Eight steps to elegance as a Muslimah
“Elegance isn’t solely defined by what you wear. It’s how you carry yourself, how you speak,
what you read.” – Carolina Herrera
To live a life of little to no social regrets, poise and class, impact and legacy, one has to
develop the timeless and valuable quality of elegance. In my pursuit of finding ways to
cultivate elegance one step at a time, I came to realize how much of advice Islam has on the
matter. Islam is so comprehensive that if we place emphasis on Sunnah methods, we will
automatically be living at a high level of mindfulness and elegance.
Here are some steps to cultivating elegance:
Habits are very important in Islam. Islam itself is a complete way of life that consists
of routines that ensure we remember Allah every day. Salaah 5 times a day at their
specified times, is a form of routine that prevents us from ghaflah, heedlessness, by
re-centering us to our purpose every few hours. Rasoolullah SAW's sunnah is filled
with beautiful routines. He SAW mentioned in a beautiful hadeeth that the actions
most beloved to Allah are those that are done consistently, though they may be
small. From this we learn that training ourselves to have specific routines, especially
for our ibadat, to make it easy for us not to forget them, is paramount. 'Binge'
ibaadah, i.e. making a lot of ibadah on one day then doing the bare minimum
thereafter, doesn't mean as much as daily consistent ibadah, just as one day of
super healthy eating doesn't have the same impact as a long term diet.
2. Early riser
Muhammad SAW so beautifully asked Allah SWT to bless his ummah in their early
mornings. From this we know that if we want blessings and maximum productivity,
we should make the most of the early mornings. Our bodies have been designed by
the Almighty to be optimally functional in the early morning, with our daily cortisol rise
occurring in the early morning, and the morning light contributing to easier waking.
(Sadly, cellphone/electronic light mimics this light and prevents us from being able to
shut down at nights).
Elegant muslimahs should strive to wake up early enough to have a proper morning
routine and gain the benefits of a healthy breakfast and spiritual food for the day in
the form of adhkaar and tilawah. Remember never to overeat, Sahaba RA often had
just one meal for the day, and ate a few dates as another mini meal at another time
in the day.
Early to bed, early to rise
How Merciful is our Allah that sleep is an ibadah, if we sleep with the intention of
waking up for salaah, sleep with whudhu and choose sleep rather than engaging in
wrongdoing under the cover of night.
Having enough sleep is a requirement of the body, therefore we should practice good
sleep hygiene to make sure we fall asleep quickly enough, and rest enough before
waking up on time for our morning routines. Preventing exposure to technology at
least 1 to 2 hours before bed, not eating or drinking coffee 1 to 2 hours before
bedtime, and bathing/washing before sleeping are etiquettes of good sleep hygiene.
How Merciful is Allah, whudhu before sleeping is both rewardable and beneficial. We
should sleep on our right hand side, and not on our stomachs, as this is the posture
of the people of Jahannam. Rasoolullah SAW advised us that the last thing we
should do before bed is make witr salaah.
3. Personal grooming
An elegant lady always is presentable and neat. Our beloved Rasoolullah SAW even
gave us a routine for personal grooming to make sure we are presentable and
elegant. Paring nails and removing hair on Thursday nights will ensure we are never
ill-groomed and looking dirty. Our beloved Nabi SAW also emphasized cleanliness by
saying it is half of Eemaan.
4. Body language
There is so much about you that is said before you speak, and body langauge,
including posture, is an example of something that makes an impression before you
consciously do. Our beloved Rasoolullah SAW walked as though he was walking
downhill, he lowered his gaze and had modesty, and he gave off awe just by his
demeanor. He SAW turned his whole body to face the person he was addressing or
conversing with. As elegant muslimahs, we should be dressed in a non revealing
way, not slouch but stand respectably, and walk softly on this Earth - as Allah says
we should not stride as though we can break the Earth apart, we should not walk with
pride and haughtiness. We too should adopt the example of being active listeners,
showing interest in another person's words by means of our body language towards
5. Akhlaaq: refined manners and etiquette
The Ahaadeeth are filled with advice on character development, refining manners
and behaving with etiquette. For every single thing we do, from slaughtering an
animal, to eating, drinking, bathing, walking, speaking, sleeping, we have a perfect
example of etiquette. An elegant muslimah should always be dignified and act with
refined etiquette. Rasoolullah SAW advised his beloved Sahabi, Muaadh RA, when
he was leaving to become a governor, that he should beautify his behaviour and
character towards the people. The thing that speaks volumes about our level of
elegance more than anything else is our manners.
6. Think then talk
An elegant muslimah should have well thought-out speech. Our beloved Rasoolullah
SAW said that we should either speak good or keep silent. We should be of those
who have multiple filters and only let out beneficial, kind, good words. Being
humerous is OK in Islam, provided it does not hurt the feelings of others, nor be
untrue. Rasoolullah SAW guaranteed a house in the middle of Jannah for the one
who refrains from untrue speech even in the form of a joke. Whilst quick popularity
often comes after being funny (often at the expense of others) and unverified
information about others is an easy way to fill silence, it really isn't worth giving up
your thawaab. Vulgar speech, excessive meaningless speech, and offensive speech,
are definitely out of keeping with the quality of elegance and the example of
7. Practice gratitude
An elegant lady makes people feel appreciated and important. The beautiful hadeeth
says that he who is not thankful to mankind cannot be thankful to Allah. Our beloved
Rasoolullah SAW made each person he spoke to feel like they were the closest to
him, the most important to him. We too should strive to make everyone feel very
welcome and valued when they come into our presence. This should be irrespective
of social standing or seniority, as Allah SWT advised Rasoolullah SAW to give
attention to the poor blind man who was keen to learn deen rather than focus on the
rich and powerful in the community.
An elegant muslimah is able to converse beautifully on a variety of topics. It is so
easy to become one-sided and only know about our niche of education or expertise,
but a sign of elegance is being able to converse in a versatile way. Reading, picking
up new hobbies, and exploring new places will open up our minds. Remember, it
doesn't have to be costly, it just costs time, but it is a valuable investment in yourself.
Rasoolullah SAW advised 3 sports, horseriding, archery and swimming. Taking up
sports as a hobby will also help us look after our great amaanah: our bodies.
May Allah SWT grant us all the timeless quality of elegance!