Like any other woman or man, I want to be beautiful. My understanding of beauty, however, evolved along with my understanding of my faith.
I was never able to embrace fashion, or keep up with beauty trends. The industry is constantly changing, constantly deceiving.
I first had to establish who I want to be beautiful for.
When I tried being beautiful for others, I felt drained by and enslaved to their criticism. Often contradicting and more so infuriating. The happiness that people can give is always very temporary and flawed. I wanted something more constant, sure and lasting.
Then I was told that I should be beautiful for myself. But I was unconvinced. If I strive to be beautiful, I want to receive acknowledgement and appreciation in return. I want to be rewarded for my efforts and gifted and loved.
In my journey to faith and learning about my creator I realized that the only one deserving of my beauty is He. My effort to become beautiful in the eyes of Allah s.w.t will never go in vein or unnoticed.
Allah s.w.t is the most beautiful and the creator of all beauty; He loves beauty. His appreciation of my beauty is the only one that can fill my heart with contentment. His love is the only one that will never fade with time, or change with circumstances. He is the Most loving, the Eternal.
Then I had to establish how I can be beautiful in the eyes of Allah s.w.t.
We are told that our Prophet Yusuf AA has half the beauty of this world, and the other half the rest of humanity is to share. Allah s.w.t dedicated an entire chapter of the Quran to the story of this beloved prophet, in which He mentions much about Sayiduna Yusuf’s character, and nothing about his physical appearance. This tells us a lot about Allah’s (s.w.t) perception of beauty.
The purest form of beauty is that of the soul; a sort of beauty that the heart can feel before the eyes can see. A beautiful soul is one that is nourished by worship and polished by good character.
True beauty radiates from a person who is in constant remembrance of their Lord. When the tongue speaks His names (1), the mind contemplates His greatness, and the heart cleansed by His worship. A person who seeks to be beautiful in the eyes of his/her creator, will do all that is in their power to follow His commands as well as the ways of His messenger.
“A man’s beauty is in his tongue” is a hadeeth (2) of the prophet SAAW. Although the authenticity of this hadeeth I am unsure of, its meaning does coincide with another where the prophet says “speak good or remain silent”. The ears are the doors to the soul. Beauty is to be able to fill another person’s soul with only good words of honesty, respect and love.
Our beloved Prophet saaw says, “God has sent me as an apostle so that I may demonstrate perfection of character, refinement of manners and superiority in behavior.” Physical beauty is not neglected in Islam. In fact, cleanliness is a big part of the faith. However, today’s materialistic trends exaggerate the weight of physical beauty to unrealistic levels. Meanwhile, Allah s.w.t weighs the person in accordance to his/her character and deeds. All are equal in their chance to earn His love and build their heaven, regardless of their appearance.
Being beautiful in the eyes of Allah s.w.t only increases one’s beauty in the eyes of His creation. Gaining the love of Allah s.w.t also guarantees the love of His creation (3). Only He can place the world in your hands and contentment in your heart.
(1) Allah s.w.t has 99 names (otherwise known as attributes or characteristics) mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet SAAW. Muslims are encouraged to call Allah s.w.t by His names as they pray to Him.
“The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them.” (Quran, 7:180)
(2) Hadeeth: sayings of the Prophet Muhammad SAAW
(3) Abu Hurairah RA reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “When Allah loves a slave, calls out Jibril and says: ‘I love so-and-so; so love him’. Then Jibril loves him. After that he (Jibril) announces to the inhabitants of heavens that Allah loves so-and-so; so love him; and the inhabitants of the heavens (the angels) also love him and then make people on earth love him.” (Bukhari and Muslim)