Sunday, June 24, 2012

Be beautiful yourself


"O the complainant who suffers no malady. Be beautiful yourself, and you will see beauty in all of creation." 

Imam Zaid Shakir ended his article 'The Beauty of Islam' with this saying by Ilya Abu Madh.

I can only dream of writing as maturely and brilliantly as Imam Zaid Shakir. MashaAllah! In the said article featured in EMEL magazine and New Islamic Directions Blog, Imam Zaid talked about his concerns on the not so beautiful images of Islam that are being portrayed in the mainstream media and why we should strive to be beautiful beings ourselves especially in terms of morals (akhlak). I have taken the liberty of cutting and pasting several key sentences which [I think] shout the main message, when put together.

"In short, the images usually associated with Islam and Muslims are those of death, destruction, harshness and anger. Rarely do we see images of life, gentleness and happiness...That being the case, each and everyone of us has a responsibility to do what we can to counter the prevailing stereotypes and to present an alternative image. To do that effectively, we have to realise just how beautiful our religion is and then begin to articulate that beauty in all we do...Perhaps more importantly, Muslims always strove to be beautiful people...Beautiful character, in this regard, should not be seen as lying in philosophically titillating abstractions. It is oftentimes manifested in the simplest things. A gentle smile extended to a soul longing to be loved. Patiently enduring the abuses and insults of the ignorant while endeavouring to educate and inform them with the best manner possible. The loving embrace of a spouse fatigued after a long day...The selfless consideration of the best interest of one's relatives, neighbours and when relevant, even a stranger. A quiet but determined commitment to reading, learning and critical thinking as the foundation of a life lived in the light of truth and moral excellence. It is further to be found in the willingness to sacrifice something of our present for the sake of our children's future...If enough of us are committed to bringing to the world as much beauty as we can then the world will be a more beautiful place. It will never be perfect. However, the light of our beauty will help to hide the darkness of its imperfections. This is the surest path to an Islamic revival."

Yes, individually we should all strive to be a beautiful being so that eventually and collectively what gets manifested at the macro level is the beauty of Islam. This is some kind of a revival from within. But I just want to say something to encourage myself. In the quest to bring out the beauty in us oftentimes we have to dig deeper and sometimes overlook the 'ugly' bit. "A scar is a scar" said my surgeon, a simple fact which I have had trouble dealing with until he said it to me matter-of-factly. And though the water in the jug is somewhat tainted we have to keep pouring clean water into it until all colorations are gone and that what is left is a cleaner and purer substance. But purifying oneself is not as easy as pouring clean water into a jug. It's a real tough constant struggle. No wonder they say mujahadah nafs is the greater jihad. While we struggle individually to bring out the beauty in ourselves, look only at that which is beautiful in others because we are all work-in-progress.

Speaking of scars, our heart and prayers go out to Aesha Mohammadzai and all other unknown women who have become victims of heinous crime committed by people who ruthlessly rob women of their God-given beauty and dignity.

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