Raise your hand up if you have ever looked in the mirror and thought “Masha’Allah! I look pretty fine!” or “dude, I so need to lose weight!” Come on, we’ve all done it at least once in our life – some more than others but khayr that’s individualism for you – don’t be shy, raise your hand up.
Habib Umar (may Allah preserve him in Birr. Allahumma Ameen) taught in the Attaining Good Character class (with Shaykh AbdulKareem Yahya translating) that
Just as a person has a bodily appearance, they also have an inward image. “Appearance (khalq)” is the bodily form; whilst “Character (khuluq, plural: akhlaq)” is the inward form.
Now, if the appearance of the body is ordered well and beautiful then it is noted as a beautiful body/appearance, i.e. someone’s outward image or outward form is said to be handsome. Similar to this is the inward form/image of the human being. If it is organised and fashioned from beautiful qualities and noble character traits then this person’s inward form is considered or is beautiful.
It’s this inward appearance which Al-Haqq (Allah, The All Truthful) gazes and this is the image in which the human being will be resurrected on The Day of Judgement, then surely it should become clear that ones bodily form or appearance is not equal in station to the inward spiritual image of the human being.
So maybe we should ask ourselves “how far are we from that thinking when we look into the mirror and check our self out?” Yes, we need to make sure that we present ourselves well in certain situations but we should also be wary that ultimately its our inner beauty (our khuluq – character) that we need to work on more.
A good tip to reduce ones vanity and be mindful of having to work on our self is to recite the following dua when looking into the mirror:
Alhumdu lillahi Allahumma kama hasanta khalqi fahassin khuluqi
“Oh Allah! As you have beautified my outward/physical appearance, then beautify my inward appearance (character)”
You’ll find that if you write it down on a post it note and then place it in a corner on every mirror in the house, it’ll act as a good reminder to you of your very existence and who really has given you that beauty. Then after a while of reciting it frequently it’ll just flow from your tongue such that even when you see something beautiful you’ll realise that that beauty is created by Allah.
… and Allah is The One we should Praise and The Fashioner of the worlds.