This month, one Muslim woman and her charming smile has become the topic of discussion across the globe. Shaymaa Ismaa'eel, a 24-year old behavioral therapist for children with autism is now an online sensation as a photo of her smiling with her fingers in a peace sign as she squats in front of Islamophobic protesters in Washington DC, USA has become viral.
According to various reports, Ismaa'eel was attending a three-day conference of the Islamic Circle of North America when she walked by a group of people protesting against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Instead of getting angry, the young therapist decided on the third day of her conference that she would combat “their hatred with kindness,” as she explained in a recent CNN article.
Squatting in front of men carrying signs with sentences such as “Islam is a religion of blood & murder” and one even wearing a t-shirt that reads “Women belong in the kitchen, Titus 2:15,” Ismaa’eel flashed a smile while a friend took a photo of her. She then posted the picture on Instagram with a caption that reads: “Kindness is a mark of faith. Those who aren’t kind have no faith.” On her Twitter account, she tweeted that she “smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment,” a post that has garnered over 320,000 likes to date.
On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment. pic.twitter.com/Dbrtk7MDAw— شيماء (@ShaymaaDarling) April 23, 2019
Ismaa’eel’s Instagram post that went viral has received almost 474,000 likes to date. In a follow-up post, she thanked everyone for their support, saying, “It’s amazing to see so many people spreading love and positivity in the presence of bigotry and negativity. I love you all so much! Keep smiling and never let anyone dim your light!”
Speaking to The Guardian, Ismaa’eel explained why she chose to do what she did, saying, "I wanted them to see the smile on my face, and see how happy I was to be me and walk around being a Muslim woman.”