Beauty is one of the few words in the English language that has innumerable subjective meanings. Yes, most dictionaries describe beauty as the quality of having physically and/or emotionally pleasantly attractive features. Humans feel and view things differently depending on their sociological, environmental, psychological, religious and cultural makeup. There is no set standard for beauty: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Anything/anyone can be beautiful so long as they are plesantlty attractive to someone just as anything/anyone can be ugly so long as they are repugnant to someone. By this logic, there is no such thing as universal beauty or ugliness.
Yet in the Quran, Allah demands that we:
‘Do what is beautiful; Allah loves those who do what is beautiful’ Surah Baqarah 2:195
What are beautiful actions? Beautiful actions are good deeds: actions that are pleasant to behold and receive. With beauty being subjective how can one know for sure if one’s actions are truly beautiful? Good intentions are not enough as ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. Something intended to be a kindness could very easily be produced and received as evil. What irrefutable cannon determines and measures the quality of beauty in an action? Does it even exist or are we doomed to assume and hope we are acting beautifully?
‘Indeed this Quran guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward’ Surah Al Isra 17: 9
The Quran is the one-size-fits-all guidebook to doing what is beautiful. The sunnah is the template you must follow and the hadith are your cheat codes (a collections of prophet Mohammed SAW’S monologues that explain the how, when, where and why of doing what is beautiful).
‘We have revealed to you this book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims’ Surah An Nahl 16:89
Amongst the many examples of beautiful deeds, the most frequently mentioned are:
• Hard work
These are the universally and, most importantly, eternally accepted forms of undeniable beauty. Islam can’t be bothered with a concept as fragile and fleeting as physical beauty: the Quran makes no mention of the value of physical beauty because it has none. But any Muslim that can encompass these listed attributes is the most valued, priced and beautiful of all Allah’s creation.