Every year in the blessed month of Rabi al-Awwal, we should come to know our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, a little better. In this series, the Prophet’s Smile, we try to do this by looking at the things that brought a smile to his blessed face and at times made him laugh.
By studying his characteristics, we gain insight into the things he talked and thought about, and into the beauty of his character. By knowing more about him, we hope to increase in love 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
There are many 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 was 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 wellbeing 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.
Another 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-Llahji says that this metaphor is appropriate because lightning strikes very quickly and the Prophet ﷺ 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.
Shaykh Amin Buxton was born in London and became Muslim in 1999. He studied Arabic and Islamic Studies at SOAS, University of London, and then enrolled at Dar al Mustafa in Tarim, Yemen. There he studied the sacred sciences under the supervision of Habib Umar bin Hafiz.
He has edited and translated a number of books which explain the Prophetic way such as Imam al-Haddad’s ‘Beneficial Counsels’ and provides content for Muwasala. Since 2017 he has resided with his family in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is involved in a number of educational initiatives around the UK, including the iSyllabus, and has taught at the SeekersHub Retreat.