September 18, 2020

The Real Power of a Smile

A smile is something we can always wear to show Allah that we are patient and throughout all of our emotions we want to show Him that we are grateful. We are telling Allah that we are thinking good thoughts about Him, in Allah we place our trust through thick and through thin. We search and search for happiness in people, in gifts, in money, in life, in vacations, in a new job, in a shopping trip, in food. In everything we do: we look for happiness, otherwise why would we do it? Hence some people get lazy when it comes to their religious obligations i.e. salah, fasting, charity. They don’t see the benefit immediately or they don’t feel happiness every time it’s done so like a habit – it gets abandoned. Happiness is a feeling only. It comes and it goes. It will never be permanent no matter how positive we are however, smiling is a choice. Smiling is something we can control. Happiness is not. Smiling has a magical effect on others. Almighty Allah created mankind with an innate inclination to love those who are friendly. A person who meets others with a smile drives away the daily life tension, anxiety and troubles. Islam is not only the religion it teaches us the complete code of life. It teaches us how to behave from morning till night, the best positions to sleep and other rules that are beneficial for us in our daily life. Smiling is a kind act and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He (PBUH) was well known to have a pleasant smiling face, and it is part of one’s character. Companions of Holy Prophet are also kind-hearted, well-mannered and have a smiling face. Islam mostly spread through the kind and sweet behaviour of Muhammad (PBUH).Smiling doesn’t seem like a particularly complicated act.You feel a happy emotion, the corners of your mouth turn up, your cheeks lift and your eyes crinkle. Easy, however the overall effect tells the outside world that we’re feeling happy on the inside. It’s simple and, in most cases, totally spontaneous and in fact can be contagious. In fact the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the best example in terms of smiling and making others happy:“When you smile to your brother’s face, it is charity,” he often told his companions.Abd Allah ibn Harith has narrated: I have never seen anyone more in the habit of smiling than the Messenger. (At-Tirmidhi) Another companion relays that: Whenever the Prophet saw me after I had embraced Islam; he would receive me with a smile. I have never seen anyone who smiles more than the Prophet. (Al-Bukhari) With the nature of our lives these days, smiling may seem quite a difficult adventure. However smiling is viewed across cultures as a sign of friendliness and it is a natural response that shares our happiness with others. Scientists revealed that smiling lowers the heart rate and temporarily reduces blood pressure reducing stress. Smiling and laughter therefore are useful aids in health care. Still in the area of health, smiling boosts the immune system by relaxing the body and allows the immune system to react more quickly and effectively to invaders. Moreover it has been proven that it increases productivity and here’s a good one for our female readers, it makes us look younger! It is unfortunate that some of our scholars have been depicted as angry, unsmiling men who lecture and frown when Islam explicitly focuses on friendliness, peace, serenity and kindness. As a child, we had a frowning teacher at the mosque I remember who always expressed his anger at the parents who brought along their children to pray. At 8 I must have been the happiest when he was transferred back to his country (yes, I did smile) and my late father assumed responsibility. He would persuade the parents to bring their children to the mosque and assigned a place for the younger ones to pray making them feel special installing a smaller version of the stand where the imam would stand and decorating their prayer area with posters encouraging them to keep the place clean. For me visits to the mosque as a youngster were a delight and equally so my children enjoyed their visits. My husband would encourage our children, both boys and girls, to do the same as the ‘big’ people, and yes they would smile in between prayers. My daughter, now a mother, recalls how her father would smile at her rather than rebuke her when she would have enough of praying and do headstands or run round the pole. It goes without saying he would sit in the last row. Smiling forces us to remove any anger or harshness from our heart, as Allah says in the Quran: And if you had been rude in speech and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. (3:159) How many of us have walked down the street, seen someone smile and smiled back thinking it was for us? Embarrassing yes, but I, for one, continue smiling after realizing the initial smile was not for me and garner happier smiley people in the process.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) 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.

