There you are. Staring at the mirror once again before turning right away. You hate it. You hate how your nose bulges and how your lips are too thin. You hate the black spots on the cheeks and how your eyes seem to sink into the sockets. You stare at your skin, too dark or too pale? You hate how your frail body always seems unbalanced like wind could easily sweep you away. You don’t like your kinky hair nor your inability to be the height you really wish you had. In short, you pretty much dislike everything about your body, your physical appearance and even your existence.

We are so filled with insecurities because of the society’s definition of beauty. And I said this before; the beauty industry is so ugly. It makes us apologize all our lives for not being ‘beautiful enough’. So here we are, so obsessed with ‘doing something’ about how we look and our outer image. Spending so much money on three, four make-up kits, buying designer clothes, shoes and perfumes just so we can hide all these things about ourselves we are not proud of. Don’t get me wrong, you are free to spend on whatever you like but when you do it, it should only be because it really does make you happy and not for the sake of fitting into the society’s league of beauties.

I come across several people, who when you tell, ‘You look pretty’ they’ll really be shocked and shrug it off not just for the sake of being polite but because they really think they are not. And it is sad because of how much this really affects our self-esteem. The truth is, we may all vary in our levels of attractiveness yet we all are beautiful in our own unique way and beautiful in the eyes of Allah. If Allah (S.W) considers you beautiful, why would you ever doubt that?

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Let me tell you a story of a sahabi who was considered the ‘ugliest’. His name was Julaybib (may Allah be pleased with him). Julaybib’s family background is unknown. We don’t even know what his second name is. We don’t know who were his parents, his lineage or which tribe he came from apart from that he came from Madinah. His name actually means ‘deformed’. He was known for his deformities and for his appearance. In fact the way he was described was, ‘qaseer, wa faqeer, wa dameem’ i.e. he was extremely short, extremely poor and extremely repulsive. In a world where family lineage, background, wealth and appearance are made to be so important, we can imagine what kind of a tough life Julaybib had. He didn’t have friends or family or companions. No one was interested in him. He went through a lot of verbal abuse and was bullied countless times.

So one day the prophet peace be upon him meets Julaybib and asks him about him. The prophet was actually concerned about him. Julaybib replies to the prophet by asking, ‘Ya Rasul Llah, do you think the only woman I get to marry is in jannah? The hur al ain (women in paradise)?’ and the prophet immediately understood his agony and belief that he would never be able to get married in this world. So the prophet decides to take the matter in his own hands and went to one of the sahabas who had a beautiful daughter. He said to the other sahabi, ‘I want to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.’ The Sahabi was so excited and saw no greater honour than that. In his mind, he is marrying off his daughter to the prophet peace be upon him. Then when the prophet clarified that he wants to ask her for Julaybib, the father paused in hesitation and said ‘let me ask her mother’. The reaction was the same with the mother; extreme excitement when she first thought it was the prophet who wanted their child and immediate rejection upon knowing it is Julaybib. But the girl overheard the conversation and told her parents, ‘How can we reject a proposal and an order from the prophet peace be upon him?’ This pure lady insisted on accepting Julaybib and eventually became his wife.

On the battle of Uhud, Julaybib passed away. The prophet (SAW) frantically tried to find Julaybib on the battle ground and saw him surrounded by 7 enemies. Julaybib killed 7 enemies before they killed him. The Prophet (SAW) gets emotional, picks Julaybib up with his two hands and repeatedly says, “This one is from me, and I am from him, he is from me and I am from him, he is from me and I am from him.” He takes Julaybib and digs a grave for him with his own hands, and buries Julaybib himself. And what better honour than this? What is physical attractiveness compared to the love of Allah and his prophet?

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There are several other stories about other sahabis who were deemed unattractive and the prophet peace be upon him always showed love to them for who they really are; their beauty deep inside and not how they looked. Another example is the story of a sahabi by the name of Zahir ibn Haram. His story is narated in a hadith by Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

“There was a man from amongst the Bedouins whose name was Zahir bin Haram. Whenever he came to Medinah for a need, he brought something for the Prophet (saw) as a gift, like cottage cheese or butter. Likewise, when the Prophet (saw) would prepare something to give to him whenever e wanted to leave, such as dates and so on.

