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Defining Beauty when True Beauty is ‘Crazy’

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Several years back, I heard a story that deserved to be written in letters of gold. I did just that; immediately wrote down the story. Although not in gold, it was to me in meaning more glamorous than gold.

I heard the story directly from a Romanian brother, Muhammad, who was a guest on a program called Kayfa Aslamt (How did you accept Islam?) on the Quran Radio Station of a Muslim country.

Around 1992, Muhammad visited Bosnia, and seeing the state of the people there, was motivated to embark on a ‘peace tour’ on foot, as he called it.

One night his travels landed him and his wife in a small remote village in Turkey. As he searched for a motel or any roof to spend the night under, he came across a villager and asked him for information regarding a place to stay. The man responded that there was none, and through a few English words and Muhammad’s very limited Turkish, managed to invite him to spend the night in his home.

Seeing that he had no other choice, Muhammad agreed, although they were frightened of this stranger who was a large man and sported a long beard. Little did he know that the man he feared was the same one who would change his life.

As soon as he arrived at the man’s house, Muhammad and his wife were comforted by the fact that there was a family there; an elderly grandmother of about 80 yrs, a mother and five children all close in age. The family prepared a supper for them that he described as simple, yet tasty. Then they were told that they shall sleep in the same room and the family would go sleep in another.

Early the next morning, Muhammad and his wife got up to thank the family and complete their journey. (Remember, Muhammad was not a Muslim, yet).

To their complete astonishment, they discovered that the house only consisted of that one room where he and his wife had slept, while the old woman, the man, his wife, and their five children were all sleeping outside, under a tree. This was in the month of November and the cold was bitter.

Extremely shocked at the man’s behavior, Muhammad asked, “Are you crazy?

The man, who could barely communicate, replied:

No, I am Muslim.”

The words went through Muhammad like an electric shock. He could never forget that man’s action.

He began searching Islam, as he only had a distorted image of it, and even read the Quran. He visited Syria, Jordan and Egypt, were he furthered his studies about the Quran and the hadeeth.

When the host asked him when he embraced Islam, he replied that in his heart, he was a Muslim from the time the man said, “I am Muslim.” But he and his wife officially took their shahadah in Egypt, 2 months after the encounter with the Turkish man.

When he returned to his home country, Romania, he faced anger and rejection from his family. Taking heed in the conduct of the Turkish man, he decided that preaching would serve no purpose. He showed them the beauty of Islam through his actions. Later, the ones who carried the most enmity towards him, were the first to accept Islam.

Today, we look around us and witness how many have been deceived into limiting the beauty of an individual to their physical characteristics. But Islam disagrees; it is only magnificence of one’s character and conduct that make them truly attractive in the eyes of the people. Not only does it earn one an elevated status in the eyes of the people, but in the hereafter as well, where a special position is promised.

The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said,

The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the best of you in conduct.” (Bukhari)

An individual who upholds good morals and cares to possess fine character is a gift to society. People feel contented in the presence of such a person; they trust, admire, and aspire to be like him. While others around us set ‘examples’ of beauty in their own terms, it is upon us to be the ones with whom people are dazzled by their beauty in moral uprightness.  And while others undress their bodies in hope of earning titles in the race to beauty, we shall wrap ourselves in the garments of honesty, mercy, forbearance, courage, patience, humbleness and modesty.  For our race differs: it is to be among the most perfect as described in the words of the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) who said,

The most perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one with the best behavior.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

We wished to write the story of the Turkish man in gold due to the status the mineral holds in the eyes of the people for it’s shine. But it remains hard and solid, unable to smear those who adorn themselves with it permanently. As for the shine of good character, it blinds the beholders from all other faults, as they only see perfectness in the shining one, free from all blemishes.

The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said,

“Verily, a man would attain, through his good character, the ranks of someone who stands the night (in prayer and supplication) and fasts the day.” (Classified as Sahih by Al-Albanee in As-silsila Saheeha).

Indeed, true beauty shall always leave a crown on your head. But, you do not have to wait for anyone to place it there.

