Wednesday 10 July 2024

Hospitality in Islam is a highly valued virtue

In Islam, treating guests with honor, kindness, and generosity is highly emphasized. The Quran and Hadith provide clear guidance on the importance and etiquette of hospitality. In fact, hospitality in Islam is a highly valued virtue, deeply rooted in the teachings of the Quran and the Hadith. It involves treating guests with kindness, generosity, and respect, providing for their needs, and making them feel welcome. The example of Prophet Ibrahim and the guidelines provided by the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) serve as a model for Muslims to follow, emphasizing the importance of honoring guests and fostering a spirit of generosity and community.

The Quran recounts the story of Prophet Ibrahim and his exemplary hospitality towards his guests, as mentioned in Surah Adh-Dhariyat (51:24-27):

"Has the story reached you, of the honored guests of Ibrahim? When they entered upon him and said, '[We greet you with] peace.' He answered, '[And upon you] peace, [you are] a people unknown. Then he went to his family and came with a fat [roasted] calf and placed it near them; he said, 'Will you not eat?'"

Let us see how welcoming guests and entertaining them to the best of one's means brings virtues and blessings to the hosts in the light of Qur'an and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)

Encouraging Generosity:
  • The Quran encourages believers to be generous and kind to others, including guests.
  • Surah Al-Insan (76:8-9): "And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [saying], 'We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.'"
Hadith Teachings on Hospitality
  • Importance of Hospitality: The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) emphasized the significance of treating guests well.
    • Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously; and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should unite the bond of kinship (i.e., keep good relation with his Kith and kin); and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should talk what is good or keep quiet." (Sahih al-Bukhari 6136)
  • Three-Day Hospitality:
    • The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) set guidelines for the duration of hospitality.
    • Narrated Abu Shuraih Al-Khuza'i: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him honor his guest with what he deserves." They asked, "What does he deserve, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)?" He said, "A day and a night of what he deserves and hospitality for three days. Whatever is offered beyond that is charity." (Sahih al-Bukhari 6135)
  • Welcoming Guests:
    • The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) encouraged making guests feel welcome and comfortable.
    • Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "A guest is entertained with what he has." (Sahih al-Bukhari 6137)
Etiquette of Hospitality in Islam
  • Generosity and Provision: Guests should be treated with generosity, offering them the best of what one has. Providing good food and comfortable accommodation is a way to honor guests.
  • Respect and Kindness: Treating guests with respect and kindness, making them feel valued and appreciated, is essential. Engaging in pleasant conversation and ensuring their needs are met is part of good hospitality.
  • Patience and Tolerance:
    • Hosts are encouraged to be patient and tolerant, even if the guest's stay is extended or if they face any inconvenience.
    • The focus should be on serving and helping others for the sake of Allah.
  • Moderation:
    • While generosity is encouraged, hosts should also practice moderation, ensuring they do not burden themselves or their families excessively.
    • The balance between generosity and moderation is important in maintaining harmony and sustainability.
Indeed, the hospitality of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ knew no boundaries. His house was often full of people, who were always treated generously. The Prophet did not discriminate between those who came to his house for hospitality. He would even serve them personally.

Let us share an oft shared anecdote about a woman who complained to the revered Prophet about her husband bringing in too many guests. The anecdote will highlight the virtues that guest bring in and take away the vices of the house when leaving:

A woman came to The Prophet ﷺ and complained to him about her husband that he invites too many guests and she has become weary from preparing food for them and hosting them. The Prophet ‎ ﷺ did not answer and the woman left.
Sometime later The Prophet ‎ ﷺ called the woman’s husband and said, "I am your guest today." The man was so happy he went home and told his wife "The Prophet of Allāh ‎ﷺ is our guest today."
His wife was ecstatic and spent time and effort and used every bit of food to prepare for the arrival of the Most Honored Guest, The Prophet ‎ﷺ. After the amazing joy of hosting The Prophet ‎ ﷺ generously, The Prophet ‎ﷺ told the man, "Tell your wife to watch the door from which I leave your home."
So the wife watched the door from which The Prophet ‎ﷺ left her home and saw all kinds of creatures, scorpions and other harmful creatures leaving the house behind The Prophet ‎ ﷺ, upon which she fainted due to the immense manifestation and greatness of what she had witnessed.
Later when she came to Prophet ‎ ﷺ, he said to her, "This is what happens when the guest leaves your home, with him all kinds of harm, trials and tribulations and harmful creatures depart from your home, and that is the wisdom behind being generous to one’s guest and becoming weary doing so." 

So let us not be unhappy upon news of guests visiting us. In fact they are God sent to bring on many virtues and blessings and while leaving cleanse any Satanic traces with them to rid the house of any evil.  So be happy and treat your guests well from the heart and not as a burden or drain on your means for Allah will bless you more if you wholeheartedly welcome guests and treat them well.

May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 

وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

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