The Prophet (saw) used to love him and say, “Zahir is our Bedouin and we are his city dwellers.”

Zahir was not very good looking. One say, Zahir (may Allah be pleased with him) left the desert and came to Allah’s Messenger (saw) but did not find him. He has some merchandise to sell so he went on to the market place.

When the Prophet (saw) found out about his arrival, he went to the market place looking for him. When he arrived, he saw him selling his merchandise with sweat pouring down from his face. He wore Bedouin clothers which did not smell good either. The Prophet (saw) hugged him tightly from behing, while Zahir was unaware and could not see who it was.

Zahir became scared and said, “Let me go! Who is this?!” But the Prophet (saw) remained silent. Zahir tried to release himself from his grip and started to look right and left. When he saw the Prophet (saw) he relaxed and calmed down, placing his back against the Prophet’s chest. The Prophet (saw) began to joke with him, saying to the public: “Who will buy this slave?! Who will buy this slave?”

Thereupon, Zahir looked at himself and thought of his extreme poverty, for he had neither wealth or good looks.

He said, “You will find me unmarketable, O’ Messenger of Allah.”

The Prophet (saw) said, “But you are not unmarketable with Allah. You are very precious to Allah.” And in another narration the prophet tells him, “But you are priceless in the sight of Allah, you are beautiful in the eyes of Allah, do not worry about how you look”

In another instance, the prophet again tried to redifine the meaning of beauty to us in the story of Abdullah ibn Masood. Abdullah ibn Masood (RA) was so short he was a dwarf, and one day he climbed into a tree to grab a siwak from the Arak tree for the Prophet (SAW). But Abdullah was so small that the wind blew him into tree. The Sahaba burst into laughter, and the Prophet (SAW) asked them why they were laughing. The Sahaba respodned with, “Ya Rasululllah, his legs are so short like two little twigs.” The Prophet (SAW) said, “But you don’t understand these two legs on the Day of Judgement will be the size and weight of Mount Uhud (on the scale of his good deeds).”

And I get it. It is way tougher right now with all the cover magazines, social media personalities and superstars we idolize from all over the world. But in the end remember God never created anything ugly, again I say it, we may vary in the level of attractiveness but no one is entirely ugly. This is because Allah (S.W) mentioned it Himself in Surat Tin:

By the fig and the olive

And [by] Mount Sinai

And [by] this secure city [Makkah],

We have certainly created man in the best of stature;

See how Allah took an oath FOUR times before stating that He created us in the best form.

Whatever or however you look like, do know that it is but a test from Allah. We never really put much thought to it but beauty is a big test of its own. There is a high risk into falling into arrogance or zina or other detestable behaviours. The same way physical unattractiveness may make us fall into the whispers of shaytan of self-pity and self-loathing and sadness. So love yourself in whatever state you were created and be grateful for it. What really matters is the state of your heart and soul and imaan. And also, remember to not stigmatize, bully, laugh or point out the flaws in others. You never know how much it hurts them.

{“Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but rather he looks at your hearts and actions.”} -Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H)

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The prophet’s path- Youtube
The merciful servant- Youtube
The “Ugliest” Sahabis

Photo Courtesy: Butterfly.4.Weddings (http://www.imgrum.net/)

There are 8 kinds of women you almost never miss in a Swahili/Mombasa wedding:

1. The epitome of beauty: The most beautiful lady in the room. You would almost confuse her to be the bride. She is gorgeous and she knows it. Make-up done perfectly with a Cinderella gown that makes her the princess of the night. She walks gracefully, head held high, appears in the dance floor, interact and doesn’t miss out in the photos.

2. Selfieeee: You will never miss a selfie freak. Always taking photos from the moment they step at the hall door, to when they are walking, seated, dancing, eating, all poses you can think off. She could have 50 photos of just a single evening.

3. Make-up gone soo wrong: The kind of lady who makes you question whether you are too ignorant about make-up or she really looks the way you see her. You question her brain, her mirror, her friends, her family, the entire humanity who walked right by her and never said a word. Not even, “honey, I think some water on your face will do you good.”?!!

