At times, we get so used to reciting Masnoon Du’as and Adhkaar (supplications and words of remembrance) in our day-to-day lives that we lose sight of their deep meanings and how relevant they are to our everyday thought processes and attitudes. For example, in our contemporary world of increasing mental diseases, personality disorders and psychological problems, psychiatrists, self-help gurus and life coaches help clients or patients to “think positively” and “develop a positive self-image”. Yet, this positive thinking was deeply-entrenched in the life, teachings and habits of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) – if only we paused for a moment to reflect.
Take just one Du’a. For example, the Du’a he would recite aloud when he looked at his reflection in the mirror. The translation is:
“O Allah! The way you have beautified my physical form/body (‘khalqee’), thus beautify (also) my character (‘khuluqee’).” Another Hadith added in the end: “...and make my face forbidden for the Hell-Fire”.
The starting words of this short and simple, yet profound, Du’a reflect positivism. When a person looks in the mirror, he or she sometimes does so with a critical eye (women in particular). What needs to be spruced up or fixed is analyzed in detail. The “defects” are loathed over and people turn into being ungrateful.
“O Allah, the way you beautified my physical creation...”
The believer follows the Sunnah. He or she calls out to Allah when looking into the mirror and acknowledges that Allah created the physical form in a beautiful manner. This is the first step towards positive thinking – a step that gives negative thoughts a kick in the teeth.
Nowadays the more people look into the mirror, the more they complain about their looks – they criticize their height, anatomical proportions, their graying or balding hair, and complexion. However, this Du’a that the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited is guidance for all believers to be grateful to Allah for their physical form.
The next few words of the Du’a form the gist of the invocation: “So beautify my conduct.” The word Khulq means a person’s dealings with others, his character and his personality. After acknowledging the beauty or perfection of his physical appearance, instigating gratitude in the heart, a believer now turns to Allah in prayer and asks Him for what is much more important than superficial, outward physical looks, i.e. good conduct.
Allah says about the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the Qur’an:
“And verily, you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) are on an exalted (standard of) character.” (Qur’an, 68:4)
His wife Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her), when asked about the Khulq of Allah’s Messenger, stated, “His Khulq (character) was the Qur’an,” implying that his actions embodied the character that is in complete accordance with the commands of the Qur’an.
In the looks-obsessed world of today, society finds it harder and harder to give importance to a person’s innate good traits and character. Plastic surgery, fitness training, fashionable looks and wellness, panoramic skin care regimens and products, and anti-ageing devices are the rage of the day.
People try out new hair colors, liposuction, tummy tucks, weight loss measures, and plethora of physical fitness programs to keep themselves looking young and good-looking. What they overlook is the inside that really and truly matters.
Relationships – how you deal with the less fortunate, being ethical in business dealings, and showing respect to the elderly – are all being ignored. Do we forgive or keep grudges? Do we do good to others even if they wrong us? The things – the Khulq – define a person.
The last part of the Du’a – “…and forbid my face to the Hell Fire” – reminds the believer as he utters it while looking at his face in the mirror that indeed one of the torments of Hell is to have one’s face burned in it over and over again:
“The Fire will burn their faces, and therein they will grin with displaced lips (disfigured).” (Qur’an, 23:104)
“…And if they ask for help (relief, water), they will be granted water like boiling oil, that will scald their faces.” (Qur’an, 18:29)
Therefore, while looking in the mirror and reciting this Du’a, the believer focuses on the real and eternal preservation and well-being of his face – bypassing the trivial wrinkles and effects of ageing in this world – by asking Allah to forbid it the Hell-Fire.
In this way, a simple Du’a taught to us by the Prophet (peace be upon him), when analyzed, reveals how thoroughly positive and increase the Adhkaar of Islam are.
They remind believers to appreciate the good they possess, instead of focusing on minor blemishes; to strive for greater blessings than the fleeting, superficial ones, and finally, to ask for the permanent success and salvation in the Hereafter, than for the elusive, temporary, and worldly physical perfection.
That is why, a sincere believer hardly gives a second thought to his wrinkles and grey hair – he has loftier goals in mind, and mightier goals to aspire to! – SG