“It is Allah Who has made for you the earth as a resting place, and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape – and made your shapes beautiful,- and has provided for you Sustenance, of things pure and good;- such is Allah your Lord. So Glory to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!” (The Noble Quran 40:64)
How many times have we said or heard the following?
“I wish I was thinner.”
“If I had the money, I’d get a nose job.”
“I hate these stretch marks, those kids ruined my body!”
“I hate getting old, look at all the these wrinkles and grey hair.”
“I wish I was fairer.”
“I wish my skin was clear.”
“I lost all the weight, but now I have to go in to get a lift here and a tuck there.”
“I wish I were a different race.”
“I wish I looked more like the girls in the magazines.”
“Everyone thinks she’s prettier than me, no one compliments me.”
“I wish I was more beautiful.”
“I wish I wasn’t so plain and ugly.”
“I feel like I am going to die alone.”
I can go on, but I won’t, because it will only make me gloomy and want tell everyone I meet for the next few days how beautiful they are, Masha’Allah. I wish it were that easy to make someone feel worthy. I wish we had the capacity to see beyond superficial appearances and delve into the inner reality of one another. Unfortunately, this world has taught us to do the exact opposite. It is incredibly unfair, but we make unconscious decisions about whether we will give someone our attention solely based on the way they look, because we have been programmed to do so.
As kids, we are told to treat everyone equally, that we shouldn’t “judge a book by it’s cover”, but the problem really lies in the actions of the people around us. We see our elders and other children constantly judging one another on appearances. Unfortunately, actions speak (or preach) much louder than words.
“Look at that cheap dye job and that ugly dress?” Your mother mumbles to her companion looking on at your friend’s mom, while a younger you stands nearby listening, watching, absorbing. This is backbiting at it’s worst, which is forbidden in our faith, but who thinks of that when they are salivating with the gratification of feeling superior by making others seem inferior (we all know that this doesn’t just stop at physical appearances most of time). Perhaps at times it is our parents or elders doting on us over our siblings or our fair or more attractive brother or sister that begins to condition us to have this jaded attitude in our early years.
Narrated from al-Nu’maan ibn Basheer that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Fear Allah and treat your children fairly.” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)
The schoolyard is even worse, it makes me angry to see that there are some children who play alone and look on at all the other kids having fun while they suffer isolation and a pain that no child should have to endure. What is it? Teeth too yellow, skin too dark, hair too shaggy, clothes too cheap, scars, wheelchair, fat, pimples, foreign accent, hijab/no hijab, glasses, hyper, low grades, silly, poor…what? This behavior of shunning those different from our wayward perception of “beautiful” or “normal” is a learned act and is completely unnatural. We are not born with these prejudices. This is proven by the behavior of babies who are still in the natural state Allah has created us in and how they will smile and reach out for anyone who they see as friendly and approachable without worry of race, build or disability, Subhan’Allah. This is the precedent we as a society have set: the beautiful people and the ugly people, the haves and the have-nots, the confident and the meek. All this over traits we cannot change. It is what it is and the separation between us has already begun even at this early age. The unified road we began to walk as cute little babies begins to fork. We are bombarded with unachievable standards of beauty and intolerance to anything that steps out of that realm.
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa [i.e. he is one of the Muttaqoon (the pious)]. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (The Noble Quran 49:13)
We get older and it doesn’t get any better. It gets worse. Before we know it, we begin to “worship” the so-called beautiful people and their unachievable standard of beauty. What we have is never good enough, because it’s not like them. The dark-skinned girl, wallowing in feelings of worthlessness, will buy bleach cream to lighten her skin and hair, she’ll wear blue contact lenses, she’ll starve herself to be thin, because white, blond, skinny and blue-eyed is real beauty in her eyes, but she didn’t pick this up all on her own. It has been injected into her by relatives looking for light-skinned brides for their sons, by her blue-eyed friends who get all the attention, by the media that shows her through plastic, emaciated, airbrushed, overpaid models and actresses that she is not good enough if she’s not a size 0 or if her hair, skin and eyes are dark. The “hero” she likes, well he wants all of those “beautiful” women and so to have the attention of a man like him she has to become a woman like them. She desperately wants to fit in, she wants to be complemented and loved, and she doesn’t want to be alone.
She doesn’t want to be alone…
I wrote this piece, because of these women and men. The ones that don’t think that they will ever fit in or be loved, the ones that live in fear of dying alone, the ones who hide away from the world, because the pain of interacting with other human beings is just too much to bear. They have been hurt too many times, most of the time by people that they loved and trusted such as their own parents. Every time they let their guard down, they face disappointment and rejection until they feel like they can’t take any more pain.
