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The Concept of Beauty in Islam

Questioner

John

Reply Date

Jan 05, 2017

Question

According to this fatwa on "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.”

Consultant

Answer


Salam (Peace) John, 

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.
Actually, before pronouncing such a judgment, one should first 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 the human and his or her 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 the human’s nature in a way that will not harm anyone. This is in line with the objectives of Shari`ah, which came to protect five things considered necessary for the survival of humankind: religion, life, the mind or reason, property, and dignity. 

These five objectives are pivotal to 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 humankind. 

So, coming to the concept of beauty and whether Islam is against it, first of all let us look at the creation of the universe. In this creation, one will notice a very elegant pattern of beauty in the way all things were put in order by the Supreme Creator. God confirmed this saying:

{[…] [And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks? Then return [your] vision twice again. [Your] vision will return to you humbled while it is fatigued.} (Quran 67:3-4)

{We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty [in] the stars.} (Quran 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.} (Quran 27:60)

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

{And the grazing livestock He has created for you; in them is warmth and [numerous] benefits, and from them you eat. And for you in them is [the enjoyment of] beauty when you bring them in [for the evening] and when you send them out [to pasture].} (Quran 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].} (Quran 75:22)

And when Allah (God) mentions what He has prepared for the righteous on the Day of Judgment, He describes this in the most fascinating and beautiful way. He says:

{Therein are those of modest gaze, whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them […] [In beauty] like the ruby and the coral-stone.} (Quran 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-PBUH) said that:

[…] Almighty Allah is Beautiful (splendid in His perfection) and loves beauty […] (Narrated in Muslim)

What Islam is actually 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 a beauty contest (the rating of women against one another and assigning them value based on superficial appearance) one can see 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 is one of the objectives that 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 and to promote modesty of character as well as physically.

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 these contests) believe that beauty pageants are not acceptable. 

A beauty contest also goes against the objective of protecting the mind or reason (`aql) because such exposure of women’s body shifts focus from women being thinking human beings to being vessels for the pleasure for men only. And shifting the focus from the woman’s mind to her usefulness to others is unacceptable.

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 and 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.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Balance Between Fashion and Hijab

The Beauty of Allah’s Creation

Czech Beauty Queen Reverts to Islam

Symmetry: Perfections of Nature & Beauty of Science




About kamal badr

Kamal Badr holds a Masters Degree in International Law & Shariah from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, with a thesis written on "Modes of Reparation in Sharia & International Law -- Comparative Studies". He is working on His Ph.D. He has been an editor-in-chief for prominent Islamic websites.

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