Meet the hijab-wearing Miss Lancashire contestant who wants to challenge perceptions of religion

Madihah Haq is a finalist in Miss Lancashire
Madihah Haq is a finalist in Miss Lancashire

A Preston university student will be wearing her hijab with pride as a finalist for Miss Lancashire.

Madihah Haq, 19, is studying for a degree in bio-medical science at the University of Central Lancashire.

She says she hopes to be a doctor when she graduates.

The Muslim teenager, who lives in Ribbleton, Preston, has beauty as well as brains and has harboured dreams of modelling all her life.

And now she is preparing to take part as a finalist in the competition at The Play House Theatre on Market Street in Preston on January 20.

Madihah is only the second young woman to wear a hijab in the competition.

She said: “There are four catwalk scenes and I will be walking down the runway.

“Wearing a hijab defines me and my religion but it does not stop me from living my dream.

“Many girls feel as though they cannot pursue their dream due to feeling restricted from wearing it but I believe you can do whatever you like as long as you never forget who you are and don’t forget your religion.

“I am the same person with and without the hijab.

“My personality, my character my attitude and mindset are still the same - a headscarf does not change who I am nor does it stop me from pursuing my dreams.

“You can do whatever you want, but never forget the purpose of life, never forget who are and most importantly never forget your religion.”

A hijab is a veil worn by some Muslim women in the presence of other men outside their immediate family.

Usually covering the head and chest, it is designed to comply with Islamic standards of modesty.

As part of the contest Madihah has raised more than £500 for children’s charity Variety and this is set to increase before the big day.

She says: “I have done door to door fund raising and collected in Preston and nearby towns like Bolton.

“Variety is a children’s charity which helps to give children things they need like a special wheelchair for example. I am looking forward to the contest.”

A competition spokesman said: “Miss Lancashire and Junior Miss Lancashire are both amazing experiences.

“It’s not about how pretty or skinny someone is, we are looking for great people to take part.”