Smiling is contagious; therefore as you are gaining all these benefits you are spreading them around to all those who see you smiling and smile back. Remember, a smile conveys confidence and professionalism. If you’re like most teenagers you may hear it a lot, and you get annoyed every time you hear it. (Telling a teenager to smile is probably one of the best ways to ensure they won’t smile for the next several hours). But the notion that smiling will make you feel better has actually been confirmed by research. There are several studies demonstrating that people are happier when they smile. Psychologists tell us that Smiling is a great way to make our body to function better and to improve our health, stress level, and our attractiveness. Hence they believe that Smiling is just one fun way to live longer and they give us some ten consequences of smiling as (a) People are drawn to those who smile as there is an attraction factor to cheerful people (b) Smiling Changes Our Mood (c ) Smiling Is Contagious as people who are smiling is lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier (d) Smiling relieves Stress as stress can show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed (e) Smiling Boosts our Immune System because it helps the immune system to work better. When we smile, immune function improves possibly because we are more relaxed (f) Smiling Lowers the Blood Pressure as when we smile, there is a measurable reduction in blood pressure (g) Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin.so all together make us feel good and doctors consider Smiling as a natural drug (h) Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes us Look Younger because used muscles to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger (i) Smiling Makes us Seem Successful because smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached (j) Smiling Helps us Stay Positive. A research study conducted in Sweden exposed participants to images of faces while they monitored their facial muscles through electromyographs (EMGs). When exposed to happy faces, participants moved their zygomatic major muscle (used in smiling); when exposed to sad faces, participants moved their corrugator supercilii muscle (used in frowning). Participants did this even when the stimuli were hidden and rapidly presented. Participants were usually unaware that they even moved their muscles. Drs. Ursula Hess and Slyvie Blairy conducted a study where participants viewed video clips of a person expressing anger, sadness, disgust and happiness. Results showed that participants consistently mimicked each of those expressions. These studies support that when you smile at someone, their muscles maneuver into a smile as well. A well-known study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrated the impact of smiling on life satisfaction. Researchers analyzed the yearbook pictures of 111 smiling women at age 21, fifty of which displayed authentic-Duchenne smiles. Participants expressing genuine positive emotions in their yearbook picture were more likely to be married and have higher well-being than their non-Duchenne smiling classmates. This study was replicated in Australia in 2006 and demonstrated similar results. Duchenne smiles correlated with experiencing less negative emotions and increased sense of competence. It is no wonder Islam focuses on smiling. Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) urges us to smile as he says in the prophetic hadith “your smile for others is a charity”[Hadith Sahih- by Al-Albany] Our beautiful religion Islam teaches that a smile is a message about ourselves as Muslims; that our heart is pure and that we are not infected by anxieties, hang-ups, and gloom. A smile is an instant message to those we know as well as those we do not know. It is received and understood even before we speak to or greet someone; and it makes that person more receptive to what we have to say. That said we must realize though before we all go out with renewed vigour for smiling and laughing with friends and family there are just a few small points to remember. Islam is the middle way, we have a religion that should be known for its moderation; thus laughing and joking relentlessly is not the best way to behave. Remember that although Prophet Muhammad laughed and joked with his family and companions, he always behaved sensibly with fine moral principles. He never joked in a way that hurt someone’s feelings; he never joked or made people smile about things that were not true. In fact he was heard to say: Woe to the one who speaks and lies in order to make people laugh; woe to him, woe to him. (At-Tirmidhi) Abdullah ibn-Haarith ibn Hazm, said: “I never saw anyone smile more than the Prophet (PBUH)” (Tirmidhi). Jeerer ibn ‘Abdullah Al-Bajali, said:” The Prophet (peace be upon him), did not keep himself from me ever since I embraced Islam, and whenever he saw me, he received me with a smile” (Al-Bukhari). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) smiled, often and with real joy. In fact, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) smiled so regularly that His smile and kind behaviour are mentioned many times. When one of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) companions was asked if he sat with the Prophet he replied, “Yes, very often. He (the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to sit at the place where He (PBUH) observed the morning or dawn prayer till the sun rose or when it had risen; He (peace be upon him) would stand, and they (his Companions) would talk about matters (pertaining to the days) of ignorance, and they would laugh (on these matters) while (the Prophet) only smiled.” Smiling is the sign of friendliness across the world and it is the natural way that shares our happiness with others. Smiling has also been seen to increase productivity. Smiling lowers, the heart rate and also calms your blood pressure and reduces stress and anxiety. Smiling boosts your mood by producing more endorphins that in turn diminish stress hormones, this act also lessens your pain. Thus, Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the smiling has many benefits in our general health. Smiling boosts, the immune system by relaxing the body and allowing the immune system to react more quickly and effectively to invaders. People around the world who believe in the power of the smile say that smile costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. Also, people believe that smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and it is nature’s best antidote for trouble. As a Muslim Adopting the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) providing us many benefits in our physical health and many rewards in life hereafter. Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the real guidance path for us. So, it’s best for us to adopt the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to get the success and rewards in this world and hereafter. We can spread the message of Islam by our kind behaviour, smiling and through love. Always smile and make the best relations with the people around you. May Almighty Allah provide us the courage to follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Ameen!
(The authors write regularly on Islamic topics for “Kashmir Horizon” exclusively. Views are their own) [email protected]

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