Imagine this: you just got off a call with your friend or relative who said they’ll pass by your home to drop a few stuff off. Because it will save you the time and effort of arranging to meet them somewhere, this is convenient for you but for one thing. Your place is in a state that even you are barely tolerating! Panic hits and you run around trying to make your home presentable just in case your friend accepts your “invitation” to come it, yikes!
Nowadays and because the kind of lives we lead, most visits are arranged in advance. So as a host you’d have ample time to prepare your home and yourself to receive your guest.
In Islam, honouring one’s guest is highly recommended and rewardable as an act of good deed. It is even mentioned as a sign of a Muslim’s faith: Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said: (Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should be hospitable with his or her guests) Reported by Bukhari and Muslim
Honouring our guests and being hospitable to them are signs of our faith and an illustration of good character that follows the teachings of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).
Here are 9 To Dos that can help with achieving this hospitality:
It begins in the heart
What is your intention of receiving this guest and allowing them into your home? The Companion Omar Ibn AlKhattab related that he heard the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) say: (Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended). Reported by Bukhari and Muslim
Seek to attain the best of this interaction by intending to please Allah through your action to honour ties of kinship (your guest maybe a relative), to be kind, to help and support and to gain the love of Allah… Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said that Allah (swt) said: My love is established for those who love one another for My sake; and My love is established for those who spend money for My sake; and My love is established for those who visit one another for My sake. (In fact) those who love one another for the sake of Allah will be at pulpits of light in the shade of Allah’s Throne on a day when there is no shade but His shade. Reported in Musnad Ahmad.
Smile and be welcoming
Let you face and attitude be a reflection of your joy and welcoming of your guest.
When Al-Awzai, a scholar of jurisprudence (d. 774CE), was asked about honouring the guest, he said: it is a cheerful face and good speech.
Offer the best of what you have/can afford
Sometimes one of the reasons people do not like visitors is because they feel they have to go above and beyond what they can afford to be considered honouring their guest.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had told his companions to not overburden themselves for the guest and serve what is available to them. Reported by At-Tabarani and Al-Hakem
Remember that whatever you can offer will be blessed by Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that Baraka (blessing) comes with the guest and that his feeding will not decrease from that of his host. He (peace be upon him) said: (the food of two people will suffice three and the food of three will suffice four). Reported By Bukhari and Muslim.
Remember Allah during your interactions
That does not only help you in increasing your faith but also helps you in refraining from acts of disobedience like gossiping and backbiting. Could you remember Allah the all-forgiving and then talk about how much you hate so and so because they ignored you at the supermarket? Or could you remember that Allah is the all-generous and ignore the needs expressed by your guest or a request to help others in need?
Otherwise you are at risk of this: the companion Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘People who get up from an assembly in which they did not remember Allah will be just as if they had got up from a donkey’s carcass, and it will be a cause of grief to them.” Reported in Sunan Abi Dawood
5. Offer your guest food
If your invite is not for a meal, it is possible that your guest was out and about before getting to your place and had not had a chance to eat. It would be nice to offer them something to eat, wouldn’t it?! The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: (O people, spread salam, give food and pray when the people are sleeping; you will enter Paradise in peace and safety). Reported by Tirmithi
Other things that would better our hosting experience for the sake of Allah
It is OK if your invite is not accepted
Accept your guest reasons if unable to accept your invitation. It is wonderful that you would like to host your friend, relative, neighbour etc. At the same time, it is possible that the time does not suit them and thus they decline your invite. In reality, they do not need to give you a reason but hopefully they’d apologise in good time for being unable to accept your invite. Do not take it to heart and stay on good terms with them.
Ask if they have any dietary requirements or intolerance
It really does not matter if your guest shares your racial or cultural background. They may have dietary requirements that you did not notice when together on other occasions. You asking beforehand would be appreciated even if they do not have any preferences.
Be considerate of your guests needs
This follows on from the point above. We set up our homes to suit our needs and that is not a surprise. What could be a surprise is that other people may not feel comfortable in our home because their needs are different. Does your guest have young children? Think about removing ornaments and fragile items that the child could easily reach. Does your guest use a wheelchair? Think about their access to your home and use of the toilet, for example. Is your guest an elderly person? How about hosting them on the ground floor rather than the upstairs living room?
Walk your guest out with the same smile and cheerful face you welcomed them into your home with
10. What’s your 10th To Do?