Where Dreams Take Flight

By essexcountypolitics.com

July 30, 2017


Dr. Khadijah Ismael, representing Newark, NJ, made history when she was crowned “Miss Muslimah USA 2017,” in the first ever National Muslimah Beauty Pageant held in the United States, on Saturday, July 8, in Columbus, Ohio.

The Miss Muslimah Pageant USA is a beauty pageant that redefines our society’s typical standards of beauty, allowing Muslim women to compete proudly representing their country while adhering to the religious principles of covering. Muslim women across the nation took to the Catwalk promoting an alternative, more modest, idea of beauty. Glamorous, floor-length hijabs - not bikinis - were the attire of the runway, as they were judged on how well they recited Quranic verses and on their views on Islam and the modern world.

The Miss Muslimah Pageant USA showcases to the world the beauty, diversity, talent and intelligence of the contestants, and combats the stereotypes that they face daily in America donning the Hijab. The Pageant serves as a venue for all communities of faith and all women to join together to celebrate the lives, challenges and brilliance of women whose beauty is more than “skin-deep”.

Dr. Ismael is an alumna of both Rutgers University and Rutgers Dental School of Newark, NJ. She currently works for JRMC, and is one of the original dentists who helped launch a full-time school based dentistry program in Newark at Quitman Street School. Dr. Ismael participated in the Miss Muslimah Pageant because she passionately believes that being a dentist should involve more than promoting oral health. She will use this platform to give back to the community, empowering women and promoting healthy images of diversity.


Adding more mystique to this historic event was the crowning of Dr. Ismael’s sister Khalilah Ismael, MSN, RN, WHNP-BC who also represented Newark, NJ, as “Miss Popularity.” She had the highest number of votes on-line and social media (Voted By Popular Demand). Khalilah overcame healthy sibling rivalry and many qualified competitors to receive the coveted crown of “Miss Popularity.”

Khalilah, an alumna of Rutgers University of Newark, NJ, believes her passion for women’s health was the impetus that required her to participate in this historic event. She painfully recalls the amount of her patients who were depressed because they did not fit the mold of our society’s standard of beauty. Becoming a titleholder only deepened her belief that women’s health requires an intangible quality of inner radiating joy that comes from self -acceptance.

Khalilah is a board certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner with over 8 years’ experience in OB/GYN and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse. She specialized in premature babies, and infants who were born with health abnormalities. She currently oversees the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic and the Journey to Motherhood Program at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.  The MFM clinic focuses on pregnant women with health complications and unborn babies with health abnormalities. The Journey to Motherhood program is designed to empower women, assisting them in their normal pregnancy to be compliant with the plan of care for a healthy pregnancy.

But being ground-breakers in the field of beauty and creating positive images for women of faith is only one aspect of Khadijah and Khalilah. They believe they can also help young women and girls break down barriers and overcome obstacles to academic and intellectual achievement.

To that end, the sisters are developing a program to be offered in Newark that will provide the means and the encouragement for girls and young women to explore careers in science, mathematics, and technology areas. They are actively working with technology professionals, teachers, and computer experts to create a curriculum designed specifically for girls and young women. The program will offer hands-on training and experimentation and allow the participants to discover a whole universe of new possibilities.

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