As the world of beauty and fashion becomes much more inclusive than ever, stories like this one are becoming more frequent yet still bring hope and smiles to the world: Malaysian-Indonesian New Zealander Nurul Shamsul has become the latest hijabi to make history as a beauty queen. The 20-year-old student from University of Waikato is now the first Muslim woman who dons a hijab to make it to the finals of Miss Universe New Zealand.
If Shamsul wins, she will then go on to compete for the title of Miss Universe at a pageant in the United States, becoming the first hijabi to compete for the main title. In a video released for the competition, the young finalist explained that she entered Miss Universe because she believes the journey will help her grow as a person and that she hopes her participation will contribute to helping other young girls flourish into beautiful women.
In her initial post on Instagram, Shamsul said: “lhamdulillah! I am so happy and excited to announce that I am in the finals for Miss Universe New Zealand! As a hijabi I will be the first in New Zealand to make it to the finals and one of the first in the world to ever do so. I hope that this opportunity will help break boundaries and stereotypes. I also hope that together we can redefine the meaning of what beauty is.”
With her journey towards the crown now truly underway, she posted a recent photo on her Instagram, saying: “Now a couple weeks into the journey and I can tell you that it hasn’t always been easy. But in saying that, I’ve already grown so much as a person. Just never give up. It’s all about trusting that everything will be okay because He knows better. Alhamdulillah, I’m also super grateful for all the love and support so far. I hope that my intentions will always be kept pure and I will try my absolute best to fulfil them.”
Shamsul is not the first hijabi to have made it to this stage. Somali-American model Halima Aden awed audiences across the globe in 2016 when the hijabi became a Miss America contestant. Aden is now a world-renowned model who works for some of the world’s most prestigious labels. Last year, Muna Jama also history when she competed in the Miss Universe Great Britain competition and chose to wear a kaftan during the swimsuit section of the competition.