Smiling – The Greatest Sunnah

by Maryam Noon

“I never came across a person who smiled as much as Prophet Muhammad” – Prophet’s ? companion (Abdullah bin harith RA)

Prophet Muhammad ? would always meet people with a smiling face and a kind attitude. One day, the Prophet ? was going somewhere in the burning heat of the desert when he saw a woman carrying her baggage on her head. Prophet ? offered her his help, took the baggage and carried it with her. He asked her the reason behind her decision of leaving the town. She answered that she was leaving because a magician named Muhammad had come to town. Our Prophet ? didn’t say a word and helped her anyway. While walking with the Prophet ?, the woman noticed his kindness and bright smile. She was impressed. When they reached the destination, the Prophet ? put the luggage down and was about to go when she said,

“O, kind person! At least tell me your name.”

The Prophet ? replied: “I am the person because of whom you are leaving the town.”

She was stunned. Impressed with the humble behavior of the Prophet ?, she accepted Islam and became a Muslim. You see what a magical effect does this simple looking act of smiling hold? The woman was stunned because she had seen a smile on that person’s face whom she had titled as a magician out of ignorance and misapprehension. She had seen him smiling and continuing to help her carry the burden of her luggage in scorching heat of desert even after listening to such disgraceful remarks about himself. It is difficult to comprehend how someone could smile in response to his sheer humiliation, as this is something that goes entirely against the usual irresistible impulse arising in such a situation. But here, our beloved Prophet’s sunnah shows us how a smile can do wonders!

The prime reason why people smile is to express their inner emotions and feelings. It is not only a mode of sharing happiness but also the most common mode of communication since the beginning of civilization. It is a universal language that links all of mankind together. However, the definition of smiling in Islam extends beyond the politeness to love and affection. As personified in the hadith, “Smiling in the face of your brother is charity.” The core of charity is to give, but what has a smiling face got to do with charity? It is as if you are giving some of your good character, goodwill or kindness to a loved one or maybe to a stranger when you smile. Moreover, it brings people together and strengthens their bond. It has the power of illuminating the hearts of people as penetrates them, resulting in them reciprocating the action.

Smiling is impactful. The next time things do not go your way try to be calm and smile, instead of showing frustration and anger since it will help you be more content and gratified with Qadr’ (the decree) of Allah. In consequence, this will bring about optimistic changes in behavior and you will be able to deal with the trials of life in a much better and calmer manner. It generates an optimistic vibe that allows individual insight to alter within a few seconds. There are many ah?dith which say that the Prophet ? used to smile in a way that his molar teeth would become visible. Jarir ibn Abdullah said:

“The Messenger of God never refused me permission to see him since I embraced Islam and never looked at me except with a smile (on his face).” [Sahih Muslim: 2475]

 This should be an inspiration for us. This gives us the motivation that we should smile no matter how demanding and daunting the condition is.

Researches show that smiling has positive and healthy effects on our mind and body. When a smile flashes across your face, happy chemicals (dopamine, endorphins and serotonin) are all released into your bloodstream, making not only your body relax but also working to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. These are triggered by smile muscles to help you feel happy and lower the stress levels. Smiling stimulates reward mechanism and tricks the mind into happiness. According to the hypothesis of a psychologist, Robert Zajonc, the facial changes involved in smiling have direct effects on certain brain activities associated with happiness. Smiling also boosts your immune system. It has the tendency of causing the body to release natural painkillers. This helps to build improved pain tolerance. It has been medically reported that smiling and optimistic thoughts release signaling molecules in your brain that resist stress and other illnesses. Resultantly, smiling improves your mood and health side by side.

People who smile tend to have better relations with their loved ones. Have you noticed that you are attracted to people who smile a lot? People who smile more often are more agreeable and affable. Such people mostly have stable relationships and social circles. Thus, smiling is also the key to strengthen our social bonds and build a stronger, healthier community.

In a nutshell, smiling is the easiest of all sunnahs; as easy as breathing. So even if you’re feeling blue, crack a smile and reap the numerous health benefits of smiling.