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Being An Ideal Guest: How?

Question and answer details
Ihsan
Being An Ideal Guest: How?
2002-08-11
A friend of mine asked me what does Islam say on the protocol of hospitality as well as the rules that guide Muslims when visiting people. I think I got his point. Actually, he is referring to non-Islamic attitude of people nowadays when visiting each other. They have turned their visits into a nuisance.
Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All thanks and praise are due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner! Thank you very much for your interest in Islam and you good question. May Allah help you find guidance! Amen!

Whether it's your uncle in the Middle East, your aunt in the Midwest, your friend in Malaysia, or your nephew in Pakistan, invitations from relatives to visit for most Muslims are not scarce. And why not? Welcoming guests is a part of our way of life as Muslims. But being a good guest is the other side of this coin.

Being the religion of morality and lofty manners, Islam teaches its followers to be good guests and also good hosts. These manners aim at preventing any inconvenience or shame that may happen if the person does not abide by the morals of Islam.

Below are some tips to keep your hosts happy and your visit virtually problem-free.

1- Don’t Overstay:

Khalid ibn `Amr relates that he heard the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, saying: “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should honor his guest as he deserves.” He was asked: ‘And what does he deserve, O Messenger of Allah?' He answered: “A day and a night of what he deserves, and hospitality for three days. More than this is charity.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari & Muslim).

The above-mentioned Hadith indicates that guests are to be welcomed. But this openness and generosity should not be abused to the point of becoming a burden on the hosts. This factor should be taken into consideration for those of us who come from families back home who may not be well off financially. We should act wisely and judge for ourselves how long is too long for our hosts.

2-Give Gifts:

`Aisha quotes the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as saying: “Exchange presents with one another, for they purge hearts of ill feelings.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi).

What better way to bridge the gap between relatives hundreds or thousands of miles away than to give a gift? In particular, encourage kids to give gifts to relatives of the same age and gender. This may be the springboard to developing a deep, meaningful friendship, not just a blood relationship. But these gifts should not become an excuse for extravagance or showing off, both of which are condemned by Islam.

3-Receive Gifts Graciously:

Giving gifts is only one part of the equation. Receiving gifts is the other. Adults and young people coming from everywhere may have become used to the idea of exchanging surplus gifts or detested ones.

This is not acceptable when visiting friends and relatives, especially those in a Muslim country or from one. Such behavior could be considered obnoxious and ungrateful.

Accept all gifts graciously. Even if it's the 100th leather wallet you've received, don't make a fuss about it.

4-Respect Your Elders:

Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari quotes the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as saying: “It is part of glorifying Allah to show respect to a gray-haired Muslim, and to a person who can teach the Qur’an.” (Reported by Abu Dawud).

Respecting your elders is a requirement of Islam. Certain behaviors need to be avoided in this regard: speaking with disrespect, even if you disagree with an older person; stretching your legs or putting your feet up on the table in front of everyone present when there are elders there, for example.

5- Know the Local Customs:

If you're no longer hungry after a fantastic meal at your aunt's and she asks you to take more dessert, your answer may be no, but that may mean yes. For every one of your no's, your host may spoon more dessert into your bowl.

Find appropriate ways to respond to this, whether by using a truthful excuse (i.e. I really will get very, very sick if I eat any more), or even better, tell her the Hadith about eating in a way that you have one-third water, one-third food and one-third air in your stomach.

The ideal guest will be polite, discreet, grateful and respectful. He or she will also make sure not to hurt the host's feelings or be hostile.

6- Know the Customs of the House:

This means for example, sleeping and waking up earlier than normal if your host family is used to getting up and going to bed early. Maintaining the same schedule as you normally do at home in this case, may disrupt your host's home life and cause problems.

Respect the Family's Islamic Decorum:

If you try your best to practice Islam, but this is not the case with your host and their family, your visit may be a great way to increase their Islamic awareness. It's important, however, to respect their privacy and not to humiliate them. That means not hitting them over the head with incessant lectures about how this and that are Haram (forbidden) in their home or how they are not practicing.

So if you wake up for Fajr (Dawn Prayer), and not all members of the host family do, make ablution and pray without disturbing others. Perhaps later in the day, you can talk about how much you enjoyed going to pray Fajr at the local mosque, or the peace and tranquility you felt praying in the silence before sunrise.”

Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.soundvision.com

Almighty Allah knows best.

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