ISLAM THROUGH THE LENS-Smile. It’s an act of charity.

Bad days: we’ve all had them. Days when a slew of little things going wrong have added up to a mountain of frustration and patience wearing thin. Yet somehow, when someone meets your eyes and flashes you a warm and friendly smile, you can’t help but smile back. For that one moment, you feel happy, and if you’re like me, you realize that your troubles are trivial and not worth getting frazzled over. You feel like someone cares about you, and that split-second human connection gives you a boost. Smiling – it’s quick, easy and effortless, and as Abdullaah Ibn Haarith has said: “I never came across a person who smiled as much as Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu `alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings be upon him).” Prophet Muhammad (saws) regarded smiling with a brother as an act of charity.

Perhaps at first read, the concept of smiling being charity may seem fuzzy. In Islam, charity is incumbent upon all Muslims, meant to increase their connection with God, and to foster amity among the community. Smiling to a fellow brother or sister in humanity is a small way of practicing this belief — the act of reaching out to someone and showing kindness and concern.Whether it’s the instinctive gesture when you catch someone’s eye, the reaction to hearing good news, or the act of cheering someone up who’s feeling down, a smile is a way to share your happiness with someone else. Giving someone else your positivity with a smile may just be the sign they needed to lift their spirits.

Everyday, we come across strangers from all walks of life. Some may be on top of the world, yet others may be enduring difficult circumstances, and because we won’t be able to tell the difference, the simple act of smiling at those we bump into can help inspire optimism, even if it’s just for a second. We often forget the importance of human-to-human connection, and how interacting with other people is vital to maintaining a positive outlook and managing stress. Smiling is the most basic of these connections, and if you’re feeling happy, the least you can do is spread this happiness to others. It’s simple, it’s easy to do, and it’s an act of charity. So, the next time you go out, smile.

ANUM ARSHAD is a third year Political Science and Anthropology double major and Art History Minor at the University of California, Irvine.

Photo courtesy of JAC Photography

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