The Treasure Within

40

faded-beauty-within

When I was growing up, I had a few things I had collected over the years and treasured greatly.

They ranged from stickers, to awards, to letters exchanged between friends in elementary school, to various pictures. I held them dear to my heart and wanted to preserve them for as long as possible; and because I treasured those things so much, one day I decided to make a beautiful treasure box for them.

I decorated my treasure box with pieces of silk, ribbon, and colourful construction paper to make it as creative and beautiful as I could, and putting in the effort to make a treasure box made the treasures inside even more valuable to me.

Somehow, it seems that as I grew up and entered high school, my comprehension for how things should be valued and treasured, changed.

In a place where girls are valued solely for their looks and figures, I sought to decorate myself in such a way that I could fit into that category too. Whether it meant putting on as much adornment, makeup, or sheer clothing as I could manage, I worked hard to outdo myself so that I could be accepted and valued above those who failed to “make it in”. All my efforts were spent to please friends and members of the opposite sex.

Despite this constant struggle to live up to a picture-perfect image day after day, I somehow had, in my mind, achieved the highest level of happiness that life had to offer.

In reality, I had become blind to what the true meaning of valuing something was. For some reason, I did not hold myself up to the same standards I had once held my treasured belongings to, and as a result, neither did others. I didn’t realize that as a woman, my value lay not in my looks, or my figure, or in the number of guys that were attracted towards me – but in my character, in my intellect, in my piety and manners.

And that was a realization that came only with the gift of wearing the hijab.

beauty-within

The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam once said,

“When lewdness is a part of anything, it becomes defective; and when haya is a part of anything, it becomes beautiful.”

[Narrated by Anas ibn Malik in at-Tirmidhi]

It is why wearing the hijab was the perfect solution. It protected me from lewdness, and the haya that came from wearing it enveloped me like the treasure box I made had enclosed my valued belongings. And just like the treasure box had beautified my belongings even more, the hijab and haya that became a part of me beautified me more as well, except now it was in accordance with my faith.

To others, it would appear that I had shrouded myself behind undesirable attire. Perhaps to them I was not attractive anymore, simply because I chose to cover my hair and my body. But within myself, I blossomed and I matured. I began to respect my looks, my figure, and my manners, and somehow – surprisingly – others began to as well. I learned that now if someone liked me, it was because they truly valued me.

Like I had once decorated a treasure box for my treasured belongings, I now spent time to decorate myself in such a way that I would be beautiful in the eyes of my Creator. I chose to speak with words and manners that would please my Creator. I chose to submit myself in worship so that I was not a slave of society; of attaining unattainable goals set by celebrities, magazines, and my peers, but so that I was a slave of my Lord, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

And if my Lord values me as a woman who earnestly seeks a path towards jannah, then I have indeed achieved the highest level of happiness that both worlds have to offer, and finally found my treasure within.