Inhale, Exhale, Smile

Waterfall on the Big Sur

The Big Sur

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Smile. It will cheer your friends and confound your enemies. That’s why Shakespeare wrote, “The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.” A smile is a universal gesture of hope and welcome, transcending language. A genuine smile is warmer than the sun, and brighter than the full moon. A face that smiles cannot help but be beautiful.

It’s not so hard. Think of a place that makes you happy, or an experience that made you laugh. Picture yourself in a comfortable, soothing place.

For me:

  • Sitting on the sofa on a cold winter day, under a blanket, with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.
  • Standing on a deserted beach at the Big Sur, watching the waves crashing against the rocks.
  • Bowing in salat in the first row in front of the Ka’bah…

Inhale, exhale, smile. It will soothe your spirit, I promise. In fact, Mark Stibich, Ph.D, a longevity and anti-aging expert, writes that smiling improves your mood, spreads happiness contagiously, relieves stress, boosts your immune system, lowers your blood pressure, releases natural endorphins, and lifts your face, which makes you look physically younger.

By the way, the photo above is from Julia Pfeiffer Burns Sate Park on the Big Sur, California. It is one of my favorite places in the world. The Big Sur is a 90-mile long stretch of rugged and breathtakingly beautiful California coastline, where the 5,500 foot high St. Lucia mountains plunge recklessly into the sea. Redwoods and sequoias tower. Sea lions and otters gather by the thousands. Huge waves crash into the cliffs and rocks. Driftwood washes up onto  beaches everywhere, like the remains of an ancient sunken city. The entire coastline has less than 1,000 inhabitants.

The Big Sur is the geographical end of the world, the final demarcation point of humanity after thousands of years of westward exploration. I have been to the Big Sur only three times in my lifetime, the first when I was a teenager and the last in 1998, but somehow I left a piece of my heart there. I often see that beautiful place in my mind, and it makes me smile.

Tell me, what memory makes you smile? What place warms your heart?

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Do not abuse anyone…Do not look down upon any good work, and when you speak to your brother, show him a cheerful face.” – Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 4073

And he 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.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98

Imagine, not only do you get all the spiritual and health benefits I described above, but smiling is counted for you as barakah, and actually brings upon you Allah’s blessings.

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”  ~Mother Teresa

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including Zawaj.com and IslamicAnswers.com, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project, IslamicSunrays.com, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at AbolishTorture.com. He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , , , , , Read 266 articles by
3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. María says:

    Assalamualaikom,

    I learnt through smile by myself, a friend of my brother when I was 14 gave him a face, one of those faces, two dots, half of a parenthesis, and a circle surrounding it, and it said “smile”, because he said he was too serious, and I felt so attracted to it that my brother gave it to me. And everytime I looked at it, I smiled, not knowing exactly why, that made me feel good. Once when I became to write the blog of thoughts talking about smiling was a need, and appears almost at the begining, and a couple of times later on. Then I agree with everything you say here.

    And about the places and the moments that brings warmth to my heart and a smile to my face.

    The moments are when I am sharing with my family, I am deeply connected to my brothers we are like quadruplets, then many times just a look is enough, and I love deeply the rest of my family, specially my mother, and nothing to say about my nephew, niece and son.

    And about the places, there is a beach was artificially built when I was little but I spent most of my best moments with my mother and brothers there, we spent hours, swimming, playing, laughing, I am very happy there, and when I was abroad, in my mind I always returned there to walk on the golden sand, breathing the smell of sea water, and enjoying the beauty of the place. It has been a place where it is easy to me to be in Peace.

    Other place that brings the best to my Heart are the mountains that surrounds the city where I live, there is an ancient kind of forest and only the thought of it makes me happy.

    And when I am writing or drawing in the table of the living room, full of all my things, and everyone looks at me like “I don´t understand you but I am happy because you are happy” that love and respect from my family brings a smile to my Heart.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Salamat

  2. Neollectual says:

    The reference for the hadith “The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Do not abuse anyone…Do not look down upon any good work, and when you speak to your brother, show him a cheerful face.” is wrongly given as number 1889 in Sunan Abu Dawood.
    I checked up and 1889 found it to be something else.
    The correct reference is # 4073 (in book 32) in Sunan Abu Dawood. And the saying of the prophet quoted in the status message is only part of a longer hadith.

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