Perhaps in the final stages they walk into the local Masjid, the one place they think they can feel safe and perhaps get a much-needed dose of some brotherly or sisterly love, but what happens? They get that passing Salam and then sit in a corner looking on as everyone interacts and enjoys without giving them a second glance. They sit there stewing in their own self-consciousness and no one is aware of the storm brewing inside of them. They would do anything just to belong, to not bear the weight of anyone’s mocking stares and whispers, to just feel something besides insignificance. It breaks my heart each time I hear their stories, because it is so unfair that we live in a world where we have bridged the gap across communities all over the world through social networks and emerging technologies, but have lost the ability to really communicate with one another in a genuine and human way. We step over the very people Allah puts in our path to acknowledge and support, just so we can climb the social ladder moving towards a life of comfort and ease. How do we not choke on that ease if it is at the expense of our intellect and the adoption of ignorance? In haste, we don’t realize that a passing joke or comment we may forget about as soon as it leaves our lips can destroy someone’s confidence leading to lasting and devastating consequences. Hate only ends up breeding more hate and we have to always remember that the little ones are always watching and absorbing. Sometimes the beast hides inside of beauty. At the heart of it, we have to realize that this world is just a fairytale. We must tread carefully.
“The life of this world is just the enjoyment of delusion.” (The Noble Quran 3:185)
The reality of all this is: this world is never satisfied. It wants us to don a beautiful mask on top of the ugliness and self-loathing that it helps fester in us like a disease. This is proven by how we interact with one another on social media, where online personas reveal only the good in life (many a time the exaggerated good). Surely, we can imagine the feelings of a person who looks upon these superficial profiles and feels inadequate or hurt. What we all don’t realize is that we could find someone who we may think to be perfection and if we asked them if they honestly thought so, they could probably give us a long list of things that they find repulsive about themselves. Why? Because this is not only about satisfying our inner shortcomings, it is about satisfying the people around us. When we look in the mirror, we look to see what others will see when we step outside the door. We forget that a pretty face, a healthy bank balance and a slim body may get us out of our front doors, but it will not get us through the door that really counts at the end of it all.
What is left when the mask comes off?
It was narrated in al-Saheeh that Abu Hurayrah said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘Allah does not look at your appearance or your wealth, but He looks at your hearts and your deeds.’” (Narrated by Muslim)
Beauty fades, bodies sag, hair turns grey, wealth and status can abandon us. One day someone will look at our old weathered faces and look the other way in disinterest…if we give into the hype of being nipped and tucked, they may look away in repulsion, Astaghfirullah. There is One, however, that never turns away and He thinks we are perfect just the way we are: young, old, big, small, rich, poor, healthy, sick, disabled, dark, light, freckles, scars and all. You know why? Because He made us and He never makes a mistake. This is the way Allah wants us and according to the above Ayah, He made us beautiful. All of us. He did this, because He loves us and His perception is pure and good. Subhan’Allah.
It is what is on the inside that matters to Him and what should matter to us. We must chase the One who wants to be caught, not the one who will never be satisfied with what we have to offer, always remaining just out of reach. Allah has made us exactly how He wants us; everyone’s life will have different challenges and rewards, Alhamdulillah. According to His Word, outwardly, we are perfect and beautiful to Him just the way we are, imperfections and all. These are things we cannot change and should accept. He has created us in pleasing forms to Him and that is exactly the way He wants us to return to Him, Insha’Allah.
“He has created the heavens and the earth in just proportions, and has given you shape, and made your shapes beautiful: and to Him is the final Goal.” (The Noble Quran 64:3)
If we really want to change something, it should be internally through submission only for His pleasure. To be more attractive to our family, friends and mates we should show our beauty through our actions. A relationship based on a superficial thing like outer beauty, which fades, doesn’t have much to stand on. We must be more active in our community, show the love we have for Allah and His Messenger (SAW), and love our neighbors, family and friends.
Open up our arms and our hearts to the masses and let them come inside that fold no matter what race, body type or disability. Throw all our differences aside for His sake. Make it unacceptable that anyone that comes into contact with us or comes into the Masajid feels unwelcomed, unloved or disappointed. We have all read and heard many accounts of sisters and brothers along with their children who have felt alienated or hurt at the Masajid to the point where they never returned, this can be especially devastating for people new to or coming back to Islam. Once again, they feel the walls of rejection and pain being erected around them, having to sit alone and be shunned just because they are different from the rest of the crowd. That’s horrific and we as an Ummah, as one heart, should be devastated and disgusted that this can even take place in a house built for the Creator. We should be truthful to ourselves. It is inconceivable that His Mercy comes down on a place where His creation cannot feel safe, respected and loved. May He forgive us and guide us, Ameen.
