Sep 21, 2009

Self Esteem: Who’s In Your Mirror?

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As promised, this is a start to our journey of learning to respect ourselves – that’s right, self esteem.

Each time you look into the mirror; conveniently hung on your bathroom wall or beside your dresser, are you happy with whom you find looking back at you? For most females the answer is a ‘no’ because they shoot aim their gaze at the bits about themselves that they find disturbing. “O! my God! I’m fat!”, “Geez! My nose is so big!”, “I would kill to be taller”, “Why did I have to get such small eyes?”

See the amount of whining?

What Is Self-Esteem?

If you pick up a dictionary it would tell you self esteem is ‘a respectable and favorable impression of oneself’.

Heard it!

But if you pick up the Quran and absorb the crux of what it speaks about the divine Creator you would realize that you are bound to respect yourself since an All-Pure and All-Powerful Lord has created you! Sometimes we tend to ignore that as humans Allah has already labeled us the ‘Best of All Creations’ – Ashraf ul Makhlooqaat.

What Shatters Self-Esteem?
Countless things could shatter our self esteem; considering how much we tend to believe to be perfect when we look at the glitz and glamour icons of the society. A broad nose, a dark skin, fuller lips, small eyes, a plump figure, a skinny figure, tall height, short height ... the labels are endless! When we put such labels on a person it is like putting Allah’s artistic creation to critique. Are we qualified enough to criticize the Divine Artist, the Creator – Al-Khaliq, Al-Malik? Do you seriously doubt that a perfect Creator could create something with faults?

We women are usually uncomfortable in our skins. Why?

Well, if you wish to become the Social Butterfly, the Prom Queen, or the Rockstar Diva from the teen movies or you wish to acquire the looks of a Red Carpet Celebrity then you are bound to slip into an inferiority complex! They are not real – they are plastics! And you have been created ‘real’ not ‘plastic’.

There is ONE solid reason why we tend to be tempted by these displays. Satan – the Shaitaan; gets quite a few sinful evil thoughts - fitnaas into our system. Women have started to use the fancy words like feminism and female pride to justify their leap towards the outrageous displays.

It is alarming how often women think less of themselves at some point or another. Sometimes the undermining is self-inflicted and sometimes a gift of social standards and pressures; the foremost being about our appearances. Body peace is a rare luxury because women fail to satisfy their minds about themselves.

Too Plastic To Be Real
The urge to change has become so maddening that a whole new possibility of cosmetic surgery; earlier used only as a repair for the destroyed, is now being used to satisfy people who feel something hasn’t been given right by God. Nose jobs to correct broad noses, rib removals to narrow the waistline, corrective jaw surgery, teeth filing, liposuction, and etc. Each one is signaling the fact that we are not happy with what we have. It is absurd how women are not ageing gracefully and naturally but seeking aid from face lifts and even more absurd how young women seek outrageous cosmetic procedures like breast lifts to change their figures.

Beauty salons were a sensible place when it was about reasonable haircuts, dyes to hide the grey, and removing unwanted facial and body hair. But they’ve become more like ‘transformation centers’ due to the revolutionary technology. Cosmetic therapies are focused towards changing the way you look and it is not just a tagline which implies that you would look decent but a promise to airbrush your God-gifted image and make it TV screen material!

And O! Lord!

Test tube babies are not just a miracle for deprived parents anymore but have become a mechanism for genetically engineering your baby to make it look ‘beautiful’. What? Is this a paint shop where you fiddle with the computer to get the perfect shade for your room? Interfering in God’s workshop would get you nowhere.

Hijab Hate
The need to ‘fashionably expose’ has plagued the women’s minds so much; some have chucked off their Hijab. They feel that covering themselves would make them less beautiful. I fail to understand that after all the wise logic explained about the Hijab by Islam, how could a woman seek to risk it by flashing off her curves and lines to the world? Offering yourself as a public exhibit; a bait for the atrocious society sharks, would no way raise your self-esteem but earn you disgusting names from the very society you are trying to please.

Apart from the fact that they wish to look like a popular TV celebrity, there are a couple other contributors. There is this crazy pursuit to score the most ‘happening’ man – the most eligible bachelor, and for some strange reason revealing beauty is considered a successful tool. Countless girls feel that no good suitor would approach them while they’re in a hijab. And more ironically the mothers sometimes compel their daughters to reveal themselves in social gatherings to be able to attract a man for marriage. Astaghfirullah. Imagine what kind of a man would he be if he is lured in by your beauty. What are the chances he wouldn’t be lured in by another woman? This is a failure of our own self-esteem!

