Greeting people with a smiling face is a Sunnah

Imam Bukhari (may Allah Ta’ala bless him) has written a book in which he has collected those Ahadith of the Holy Prophet ﷺ which relate to Islamic etiquettes related to different walks of life which the Holy Prophet ﷺ has taught us through his own practice. One of these etiquettes, and a Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, is that a person keeps mingling with people and greets them with a smile.
It is a right of Allah’s subjects is that when a person meets someone, they should greet them with a smiling face. A person should not deliberately present oneself as harsh tempered so that people feel anxious approaching him. Even if Allah Ta’ala has granted someone a high status or post, he should not remain aloof from people because of his position and should keep mixing with people. This is the Sunnah of the Prophets (peace be upon them) of Allah Ta’ala.

In fact, it is one of those Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ which the non-believers used to criticize. Allah Ta’ala says in the Noble Quran;
“They said, “What sort of messenger is this who eats food and walks in the markets” (25:7)
The non-believers thought that walking in the markets like an ordinary person was beneath the station of Prophethood. This was because they had seen their own kings and leaders that once they became kings they cut themselves off from the general public. They stopped visiting the Bazaars like ordinary people and rather came with all the pomp of their kinghood. These non-believers thought that Prophethood was such a greater station than being a king that it was beneath a Prophet’s status to roam around in the Bazaars like a common person.
However, the Noble Quran contradicted this belief. The Quran taught people that the Prophets come for your betterment, therefore, they do everything an ordinary person does and teach people through their practice what are the etiquettes and manners of conducting those activities. They are not meant to cut themselves off from people, therefore, it is no weakness for a Prophet to walk around in the markets like an ordinary person and socialize with people.
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (may Allah Ta’ala bless him) used to say that if a person cuts himself off from people after becoming a spiritual leader, then it means that he hasn’t learnt even the ABC of Tareeqat (Tasawwuf). He said that even after becoming a Sheikh a person should live like ordinary human beings, just like the Holy Prophet ﷺ used to live.

Once the Holy Prophet ﷺ walked from Masjid Nabvi to meet Hazrat Aitban ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) socially who lived near Masjid Quba. It is about a three lies distance. When he reached his home, he called three times. When the Sahabi didn’t reply, as per the commandment of the Noble Qur’an;
“O you who believe, do not enter any houses, other than your own houses unless you seek permission…” (24:27)
The Holy Prophet ﷺ returned to his home. He did not express any displeasure. He had just gone to meet a friend, and when he couldn’t find him, he returned home like any other person. When Hazrat Aitban ibn Malik RAA learnt later that the Holy Prophet ﷺ had come to meet him and had not been able to find him, he rushed to meet him and expressed his feelings of being honoured that the Holy Prophet ﷺ had come to meet him.

Even though the Holy Prophet’s (ﷺ) every Sunnah is lovable, but there is one particular Sunnah which has been reported in Tirmidhi Sharif which seems to be the most difficult to follow, even though it was his usual habit.
It has been narrated that when someone was talking to the Holy Prophet ﷺ, he never turned his face away from that person until he turned away first, and never cut him off while he was still talking.
When a person has hundreds of demands on his time, someone is asking him a religious question, someone is describing his difficulties, someone is making another demand, only then it is possible to appreciate how difficult it is to follow this Sunnah in one’s daily life.
Then there are some people who, once they start talking, never stop. While listening to such people, not moving away until that person finishes is a very difficult task. But the Holy Prophet ﷺ who lived only for 23 more years after he was granted Prophethood, had to perform Jihad, had to perform Tableegh (preaching), how to teach his Sahabah about Deen, who was sent for betterment of the whole world, even despite all of these demands on his time, if an old woman stopped him on the way, he did not turn his away from her until he had satisfied her fully.

