I am an ordinary looking girl with two pretty sisters. Everyone keeps telling my mother that I will never get married, because of my dark colour and average looks. I am very depressed and hurt. Please, help.

Answer: I can understand the predicament you are in. We, as a society, have put up certain benchmarks which define beauty. A dark complexion is not one of them. Add “average looks” to that, and many will be convinced that it is an unappealing combination. Sad as it is, this is the reality and the majority mindset on the view.

However, many of us forget that it is not only our physical features that lend beauty to our faces but the expressions that adorn them. And those expressions cannot be applied with makeup, fancy jewellery or expensive clothes. They rise from within: if we are feeling happy, our faces glow. If we are feeling angry, our faces bristle. If we are feeling arrogant, our faces smirk. If we are feeling self-pity, our faces sulk.

You are beautiful. You were created by Allah, (swt), who loves beauty. At a glance, your beauty may not live up to the superficial standards of our surrounding society. Yet, I repeat, you are beautiful. Believe in it – truly, truly believe in it, not in an arrogant but healthy way. This will allow your self-esteem to take root, to blossom, to bear fruit. Turn a deaf ear to those around you – after all, what’s the point of fretting over things you have little control over such as looks and marriage? – and tune into your inner self and make sure that you cultivate an inner beauty which will spread its wings to your external features and engulf you in a wonderful, beautiful radiance.

Above all, spend a lot of time in Dhikr, in thankfulness to Allah, (swt), for creating you hale and hearty. Gratefulness is the best cure for depression.