Smile can be described as laughing by showing only a small part of the teeth. This was the smile of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
His smile never displayed extremities like laughs. In this regard, Aisha (r.a) says that:
“I never saw the Prophet laughing to an extent that one could see his palate, but he always used to smile only.” (Bukharī, Kitāb al-Adab, 68; Muslim, Istisqā, 16)
According to many narrations of the Companions, the Prophet (pbuh) had the best character and was the most courteous of the people. He was always smiling and his face was always shining with the light of his smile.
Abdullah b. Salām, a Jewish scholar, curiously asked for the Prophet (pbuh) during immigration from Mecca to Medina. When he saw the Prophet’s face, he said:
“The owner of such a face cannot lie” and converted to Islam. (Tirmidhī, Qiyāmah, 42/2485; Ibn Mājah, At’imah, 1: Iqāmah, 174)
A man’s face and apparel is his window. Every creature has a language of behavior and manners. In other words, a person is in a state of talking through his behavior, even though his mouth is shut.
People carry signs of their inner world on their faces. Faces are the interpreters of inner worlds for the eyes, which can see. This is why a shining smile is the most beautiful reflection of inner world.
How nicely Jalal al-Dīn Rumī (q.s) explains this in the following lines:
“If you would buy a pomegranate, buy (it when it is) laughing (having its rind cleft open), so that its laughter (openness) may give information as to its seeds. Oh, blessed is its laughter, for through its mouth it shows the heart, like a pearl from the casket of the spirit … The laughing pomegranate makes the garden laughing (gay and blooming): companionship with (holy) men makes you one of the (holy) men. Though you be rock or marble, you will become a jewel when you reach the man of heart (the saint).”
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) passed by people slowly and smiling. He listened carefully his companions’ talks in order to make them happy. He smiled them showing part of his teeth. And his companions followed his customs and imitated his manners.
Narrated by Jarīr b. Abdullāh (r.a):
“The Prophet did not screen himself from me (had never prevented me from entering upon him) since I embraced Islam, and whenever he saw me, he would receive me with a smile.” (Bukharī, Kitāb al-Adab, 68)
Abdullah b. Hārith said that:
“I have not seen anybody smiling more than the Prophet (pbuh).” (Tirmidhī, Manāqib, 144)
Here are some more sayings of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the virtue of smiling:
“Don’t consider anything insignificant out of good things even if it is that you meet your brother with a cheerful countenance.” (Muslim, Kitāb al-Birr, 144)
“Every act of kindness is charity. Part of kindness is that you offer your brother a cheerful face and you pour some of your bucket into his water vessel.” (Tirmidhī, Kitāb al-Birr, 45/1970; Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, III, 344; Bukharī, al-Adab al-Mufrad, no: 304)
When the Prophet (pbuh) could not find anything to give to the poor, he used to turn his face away feeling embarrassed. Then the following verse was revealed:
“And if you turn away from them to seek mercy from your Lord, which you hope for, speak to them a gentle word.” (17; 28)
After the revelation of this Divine command, whenever the Prophet (pbuh) could not find anything to give, he started to smile and talk nicely to the poor in order to win their hearts.
Therefore smiling, greeting and talking nicely should not be belittled. These are some of the social worships of every believing soul; because, smiling is a repeated and strengthened tradition of the Prophet (pbuh).