Guest post by Madiha Akhtar
Once my husband said, “Whenever you find yourself in a conservation, try to take something beneficial from it, something that can help you”. I know it sounds philosophical but the application that I saw him practice is what makes this a golden rule to live by. Let me explain further with examples.
I went to visit my grandparents and my husband accompanied me. After asking the usual questions of “how are you and kids, health, job” etc., my grandfather started to talk about his travel experiences. Right after that my husband asked him, “What do you think was their greatest strength and weakness?”. I looked at his face and then at my grandfather’s and was totally indulged in the way my grandfather explained what he found key to their success. A whole new paradigm of discussion opened up which was both interesting and beneficial.
So here is how he does it. In every gathering he asks questions which are related to the topic as well as the knowledge of the audience. This is the ultimate trick to learn from others’ years of experience. Let me share with you some more examples.
In a gathering of moms you can ask the question, “What is the single most important thing that one can give to their children?” or to a grandmother, “What is the one thing you never compromised on when it came to your children?”.
When accompanied by someone who loves cooking , “What is the simplest yet nutritious dish you make?”. In a group of friends, “How do you handle the situation when your husband is angry but you don’t know the cause?”.
So my dear friends, this is the key to learning. Now I enjoy having conversations and even making small talk with strangers when waiting in a queue or reception as I have found a way to tap others’ wisdom. Lastly, I will add just one more thing that most of the sins related to tongue are because of excessive talking and sometimes to avoid an awkward silence in the drawing room, we end up talking uselessly. SO THINK AHEAD!
Ahadith 2692 – 2696 (below) are repeats. See linked text for related posts.
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 295 :
Narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (radiallaahu `anhu)
A man came to the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! I have enlisted in the army for such-and-such Ghazwa, and my wife is leaving for Hajj.” Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said, “Go back and perform Hajj with your wife.”
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 296 :
Narrated by Az-Zuhri (radiallaahu `anhu)
As follows in Hadith 297.
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 297 :
Narrated by Abu Huraira (radiallaahu `anhu)
We were in the company of Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) in a Ghazwa, and he remarked about a man who claimed to be a Muslim, saying, “This (man) is from the people of the (Hell) Fire.” When the battle started, the man fought violently till he got wounded. Somebody said, “O Allah’s Apostle! The man whom you described as being from the people of the (Hell) Fire fought violently today and died.” The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said, “He will go to the (Hell) Fire.” Some people were on the point of doubting (the truth of what the Prophet had said) while they were in this state, suddenly someone said that he was still alive but severely wounded. When night fell, he lost patience and committed suicide. The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) was informed of that, and he said, “Allah is Greater! I testify that I am Allah’s Slave and His Apostle.” Then he ordered Bilal (radiallaahu `anhu) to announce amongst the people: ‘None will enter Paradise but a Muslim, and Allah may support this religion (i.e. Islam) even with a disobedient man.’
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 298 :
Narrated by Anas bin Malik (radiallaahu `anhu)
Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) delivered a sermon and said, “Zaid received the flag and was martyred, then Ja’far took it and was martyred, then ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha took it and was martyred, and then Khalid bin Al-Walid took it without being appointed, and Allah gave him victory.” The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) added, “I am not pleased (or they will not be pleased) that they should remain (alive) with us,” while his eyes were shedding tears.
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 299 :
Narrated by Anas (radiallaahu `anhu)
The people of the tribes of Ril, Dhakwan, ‘Usiya and Bani Lihyan came to the Prophet and claimed that they had embraced Islam, and they requested him to support them with some men to fight their own people. The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) supported them with seventy men from the Ansar whom we used to call Al-Qurra'(i.e. Scholars) who (out of piety) used to cut wood during the day and pray all the night. So, those people took the (seventy) men till they reached a place called Bi’r-Ma’ana where they betrayed and martyred them. So, the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) invoked evil on the tribe of Ril, Dhakwan and Bani Lihyan for one month in the prayer.
Narrated Qatada: Anas (radiallaahu `anhu) told us that they (i.e. Muslims) used to recite a Quranic Verse concerning those martyrs which was:– “O Allah! Let our people be informed on our behalf that we have met our Lord Who has got pleased with us and made us pleased.” Then the Verse was cancelled.
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 300 :
Narrated by Abu Talha (radiallaahu `anhu)
Whenever the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) conquered some people, he would stay in their town for three days.
As per the rights of the guest, three days of hospitality is the minimum, hence the habit of Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam). And this gave enough time to let the fighters and their animals recuperate from battle and prepare for the journey home.
