29 Nov Mirrors
When looking into the mirror, the first thing many of us do is focus on our flaws and point out what needs fixing. It is incredibly difficult for me to look at my reflection and be pleased with what I see because I am always comparing myself to society’s standard of beauty, and I am far from it. I have dark circles around my eyes (if I’m totally honest it is why I don’t post many photos of my face), a few spots and scars and some hyperpigmentation. I tend to only feel valuable and worthy if I look a certain way – and I know I am not the only woman who thinks like this. I’ve been taught that being attractive and desirable, especially to the male gaze, is what gives me importance in the world.
But when I began to contemplate on the following hadith, I knew I had a great deal of unlearning to do.
When the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) looked in the mirror, he said, “Praise be to Allah. Oh Allah, as you have beautified me, beautify my character.”
The first lesson from this dua is that the Messenger of Allah (saw) taught us that Allah created us with perfection, flawlessly and beautiful, regardless of how beauty is defined on Instagram or by societies. It sounds simple enough, but it almost feels rebellious to truly embrace this statement. We are bombarded with messages that tell us constantly we are not good enough as we currently exist. So for me, one way of truly embracing this lesson, is not putting makeup on. It sounds petty. But considering the way I perceive my reflection in the mirror, it is easier said than done. I know I get treated differently from my non-makeup face to my glammed up face (in a nutshell, people are kinder to me). But it is powerful to know that God l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y created me and no mistake was made.
The second lesson I gained from this dua is that I don’t put enough emphasis on my internal state. It is a given that with God’s permission, I am externally beautiful, but what about internally? My soul, my thoughts, my personality, my perception of others, of myself? For as long as I can remember I have put my energy into APPEARING beautiful, and little to no effort was made in trying to be a better, kinder, more honest and patient person. It took losing complete self-esteem and all sense of self-worth at the age of 24 to realise this!
I have met some beautiful souls, whom by nature have loving, kind-hearted, warm and compassionate temperaments (mashaAllah!) . The Prophet (saw) certainly had this temperament, and yet he still made this eye-opening and heart-opening dua. Hence, this shows having a gentle, soft heart/character takes effort. We may fail, we may lose patience, say hurtful things we don’t mean, roll our eyes, gossip, assume the worst in other people – but for the sake of Allah, we must seek forgiveness, forgive ourselves and try again, and again, and again. And whilst we pick ourselves up, we can also say this dua every time we look into the mirror.
I am so sure that there are many more hidden treasures to discover in this dua. But for now, I will ponder on what it really means to beautify my character and the necessary steps I must take to make that a reality.