riyada in arabic means "training" or "discipline". It was used by the arabs in relation to horse taming. Sufis refer to their discipline as "riyadat an-nafs": disciplining the soul / training the ego. Today, the word riyada has come to mean "sports". There is an Arabic proverb that says: "The purpose of sports (riyada) is not to win cups, but to discipline the soul". This blog is here to help me discipline my soul and train my body.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Inner Beauty

There's something about the khimar (usually given the wrong name "hijaab"). Whenever I see women wearing it, I find myself really attracted to them. I feel it makes them more beautiful. When I see other beautiful women who don't wear a khimaar, I find myself attracted to their physical body (I must admit I dont have the "lowering the gaze" thing mastered yet). You know, I see them, and I go "wow, she's beautiful". But I'm looking at her body. And then (hopefully), I lower my gaze and dont look back, (inshalla). But when a girl is wearing a khimar, I never ever find myself looking at her body. Even if she's dressed in jeans (sometimes even tight jeans) like any other girl. The fact that she has a khimaar on, it just makes me forget her body completely and I just look at the face. It's amazing how it does that.

And it does make them look more beautiful. For example, there was this girl called Layla. Oh man, she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She had that amazing smile, and the most amazing eyes... I kept thinking about her, dreaming about her. What I loved about her was her personality, and the look in her eyes, and her smile. They made me feel that she was a truly beautiful person. That is what I loved about her. She almost drove me crazy, and I ended up listening to a sufi song about the love of Layla repeatedly (for Sufi men, Layla is a symbol of the beloved that makes her lover crazy, so that he forgets everything else but her, so really Layla is a symbol of God).

And then I saw her identical twin. Identical physically, except that the sister did not wear a khimar or cover her hair. And that's when I realized, she doesn't really look beautiful at all. She's ok, she looks acceptable. But nothing special or even above-average, nothing I would give a second glance to. And then I looked back at Layla, and I realized she looked the same. But still, I found Layla to be so beautiful, so amazing. Even though she looked exactly like her sister! And then I realized how much more beautiful the khimar made her appear. It made her inner beauty come out- her beautiful personality reflected in her eyes and her smile. I still wished I could marry her, even though I realized she wouldn't look as beautiful when she took the khimar off, but it doesnt matter because I had seen her inner beauty.

There's a lot of other girls like this. When I look at them, I find them beautiful. Then I try to imagine them without the khimar, and I realize they are, at best, average. But it doesnt matter anymore, because I have seen how beautiful they can be in the khimar, and it doesnt matter anymore what they "really" look like without it.

Maybe it's just me, I dont know.

Well now Layla is no more, I dont know where she is or how she is. But there is this other girl, Imaan. Oh man, do I find her beautiful. But then one time I really looked at her face, and I realized she's not that pretty. It was the khimar again. And today, she came in a slender black 'abaaya, covering her whole body except for the hands and face, and with beautiful embroidery on the back of the head. And it was my favourite type of abaya for a girl, the one with a white or colored fabric coming out like this:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

(except hers was red instead of white).

Man, I've really begun to love these abayas on women. Whenever I see a girl wearing one, I suddenly feel this extra respect and admiration for her. I've noticed especially many girls wearing this that seem to carry themselves with a lot of dignity and pride... One girl I saw wearing this, she simply exudes power and confidence... The way she walks and carries herself, I am left in awe.

So when I saw Imaan in this abaya, I found her even more beautiful than in the khimar! I dunno, I think they just bring out one's inner beauty or something, and they also make me feel more admiration or respect or something. I'm still not quite sure what it is. All I know is they seem so much more beautiful, so more like better people somehow.

One thing I realized while writing this post is I should definitly cut back on looking at girls! (Even though it's their inner beauty that gets to me, that itself is also a temptation of sorts).

Another thing that happened today:

There is is this poor man who shines shoes in the street, and I pass by him a lot. He looks so sweet, so kind, so good, and he always greats me with a smile and an "assalamu alaykum". Sometimes I give him change if I have any, and he practically begs me to shine my shoes in return. He wants to earn the money, and more so he wants to pay me back for whatever little amount I give him. I try telling him that my training shoes are not something you'd shine, but he insists he could clean them at least. He once asked for help because his mother was in the hospital, and I didnt have anything to to give him, so this time I asked about his mother, and he told me how she has heart problems and showed me the doctor's prescription for medicine. He also showed me her address and asked me to come visit her. I decided to give him something to make up for last time, and he stood up to thank me, and man, can you tell how beautiful he is on the inside. He is just... such a good person. I'm just happy everytime I see him, because of the amount of goodness that I see in him.