A person can develop this habit only if they love people primarily because they are Allah Ta’ala’s creations. Hazrat Dr Abdul Hai (may Allah bless him) used to say that even if a person wants to love Allah Ta’ala, how can they truly love Allah Ta’ala? They have never seen Allah Ta’ala, they cannot truly comprehend Allah Ta’ala, nor can they truly imagine Him. Allah Ta’ala says, if you really love Me, then love My creations and treat them well. Only then you will get a glimpse of Allah Ta’ala’s love. This is not a small matter.

Hazrat Abdullah ibn Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) was one of the famous companions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. He was one of those Sahabah who was well known for how much Ibadah (acts of worship) he performed. He has also narrated a number of Ahadith from the Holy Prophet ﷺ. One of his special characteristics was that he had also gained knowledge of Torah, Zaboor and Injil.
A Sahabi once asked Hazrat Abdullah ibn Amr bin Al-Aas RAA, “You have read the Torah. Please tell us the attributes of the Holy Prophet ﷺ which are mentioned in the Torah.” Hazrat Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas RAA replied, “I swear by Allah, there are some attributes of the Holy Prophet ﷺ mentioned in the Torah which are also mentioned in the Noble Qur’an.” And then he recited the following verse of the Noble Qur’an;
“O prophet, We have sent you as a witness and as a bearer of good news and a warner,…(33:45)
‘Being sent as a witness’ means that Allah Ta’ala says that on the Day of Qiyamah, the Holy Prophet ﷺ will bear witness that after the message of Tauheed (Oneness of Allah) was delivered to this Ummah (Muslim community), who acted on this message and who didn’t.
‘Bing a bearer of good news’ means that the Holy Prophet ﷺ will give people the good news of going to Jannah (paradise).
‘Being a warner’ means that he will warn people about going to Jahannam (hell).
After reciting this verse of the Noble Qur’an, Hazrat Abdullah bin Amr bin al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him), recited the following verses from the Torah;
“He will come as a deliverer for the illiterate (امی)”. The Arabs of the time were called ‘illiterate’ because they did not have a tradition of reading and writing.
“And you are my subject and my Messenger”.
Further on, Allah Ta’ala has described the characteristics of that Prophet;
“Neither will he speak harshly, nor will he have a harsh temperament.”
“And he won’t be one to make noise in the Bazar.”
“And he won’t respond to bad behaviour with bad behaviour.”
“Rather, he will be forgiving and will let go of things.”
“And God will not recall him to Himself until he straightens this misguided nation in that they say ‘There is no God but Allah’.”
“and through this kalimah of Tauheed (oneness of Allah) He will open their blind eyes, and will open their deaf ears, and those hearts which are covered in wraps will open through this kalimah.”
These attributes are still present in Torah with almost these same words.

The reason Imam Bukhari (may Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) has quoted this Hadith here is to highlight which attributes of the Holy Prophet ﷺ were prophesied in previous Holy books and thus are his most important attributes.
These attributes are that he is not sharp-tongued, he is not short-tempered, and if someone does anything bad to him, he does not respond with bad behaviour.
This is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Even though Allah Ta’ala has permitted in Shariah that if someone has caused you harm in some way, then you are permitted to cause them equal harm. For example, if someone has slapped you, then you can slap them back as hard as they slapped you, but no harder. However, it is one thing having permission to do something under Shariah, it is entirely another being the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. He never took revenge from anyone for his own person.

This is a great Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Today we have limited following Sunnah to our external appearance, for example, we should keep a beard, and bring our external appearance in line with that of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. These are all great Sunnah, and the person who denies their importance does not know what following Sunnah actually means. But truly following Sunnah is not limited to external appearance only. The way the Holy Prophet ﷺ conducted his relationships, interactions with people, and Ma’amlat (financial transactions), also forms a very important part of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Just like we attach importance to following the Sunnah mentioned above, we should pay even greater attention to following this Sunnah that we do not cause harm in revenge to the person who has harmed us in some way. Rather we should do good to the person who has harmed us.
We should reflect on how much we are following this Sunnah today. How much we feel like taking revenge from someone if they have hurt us or harmed us in some way? How many efforts do we make to hurt them back, if only verbally? If we reflect upon it, we will realize that today one of the major causes of disharmony and discord in our society is that we have stopped following this Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Our attitude today is that if this person has hurt me, I will hurt him. If he has abused me, I will abuse him. If he gave me a gift on my marriage, I will give him a gift of exactly the same amount. If he hadn’t given me a gift on my marriage, I won’t give him a gift on his marriage. It means all our relationships today are based on reciprocating what someone else has done to us. On the other hand, the Holy Prophet ﷺ said,
“Silah Rehmi (fulfilling rights of one’s relatives) is not that one gives back what one receives. Silah Rehmi is that even if the other person cuts off relationship with him, he still fulfills the other person’s rights.”

