She was the first Muslim to be crowned Miss America in 2010, but Lebanese-American beauty queen Rima Fakih has officially converted to Christianity in April 2016, ahead of tying the knot to her Christian fiancee music producer Wassim Salibi.
While Rima comes from a Shia Muslim family, it’s no surprise that she has changed faiths, seeing as she never associated herself with just the one religion.
In a 2010 interview with the Huffington Post, Rima said that “We’re more of a spiritual family. Religion really doesn’t define me or my family. My family’s been very liberal, and we appreciate all different kinds of religions.”
She added that “I have a family that is a mix of different religions and different ethnicities. My brother-in-law is Christian, and he (and my sister) baptized their two sons. I have an uncle who converted to Christianity, and he’s a priest now.”
Rima, who attended Catholic school growing up, said that “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 “The Miracle on 34th Street. But we celebrate some of the Islamic holidays as well.”
It was only when she went to university in the US that she connected with her Muslim roots: “When I went to the University of Michigan, because there’s more of a Muslim community, my dad wanted me to learn more about Islam. I didn’t know much about Ramadan and other holidays, and my dad wanted me to take that opportunity and learn.”
But if religion never defined Rima, why the sudden change of heart?
While most are convinced that she’s only converted because of “matters of the heart,” – in other words, to be able to marry Salibi – others defended her decision by pointing out that a civil ceremony would have been sufficient their case, without the need to convert.
Meanwhile, she still has her cross to bear. A large majority of Muslim social media users were infuriated by Rima’s decision to follow Jesus, and assured her that this will “send her straight to Hell.” However, at least a lesser percentage of Muslims were respectful of the starlet’s decision to convert, wishing her luck in whatever she decides to do.
The 30-year-old starlet is yet to comment on becoming a “newborn” Christian, but who’s to say that her religious beliefs haven’t shifted in the past six years?
She tweeted this bible verse on March 30:
Rima will say “I do” in Lebanon on 15 May 2016. Canadian singer The Weeknd is reportedly performing at her wedding reception, alongside Lebanese-Canadian singer Massari.