In His Eyes: A Reflection on Beauty

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A beautiful piece written by Meena Malik, cross posted from MuslimMatters.

In His eyes, she was beautiful. He understood all that she did in order to attract His attention. He knew that she only thought of impressing Him, that she had taken His preferences as her own and that she was trying in every possible way to surrender to them. He noticed every tiny detail that she so carefully arranged in her appearance for His sake alone. He kept account of her progress and He appreciated every one of her struggles. He admitted that still had a long way to go, but He thought her sincerity was endearing. No, she wasn’t perfect on the outside and definitely far from perfect on the inside, but all that she was doing made her, in His eyes, beautiful.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

…At least, that’s what she had heard. She had decided that Allah, God, was her Beholder. She then realized that she could not define beauty herself or let anyone else define it for her. She had come to the conclusion that He was the only One to please, so she embarked on the journey of discovering what beauty was in His eyes. As she learned day by day, she practiced day by day. She slowly started to beautify herself according to His standards.

In His eyes, it was beautiful that she should cover her hair. So she took the first and biggest step. She stopped showing her hair in public and starting wearing the hijab, headscarf, even though she feared how those around her would react to such a drastic change.

In His eyes, it was beautiful that she should dress to hide the shape of her body. She started to wear looser clothing, even though it hung awkwardly from her petite frame. She switched to wearing skirts and dresses, even though she wanted to go on a hike at the beach or had to slosh to her classes around campus in the pouring rain.

In His eyes, it was beautiful that her face should appear in its natural state. She stopped wearing make-up altogether, even if it was only for a few hours on Eid or for her cousin’s wedding. She stopped using the powders, liquids, and pencils, even though she could mask her imperfections and bring out her features. She also stopped plucking her eyebrows, even though they were a little misshapen and slightly unkempt and even though almost everyone else continued to shape theirs.

At every step of her journey she was tested in her commitment to pursuing the standards of His beauty alone, and not becoming distracted in pursuing the other standards of beauty that were around her. But the further she kept going, the more she heard the others. The others had their own definitions of beauty, and hardly any of their definitions matched His.

She had already defeated her desires and placed His definition of beauty over her own, but it was overcoming the opinions of the others, those who saw her and interacted with her, that was most difficult. Their thoughts would turn into words, and sometimes the words would get too loud to ignore.

They had a lot to say. Some said that she should be free to express her beauty the way she wanted to and not how she was told to. Some said that she looked strange and would never fit in. Some said that if she didn’t look like the girls in the magazines, she wasn’t worth much. Some said that she was taking covering too far, that they were happy she was wearing the scarf but she should stop fussing with all of the “extra” things she was doing. Some said she would look better with some make-up on, that if it was just a little and it was no big deal. Some said she would never get married, dressing so conservatively and looking so plain. Some said that what’s inside is all that matters, and that she didn’t need to be modest or care what was on the outside.

Some of what they had to say would hurt. Some of them came from strangers, some from her friends, and some even from her family. Deep down she knew that what He thought was beautiful meant more to her than what they thought was beautiful. She had to detach from them completely. She knew what true beauty was and that she wanted to appear beautiful in His eyes, not in theirs.

She learned. She learned to cope with what the others had to say. She learned how to accept complements and how to deflect negative comments. She learned that she is responsible for maintaining her self-confidence and upholding her own respect. She learned to stop caring about what the others would think because she could never impress everyone and would get lost if she tried. She learned that she could not fully understand the wisdom behind what He thought was beautiful, but that she would comply fully to His standards. She learned that He is enough for her and that all of her strength comes from Him. She learned to love herself for wanting to be beautiful in His eyes and she learned to love herself because she kept trying. She learned that becoming beautiful is a process that never ends and to never stop fighting to achieve the excellence that she craved. She learned that outside beauty was only part of the beauty that He wanted from her. She learned to stop judging others around her, both their external and internal appearances. She learned that it wasn’t wrong to care about how she looked, as long as she knew Who she was trying to impress. She learned that true beauty exists only in His eyes.­­­­­

She prays that everyone will want to take His beauty as their own. She prays that she will be steadfast in achieving His beauty. She prays that His beauty comes to her not only on the outside, but also on the inside. She prays that He will send her a man who sees and loves His beauty in her. She prays that she will die with His beauty. She prays that she will be brought back to life and live forever with His beauty. She prays that she is beautiful, in His eyes.

الحمد لله اللهم كما أحسنت خلقي فاحسن خلقي

Oh Allah as you have beautified my outward appearance, beautify my inner appearance (character).

(Du’a when looking in the mirror)

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