Mariam is of Middle Eastern origin, raised in North America, not quite settling in one specific place. After living up in the North of North America, she has shifted continents and currently residing in a rapidly flourishing, historical city located in the desert of Arabia. She is a recent graduate of the American Open University, with a Bachelors in Islamic Studies. She believes that regardless of where a person is, writing is a tool to reach out and express that which inspires, touches and affects them. So she writes; perhaps that which inspires her will be a source of good for at least one other person.

42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sayf

    May 25, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    Mash’Allah! JazakAllah khair for sharing this remarkable story!

  2. Avatar

    AbdulRahman

    May 25, 2010 at 3:36 AM

    An excellent reminder!

  3. Avatar

    Abu Abdayn

    May 25, 2010 at 3:41 AM

    Masha Allaah. Truly inspiring

  4. Avatar

    Amatullah

    May 25, 2010 at 4:27 AM

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran Mariam for this beautiful and inspiring reminder. May Allah beautify our character as He as beautified our creation!

    • Avatar

      Mariam E.

      May 25, 2010 at 9:19 AM

      Ameen!

      May Allah continue to reward the Turkish brother and his family.

    • Avatar

      shiney

      May 30, 2010 at 4:56 PM

      Ameen!

  5. Avatar

    amad

    May 25, 2010 at 4:29 AM

    On a slight tangent, I’d like to mention how the “Islamic” culture of hosting guests is slowly dying off. I remember on a trip sometime ago, I fully expected some friends to host me for a night or two. After all, 3 days is a guest’s right upon a host, who he even doesn’t know, let alone friends! While one friend pushed so much for us to stay with him, I was disappointed by others who instead gave information on nearby hotels. Not that I couldn’t afford them. But I wanted to spend time with the friends, because I could not imagine myself that they would come to my city and would stay anywhere except my house. At the same time I was happy to see people who I had never met being angry at me for not telling them I was coming to their town so that they could host me! But that seems to be the exception

    This issue has been bothering me for a while because this isn’t the first time I witnessed this sort of attitude towards out-of-town guests. So, thanks for letting me take it off my chest on this post :)

    At one time guests used to be blessings, now they are a burden. I would like to say that those that know which city I live in, if you are in my part of the world, you are always welcome to stay at my place… we still love guests :)

    I hope that people will take the beauty lesson and the hosting guests lesson in this story too!

    • Avatar

      Mariam E.

      May 25, 2010 at 9:17 AM

      Asalamu Alikum warahmatu Allah

      Jazakum Allah khayr for emphasizing this point. there is no doubt that when performing a certain good characteristic has become ‘strange’ to society, it has a stronger effect on the hearts.

    • Avatar

      shiney

      May 30, 2010 at 4:59 PM

      yeah that’s so true! ppl are not as hospitable as they used to be-it’s sad to see muslims like that.

      • Avatar

        sabirah

        May 31, 2010 at 12:38 AM

        mashallah, here the muslims are very hospitable, and I get invited a lot as well as other muslims and non muslims since i reverted.
        But astaghfirullah, i started hating to go, as a guest you either have to buy something that this family is selling (a hijab, or whatever the woman stitches up) or I have to listen to rather rude lectures (you are not allowed to come inside with that shirt the next time and don’t wear leather we don’t know if it’s pig, you know this abbaya looks a bit too nice), or getting pressured into marrying a friend of a friend who wants to desperately get out of his homecountry in northern africa. Been there, done that.
        I have a caller display, alhamdullillah, and I got somewhat scared to pick up the phone.
        They might mean it well, but something I need to learn how to deal with first before I go out in the wild wild islamic world… May Allah forgive me these feelings

        • Avatar

          Sayf

          May 31, 2010 at 2:20 AM

          as a guest you either have to buy something that this family is selling (a hijab, or whatever the woman stitches up) or I have to listen to rather rude lectures (you are not allowed to come inside with that shirt the next time and don’t wear leather we don’t know if it’s pig, you know this abbaya looks a bit too nice), or getting pressured into marrying a friend of a friend who wants to desperately get out of his homecountry in northern africa

          LOL!
          Anyone wanna play “guess that culture”?

  6. Avatar

    Muhammad

    May 25, 2010 at 4:38 AM

    Beautiful masha Allah!

  7. Avatar

    ibn Ahmed

    May 25, 2010 at 5:34 AM

    MashaAllah. An excellent post. May Allah help us all perfect our character as this was the goal of the Prophet – I have only been sent to perfect Noble Character.

