You are Beautiful, Masha Allah!
By Na’ima B. Robert
When was the last time you looked in the mirror and smiled: `Alhamdulillah’? Chances are, your last encounter with a full-length mirror was conducted with a worried frown on your face as you ran down a long, humiliating list of your figure’s faults and flaws. Why do we do this to ourselves?
As women, the pressure to live up to a collagen-enhanced, air-brushed ideal of beauty is greater than ever. We are constantly bombarded with images of women with impossibly clear skin, symmetrical features, long, glossy hair, perky fronts and backs, toned thighs, dainty feet: no wonder we feel inadequate! Even being a Muslimah doesn’t necessarily shield one from our society’s insistence on codifying `beauty’ and making it a standard that all women should aspire to. What’s a girl to do?
Some of us rise to the challenge: we work out, watch what we eat, keep our daily `cleanse, tone and moisturize’ routine and invest in flattering make-up and complementary clothes in shades that suit our complexions. BUT… if you are like the many Muslim women that I know – busy wives, even busier mothers – you just don’t have time for such a hectic grooming schedule. So, in a way, some of us opt out. We give up trying to compete. We cover our bodies with our abayas, hide our split ends under our hijabs and bury ourselves in the many demands of home and family life. But we are not `conscientious objectors’. We have not taken the decision to neglect ourselves as a matter of principle and so, we are still unhappy when we look at ourselves in the mirror. We are still dissatisfied. And we are still ungrateful.
Yes, we are ungrateful. We agonise over our stretch marks and ignore the miracle of the womb that blossomed and left us with those silvery marks. We worry about our dimply thighs and forget that our legs are strong and capable of bending in prostration, of walking around the Ka’aba and carrying us through life. We fret about our flabby upper arms and turn a blind eye to the amazing strength of our arms that have carried schoolbooks, rocked babies and comforted husbands and friends.
My sister, look at your body. Take a long, hard look. Then say the du’a of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam): “O Allah, as you have made my appearance beautiful, make my character beautiful.” That’s right, my sister, you are beautiful, masha Allah: believe it! You are a unique, amazing creation of Allah ta’ala and your body is a witness to His Majesty every single moment of every day, with
every breath you take and every beat of your heart. And your beauty is not fleeting or in and out of fashion like the false ideal of beauty being peddled on the high street. Your beauty is more than skin-deep: it radiates from your soul, from the beauty of your iman, from a life lived for the sake of Allah. For the ideal of beauty that we should be striving for is the beauty of the believer: the light of inner peace, the glow of the night prayer, the smile of contentment and gratitude, the beauty of a righteous and noble character. That is the true beauty and the only one worth striving for. So, if you work out, keep a daily exercise routine and keep your high standards, you go, girl. And if you don’t, just do your best. But just remember that beauty is about so much more than clear skin and toned thighs. It is about acknowledging the bounties of Allah and recognising the beauty He looks for and can see. And that is the kind of beauty that everyone should aspire to.
This article was published in the first issue of SISTERS. If you liked this article, why not subscribe to SISTERS and get the latest issue and all our past online issues free?