It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In Islam, however, Allah (swt) sets for us certain guidelines to live and decide by, so that personal human opinions are not involved. Even true beauty is defined in our religion. While in today’s world we fancy silken hair, fantastic figures, beautiful clothes and plastered make-up as the epitomes of great beauty, in Islam, the meaning of true beauty is understood to be something else.
In Islam, beauty of the soul is greatly emphasized over the outer, physical beauty. Therefore, the saying “beauty isn’t skin-deep” is absolutely true. The Quran and the Sunnah repeatedly remind us to avoid Tabarruj or the outer display of beauty.
Allah (swt), being our Creator, is All-Aware of the path to our happiness. Logically speaking, if we (men or women) are consumed by looking physically attractive in a culture of ‘showing-off,’ the development and beautification of our inner souls will inevitably suffer. For instance, we will be consumed with the desire of having lovely hair and spend hours enhancing its beauty, instead of spending that time and effort in uplifting our souls through Dhikr and prayers, or attending to our primary responsibilities, which is also a form of worship. And if we look at the total time involved in embellishing the beauty of such outwardly displayed body parts as eyes, skin and figure, we can well imagine how time-consuming the entire process would be!
Natural beauty, like all other good things, is a blessing bestowed upon us by Allah (swt), and we must appreciate it. It is good to look after ourselves and take care of our physical self. However, it is important to remember that inner beauty is far more permanent than any excellence in external appearance. Time ravages the outer beauty, but a beautiful soul will remain beautiful forever! Therefore, if Allah (swt) has granted us great outer beauty, we must appreciate this blessing. On the Day of Judgement, we will be questioned about it. Did we use this beauty to achieve wrongful means? Did we display it outlandishly and disobey Allah (swt) in the process?
Interestingly, it is no secret that physical beauty attracts others towards us, even if we are not overtly displaying it and are within the confines of the Hijab. If we have been bestowed with pleasant features, it is often easier for us to gain friends and, perhaps, do Dawah more effectively. Hence, we can use the gift of natural beauty to enhance our inner selves and further the cause of Allah (swt)!
We must always remember that the glamorous celebrities or the stunning friends or relatives we might admire are not necessarily more valued in the eyes of Allah (swt) than an average looking individual. Outer beauty as the yardstick for measuring our personality is set by humans, not Allah (swt).
This life, as we know, is temporary. With death being our ultimate fate, it is simply more sensible to spend a larger proportion of time on beautifying our souls for a better hereafter, than spend the same amount of time on enhancing our physical body, which we will leave behind in this Duniya! When life will seep out of us at the point of death, our physical beauty will probably be the least of the concerns. In fact, it will be the beauty of the soul, which will decide the ease of our passing into the hereafter.
It will be this beauty that will confer us a place in Jannah. And when Allah (swt) decrees for us to be the inhabitants of Jannah (Insha’Allah), our beauty will increase manifold.
Hence, in this lifetime, we must strive to obey Allah (swt) and do good deeds, because it will be our beautiful hearts (Qalb-e-Saleem) and not our physical attributes which will be the winners in the hereafter!