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Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

Bism-illah irahman nirahim

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent and most Merciful

It is perhaps true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is also equally correct that the definition or perception of beauty is culturally-bound.

For example, within the Sikh community, long hair and beards are desirable whereas mostly in the West, a more tidy appearance is perhaps more handsome. Fashions also have a central role- whereas once the cropped look was ‘in’, the long curtain style was also equally fashionable but at a different time.

It is within these cultural boundaries and sense of fashion that we view those around us; they form the yardstick with which we judge, like and dislike.

Islam is a practical religion which guides its’ followers in all walks of life including dress and appearance. The Islamic beard and hijab are perhaps the two most obvious outwardly changes which one makes in the path of Allah (swt). The other changes are inward- the faith, the fear, the love- they are all felt by the believer, which manifests itself in the outer appearance. This is not just a religious metamorphosis- it happens to us all.

Idol-worship is as evident in the East as it is in the West. Hairstyles, accessories and style: teenagers ape their favourite idols in each way possible because the star becomes the standard of perfection. This is no different from the believers- we study and copy the sunnah of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) because he is our standard of perfection. The love and adulation is the same as a non-believer may have for other heroes and idols given to him by society’s fashion. We are given our idol by Allah (swt).

It is therefore interesting that in today’s’ thinking, many people may understand why Shah Rukh Khan may be a youngsters’ idol, why someone may copy Hrithik Roshan’s hairstyle or hang on to every word that comes out of Wasim Akram’s mouth, but frown if someone follows the right path of following the Great Prophet (saw). This is seen as ‘uncool’ or ‘extremism’. Junaid Jamshed is perhaps the most perfect example. Here is a pop-idol, loved by many across the globe. His songs were sung on every corner and suddenly it all stopped. He turned to Islam with rigour and emerged in shalwar kameez and long beard. Whereas invariably, some applauded his efforts, many were horrified with the resounding question- “what has he done to himself- he was so handsome!

This is the influence of fashion- our Prophet Muhammad (saw) is the most perfect and gracious of all men and he had a beard. I doubt that this appearance can spoil anyone’s image! The same can be said of rolled up trousers. There is a clear hadith that any garment of clothing below the ankle will be in the fire, however how many Muslim males have you seen with their trousers held above their ankles? They can break the commandment of Allah (swt) but not the rules of society fashion.

I was also one of them. When I came into Islam, I struggled with the decision to cover my head. I was concerned that it would interfere with my style of dressing and I worried how I would cope. This was a commitment for life and I did not want to start covering my head only to stop a few months later. In the end it was easy as Allah (swt) has promised that he will not burden his people with weight greater than they can carry. I feel pure and safe whenever I go out and do not feel at all as if covering my head has made me any less stylish. The emotions of purity and obedience must be the same for any male who has kept a beard, grown his hair long or has turned up his trousers in accordance with the Sunnah.

Vanity is a big thing in today’s’ society; so big that the greater the exhibition, the more beautiful. Islam is also a beautiful religion but the beauty is based on modesty and purity. Our hero is better looking than all the heroes put together from the start of time until the end, so what if he can not be seen today? We are expected to stop following him because he lived thousands of years ago? Fashion and trends change every season but the mirror of true beauty has been here for centuries. The Prophets’ example and look lives on in the pious dress of his followers and will continue to do so until the very last of us says “la illaha illala Muhammadur rasool Allah”.




Mrs Alia Aurangzeb
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