    Posts like this are much more powerful and beneficial than some controversial posts which may be more popular. MM take note ;-)

    JazakhAllah khair author

  8. Avatar

    sister

    May 25, 2010 at 6:04 AM

    Subahanallah..Mashaallah .Jazakallahu khairaa .It`s really inspiring story.May Allah give us hidayath to follow the sunnah.Amazing to see people going out of the way to help some stranger in this time .

  9. Avatar

    Lnahrawi

    May 25, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    I love it, masha’Allah! truly inspiring.

  10. Avatar

    Abdul-Qadir

    May 25, 2010 at 8:44 AM

    Assalamualaikum,

    @ Mariam E.

    Did the story-teller indicate how long it took for his family to accept Islam? Was it his entire family?

    • Avatar

      Mariam E.

      May 25, 2010 at 9:13 AM

      Wa Alikum asallam warahmatu Allah

      Sorry, I don’t have those details. I have only included here what I wrote the same day I heard the story years ago.

  11. Avatar

    Just Another Ayesha

    May 25, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Great story. Pure gold!

  12. Avatar

    MW_M

    May 25, 2010 at 10:43 AM

  13. Avatar

    hayat

    May 25, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    Machalla what a good story ….may allha reward you for posting this. i have to pick some family as a guest today and it helped me to get some moral lilahi tala. even thoug i was a little sick and so tired.
    you changed my day machalla.
    i will be in full energy to treat them well like our deen teach us. sometims we need some reminder.

  14. Avatar

    Hena

    May 25, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    Jazakillah Khair Sister Mariam,

    I really needed this. This whole week as been really frustrating- I am going to go and post this on our youth group page. These are the kind of positive uplifting stories that they need to hear and parents need to hear so they can share them with their kids. Guess what we will be reading at bedtime today :)

    wasalam

  15. Avatar

    elham

    May 25, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    This is what always proves my belief that there is still much khair(good) in the Ummah.

    The turkish family made me *almost* cry, may Allah increase them in blessing and make them and Muhammad steadfast on their Islam. Ameen

    BarakAllahu feeki ukhti, for this great reminder.

  16. Avatar

    Cali Muslimah

    May 25, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    Subhanallah! Great Read!

  17. Avatar

    Rafa

    May 25, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    Masha Allah, that was a truly beautiful story. Its reminders like this that we need every single day. Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah.

    And JazakAllah for the article, sister. :)

  18. Avatar

    Subhanallah

    May 26, 2010 at 2:32 AM

    SubhanAllah!

    What a great sadaqa jariya for that turkish family. A whole family reverted to Islam because of ONE selfless and simple act. May Allah grant both families with jannatul firdous. Ameen. And may Allah allow us ALL to follow Islam in its purest form. Ameen!

  19. Avatar

    Rightstuff

    May 26, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    Assalam u alaikum,

    JazzakAllah Khyar for this wondersful story.

    May Allah bless us wih these Qualities….Ameen

  20. Avatar

    az

    May 26, 2010 at 8:02 AM

    Asalamalaikum

    I am sorry , wanted to leave a comment on the blog , not reply to user : theRightStuff , I am very sorry about that.

    Good character is something that is required of a Muslim and it is a starting point for Da’wah.

    But this story indicates it to be the only means and that is not true. Because RasulAllah (Sallallahu alahie wasalam) had the best character, he (Sallallahu alahie wasalam) practiced this good character and he (sallallahu alahie wasalam) also preached and mentioned the message. And still people did not accept him (sallallahu alahie wasalam) even though he (sallallahu alahie wasalam) had the best of character.

    And the day he (sallallahu alahie wasalam) mentioned the message , people despite his (sallallahu alahie wasalam) best character turned away.

    So Da’wah by ones character is a required starting point (to have the best of manners) and then the message of Islam needs to be mentioned and preached. For one can have the best character and be a Disbeliever and possess shirk and die upon that , going to Hell. Some people think that just by having good character and keeping quiet they will have a good impact on people and then they might inquire about a person. That is true but it doesnt work all the time. The message of Islam needs to be uttered and preached , ofcourse the basis and starting point again being with a basis of good character upon the Sunnah.