“So where are you going?” (The Noble Quran 81:26)
We have to be the change we want to see in our society through showing mercy and compassion. We have to learn and to teach our children that we as Muslims should never reject or degrade anyone by our words, actions or even our silence.
We are all Allah’s creations and by refusing one another, we actually make a clear statement of what we really think of Allah and His ability to create. Astaghfirullah.
If we feel like the rejected ones, then we must trust in Allah and know He has a place and a plan for all of us. We are uniquely perfect as individuals in appearance and personality, Subhan’Allah. This life is short, so we must spend less time on the shell and more on what’s inside through our deeds, as those will be the only baggage we will take with us when we leave this world to decipher how we spend eternity. We should continue to make du’a for His Mercy and for patience, to serve others (always look to those less fortunate than us, learn their stories, help them and be grateful), ignore the ignorant that just don’t understand Allah and His Wisdom and not give into hopelessness (please) no matter how much anyone tries to break us, Insha’Allah. We must strive to invest little in this world and much in the Hereafter by seeking His knowledge, being kind and taking care of ourselves by eating right, staying pure and praying and fasting on time. Insha’Allah, then we will see how people come towards us. Our piety will attract the RIGHT attention and repel the narcissistic individuals that will not bring us anything good when it comes to our Deen or Dunya. Let all of them fall away; no one is worth rejecting what Allah has blessed us with. He gave us all something special to help us to serve Him better, so we must find that talent and use it to make Him happy so that He will make us eternally happy, Insha’Allah. Then see, Allah will replace superficiality with reality in return for our submission and the sacrifices we make for Him. Remember, all the pain we endure will be rewarded as long as we are patient and remain thankful to Him. This is His promise. Alhamdulillah.
“So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” (The Noble Quran 2:152)
And on a side note to the sisters and brothers, who are or will be searching for the right mate, above all remember this advice from Our Beloved (SAW):
“A woman may be married for four things: Her wealth, her lineage, her beauty or for her religion. Choose the religious, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).” (Sahih)
May our unwed sisters be pious above all else and may our unwed brothers be the prosperous ones in finding them, Ameen.
If all else fails, remember Julaybib (RA) and Zahir (RA), the beloved of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Julaybib (RA) was a man who is remembered as the “Ugliest” Sahaba (I really hate saying that), who was said to have been so unattractive that his peers found him repulsive. In reality, Julaybib (RA) was most beautiful internally and it was at forty when he finally came to the Prophet (SAW), still a lonely virginal bachelor, to ask for help in being wed. And Zahir (RA), a bedouin, who had such low self-esteem over his appearance that he once said that no one would accept him even as a slave for sale, to which the Prophet (SAW) responded,
“But with Allah, you are not cheap. It may be with the people you have this position and expectation. But with Allah, you are not cheap.”
Please see the link below for their inspirational stories to discover how beautiful they truly were (RA) and how the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) honoured them.
It was narrated that Sahl ibn Sa’d al-Saa’idi said: “A man passed by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he asked a man who was sitting with him, ‘What do you think of this man?’ He said, ‘He is one of the nobility. By Allah, if he proposes marriage he deserves to get married and if he intercedes, his intercession deserves to be accepted.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said nothing. Then another man passed by, and the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked, ‘What do you think of this man?’ He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, he is one of the poor Muslims. If he proposes marriage he does not deserve to get married, if he intercedes his intercession does not deserve to be accepted and if he speaks he does not deserve to be heard.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘This one (the second man) is better than an earthful of (men like) that one (the first man).’” (Narrated by al-Bukhari)
We have to realize that nothing we can change outwardly will make us better people; we can only do that through trusting Allah and His plan for us. This Dunya is a hungry place and it will never get it’s full; it will not only ravage our outer beauty, but feast on our internal splendor as well. May Allah protect us, Ameen. Reject this path of heartbreak and self-loathing and embrace His. Love Him, love yourself and know you are worthy of the love of His creation. Just knock on the right door. Read His Book, bring positive change to your life and follow the Sunnah and perfect example of the Prophet (SAW). We are all beautiful to the One who really counts and that is all we need.
Turn to Him, serve Him and be satisfied, Insha’Allah, because in the end it is the sweetest surrender of all…
O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong. (49:11)
Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings be upon him) said : Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala said: “I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’” (Hadith Qudsi)
Come Back to Allah – No Matter who you are or what you have done…Come, come again.
Should we change ourselves only to please the Dunya?
Du’a from the Quran and Sunnah:
Hidden Gems Of Islam – Sahaba Julaybib (RA) and Zahir (RA)
Stretch Marks – A sign of Jihad! Subhan’Allah!
Obsession With Selfies – A Self Obsession