Why did Allah create some people ugly?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

One of the clearest facts of the universe we live in is the relative nature of facts. This universe is not the realm of absolute, definite and sharp distinctions such as black or white, beautiful or ugly, good or bad, light or dark. On the contrary, there are degrees of black and white, beauty and ugliness, good and evil, light and darkness.

There is a common answer to the question of why the universe was created in this state given by good hearts and independent minds for centuries: Because the purpose of the creation of the universe is realized in such a gradation. This universe was created by a Majestic Being who wanted to see and show His own beauty, absolute and unlimited names and attributes; and the human being that He created to realize this secret can only do so in a world of ‘relativity’, ‘degrees’. Man, as a creature, has limits which are the necessary consequence of his creation; his knowledge, perception, gaze, will, power... are limited. Therefore, he cannot encompass and comprehend the Being, who created him and the universe, with his limited knowledge, will and power. He cannot recognize and define the truth when it confronts him in an absolute and unlimited way. In that case, instead of seeing the truth in an absolute way, he becomes subject to a blinding that comes with a dazzle similar to this experience: when we look at the sunlight, our eyesight does not increase and our eyes go blind...

It is because of this secret that the Majestic Being, who created the universe and man, created the world hidden in the intensity of His manifestation and concealed in the magnificence of His grandeur’; that is, He manifested His absolute names and attributes in a ‘relative’ and ‘gradual’ manner.

That is why there are opposites in the universe. The Creator of this universe created the universe in a magnificent variety by mixing the opposites such as beautiful-ugly, good-bad, benefit-harm, perfect-incomplete and light-dark. He gave us the opportunity to recognize His absolute names and attributes through this relativity.

That is why man can classify the beings in the universe as very beautiful, beautiful, not bad, ugly, or very ugly in terms of beauty. When one goes one step further, he definitely sees a beautiful feature such as making the beauty in beautiful things to be noticed as a comparison factor, even in things that he does not see as ‘beautiful’.

When we look at the realm of humanity, we see different reflections of this degree of encompassing the universe among people. People are not equal to one another in terms of strength, mind, emotion, morality or beauty. Human beings exhibit different oscillations between the opposites of strong-weak, wise-unwise, good-bad, emotional-unemotional, beautiful-ugly. There are people who present high ethics to the whole world, as well as those whose bad character is avoided by the whole world. There have been people reaching legends with their power, as well as people incapable of moving their fingers. There have been people who are famous for their beauty, and people who are famous for their ugliness.

One does not object much to the aspect of this picture of ‘gradual manifestations’ that is pleasing to the eye and the heart. On the other hand, even if his mind accepts this secret ‘relativity’, everybody’s conscience asks questions about the ‘negative’ aspect of this picture. It is relatively easy to answer the questions of conscience at this point since being a wise person, a good person, and even being a strong person depends to some extent on the will of the person and on the good use of the abilities at hand. However, since beauty, in particular, is not something that is acquired afterwards, the question “Well, what is the sin of the ugly?” remains suspended.

Moreover, although a person can beautify his intelligence, knowledge, manners and ethics by working hard, beauty is not something that is acquired or developed by working. Moreover, surgical intervention in human body for ‘esthetic purposes’, or even having one’s eyebrows plucked, is not tolerated by Allah and His Prophet (pbuh).

Everybody who looks at the history of humanity, even the period in which he lives and his environment, can easily grasp a series of facts that will make it possible at least to alleviate the severity of this problem occupying his conscience.

For example, everybody can see many people whose beauty has turned into a disaster for them, and whose lack of beauty has turned into a happiness for them. The number of beautiful but unhappy people is not less than the number of happy people who are not very beautiful. Similarly, many beautiful people, with their overemphasis on the beauty of their surroundings and themselves, have not developed their other human abilities sufficiently. People who are defined as beautiful but grumpy, beautiful but spoiled, beautiful but capricious, beautiful but incompatible can be seen in everybody’s environment; because of the majority of people who do not pay much attention to developing their mental abilities due to an emphasis on beauty or a confidence given by beauty, for example, the phrase ‘dumb blonde’ has become popular. In fact, ‘beautiful’ people, especially ‘beautiful blondes’ are not created in a ‘lower state’ in terms of intelligence but it is definitely meaningful that the phrase in question has become so widespread in languages.

On the side of the picture that is not very beautiful or it is even ‘ugly’, it is always possible to come across images that are the opposite of it. A phenomenon as familiar as those who lose despite their beauty is the existence of those who turn their ‘not being so beautiful’ into gain. Many people with ‘medium’ beauty, and even those who are considered ‘ugly’ by some are more preferable than many beautiful people, some in terms of ethics, some in terms of intellect and others in terms of good manners. A person with high ethics who is not very beautiful definitely has more friends than people who are beautiful but grumpy. There is a great number of people who have been able to advance to higher levels in science, art and spirituality, driven by their lack of an obvious beauty to rely on. As a matter of fact, there must be many people who are pleased with the way Allah has created them and are grateful that they are not ‘very beautiful’.

In short, neither beauty alone is enough for man nor not being beautiful enough. On the contrary, the course of a person’s life’s journey, whether for good or bad, is shaped by how Allah evaluates the state in which He created him.

However, this fact does not completely eliminate the question that comes out of one’s conscience even if it loses a lot of its severity. First of all, the existence of people who are both beautiful and smart as well as moral makes this question permanent for people who do not look ‘beautiful enough’ and who can even be called ‘ugly’.

A hadith of the Messenger of Allah, who is the best example for humanity in terms of beauty, intelligence and ethics in this world, about the life in the hereafter, which remained hidden and was not known very much, offers a permanent answer to this question. According to what we learn from this hadith, there is a market in Paradise for those who are content with whatever form Allah has created them in this world, those who do not rely on their beauty or get angry at their ugliness and do not rebel, and who attain human perfection with their outward appearance in this world and try to realize the purpose of their creation. However, there is neither buying nor selling in this market. There are images of men and women there. The people of Paradise go there, take the image they like, and return to their home in Paradise dressed in that image.

This hadith gives a great emotional opening, relief and depth to people who were created in different forms based on the wisdom of ‘gradation’ in the creation of this world, and who see and envy those who are more beautiful than themselves despite grasping this degree of wisdom, or feel sorry for those who are not beautiful enough though they find themselves beautiful.

As ‘the market of images’ suggests, the essential thing in this ephemeral world is to be obsessed with neither one’s beauty nor not being beautiful enough. In this world of testing, the essential thing is to do ‘good deeds’ that will beautify one’s essence and enable him to gain the consent of the Lord, who created us and the universe.

When we are pleased with Him in this world and are able to make Him pleased with us, He will host us in eternal heavens having ‘the image market’; He will present the beauty of the image that He did not give, due to many reasons, in this world to His servant, with whom he is pleased.

How happy are those who deserve to be customers of the image market in the hereafter, by making their appearance beautiful in this world and not making their beauty a reason for forgetting or their ugliness as a reason for rebellion...

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