    JazakAllahu Khair

    • Avatar

      Yaqeen needed

      May 26, 2010 at 11:47 PM

      And the opposite is also true.

  21. Avatar

    y

    May 26, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    Very nice. good points made

  22. Avatar

    Zeba Khan

    May 26, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    SubhanAllah!!!

  23. Avatar

    ummmanar

    May 26, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    mashallah this is beautiful story and inspiring. May allah (swt) beautify our chracter.Jazakallahkirn I always love to read your articles they are beautiful mashallah.

  24. Avatar

    Mariam E.

    May 26, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Asalamu Alikum

    Jazakum Allah khayr for your comments. May Allah guide to the best of words, deeds and purify our intentions.

  25. Avatar

    Yaqeen needed

    May 26, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    Mashallah for the story

    After all said and done, the thrust of this message is change and call to action. Change. Sacrifice. Sadly if we are surrounding ourselves by means that do not help us change …all me might end up doing is praising articles like this without the desired change

    The turkish man in the story cleary shows that it is not the academic knowledge of islam a large no of us lust for and venerate these days that counts: its acting upon that we know. In our times, islamic knowledge has been academised and made for sale. Perhaps that’s why the iman that should couple the knowledge seems to have vaporised and the sacrifices to make the required actions just not there. As for the turkish I know some of my ‘on the manhaj’ crew brothers will be saying may be was a sufi or deviant and all that stuff. But there you have it- pure sacrifice and done sincerely without any publicity available then. And we would not have known if not for the radio station talk to the beneficiary of this turkish brother’s sacrifice. As capitalists leaving in a capitalist sociiety with enough academic islam to synthesize fiqh material to support some of our inaction and unwillingness to sacrifice, are we ready to make changes and jettison our desires?

  26. Pingback: Defining Beauty when True Beauty is ‘Crazy’ | MuslimMatters.org « From the Pulpit …

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  28. Avatar

    africana

    May 27, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    mashAllah!

  29. Avatar

    Mombeam

    May 27, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    as-salaamu `alaykum

    This post reminds me of another post a while back about “missed da`wah opportunities”. I and others tried to point out in the comments that sometimes (or even more often than not) it is not direct “preaching” that will turn people’s hearts torwards Islam, but just the presence and good feelings that arise from a Muslim person’s good actions in the world. I think this story illustrates that idea so wonderfully.

  30. Avatar

    The Me.

    May 28, 2010 at 3:22 AM

    This inspired me. Thankyou! =]]]

  31. Avatar

    Mariam E.

    May 29, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    Asalamu Alikum warahmatu Allah

    It was brought to my attention that the last hadeeth quoted in the article was in fact a weak hadeeth:

    Verily, the worshipper will ascend the higher ranks and superior grades of the hereafter through his good character, even though he is weak in acts of worship.” (Al-Tabarani). (classified by Sheikh Al-Albani rahimahullah as being munkar/weak in his book Assilsila Da\’ifa # 3030)

    Therefore, It has been removed and replaced with a saheeh hadeeth:

    “Verily, a man would attain, through his good character, the ranks of someone who stands the night (in prayer and supplication) and fasts the day.”

    May Allah reward the person who pointed this out to us.

  32. Avatar

    Nayyab

    June 1, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Amzazing! Mashallah! Subhanullah!

  33. Avatar

    Gurabah

    June 2, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    Salamu Alaykum,

    Baraka Allahu Feeki ya Uhkti!! great article, mahsAllah!! what a great reminder and beneficial knowledge.
    May Allah the Forgiver, grant you many blessings for posting the story. May Allah the Doer of All make us like the turkish family in their character, Ameen!!!
    It did brought tears to my eyes, truly!!!
    Never lose HOPE in Allah and in the Ummah!!
    p.s. Sister SABIRAH, i am sorry for what happened to you with the local muslim community you face. Just know that they don’t have the adab of dealing with reverts and guest. So make Dua for them, inshALLAH. May Allah give you sabr and tolerence, ameen

  34. Avatar

    Syed Nasiruddin

    May 24, 2011 at 4:27 AM

    SubhanAllah!!! Identified a family who will be adjacent to our great prophet on the day of resurrection!!!.

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