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The Concept of Beauty in Islam

Question and answer details
John
2013/12/20
Please read this fatwa: Beauty Contests in the Eyes of Shari`ah Someone might say upon reading it or upon reading something on the Islamic view of beauty contests that clearly indicates that this act is unlawful in Shari`ah, “It seems everything in Islam is haram, to the extent that even displaying one’s beauty is also haram.”
Kamal Badr
Answer
Salam dear brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Actually such person, before pronouncing that judgment, should first of all understand the message of Islam, that is, the true nature of the religion itself. Is it a religion that goes against the very nature of the human being or that creates a wedge between man and his nature?

Reviewing the noble principles of Islam, one will surely notice that Islam does not go against nature. Rather, Islam aims at regulating and directing man’s nature in a way that will not harm him or others. This in line with the objectives ( maqasid) of Shari`ah, which came to protect five things considered as necessary for the survival of mankind: religion (deen), life (nafs), mind or reason (`aql), property (mal) and dignity (`ird).

Those five objectives are the pivotal of the rulings of Shari`ah, and if one pauses a little bit to analyze these rulings as they are set by the divine Lawgiver and conveyed to us by His prophets, one will notice clearly that they are all designed to protect mankind along the line of these five objectives, as elaborated by scholars in books of Islamic jurisprudence.

So coming to the concept of beauty and whether Islam is against it, first of all let us take the creation of the universe, for instance. One will notice a very elegant pattern of beauty in the way all things were put in order by the Supreme Creator. He confirmed this saying what means:

{… Who hath created seven heavens in harmony. Thou (Muhammad) canst see no fault in the Beneficent One’s creation; then look again: Canst thou see any rifts? Then look again and yet again, thy sight will return unto thee weakened and made dim.} (Al-Mulk 67:3-4)

{“We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty [in] the stars.} (As-Saffat 37:6)

{Or, Who has created the heavens and the earth, and Who sends you down rain from the sky? Yea, with it We cause to grow well-planted orchards full of beauty of delight: it is not in your power to cause the growth of the trees in them.} (An-Naml 27:60)

And the things He created for our use are adorned with beauty for us to behold:

{And the cattle hath He created, whence ye have warm clothing and uses, and whereof ye eat, And wherein is beauty for you, when ye bring them home, and when ye take them out to pasture.} (An-Nahl 16:5-6)

Even on the Day of Judgment, beauty will have its role to play as it radiates from the faces of the people of Paradise showing their happiness and full satisfaction:

{Some faces, that Day, will beam [in brightness and beauty].} (Al-Qiyamah 75:22)

And when Allah mentions what He has prepared for the righteous on the Day of Judgment, He describes this in a more fascinating and beautiful way. He says what means:

{Therein are those of modest gaze, whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them … [In beauty] like the jacinth and the coral-stone.} (Ar-Rahman 55:56-58)

So in light of all these and many other verses in the Quran, how can one say that beauty is not reckoned with in Islam? In addition to this, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said that:

“...Almighty Allah is Beautiful (splendid in His perfection) and loves beauty...” (Muslim)

Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also instructed Muslims to bear this in mind in whatever they do, so they ought to aim for perfection as much as they can. He said:

“Allah likes that when you do anything, you do it excellently.”

What Islam actually goes against is displaying this beauty in a way that will cause harm to oneself or to others, for this totally goes against the aforementioned objectives of Shari`ah, and one of the well-established rules in Islam is “there should be neither harm nor reciprocating injury.”

Thus, in the beauty contest—which was originally started in the West and is now being incorporated into Muslim countries and blindly adopted by some people in those countries—one sees clearly in it all what goes against the nature of human beings as ordered by their Creator. Starting from the fact that this contest lowers the dignity of woman by uncovering her body and displaying her as a cheap commodity and easy prey for lustful men, it is clear that this contest does not in any way increase respect for women.

As mentioned above, dignity (`ird) is one of the objectives that the Shari`ah came to protect, so whatever goes against this contravenes the divine law, for as we know, the objective of clothing is to cover the body. It is against the normally accepted level of dignity for one to remove this tool of protection in public, no matter what may be the compensation. That is why Muslims (and actually we’ve noticed many non-Muslims, individuals and NGOs, vehemently opposing this contest) believe this beauty pageant is not acceptable.

A beauty contest also goes against the objective of protecting the mind or reason ( `aql) because such exposure of women’s body does not address logic by its expression of nudity and, is indeed, distasteful. And, of course, a beauty contest goes against the objective of protecting religion (deen) because whoever fails to perceive his worth fails to perceive the wisdom behind his creation, which is to surrender to the worship of Almighty Allah to obey His rules.

I hope this answer is useful. In case you have any more comments, please do not hesitate to send us your feedback and inquiries.

Thank you and please keep in touch.

Salam.

Useful Links:

Beauty and Love in the Prophet's Life

Beauty Contests in the Eyes of Shari`ah

Religion, Piety, or Beauty?

How Do I Learn to Love Myself


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