Friday, 24 May 2013

Top 10 Elements of a Beautiful Muslima

    I wish to find another word besides "beautiful" for this list. I need a word that hasn't been abused and misused. Nowadays, "beautiful" means that woman with the physical appeal of a cartoon barbie. Narrow waist, baby features, long hair and a thin figure. How limiting...

     I need a word that combines adjectives like "glowing", "intriguing", "magnificent", "enchanting", "mesmerizing", "engaging", "captivating", "loving", "endearing", "sensitive", "charming" and "devoted" ... okay you get me. We're not talking about the usual characteristics here. What makes a woman sparkle from the rest? So I set to figure this out driving inspiration from the great women who lived among the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and from the prophet himself, from women around me and from my deepest desires in who I aspire to become. We could easily touch on elements such as confidence, honesty, respect, care etc... But I wanted to send a very specific list to make the image more vivid and close to home. I also had a hard time ordering these elements. I only did it to make this more engaging but all of them should be incorporated into one description.

   You could argue this list is unachievable or may not reflect who you are as a person. I don't agree with changing for anyone, or any list in this case, either. But perhaps we can make our own interpretation of this list according to our desires and to suit our personalities. What limits us from our potential is most of the time, ourselves. There's a voice inside of us that tells us we're not good enough or that this is not something for me. But remember, that this is the same method employed by Shaitan (the devil). The moment we decide to leave our bad habits and seek greater closeness to Allah (subhanahu w ta'laa), he tells us we're hypocrites and this is not who we really are. Allah, the All Mighty can forgive and give us a second chance, so why don't we do ourselves the favor by forgiving ourselves and starting anew. They say "fake it till you make it", I heard a TEDX speaker say "fake it till you be it".

Here's my list to describe the elements of the golden lady:

10. Smiles with her eyes:

      Is animated with honest facial expression. Psychology tells us the truth is in the eyes. A smiling woman whose eyes say more than her words has an appeal like no other. A woman whose expressions in general are a true indication of her feelings has a charisma and charm about her that can't be faked. If you can't get yourself to smile in everyone's face in this manner then you don't have to. If you don't feel it, don't express it. But if you do, make it known.

9.  Is clever and witty:

     Has a sharp tongue that speaks on point. But never in intention of hurting anyone. This woman knows the value of time and uses words from her lexicon to speak truth and righteousness  She is never "chatty" and trying constantly to fill silence with talk. Added bonus if she's spontaneous and unpredictable.

    Bukhari narrated a Hadith in which Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said ‘The Prophet’s talk [was so little] that you can count his words’ (peace be upon him)

8. Has an element of mystery:

    She always leaves people guessing. Not intentionally or anything. But perhaps because she has a clear barrier set between what is personal and what is public. With social media, she never reveals inappropriate information about her relationships, feelings and desires. She has an appreciation for artistic expression and she may have some hidden talents. Basically, with every sit-down with this woman, comes new discoveries. Never in a boastful manner.

7. Says what she feels and never exaggerates:

    Says only what her heart senses. Won't say "I love you" when she doesn't feel it and will vice versa express, the moment of, whenever she appreciates something. A woman who can honestly compliment others without exaggeration and in private as well as public demands respect. There is nothing more irritating than when intentions are hidden and the person in front of you cannot be read. But before we go pointing fingers, we have to acknowledge our faults first and where we can go about being more honest. 

6. Does not seek validation:

    Other people's approval does not effect her opinion of herself. Is motivated by her devotion to Allah and acts according to what is permissible in her religion first, then consults herself and maybe her dear friends and family. When she seeks to accomplish something, does it fearlessly and waits for no one to pat her on the back. Her reward (ajr) lies with Allah (subhanahu wa ta'laa). Validation for other things that are physical are insignificant to her self-concept. If she's a physically attractive lady, will not let anyone's compliments sway her from differentiating herself from the rest and losing sight of her humanity.
5. An effective communicator:

   A smart woman is able to adjust her language to suit whomever she in communicating with.   Meaning she can speak and behave with others on a relatable level without sacrificing any of her core values or personality characteristics. The prophet (peace be upon him) was able to communicate with all age groups at their level, but never in a patronizing manner. It can be as simple as choosing speaking points that are interesting to the other. The prophet (peace be upon him) used to ask Abu Umair, who was a young boy at the time, about his bird every time they would meet. There's nothing more beautiful than a woman who can have the easiness of a child when she is in their company.

