Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Make Me Beautiful (Born this Way)

"He created the heavens and earth in truth and formed you and perfected your forms; and to Him is the [final] destination." (Taghābun, 64:3)
As I listened to Ustādh Nouman Ali Khan extrapolate lessons from the first few āyāt of Surat At-Taghābun, he reached the word “ṣawwarakum’, “He (Allāh) moulded you”. He explained that 'ṣawwara’ means to mould, fashion or sculpt something that is perfect and beautiful. In reflection, I put my hands to my face to feel for myself how my Creator had chosen to shape it. My fingers automatically went to touch one of my favourite and most quirky features on my face, my nose. I felt the front where a subtle indentation cutely splits the left and right side. It’s something nobody would notice if I didn’t point it out, but I knew it was there and Allāh Himself certainly knew because He fashioned it just so. I smiled and felt a sense of wonder and gratitude at the delicate way I had been sculpted which resulted in something I love; one of the quirks that makes me ‘me’. My thoughts drifted to other features of my face. Allāh had fashioned those too. My hands went towards my eyes and I felt a pang of emotion and a tear come. Just as the end of my nose is something unique on my face that I love and would never change, my eyes are something unique that I would love to look more ‘normal’. Perhaps due to the eye problems and operations I had as a child, one of my eyes is significantly bigger than the other. It’s not something that upsets me much, but, knowing that symmetry is the key element of beauty, it does nag at me every few years or so when I have to take a passport picture, or look good for a particular event, or am physically compared to other girls. But, just like the cute indentation in my nose, Allāh, Al-Muṣawwir, The Fashioner, moulded, fashioned and sculpted my eyes to be like that. My left eye was delicately designed to be different to my right and my face was skilfully shaped to be asymmetrical. The intricacy and purpose in this seemingly flawed feature is what makes my eyes beautiful, what makes the creation of my face perfect. Alḥamdulillāh.

As if that wasn’t enough, Allāh (SWT) goes on to say “Fa aḥsana ṣuwarakum”, “And He perfected your forms”. Allāh isn’t just telling us He sculpted us with His skill, He is emphasising that He did it and He did it well. Allāh takes pride in how beautifully He made us! Subḥānallāh.
"Allāh is saying ‘Accept who you are. I think you're beautiful. Why do you think you're ugly? Why do you have to be so unhappy with yourself?' [...] He did a beautiful job with you." – Ust. Nouman Ali Khan
Perhaps it’s your ‘fat’ thighs, your inability to grow a beard or that part of your face which always seems to be covered in acne. Maybe it’s your height - or lack there of, your ‘stubby’ hands, your ‘why-can’t-I-dress-modestly-with-these?!’ chest. It could be your ‘weedy’ arms, your ‘ugly’ freckles or your ‘big' nose. Whatever it is; whatever thing it is about yourself that makes you feel ugly... 'ṣawwarahu'. Allāh (SWT) in His wisdom, skill and grace, sculpted you just like that and is proud of the form He gave you, so shouldn’t you be proud too?

Take a moment to imagine walking down the street. Someone suddenly stops you and says with the most honest sincerity in their face and voice, “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but notice and I hope you don’t mind me saying... You are absolutely stunning. If I could change a single thing about you, I wouldn’t. I don’t want anything from you, I just wanted you to know.”, and then they walk away. How does it make you feel? Does it make you smile? Does it make you glow? Does it make you cry? And that’s just a random stranger. You know who really does think you’re beautiful and wouldn’t change a thing? Al-Muṣawwir, The One who fashioned you and Al-Jameel, The Beautiful. Surely He knows His stuff. Now that’s something to write home about.

We’re always looking for things to make us feel beautiful, and sometimes we look for the approval of others. We have a yearning as human beings to be loved and accepted just the way we are. We want someone to truly look at our imperfections, see them for what they are, and love us just the same. That would make us feel beautiful. But how can we expect someone to do that when we can’t even do it to ourselves? If we don’t accept that the beauty in every feature of our bodies lays in the fact that they have been moulded and sculpted to be that way, our insecurities and vulnerabilities will only prevent others from seeing that too. Brené Brown, a researcher who looked into what factors distinguish between people who have close connections with others and those who don’t, found that:
“The people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they're worthy of love and belonging. That's it. They believe they're worthy.” 
We can’t look to others to feel worthy, valuable or attractive; we need to find it within ourselves. And how can you not feel attractive when you’ve been sculpted and fashioned by the supreme expert, Al-Muṣawwir Himself? At best we think we’re beautiful despite our apparent ‘flaws’, but, in reality, it’s our strengths along with blemishes that come together to make us beautiful.

We’re always looking for things to make us feel beautiful; and sometimes we turn to changing our appearance to fit our perception of what ‘beautiful’ is. Make-up, hair gel, hair spray, hair dye, haircuts, hair extensions, straighteners, curlers, proteins, weightlifting, tweezers, fake eye lashes, piercings, sun bathing, tanning lotion, fair skin creams, contact lenses, waxing, fashion, jewellery, accessories, fake nails, nail polish, diets, teeth whitening, breast reductions, breast implants, botox, plastic surgery... the list goes on. We look for things to cover up our ‘flaws’, to accentuate our good features or to create things that were never there! Of course it’s an honourable thing to try and look good to some extent; Allāh is Al-Jameel and He loves beauty, but we shouldn't be looking to these things to feel beautiful. Without these things, we are no less good-looking and no less attractive; we’re just the way Allāh made us. We need to know that we don’t need to change the creation of Al-Muṣawwir to look absolutely amazing.

We look for things to make us feel beautiful, but what we need to realise is, we’ve already been made beautiful.
Source: imgfave.com
“When we don't appreciate what we've been given, then we're not appreciating Allāh Himself, because He's the One who gave." – Ust. Nouman Ali Khan

Recommended Viewing:
Nouman Ali Khan - Refreshing Our Faith
Brené Brown - The Power of Vulnerability


  1. You are indeed write-we are so bogged down by our insecurities that we forgot the One who created us. Sometimes we are so bogged down by our beauty that we become ignorant and start showing off and we forget the One who gave us this beauty!

    1. Jazaaki Allahu khaira for your comment. Alhamdulillah, such a great reminder that everything we have is from Allah!

  2. Salam Layla! loved this post! MashaAllah your spot on, we do always think oh if only I id not have this etc. I smiled throughout the post, You my love are indeed beautiful! everything makes you, you! We are all beautiful because Allah, The most High created us <3 Jazakhallah Khair for a great read! Excited to read more of your posts inshaAllah!

    1. Wa alaikum assalaam warahmatullahi wabarakatu Shahima. Alhamdulillah, I'm so glad I could bring out that cheeky smile that makes you you!

  3. Amazing MashaAllah :) Beautifully written sis. May Alah reward you.

  4. Some comments I got from forwarded email (yep I saved the replies until I got round to making a name :))

    "Awesome MashAllah :)"

    "Love it mashallah"

    "Jzk for posting such a beautiful blog. Subhanallah"

    1. That's so sweet! Jazaaki Allahu kaira for sharing. Alhamdulillah, I'm glad people appreciated it. It'll all get a bit curiouser and curiouser from here, I'm sure.