We are taught that when looking in the mirror we should say: “Allahumma kamaa hassanta khalqee fahassin khuluqee – O Allah, just as You have beautified my appearance, so too beautify my character.”
Quite an amazing dua if you think about it. Because if one looks into the mirror excessively one of two things would happen: either he would be pleased with what he sees and this would lead to vanity and conceit; or he would be unhappy with what he sees and this would lead to low self-confidence and no self -worth. But in this dua one says: “Kamaa hassanta khalqee – as You have beautified my appearance” (with emphasis on the “ta” – you). This is an acknowledgment that whatever one may have been favoured with, in terms of good looks, then this comes solely from Allah (swt). It is He who grants us this and it has nothing to do with anything we may have done. So why then should anyone become proud and arrogant over something which has only been gifted to him, and for which he did nothing to earn? So this understanding blocks the path towards vanity. And this phrase “kamaa hassanta khalqee – as you have beautified my appearance” (with emphasis on “hassana“) is an acknowledgment that he is good-looking. Whatever he may look like, this is how Allah (swt) has fashioned him. And He has beautified his appearance, even though there might be things about it with which he is displeased or dissatisfied. These things are all relative and usually small imperfections are totally blown out of proportion in the person’s mind. So by saying this dua one acknowledges that Allah (swt) has created him in a beautiful form and this blocks the path to low self-esteem.
So this dua guides us to take the middle road between the extremes of vanity and self-loathing.