4. Always the dancer: She is the great dancer. She knows her moves well and all songs can be danced even the one you would just sit and have your hand hold your chin? Yeah, that song too. She can dance it. So of course, you never miss her being in the dance floor.

5. Fashion police: The keen eyes scrutinizing what everyone is wearing, what colour, which jewelry, what they should have done differently and what would match best with what. Plus they never miss someone to discuss the fashion NO-NO’s with at the wedding.

6. Family-tree narrator: This is the historian. “See the lady in blue? she is the daughter of the woman in green. The woman in green is the step-cousin to your late mother. And your late mother had a great step-grandmother; she is the old lady talking to the young lady. The young lady is your step aunt” bla bla bla… They know most people in the wedding. They can connect the dots of family lineage back to your ancestors.

7. God! I_AM_BORED woman: She is mostly at the event because she has no choice. She is just staring at people, rarely interacting at all, appreciates the food being served, has a faint smile on her face and the moment the bride sits on the stage, she is gone!

8.The psycho kind of writer ME:The moment she takes a seat, she starts eating. She wants to get done with it already and forget about food. Next she is in pauses between chronic texting syndrome and staring at people silently like a serial killer and psychopath studying her victims. She looks at people like story materials and study expressions, impressions, abbreviations you name it 😀 She stares at the corner of the eyes of the bride trying to find tears, study body language and think of all the story ideas she can get from one event. There is no selfie taken at all because she is the same way you’d see her on the street buying tomatoes. She can’t interact much because hey! ‘I am just from greeting someone across the hall. I can’t dare do that again. Too much attention.’ She is always looking around just in case she sees a familiar face or an old friend. Not that she will walk to go say hi, rather she’ll just wave and plaster a big smile like, ‘if only you were closer i’d give you a hug.’ You know, Mombasa weddings are partly re-unions, everyone knows everyone sorta thing. She looks confused and lost. All people are going to take photos with the bride she is still seated at the far end row alone with empty seats beside and around her. She is trying to dissect the song lines and read between the lines and sometimes question the sanity of the singers with very cheesy lines. She waits until the bride is walking right beside her so that she can hug her and congratulate her. Then hurrah! ‘I think I just got something to write about from this.’ 😀 Okay I know I am bizarre and weird but at least you got something to read today! 😉 Have a blessed weekend lovely people 😀

Photo Courtesy: Arafat Abdulrehman

If I told you the ladies above are Christians would you believe me? Do they look anything close to ‘oppressed’ or ‘denied their freedom’? Do they look unhappy or even near discomfort?? You’ve got the answer! 🙂

On Monday the 29th of February, the Muslim union of MTTI university (Mombasa Technical Training Institute) held an amazing project that involved calling non Muslims to come try out the Hijab and give their opinion of it. Mashallah around 17 ladies appeared and they seemed excited in the hijab. The project manager; Rayhan Suleiman in co-ordination with the chairman; Ahmed Abubakar, Photographer; Arafat Abdulrehman and several other Muslims appeared at the event to offer support and to tie the non Muslims the hijabs.

Don’t ask me the level of excitement. It’s all in their faces and their comments were just beautiful:

“I believe that Muslim ladies are really disciplined for most of them have beautiful hair yet they decide to wear it and cover themselves…and that, really requires discipline.”

“I really feel comfortable in the hijab and i feel beautiful”

“The hijab is a cover that Muslim ladies cover their hair with and they look decent in it which is why I admire it.”

“I feel comfy in the hijab”

“I want to take this hijab with me, is it possible??”

“The hijab makes me feel fully covered.”

“The hijab is usually worn by Muslims to show their dignity.”

If you heard all the comments then you’d really want to hug each one of them and tell them, “Sweetheart, THIS, is Islam!” All the Christians left with the hijabs and they left the Muslims with nothing than the big smiles for a job well done.

Who said to do daa’wah you have to a scholar in deen? All you have to own is the Islamic identity and have a soul that can attract others to Islam.

Mashallah for the nice performance by the Muslim Union of MTTI especially this being their very first Islamic project! May Allah bless all those who took their time and energy to be present and offer support. As for these pretty hijabaes over here, may Allah guide you to Islam and may you discover the real beauty of being in hijab. Ameen!