A simple act that can make a dramatic difference and help human beings during the most challenging segments of their lives is smiling. The untapped powers of smile when uncovered, inspire people during difficult times. Human beings are part of a naturally smiling species and by using smiling powers can positively impact any situation in life. The three-dimensional ultrasound technology, image shows developing babies appear to smile even in the womb, and continue to smile in response to the sound of the human voice.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) on many occasions demonstrated that smiling is really good for human beings. His companion, Abdullah ibn Haarith, once said in one of the Ahadith, “I never came across a person who smiled as Prophet Muhammad.” Prophet Muhammad regarded smiling to a brother as an act of charity. Another companion, 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).”
Prophet Muhammad told all of us in a very positive way to smile more, and in the process earn blessings of Allah. A smile is a beautiful and powerful gesture. It conveys the greatest emotional side of life. Smiling is an art. We must change our attitude and frame of mind and learn how to smile better to give the highest positive emotional message to the person we are facing at that very moment. A genuine smile lights up the world. Prophet Muhammad taught this.
Prophet Muhammad said that even a smile is charity and this hadīth I had taken to heart several decades ago and started smiling to display my high Islamic spirits. Putting on a smile while talking to others, reading a book, listening to a humorous anecdote, greeting others, have helped me become more comfortable with others. I have found that the attitude of others changes when you smile; make things happier. This prophetic tradition has helped me become a better person.
Being an engineer and a physicist, I made a decision more than forty years ago, to put my smile to test and conduct an experiment. People sometimes tend to give you a look questioning a smile, feeling threatened by it, posing questions, expressing them through their eyes by rolling their eyes or body gestures. My smile must help bring a little happiness and not pose a threat or questions, so, I augmented it with a gesture of salutation by raising my hand and softly touching my forehead, announcing indirectly the absence of a spurious smile.
I would like to give a few examples from my own life that make me say Alhamdulillah and Allahu Akbar. Once, I pulled my car out of the driveway and got on the street. In front of me, approximately 100 feet away, young neighborhood boys were playing hockey on the street using hockey sticks and a puck. A hockey puck is a disk that serves the same functions in various games as a ball does. I had unwaveringly made up my mind more than forty years ago that I would smile in the face of a challenging situation.
I could have blown my horn to alert the boys. My earlier experience, based on watching frowning faces of playful boys, hideous glances and taunting words, appeared in front of my eyes, a direct result of horn blowing. The situation needed a smile and a salutation. I slowed down, reduced my speed to less than ten miles, and approached the street crowd. The boys were busy playing. I smiled at one of the boys, who directed others to move. One boy uttered a few words. I turned my face towards him, smiled and raised my hand, positioned it softly on my forehead. His reaction startled me; he shouted directions at other boys. They scrambled and formed two lines, one on each side of the street and saluted me as I was driving away. Allahu Akbar. A smile and the confirmation that I was smiling with sincerity helped communicating with the young boys.
Almost twenty years ago, I got involved in a car accident when a driver cut in front of me and compelled me to blow the horn for more than five seconds. The other driver moved back into his lane and gave a dirty look. I smiled, raised my hand and saluted him. His attitude changed. He rolled down his window and said, sorry.
On one occasion, I noticed the driver in the car on the opposite side of the street, taking a right turn. A driver coming out of the parking lot of the gas/petrol station on the corner suddenly came on the street. I used the horn to warn the driver making the right turn to get his attention not to hit the car coming out of the petrol station or to move in the lane I was about to enter. Hearing the horn, he slammed hard on the car brakes, his car shook; the other car sped away. I completed the left turn and the other driver took the right turn. I smiled and saluted him while watching his furious look, when we both were next to each other. He changed his mood, rolled down his window and said, “Thank you, you saved my life.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent down as a mercy to mankind. He showed us ways to achieve Taqwa, greater God consciousness and nearness to God. He made us aware of other ways to improve ourselves to bring tranquility and peace in this world and serve humanity. One of the tools he provided us is use of smile.
I love to smile. May Allah give me the strength to face angel of death – Malak al-Maut – when he arrives. I like to welcome him with a smile and would like to leave this world with a smile on my face.
[Mohammad Yacoob is a retired industrial engineer and engineering proposals analyst who lives in Los Angeles, California]