The Prophet’s Smile
Part One by Shaykh Amin Buxton
Every year in the blessed month of Rabi al-Awwal, we should spend time learning about our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and grow closer to him.
In this series, the Prophet’s Smile, we visit the moments where the Prophet smiled and laughed. We also discuss how he was described when smiling and laughing.
By studying his characteristics, we gain insight into what he talked and thought about, and ultimately, the undeniable beauty of his character.
By knowing more about him, we hope to increase our love and longing for him. We also hope to gain his love and pleasure, which cannot be separated from the love and pleasure of Allah Most High.
His Blessed Smile
If we go to the well known books of Shama’il, which bring together the description of the Prophet’s physical appearance as well as his noble character, we find several accounts of companions describing his smile. Sayyiduna al-Husayn asked his father, Sayyiduna Ali (peace be upon them both), to describe how the Messenger of Allah Most High interacted with his companions. He said: “He was always cheerful and smiling, gentle in character.”
The commentators say that this does not negate the fact that he is also described as being constantly in a state of sadness, out of concern for the well-being of his nation. Outwardly he was cheerful, but his inner state was one of sadness.
Sayyiduna Ali went on to say that the Prophet would laugh at the same things his companions would laugh at, and would marvel at the things which they marvelled at. He did this to make them feel comfortable and at ease.
One of the companions said that he had never seen anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah Most High.
Another companion narrates that since he became Muslim, the Prophet would always smile at him when he met him.”
Several narrations tell us that “his laugh was his smile”or that “most of his laughter was smiling”, which is understood to mean that generally he would smile when amused and only rarely would he actually laugh out loud. The same applies to the Prophet Sulayman, peace be upon him, who smiles broadly in amusement at the words of the ant, as recounted in the following verse:
So [Sulayman] smiled, amused at her speech, and said, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of] Your righteous servants.” (Sura Naml, 27:19)
Like A Piece of the Moon
When he was happy, the Prophet’s face would light up as brightly as a piece of the moon. When he opened his mouth to laugh, his teeth would shine as brightly as lightning and were as brilliantly white as hailstones. Imam al-Lahaji says that this metaphor is appropriate because lightning strikes very quickly and the Prophet would not keep his mouth open for more than an instant. Also lightning is followed by rain, which is a manifestation of Allah’s mercy, and the Prophet’s laughter would invariably be followed by a kind word or a gift or some other manifestation of his mercy.
Imam al-Busiri perfectly sums all this up in the Burdah:
أكرم بخلق نبيّ زانه خلق
بالحسن مشتمل بالبشر متّسم
How noble is the form of a Prophet whose character further adorns him
So full of beauty is he, so full of cheer.
كأنّما اللّؤلؤ المكنون في صدف
من معدني منطق منه ومبتسم
It is as if precious pearls protected in their shells
Poured forth from the treasury of his speech and smile.
May we all experience the tranquility of being close to him (peace and blessings be upon him).