Even smile is a voluntary charity

Updated 12 June 2014

Even smile is a voluntary charity

How many times have you passed someone walking through a mall, in a hallway at school, on the bus, a train, or in the office where you work, and noticed that no one was smiling?
This is often the case among Muslims, which is a contributing factor to the misconception that to be Muslim means being serious all the time; never laughing or having fun.
Ironically, this is quite contrary to the Sunnah (the Prophet’s tradition), as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), was well-known for his congenial nature and smile. One such Hadith, narrated by Jarir ibn Abdullah Al-Bajali states: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) never refused to see me from the time I became Muslim, and whenever he saw me he would smile at me…” (Ibn Majah, 159)
In fact, when I ran a search on the phrase “Prophet smiled” through a Hadith search engine online, there were 3,177 results!

Smiling as charity
Among the five pillars of Islam, Muslims are also commanded to be charitable.
It is reported that the second Caliph, Umar ibn Al-Khattab said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘Islam has been built upon five things — on testifying that there is no god save Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger; on performing salah (prayer); on giving the zakah (charity); on Haj (pilgrimage to Makkah); and on fasting during Ramadan.’” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
In addition to the mandatory charity of zakah, Muslims are also enjoined toward voluntary charity (sadaqah), and incidentally, a smile is counted as an act of voluntary charity.
Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.”
He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many... enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms — all of these are charity prescribed for you.”
He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” (At-Tirmidhi, 1879) Often we think of charity as being monetary in nature. The simplicity of Islam teaches us otherwise, isn’t that great?

Smiling as Dawah
Muslims are also commanded to perform dawah (calling others to Islam). I recall very well that a catalyst for my interest in Islam 11-years ago happened to be the adab (good manners) of a Somali taxi driver who, incidentally, was always smiling. Obviously he had a clear understanding of the Hadith that says: “If Allah would guide one person through you to Islam, it is better than the whole world and whatever that’s in it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, 1379)
Imagine that one of the greatest achievements you could make in this life were to be realized simply through a smile.

Smiling for health
Furthermore, psychologists say that smiling is a great way to improve our health! It affects our brains, bodies and those around us.
Through our brains, smiling activates neuropeptides that combats stress, which lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Endorphins released by the brain when you smile act as a 100 percent natural pain reliever, and the serotonin released by your brain through your smile serves as an anti-depressant/mood lifter.
And according to the 2011 findings by researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, our bodies are affected by smiling in that we actually look better with a smile, which, in turn, positively affects the way people respond to us. Now, I’m not quite sure why it took a research study to inform us of this, but there you have it.
Subhan’Allah, smiling affects those around us in that it is actually contagious! Each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. Hasn’t this happened to you before?

Smiling in motion
On a recent Saturday evening I was sitting at a table on the deck in front of a local coffee shop when an elderly man dressed in a traditional Egyptian thawb, wearing a holiday cap with flashing lights across the front of it, masha’Allah, happened to pass through the tables selling roses.
I was pounding away on my keyboard in a lively Viber chat (yes, there is a desktop version), with my heart-adopted daughter in Colorado, Hanane. As the man passed by, in the same instant that I happened to glance up, he looked back over his shoulder.
In that brief moment that our eyes met, instantly seeing the smile I was wearing from the conversation I had been engaged in, subhan’Allah, he smiled in return as if he had just seen the moon.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon peace) said: “Every good deed is sadaqah (charity). To meet your brother with a smiling face and to pour out from your bucket into his container are sadaqah.” (At-Tirmidhi,1956)
A charity for a charity, I remember thinking to myself. The moment passed and I returned to my chat with Hanane. Head-bowed in concentration, I did not even notice that the man selling roses had turned around a few minutes later as he was headed back in the direction from which he had originally arrived.

Cue surprise
As the man passed by my table — without stopping or saying a word — he silently deposited beside my laptop, a bountiful handful of rose petals. Masha’Allah.
I had given him a smile, and in return he offered me what he could that would not take away from the source of his own meager sustenance; the petals of the roses that no one else would have appreciated the way I did that night. This is Islam.

— Aishah Schwartz is an American Muslim revert to Islam
Courtesy: onislam.net

The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.