One day Dr Abdul Hai (may Allah bless him) was sitting with his spiritual mentees. Suddenly a person came who appeared to be a relative of his, and started abusing him angrily. In a very disrespectful manner, he said every swear word one could think of. Hazrat just kept apologizing and saying sorry to him in reply. Eventually he calmed down.
Afterwards Hazrat Dr sahib RAA said, “someone had misinformed him creating a misunderstanding, and that is why he was being so angry. If I wished I could have answered him back, but I tried to calm him down because he is my relative, and relatives have rights too.” It is easy to break off relationships, but the teaching of the Holy Prophet ﷺ is to maintain relationships. This is an example of how to practice this teaching of the Holy Prophet ﷺ in real life that when someone hurts you or causes you harm, then do not reply by hurting them back. Rather treat them with kindness, love and affection.

Maulana Rafiuddin sahib (may Allah bless him) was the administrator of Darul Uloom Deoband. He was also a great Sufi. He owned a cow. One day when he was bringing his cow, some chore came up in the Darul Uloom. He brought the cow to Darul Uloom, tied it with a tree and went to his office.
A resident of Deoband came and started yelling about whose cow was tied in the courtyard of Darul Uloom. People told him that it was the administrator’s cow. He started yelling that the administrator had made the Darul Uloom his personal cow pen, and that he was misusing Darul Uloom property by doing so. People gathered because of the noise he was making.
When Maulana Rafiuddin RAA heard the commotion, he came out to find out what was happening. People told him that this person was getting angry about why the administrator had tied his cow in the courtyard of Darul Uloom. Maulana Rafiuddin RAA said, “What he is saying is correct. This Darul Uloom belongs to Allah Ta’ala. I should not have tied my cow here. It is my personal cow and the courtyard belongs to Darul Uloom. What I did was wrong. I do Istighfar from Allah Ta’ala and the repentance for this mistake is that I want you to take this cow.” That gentleman took the cow away.
This was such an injustice that a person is being excessively angry with a great Waliullah (friend of Allah) who has spent all his life in the service of Allah’s Deen (religion), and that too in front of so many people. But rather than responding to his harsh words with harsh words, Maulana Rafiuddin RAA not just apologized to him but also gifted the cow to him. This is a demonstration of practicing the Sunnah of “do not respond to bad behaviour with bad behaviour” in real life.

Following Sunnah is not just following those Sunnah which are easy to practice. Rather, we should try to follow every Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. And the more human beings follow this particular Sunnah, the less there will be discord in our society. All the discord in our society is due to us not following the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
It was the practice of the Holy Prophet ﷺ to forgive people and let go of slights. Regardless of whatever bad things anyone said to him, he did not reply in kind. And the people who are Waliullah (friends) follow this same practice. May Allah Ta’ala grant some of us to us too through His blessing. Aameen
We have moved very far away from the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. The purpose of mentioning about all these Sunnah in this sitting is that may be if we keep reflecting on which of his Sunnah we follow and which we don’t, it will give us some motivation to start following his Sunnah more. This is something one has to practice. If one wants to practice this particular Sunnah, i.e. respond to bad behaviour with good behaviour, one has to learn to crush one’s innate impulses, and has to make strenuous effort. But if we truly want to follow the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, then we have to swallow this bitter pill.

