Street. But we celebrate some of the Islamic holidays as well.”
Liberal though she may have been, no Muslim in the world would ever go to church on Easter or have a Christmas tree. Try to find a church in Saudi Arabia or a Christmas card. They simply do not exist.
What the former beauty queen is revealing is much about the thoughts and ideas of countless other Muslims who call themselves “Muslim” when they have nary a clue about Islam.
And that is precisely the reason there is no more outrage from the Muslim community when there are calls for “moderates” to step up. It’s because many, if not most Muslim moderates, are not practicing Islam in the truest form of the religion.
Consider the fact that Fakih competed in a beauty pageant that features a swimsuit competition as primary aspect of the event. Such a concept would never be regarded as legitimate by any true practitioner of the faith. Surely Fakih did not compete in a burka and head scarf and win.
But one can’t avoid giving Rima Fakih credit for her beliefs and her conversion. In fact, whether she realizes it or not, she may have put herself in jeopardy by making the conversion so public. Under Islamic law, conversion to another faith is punishable by death.
Fakih converted last month prior to her marriage in Lebanon this coming week. Wassam Salibi, Fakih’s husband-to-be, is a wealthy music producer who is a Maronite Christian.
Whether Fakih’s life will change now because of her newfound commitment remains to be seen.
At the time of the pageant some Muslim scholars criticized Fakih for entering. Had other Islamists taken her seriously, considerably more probably would have raised their voices in protest.
The good news is that Islam, even in a watered down version, lost another believer. The bad news is that nobody seems to understand why.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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