  “He (PBUH) was merciful to children; Anas said, “I have never seen anyone kinder to one’s family than God’s Messenger…” There was a young child called Abu Umair who was breeding a small bird; the Prophet called the bird An-Nughair (nightingale) and he used to say to him: “O Abu Umair!  What did An-Nughair do?”  Once, Abu Umair was crying and the Prophet asked him why he was crying. He told the Prophet that An-Nughair, the bird, had died!  The Prophet (PBUH) played with Abu Umair in Medina streets. Passing by, the Companions saw the Prophet playing with a child and asked what he was doing!  He (PBUH) said that An-Nughair had died; he wanted to console Abu Umair.  He played with Abu Umair who was grieiving over his bird’s death!  Abu Umair was the brother of Anas ibn Malik, the Prophet’s servant!  He (PBUH) went to his servant’ house to console his younger brother!  How merciful!”

4. Confidence in core values:

   Confidence is always key. Yet, it does not have to be present in every aspect of our personality traits. A woman who has confidence in her core values and morals and does nothing to compromise them demands respect. She never makes exceptions on matters that are not permissible in her faith. This seems quite intuitive yet it is more difficult than it seems. For a woman to be consistent in her behavior and treatment with everyone, she must possess a strong sense of self and an independent mind. Our confidence should be made with trust in Allah. The more we trust our Islam and come to appreciate it, the more we realize we have nothing to gain from pleasing others and only from pleasing Allah.

3.Willingness to learn:

    Oftentimes, we become so entrenched in our own "fields of specialty" we lose sight of how much out there we have yet to learn. This can lead to rigidity, stubbornness and sometimes arrogance. A woman who is willing to learn from others who are more and less experienced than she is has something special about her. She can watch her husband, for example, spend hours putting together furniture she is familiar with only to give him hints here and there. She does not need to boast about her knowledge and yet is able to give it when she is needed.  Which reminds me of another example. That thirty year old unmarried professional woman who's got a degree and a job and thinks "men are intimidated by her" or that "she's out of their league". Perhaps we need a new sense of open mindedness and we need to learn how to share knowledge at the appropriate time. 

2. Secret worship:

   Wears her iman on her sleeve, not her tongue. I think that makes my point.

1. Modesty:

   Lack of modesty can break anyone. The ego creeps up on us quite often. I don't believe that there is ever one point in someone's life where they can confidently say that they are a modest person. It is a characteristic that takes consistent work to maintain. We must put ourselves in the shoes of those we meet on a daily basis and ask "did I make them feel less than?" Arrogance in Islam is defined as rejecting the truth and putting oneself at a higher position than the rest.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No one who has the weight of a mustard seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Someone said, “Indeed, a man loves to have beautiful clothes and shoes.” So the Prophet said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.

   A mustard seed?! That could be one look down on your mother, or a child, or a homeless person or a disabled individual. It would be a shame to come so close to the doors of heaven only to have them shut in front of you because you believed once that you were better than anyone else. Keep in mind that arrogance does not pertain to one's dress. Although the prophet (peace be upon him) used to be indistinguishable from the companions that even foreigners had a hard time locating him. 

But, how do we become nonjudgmental and more modest? 

   During the prophet's (peace be upon him) time, there was one man who used to appear drunk to the public in the daytime and the companions at one point wanted to issue him a punishment. The prophet (peace be upon him) addressed them and said "Do not curse him, for I swear by Allah, if you only knew just how very much indeed he loves Allah and His Messenger." 
He then added:
"Do not help Satan against your brother."(Al-Bukhari)

  Let us realize that Allah's mercy is vast and never ending. Only He has the power to conceal our faults and forgive us on the day of judgement. Some of us who judge others for sinning have put themselves at a high status, thinking that they are fairer than Allah (subhanahu wa ta'laa). When we judge, we judge others for their exposed sins while we ourselves have hidden sins that would shame us if they were to ever be exposed to the world. Always thank Allah for his mercy on us and always have mercy on others. Leave the judging to Him.