Beauty. A topic I really didn’t want to write about. For so many reasons, but mainly because I worry it will turn into a rant, because I’ve always had an issue with the concept of beauty or rather how it is made out to be something so important that people often forget, that behind the veil of beauty resides a human.
As we enter parenthood, we learn lots of new things. We learn more about how others view the world by the comments they make and it was a certain reaction from some people that has made me want to write this post.
When Yusra was a year and a half old, one night she was so excited about getting ready for bed, she ran and hurt her head on the corner of a door. It started bleeding very heavily, she was crying, I was crying. Alhamdhulillah her dad was home and so we quickly sought medical attention.
After a long 5 hour wait, she was seen by a doctor. By then she was absolutely ok in herself, playing with the toys at the hospital despite the inch long cut on her forehead. I remember one of the first things the doctor said to me was “no matter what I do, it will leave a scar on her head.” To which my response was: “But she’s ok right?!” Because it hadn’t even crossed my mind that a scar would develop or that her face will forever ‘change’. To be honest, what he said annoyed me but I ignored him. Alhamdhulillah, Yusra was ok, the doctor ‘glued’ the cut together.
And since then, whenever people see her, they ask about her scar. The scar that isn’t even that big. It’s nothing like Harry’s one! Just a little thing on the corner of her forehead. So we tell the story. But then you get some people who express sympathy over how her fall has left her with a scar that will be there FOREVER.
SubhanAllah, it is comments like that, that makes me wonder how much we value looks. And no, being pretty isn’t something important to only Western culture. The South-Asian world is obsessed with it too. The West have taken a lead in making a whole industry out of it, of course that’s what happens in a world where capitalism is the reason for life.
Being beautiful or being perfect or being less ugly is ingrained in all of us. We all look at something and we like it based on how it looks – we do it knowingly, unknowingly but we do it. And how shallow does that make us?
There is absolutely nothing wrong (and actually we should) with wanting to present ourselves well. But when this presentation takes priority over everything else we possess, surely it is unhealthy.
I mean, my daughter was a tiny thing – almost always smiling. Does it really matter that she has a scar that she will have when she grows up? And to view it as something unfortunate is more annoying.
Why are humans so obsessed with good looks or looking ‘normal’. And what is beauty? When growing up and even in my early twenties, I was always very conscious of my looks. But I did absolutely nothing about it. Didn’t spend a whole load of money on make up or clothes to fit into a world that selects looks over ideas. So if it bothered me, why didn’t I bother to do anything about it? Maybe I’m lazy. But maybe I thought and kind of still think that superficial things mean very little.
I always wondered why something we have very little control over means so much to people. So much that they take pride in it. It has never made sense to me. Beauty consists of so many different ‘rules’ that it sometimes doesn’t make sense, the list is so long; a person’s weight, their height, their skin colour (that needs to be a whole separate post), all these things and lots more are used to define beauty. Being born beautiful is something that Allah blesses humans with. Just like having two arms and two legs – now we don’t all walk around showing off our arms and legs with pride?
I know people who get very upset over how they look. Or how they want to look. So much so that it impacts their day-to-day life. It saddens me that it has become like that for some. I don’t want to include the stats and many studies that suggest how lacking confidence in one’s looks leads to depression etc. But it upsets me that Muslims are a part of these statistics. Well, of course we would be, we are part of this world too.
But I see it differently. I think that although we are part of this world, a world that is fixated with telling people how they should look, we should take a step back and realise that if our purpose in the dunya was to look a certain way, then Allah would have told us this in the Quran. Not in one ayah, but over and over again, Allah tells us that our true value and our true worth is in the imaan that we live with, the taqwa that we work on building daily.
“…Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer)
who has At-Taqwa…”
I remember when I was in my late teens and at a circle, a sister as a passing comment said: (paraphrased)
“If looks mattered by the slightest, wouldn’t the Quran and hadiths be filled with descriptions of how the pious people looked. I mean how many of us know exactly how Khadijah, Assiya, or Maryam (as) looked? All we know is that they are beloved slaves of Allah. Because of their conviction in Him.”
To be honest what the sister said probably sums up the whole point of this post. Because how true is it? How important will looks be when we are deep inside that lonely grave? Sounds like a very harsh and serious statement to make. But all of us; believers and non-believers alike, will taste death. The socially accepted beautiful person with the perfect body size and the ‘completely ugly’ person will all be alone when meeting their Creator. And like everything else in life, if we put the reality of our end at the forefront of our actions and our thoughts, we wouldn’t prioritise superficial, man made, man imposed ideas in our lives.
I’d like to think that I’m free of such ideas and it doesn’t impact me by the slightest. It did once upon a time. And it probably still does, but I don’t care about it any more. I was lazy about it when I was younger and now it just frightens me to know that I will be bringing up my child in a world where looks matter more than deeds. But it is not for man to judge, the judgement is with Allah and His Judgement won’t be based on the level of perfection one carries in presenting themselves, He will judge the perfection in which we called out to Him.
So, mirror, mirror on the wall, beauty is NOTHING after all!
And my dearest, Yusra, if you ever read this post, then always remember the below hadith. May we all be raised in front of Allah with the best of deeds in our books. Ameen.
The Prophet (saw) said:
“Allah does not look at your figures, nor at your attire
but He looks at your hearts [and deeds].”
9 thoughts on “Mirror, mirror on the wall, what is beauty after all?”
I think vanity is just another symptom of a Godless society…a society that has forgotten the temporal nature of this world. That hadith you mentioned has a very special place in my heart too: Before I became Muslim I found this quote in a library book and it touched me so much that I typed it out and stuck it on my mirror. It was exactly the kind of counsel I needed at 17 years old! Lovely blog post mashAllah. Jazakillahu khayrun
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Wow – that is so lovely to know mashaAllah. Yes, you’re very right, vanity is part of a secular society. I wanted to say so much but it would become too long to read lol. Alhamdhulillah we have Allah’s guidance otherwise we would be lost souls too. BarakAllahu feek
I didn’t care to read this. But your second line caught my attention and so i did. You write almost poetically. Enjoyable and illuminating.
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Aww what a lovely comment. Thank you. 🙂
This was such a nice read! Well written too! Love the little story
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JazakAllah khair for the sweet, sweet comment and thank you. 🙂
MashAllah this is such a great post sister. About the scar your daughter has, I can totally relate to it. I had a bad cut above my lips when I was a kid and as I grew up the scar is there and I remember hearing from someone once that if that scar wasn’t there I would have looked more beautiful. I laugh at the comment till today. 😉 For me scars are a sign that we have had more fun than others and that is what your daughter is doing. May your daughter have a bright future and a beautiful Aakhirah. Aameen
I have skin that is so sensitive that it scars easily.. I’ve been very comfortable with myself and didn’t have much mirrors in my home for a long time. But I’ve been constantly bombarded by those remarks some subtly and some very blatant to wear Foundation, concealer to hide my marks, to shape my eyebrows and these comments come from both Muslims and non Muslims. I would not lie, I ignore most of the times but there are times when I sink to an all time low and allow these comments to penetrate deeper. Your words, your writing, the summarized version of your friends words… Subhanallah.. May Allah grant us a deeper understanding ameen. Jazakallah khair for writing for sharing.
This is a very much needed post. So well written like the other comments have mentioned. I am slowly learning that we have no control over certain things. And it is in women’s nature to want to feel good and pampered and beautiful but not at the expense of good health and good deeds. Really enjoyed this post!!