I dont know why, but he showed me pictures of his daughters too, which he kept in his wallet. He told me how he works shining shoes to support his family and how it is not enough to pay for his mother.

So now I bid him farewell and I pray for his mother's health, and then he says, "wait, I just want to tell you one thing". So he said, "Are you American or British?" (I dont look Arab at all, I'm always mistaken for an American, an Englishman, or a Russian). Anyway, I told him I come from Jordan.

"Are you Muslim?", he asked.
- al hamdu li-Llah.
- al hamdu li-Llah!.

"Let me just tell you one thing", he continued. "Always keep God before everything else. Keep God always on your mind. Forget this world, and forget everything that is in it. Don't pay attention to how beautiful it is, because its beauty will not last. Only God lasts. So always remember God, and always act for God, and don't be tempted by this world. The only thing that matters in this world is God, and loving others. If you like me, for example, then that is a beautiful thing, because that is what the world is about. But if you hate me, for example, then that is a horrible thing, because that is not what the world is for."

So I thanked him for the great advice, and I asked him to pray for me- I was going to say, "Pray that I do well in all my studies"... but I'm glad I didn't, I just said, "Pray for me"... He prayed for something far better, that I may become the best Muslim. I hope I become a fraction of the good Muslim that I perceive him to be. I swear I could almost see goodness coming out of him.

A beautiful person, he is. May I become more like him, inshalla.


Blogger Abu Sinan said...

Good comments, Hijab and the inner beauty of some people. Subhan'Allah.

June 22, 2006 at 7:17 PM

Blogger DA said...

Yeah, one time I was in a store in Tucson (I'm pretty sure I told you this at the time) and I saw this hijabi woman about my age, with a little kid. I really wasn't oggling her or anything ( i mean, that would have seemed twice as bad with her being a mom and all) but I just couldn't shake the impression that she was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. Like, radiant. I know exactly what you mean.

That being said, I don't want to fall into the trap of considering the hijab an embodiment of virtue, and I don't want to pretend a woman's less subtle charms pass by me unnoticed :-P But your point is well taken.

June 23, 2006 at 6:25 AM

Blogger Silencer said...

DA- you're right that the hijab is not necessarily the embodiment of virtue.

i mean in egypt the hijab (ok i'm gonna use this word) rate is incredibly high, but a lot of people wear it simply as a custom or something. I mean, you can tell that they're not "really" wearing a hijab even though they are. it's just there, but the rest of their clothes and their manner says something different.

i live next to this park that's very famous because it's where lovers always go to make out, and there's always unmarried "hijabis" making out with their boyfriends.

but you can usually tell what girls are really wearing them and which ones are not. i'm talking about the girls that are really wearing a hijab because they believe it's more pious. and i guess even then, not all of them show that inner beauty the way i described.

after all, i dont think the hijab increases someone's inner beauty or anything. but i seriously beleive that if someone is really beautiful on the inside, the hijab makes me see that more, because it takes my attention away from the rest of her and focuses it on her face, especially her eyes and her smile, where you can truly see her personality reflected if you really look.

June 23, 2006 at 8:42 AM

Blogger Elizabeth said...

Well, sure. The hijab highlights the face. Hair might be pretty in itself, but it distracts from your face...the hijab on the other hand frames the face.

June 24, 2006 at 5:56 AM

Anonymous nidal said...

inner beauty?

and you guys are looking at the hijab as it was a cleavage or something..

June 26, 2006 at 5:37 PM

Blogger Silencer said...

so nidal, what you are saying is that women are nothing but sexual objects, yeah? and therefore any type of attraction to them can only be a sexual attraction? so that any good attribute of a woman, like intelligence or good character, only "enhance" her in the same way that good cleavage does?

is that what you're saying?

June 27, 2006 at 1:11 PM

Blogger HijabiApprentice said...

masha ALLAH silencer! it's great to hear positive hijabi chatter. what a fabulous post. i was once told by a non-muslim girlfirend that she felt the hijab accentuates one's beauty. to be honest i do feel more attractive and regal in my hijab.

July 5, 2006 at 6:48 AM

Blogger Silencer said...


July 5, 2006 at 8:31 AM


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