A brother once went to see a Sheikh with the intention of censuring him for some of his views. Full of anger, he shouted at the Sheikh, but then quite quickly he begun to calm down and smile. What is it that the Sheikh did to make this brother who was shouting at him smile? The Sheikh simply smiled at him.
This is a very effective tool that helps in giving Da’wah, dissolving tension, or simply demonstrating brotherhood to others. The beautiful nature of smiling is that it is contagious and it is unfortunate that even the practicing Muslims become satisfied after adopting the Sunnah associated to clothes and a Waajib of long beard, but not reflect to aspects of character such as smiling.
Brings people closer to you
Whenever Hadhrat Anas saw the Prophet, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam), he would find his blessed face as bright as the full moon, and whenever he gazed upon Hadhrat Anas, he would smile. Every encounter was met with a smile which caused the heart of this great Sahaabi (Companion) to be greatly affected – so much so that he felt that he was the most beloved to him. Naturally he wanted his thoughts confirmed, so he asked the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) as to who the most beloved person to him was. The Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) replied: “Abu Bakr”. Hoping that he would be the most adored to the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) after Abu Bakr, he repeated the question and to Hadhrat Anas’s surprise, it was not him but instead Hadhrat ʿUmar. From this simple act, the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) was able to make Hadhrat Anas think that he was the most beloved person to him. It was with these small but greatly effective gestures that did not take much effort that made the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) so beloved to all people of his time. In fact, Hadhrat ʿAbdullah bin Haarith said:
مَا رَأَيْتُ أَحَدًا أَكْثَرَ تَبَسُّمًا مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ
“I have not seen anyone smile more often than Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe Wasallam)” (Shamaail Tirmizi)
A study was carried out by two Americans and they concluded that smiling is something that we cannot do without. They conducted an experiment and told the participants not to smile for three days which they were consequently unable to do.
The primary reason as to why people genuinely smile is first due to the result of an inner feeling and also as a means of showing how one feels. This is illustrated with making a strike or spare whilst bowling. Once the pins have fallen, there is a natural reaction to smile. But when that person turns around to his peers, he smiles again to share his happiness. However the Islamic reasons for smiling extend beyond this and do not only include politeness, but also show love and affection – this being embodied in the Hadeeth:
تَبَسُّمُكَ فِي وَجْهِ أَخِيكَ لَكَ صَدَقَةٌ
“Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity…..” (At-Tirmizi)
The essence of charity is to give, but what has smiling got to do with Ṣadaqah? It is almost as though you are giving some of your character or good will to another person when you smile. The nature or the restricted meaning of charity is that it divides people into wealthy people who can give and those who receive, but smiling is a charity that is not restricted to wealth, class, or status, but instead it is free and can be done by anyone. This is an exemplary illustration that charity is a personification of all that is good. Furthermore, it brings people together and as a result strengthens the bonds of society. This illuminates the hearts of locked souls and the effect of a smile penetrates the depths of one’s emotion forcing others to reciprocate this action. It is a universal language that binds all people together.
Smiling has a great effect on a person’s situation. As such, the next time something does not go our way we should try smiling instead of showing signs of frustration since this will help us to be more content with the Qadr (Decree) of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Consequently, this has a great effect on our attitude allowing us to deal with matters in a calmer and stress-free way. It generates a positive vibe that allows the individual perception to change within a few moments.
There is a theory in psychology called ‘facial feedback’. Davis and Palladino explain that “feedback from facial expression affects emotional expression and behavior.” (For quick reference: I. Davis, S. F., & Palladino, J. J. 2000. Psychology, 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. & 4th Ed. Copyright 2004 Prentice Hall6-1 Psychology Stephen F. Davis Emporia State University Joseph J. Palladino University of Southern Indiana PowerPoint, Copyright 2004 Prentice Hall6-38 The Expressive Components 38. II. For details: “Emotional Empathy, Facial Reactions, and Facial Feedback” by Per Andreasson, Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertation from the Faculty of Social Sciences 58, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden. III Social and Emotional Messages of Smiling: An Ethological Approach by Robert E. Kraut and Robert E. Johnston (Cornell University): http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~kraut/RKraut.site.files/articles/kraut 79-Social%26Emotion alMessagesOfSmiling.pdf)
Some research was conducted whereby participants were told to make angry faces which resulted in increased blood flow to the hands and feet. Other such research has concluded that smiling aids in changing the way one feels. It does not only help to change your own attitude, but others as is reflected in the story between the angry brother and smiling Sheikh mentioned previously. Another interesting incident is mentioned elsewhere, wherein it is said that if someone was to find the angriest person and simply smiled at them, after a few encounters, irrespective of the built up angst they possess, he would eventually smile. This is the nature of smiling that unfortunately is not practiced amongst many of the Muslims today. The situation today is such that if someone does smile, it usually means they want something. By simply making this a habit, we will see a change in the habits of the people around us. However, this smiling should not be done to the Non-Mahram of opposite sex because this action that is a form of charity turns into something that is immoral.
By a simple gesture such as smiling, we can cheer up a person’s day. Hadhrat Anas bin Maalik Al-Ansari related that Hadhrat Abu Bakr used to lead the people in Salaah during the fatal illness of the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) till it was Monday. When the people aligned (in rows) to offer Salaah, the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) lifted the curtain of his house and started looking at us and was standing at that time. While stating the event he described the body language i.e. posture and facial expression of the beloved Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam):
وَهْوَ قَائِمٌ كَأَنَّ وَجْهَهُ وَرَقَةُ مُصْحَفٍ، ثُمَّ تَبَسَّمَ يَضْحَكُ
“….His face was (glittering) like a page of the Qur’an and he smiled cheerfully.…..” (Bukhari)
This was on the same the day he died. There are Ahaadeeth (Traditions) through which we know that, at times, the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) smiling in a way that his molar teeth could be seen. This should be an encouragement for us to smile. However bad our situation or depressing our state, the Muslims need to smile. It will give us a more positive outlook on life and not give the perception that we are an angry people who do not enjoy life. A smile is a manifestation of love and brotherhood, some of the pre-requisites for entrance into Jannah (Paradise).
What is of much importance is that when the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) made only a facial expression i.e. frowning, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) sent the Wahi (Revelation) of initial Aayaat (Verses) of Soorah ʿAbas. He did only an action to one who was blind. He did not say to Ibne Umme Maktoom to go back now and come sometimes later or did not utter a single unkind word to him as the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) was busy talking to Chieftains of Quraish. Rather, he did an action that Ibn Umm Maktoom could not even see himself. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) sent the Aayaat mentioning the facial expression the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam).
If Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) deemed that this small action be in the Quraan until the Day of Qiyaamah, then certainly we should try our best to make an effortless smile to our own brothers and sisters.