Muslimahs who do respect themselves end up carrying themselves as victims and it gives an opportunity for the mocking birds to mock! Some call the sisters Ninjas and some stop to comment, “Oh! You’re wearing your blanket again?” If self-esteem and confidence are worked upon then a Muslimah is basically a woman of elegance!


Know Your Creator – Know Yourself

“So set your face truly to the faith, Allah’s handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind. Let there be no change in the creation of Allah.” (Ar-Room (30):30)

Realize and repeat to yourself that you are Best Among All Creations – Ashraf ul Makhlooqat and have been created by the Divine Hand; susceptible to no faults. The more you realize the beauty of Allah the more beautiful the world would appear to you, the more beautiful you would appear to yourself.

Befriend Yourself
Girls, why can’t we befriend the person we see in the mirror? It is OKAY to have bad hair days, puffy cheeks days, narrow eye days and etc. And, if we have a facial feature that is different – NOT SHOWN ON TV – it is still beautiful. TV screens and cover girls are not standards of perfection.

Makeover Treats
Within the privacy of your home and amidst mehrams you can always try on cosmetics and hairdos and dresses so that you restore your confidence that you TOO can look like those cosmetic beauties!

Love Thy Hijab
It is not really that hard to wear a Hijab with full devotion once you realize it is Allah’s command and has always been the beauty and charisma of a Muslim woman. It is the Sunnah of the Mothers of the Faithful – Umm ul Momineen, and the daughters of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him)’s family – Ahl al Bayt. There! You’d be crazy to think it is a derogatory symbol of oppression now. The world’s greatest women, Alhamdulillah, have worn it. This is reason enough to make you fall in love with your Hijab.

Self-Grooming – The Ultimate Dose for Building Self-Esteem
It is also a great deal of carelessness on our part in how we choose to carry ourselves that brings about a shabby appearance and hence lowers self-esteem. It is not FASHION that is condemned. Get the facts right. It is explicit, indecent and forbidden exposure of your aurah that is not allowed in front of mehrams and non-mehrams. You cannot complain of not being able to enjoy the Victoria’s Secret lingerie line because you can certainly wear it in the privacy of your bedrooms!

Some frame of minds become so extreme that they absolutely deny themselves colors, haircuts, fancy shoes and etc. Islam is not about restrictions! You’re allowed to dress up and look good as long as you’re not becoming Exhibit X. And if you opt for extremism then you’re bound to fall into a depression because you’d feel deprived of everything. Look good, win compliments from yourmehrams and feel good. Ultimate dose of self-esteem!

Criteria for An Ideal Bachelorette
Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) said, "A woman is normally sought as a wife for her wealth, beauty, nobility, or religiousness (adherence to Islam), but choose a religious woman and you will prosper. " (Muslim) And he said, "The whole world is a provision, and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman. " (Muslim).

So, next time if God forbid you are planning to temporarily shrug off your Hijab to give an eligible bachelor a good look of yourself – consider the hadith. Your “non-Hijab effect” is NOT an entirely significant criterion for marriage. Your face alone can reflect your true beauty if you rest your trust in Allah’s artwork in creating you.

Find the Muslimah
Seek to find a Muslimah in your mirror - that's your beauty, that's your label, that's your esteem. Each time you catch a glimpse of yourself recite the duaa: 

"Allahumma anta hassan-ta khalqi fa hassin khulqi" 
"O! Allah, Make my deeds as beautiful as you have made me beautiful"

Remember, you're BORN with it and there is no "maybe" to it :)

Coming Up Next In The Self-Esteem Series ... “Let Your Light Shine” ... Building self-esteem through character building and positivity! A positive Muslimah is a perfect Muslimah.

Until then ...

Happy Living, Habibis!

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


Amazing eye-opener for all the women in the world, be it from any religion, who believe superficial beauty is the ultimate goal!

MashaAllah! JazakAllah for a great reminder. May Allah reward you for your efforts.Ameen. :)

mashlaah lovely uplifting article. So much truth in the words above.
I particularily liked this : Realize and repeat to yourself that you are Best Among All Creations – Ashraf ul Makhlooqat and have been created by the Divine Hand; susceptible to no faults.

Oooo I really like this article. And I agree with the post above me.

@Anonymous 1: well said. self esteem from superficial beauty is very temporary since we all age!

@Sana: Ameen waiyyaki! Glad you enjoyed the article =)

@Imaan: very true. once we realize Allah is our Creator then we feel so good about ourselves!

@Anonymous 2: Glad you enjoyed the article =)

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