(12) Have a ready smile; it’s Islamic charity

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Have a ready smile; it’s Islamic charity

By:  Shaik Kadir

A few months ago, as I was going to a shop in my neighbourhood, a couple of  Bangladesh cleaning workers, noticing that I wear a Haji cap, smiled at me and said out the salam.  I responded their salutation and raised my right hand to my forehead and gave them a welcoming smile.  This had happened a number of times.  Strangers too had given me the salam and received my response with a smile.

Yes, a sincere smile makes people to whom you smile feel happy.  And they will happily greet you again with salam and smile the next time they see you.

Flashing a smile as a form of greeting is the easiest thing to do, and it is the source and show of kindness. It demonstrates our Islamic courtesy and humility.

While no animal is given the ability to smile, Allah has given human beings that ability.   Thus, we must use this gift from Allah very frequently – with family members and others as an act of courtesy.

Indeed, the act of smiling has many benefits. Some of them are:

1.  It helps you make friends and widen your circle of friends easily.

2.  It makes you look friendly and approachable.

3.  It helps you change your mood positively.

4.  It helps you spread happiness, courtesy and kindness.

5.  It helps you relieve your stress and be more relaxed.

6.  It helps boost the function of the immune system which, in turn, helps in reducing a number of ailments.  In other words, smiling is a kind of medication and exercises the face.

Of course, like any other action, one has to be cautious of the context: smiling unbecomingly or at inappropriate situation will not invite appreciation but repercussion.

Regarding the intrinsic value of smile, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: “To smile is charity.” (Hadith from Bukhari)

Our Prophet asked us to always smile when talking or meeting with anyone. He himself had a ready-smile for everyone.  Thus, smiling is a sunnah of our Prophet.  Smiling is the easiest charity to carry out.  It is an investment without the need to place anything material as capital.

In this regard, as Muslims have been instructed to use the charity of smile, they have the biggest opportunity to offer it even to total strangers and become friends, raising the fortitude of Islamic brotherhood to a greater height.

When a Muslim man wears a Muslim cap and goes to the mosque on Friday prayers, he is easily identifiable as a Muslim.  Here is an opportunity to initiate a smile with a total stranger who is your brother-in-Islam.

Some months ago, when my son-in-law, who is a Caucasian and recent Muslim revert, and I were on our way to the mosque for Friday prayers, he asked me if I knew the man with whom I smiled and gave the salam, (and followed up with an exchange of a few words).  When I said “No, I didn’t know him”, he wondered why I smiled and gave the salam to a total stranger, and this gave me the opportunity to explain our Islamic spirit of courtesy and brotherhood to him.

However, we often see the following scenario at the bus-stop or in the bus:  Muslims, who are total strangers exchanging the physical salam but soon after fell silent like total strangers again.  This situation ought to be improved as it presents a good opportunity to make friends, and reinforce Islamic brotherhood.

Thus, the physical salam alone would look strange if it is not complemented by a smile of friendship and exchange of a few conversational words.

The smile displayed on your face as you give the salam would reduce the “feeling of being strangers” and serve as a tool for a follow-up  – exchanging a few words to establish familiarity.

Once, because of the smile and exchange of friendly words at the bus-stop after Friday prayers, I discovered that the man I gave the salam to is the brother-in-law of my friend who was a long-lost former colleague, and that made me get his telephone number to renew friendship.

Our women folk are even more easily identifiable as Muslims as many are in hijab (wearing of the Islamic attire, including the tudung or headscarf.)  They too should be charitable with their smile to initiate acquaintance.

In the mosque, we often sit between two Muslim strangers. And what happens?  We extend our hands to the person sitting on the right and left, giving the physical salam often without looking at their faces, and often done mechanically as if the contact of hands brings blessings!

In the mosque, when you extend your hands to give your salam to those around you, do look into their faces and give a brotherly smile.

Be ready with your smile; give it easily and whole-heartedly with another Muslim next to you – at the bus-stop, in the bus and in the mosque or elsewhere.

Exactly a year ago, I saw a man and his family at the Hong Kong Airport and I approached him with a smile and the salam.  Now, we are friends.

Smile – that’s the way to extend Islamic courtesy and strengthen brotherhood.

Here are some quotes on the value of smile:

  • A smile has a tremendous effect on people. It can win the hearts.
  • Smile begets smile.  If you smile at someone, they might smile back.
  • The shortest distance between two people is a smile.  Everyone smiles in the same language.   It has no cultural or religious barrier.
  • Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.  (George Eliot)
  • Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. (Thích Nhất Hạnh)
  • A smile beautifies your face. Wear a smile – one size fits all.
  • Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.  (Mother Teresa)
  • Peace begins with a smile.  (Mother Teresa)
  • You’re never fully dressed without a smile.  (Martin Charnin)
  • A smile costs nothing.  It takes but a moment and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

A smile, done in good faith and proper conduct, is the core of the Islamic mannerism and courtesy and this ought to be the means of strengthening ties among Muslims as well as among all people, irrespective of race, culture or religion.

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