In a Hadith the Holy Prophet ﷺ said;
“Allah Ta’ala does not like any sip a person drinks more than the sip of his own anger (meaning suppressing his anger and not expressing it)”
It means that if a person is feeling really angry, is feeling out of control with rage, and there is a risk that he may hurt someone, then Allah Ta’ala greatly likes it if he suppresses his anger at such a time and does not act on it purely for the sake of pleasing Allah Ta’ala.
Allah Ta’ala says in the Noble Qur’an;
“…and those who control anger and forgive people. And Allah loves those who are good in their deeds,” (3:134)
The Noble Qur’an has praised people who control their anger and forgive others. It is correct that Shariah has granted the aggrieved party to take revenge to the extent that they have been hurt. However, one should think about that even if he takes revenge, what will he really get? Suppose someone slapped you once, and you slapped them back. What good did it do to you? However, if you forgive him with the intention that you are doing it to please Allah Ta’ala, then do you know what reward you will get?

Allah Ta’ala tells us in the Noble Qur’an what the reward for those will be who do not take revenge and observe Sabr (patience);
“…Certainly those who observe patience will be given their reward in full without measure.” (39:10)
It means that the reward for those who observe Sabr will be limitless.
It is narrated in a Hadith that if a person is in the habit of forgiving other people, Allah Ta’ala says that when he forgave My people, I am more deserving of forgiving him.

In the days of Hazrat Muawiyah (may Allah be pleased with him), two people fought with each other. During the fight one person’s tooth broke. He took the other person to Hazrat Muawiyah RAA and said, “the Qisas (قصاص) (retributive justice) for a tooth is a tooth, so please get me my Qisas.”
Hazrat Muawiyah RAA replied, “You are correct but your tooth is broken anyway. Even if you break his tooth, you won’t get your broken tooth back. Why don’t you take Diyya (دیت) (monetary compensation) for your tooth and make peace with him?” That person insisted that he wanted the other person’s tooth to be broken. When he didn’t accept to give up his right for Qisas despite Hazrat Muawiyah trying to persuade him again, Hazrat Muawiyah RAA said, “Okay, lets go and break his tooth.”
Hazrat Abu Darda (may Allah be pleased with him), who was an exalted companion of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, was sitting on the way. He said, “You are going for Qisas but let me tell you something. I have heard the Holy Prophet ﷺ say that if a person harms someone, and then the person who was harmed forgives him, then Allah Ta’ala will forgive the forgiver on the day he will need forgiveness most, that is, in the Aakhirah (Hereafter).”
The person was initially so angry that he wasn’t even prepared to take monetary compensation against his injury. But when he heard this he asked, “Did you hear the Holy Prophet ﷺ say this?” Hazrat Abu Darda RAA replied, “Yes I heard him say this with my own ears.” That person said, “if the Holy Prophet ﷺ said this, then I forgive this person without taking any monetary compensation.”

That is the primary difference between us and the Sahabah (Companions of the Holy Prophetﷺ). They listened to the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. We also listen to the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. However, when they listened to the sayings of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, they surrendered all their plans, submitted all their intentions, to his commandments.
On the other hand, we keep reading and listening to the sayings of the Holy Prophet ﷺ whole day, but we do not get motivated to act on them. That is why our lives do not change as a result of reading and listening to the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, while Allah Ta’ala had granted great respect to the Sahabah in this world, and they will also receive an exalted status in the Aakhirah (Hereafter) Insha’Allah (God willing).

It was further said that Allah Ta’ala will not recall the Holy Prophet ﷺ to Himself until he has straightened this misguided nation. The phrase ‘misguided nation’ referred to the idol worshippers of Arabia, who were not just associators, but they also believed that they were better than all other nations. This came true when in 23 years Allah Ta’ala created the rule of “there is no god but Allah’ in the entire Arabian peninsula through the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
It was further said that through this Kalima of Tauheed he will open their unseeing eyes and open their hearts. These words have appeared in Torah about the attributes of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. May Allah Ta’ala grant us the motivation to develop these attributes in ourselves too. Aameen

وآخر دعوا ان الحمد ﷲ رب العالمين