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Assalam u Alaikum

I am a sister living in the West, recently I started taking the Hijab in all its forms (as it is known), including not just the head covering but also the mannerisms (e.g lowering of gaze, etc.)

Sometimes while walking on the streets alone (with my baby) I find men casually smiling at me, the reasons can be diverse, maybe because they find the baby too cute.

In such circumstances, is it OK for me to smile back at them?

Better yet, how should I react in such circumstances to Please Allah (SWT) and not act rude, mean or snobbish at the same time?

Because sometimes people get offended when I lower my gaze as they smile at me and I don't smile back.

  • Sister a simple answer is don't worry about people getting offended. Its mention in Quran to lower your gaze hence we should. You make your Lord happy and He SWT will put respect and love for you in hearts of people more deserving. The second thing is (and you may double check this) that a woman should be accompanied by a mehram and should not be outside the house by herself (in shari'ah) - i dont have access to authentic ref but you may confirm this. This is from top of my head only. Allah knows best. – abumusamq Jul 10 '14 at 21:19
  • If you don't look at random stranger men in the eye, then you won't see their smile, so you won't have to worry about whether to smile back or not. However, if someone says any kind of "selam" (greeting) loud enough that we can hear while passing by, then we must respond back in the same way or in a better way (Quran 4:86). I don't know whether a smile can be considered as a "selam" (greeting) or not because if you don't look at the person, then you won't see it, hence, there is no responsibility to do something about something you did not see (or hear). – Envayo Aug 3 '18 at 17:03
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It is your thoughts and intentions that pleases Allah. Your actions are just a result of your thoughts. If in your mind or heart you have nothing to do with the men that smile at you, you can always give it back. It is one good deed in the name of humanity.

Islam is a religion of peace.

On the contrary, if you are observing Hijab, your smile wouldn't be seen by anyone.

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    Well , I am not taking a veil yet , so the smile can still be seen :) ..Thanks anyways (May Allah give me enough strength to observe a veil) – Taz Jan 30 '14 at 0:35
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    Thanks sister. You can always take a second opinion. Strange but I find it true, that If you are born and brought up as a Muslim, your inner gut feeling will always follow whats written in the Quran. Then on top of it what we do is completely depends on us and under our control. – aMazing Jan 30 '14 at 1:21
  • Sister, while I don't have an answer I'd like to mention to the extent of my knowledge, the veil is not compulsory. – Pureferret Feb 1 '14 at 21:06
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Assalam o alaikum,

I slightly disagree with brother aMazing where he says it's all your intention and since your intention is correct it's all good to smile back.

Even though your intention is correct, you do not know their intention, and let's say for the sake of argument that their intention is also correct, even then shaytaan (laa'natullah) travels through son of Adam like his blood as stated in authentic hadith (Sahih Bukhari Vol 3 Book 33 Number 251).

If I had to agree with this brother, it wouldn't be obligatory to wear hijaab since your intention is clean. But since you are not aware of other's intention, you should seek refuge in Allah from shaytaan (alyhi la'na') as soon as something like this happens and keep your gaze lowered.

And Allah knows best.

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    Thats a nice opinion, however the intentions of a person dont matter in the case of hijab as women wear hijab because it is mentioned in the Quran, as well as because it was the way the wife and sisters of our beloved Prophet (SWT) used to dress. So we have to follow that. And in case of this sister's question it was the smile, and definitely there is no-where in the books that says dont smile at strangers, which is why the intention matters. Allah Hafiz. – aMazing Feb 18 '14 at 21:01
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    Agreed :) it just depends on point of view, intention of Umar (RA) was clean too but he suggested to our beloved prophet and verses were revealed from heaven (see tafseer of surah nur verse 31) :) Jazak Allah khair – abumusamq Feb 18 '14 at 21:06
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'Men smile at me.' Unless you are living in planet Mars you would be aware that simple basic interaction beween humans involves a smile. On planet Earth a basic form of acknowledging another human without having to say a word is a smile.

When you walk the 'streets' you may notice the odd human male and female glance and smile as a sign of non-hostility and kind gesture. The 'natural' response of the recipient human is to return the gesture with a simple smile.

Humour aside please keep things on normal range and perspective and use your God given common sense to judge how to respond. Smiling to a stranger and saying hello good morning or making small talk about the weather or about their dog (since your child responds to it) is a mark of respect and basic common small talk. Usually a walk in the park is the only place different cultures come together. Often a smile is the best gesture of kindness and non-hostility as cultural norms and languages are so different.

So my advise: smile back returning the gesture and walk on... Saying that if you don't feel the need to smile then keep a natural smile while averting your gaze, or assuming to busy with your child or whatever without offending anyone or seeming over- zeleous if that is your worry.

I'm not sure what thought process your question stems from but if your looking for a religious injunction on day to day matters pertaining to women and their social role/hijab etc then it is a very contentious area. Rulings on these things are based upon traditions , customs and cultures. O suggest you use basic common sense without offending anyone or compromising your own principles.

Seek purification of the heart (I recommend Sheikh Hamza Yusuf book on this) and seek to focus on your inward reality.

Have a good opinion of people in general. This is a islamic principle of character known has 'husnuz zann'. It means thinking well of people. So if you can't tell why somoeone is smiling at you - you should think it's out of curtesy and kindness between strangers not anything sinister. If you walk out thinking every man is attracted to you and has malice in his heart your heading down a slippery slope that is neither beneficial to your spiritual growth or to those around you- as it harbours vanity, self-righteousness and misjudgement of others which you will then project negatively onto others. It can also create a state of delusion in your head where all you see around you is 'fitna fitna...haram,haram' all men are 'bad'- all women in non-hijab are bad, hijabis are good etc.... and you start polarising everything onto black and white, good and bad and becoming highly judgemental of others and over occupied with the outwardly appearance.

  • smiling to stranger is not normal in russia, and i think such smiling is not natural thing, but cultural thing. monkeys and other animals also do not smile, this makes a little support to this, that it is not natural. – qdinar Aug 4 '18 at 18:03

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