Rima Fakih became the first Muslim-American woman to win the Miss USA title in 2010, and this May the beauty pageant winner has proudly announced her conversion to Christianity. On Twitter, Fakih tweeted a Bible verse, “Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
After winning the Miss USA crown, Fakih famously said, “I’d like to say I’m American first, and I am an Arab-American, I am Lebanese-American, and I am Muslim-American.”
Christian Today recently reported that Fakih “gave her life to Christ” in March, converting before her recent marriage to Maronite Christian music producer Wassim Salibi. Pop star The Weeknd, who is managed by Salibi, will fly to Lebanon to perform at the wedding this May.
Although the former Miss Michigan was raised as a Shia Muslim, she attended a Catholic school and isn’t the first member of her family to find Jesus. In a 2010 interview following her Miss USA win, Fakih said, “”My brother-in-law is Christian, and he (and my sister) baptised their two sons. I have an uncle who converted to Christianity, and he’s a priest now.”
She added, “We’d go to church on Easter. We always had a Christmas tree and every year we go the Radio City Christmas Show, and watch ‘Miracle on 34th Street’. But we celebrate some of the Islamic holidays as well.”
Although her success on the pageant scene was welcomed by many Lebanese and Arab-Americans, not everyone in the Muslim community was pleased. At the time, Muslim scholar Ghazal Omid wrote, “To say that she is a Muslim is inaccurate. No Muslim woman can call herself a… Muslim and be on stage with her bikini.”
Of course, in 2013, another Muslim scholar reportedly decreed that it was immoral for a woman to turn on the air conditioner by herself, which might come as a surprise to the two-thirds of Americans who use an air conditioning system, all by themselves. The International Business Times reported the cleric as saying, “turning on the cooler ventilator is prohibited for women in the absence of their husbands” because “the woman’s act is very dangerous, and may bring about immorality in the society.”
Previously, Fakih has lived in Dearborn, MI, just outside of Detroit, which has a large population of Arab-American and Muslim residents. She graduated from Henry Ford Community College and earned economics and business management degrees from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Her wedding to Salibi will took place in Lebanon on May 15, almost exactly five years to the day after after her historic win at the Miss USA competition.