Ahadith 2136 and 2137 (below) are repeats. Related posts have been linked.
Volume 3, Book 43, Number 639:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr (radiallaahu `anhu):
The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever has (the following) four characters will be a hypocrite, and whoever has one of the following four characteristics will have one characteristic of hypocrisy until he gives it up. These are: (1 ) Whenever he talks, he tells a lie; (2) whenever he makes a promise, he breaks it; (3) whenever he makes a covenant he proves treacherous; (4) and whenever he quarrels, he behaves impudently in an evil insulting manner.”
Volume 3, Book 43, Number 640:
Narrated Aisha (radiallaahu `anhaa):
Hind bint ‘Utba (Abu Sufyan’s wife) came and said, “O Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam)! Abu Sufyan is a miser. Is there any harm if I spend something from his property for our children?” He said, there is no harm for you if you feed them from it justly and reasonably (with no extravagance).”
Volume 3, Book 43, Number 641:
Narrated ‘Uqba bin ‘Amir (radiallaahu `anhu):
We said to the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam), “You send us out and it happens that we have to stay with such people that do not entertain us. What do you think about it? He said to us, “If you stay with some people and they entertain you as they should for a guest, accept their hospitality, but if they don’t, take the right of the guest from them.”
And what is the right of guest? Three days of hospitality tops.. Read on.
“Etiquette guide for being the ideal guest”
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, Alhamdu lillah.
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. Below are some tips to keep your hosts happy and your visit virtually problem-free.
Tip #1: Don’t overstay
Khalid ibn Amr relates that he heard the Messenger of God, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) saying: He who believes in God and the Last Day should honor his guest as he deserves.
He was asked: ‘And what does he deserve, O Messenger of God?’ and he answered:
‘A day and a night of what he deserves, and hospitality for three days. More than this is charity.’ (Bukhari, Muslim).
As the above-mentioned Hadith indicates, guests are to be welcomed. But this openness and generosity should not be abused so as to be 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.
Tip #2: Give gifts
It is narrated by Aisha that the Messenger of God said: ‘Exchange presents with one another, for they remove ill feelings from the hearts.’ (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.
Tip #3: Receive gifts graciously
Giving gifts is only one part of the equation. Receiving gifts is the other. Adults and young people coming from North America may have become used to the idea of exchanging gifts they may have too many of or may not like.
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.
Tip #4: Respect your elders
Abu Musa Ashari related that the Messenger of God said: ‘It is part of glorifying God to show respect to a grey-haired Muslim, and to a person who can teach the Quran.’ (Abu Dawud).
Respecting your elders is a requirement of Islam, whether you’re in North America or in the Muslim world. 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.
Tip #5: Know the local customs
For example: no does not always mean no amongst some relatives and friends in Muslim countries. In other words, 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 translate as yes. For every one of your no’s, she may spoon more dessert into your bowl.
Find appropriate ways to respond to this, whether it’s 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.
Tip #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.
Tip #7: Respect the family’s Islamicity
If you try your best to practice Islam, Alhamdu lillah. But this may not be the case with your host and their family. While your visit may be a great way to increase their Islamic awareness, it’s important 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, and not all members of the host family do, make Wudu 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.
That said though, this does not mean you give up Islamic duties to please guests. Prayer, wearing appropriate Islamic attire in front of the opposite sex, for instance, must be maintained, regardless of the level of Islamicity of the host family.
Taken from SoundVision
Volume 3, Book 34, Number 295:
Narrated Abu Mas’ud (radiallaahu `anhu):
An Ansari man, called Abu Shu’aib (radiallaahu `anhu), came and told his butcher slave, “Prepare meals sufficient for five persons, for I want to invite the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) along with four other persons as I saw signs of hunger on his face.” Abu Shu’aib (radiallaahu `anhu) invited them and another person came along with them. The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said (to Abu Shu’aib), This man followed us, so if you allow him, he will join us, and if you want him to return, he will go back.” Abu Shu’aib (radiallaahu `anhu) said, “No, I have allowed him (i.e. he, too, is welcomed to the meal).”
- It is allowed when inviting people to specify a number and there is no harm or awkwardness in doing so. We find this today on many wedding invitations, where the host writes down the number of guests invited as ‘admit’. There are those that say if we specify a number on the invitation then we are stingy. However, it might just be that the host is poor and needs to specify a number so that he does not burden himself with more than what he can afford to offer for the occasion.
- It is also allowed for a person to follow a person or a group of people who are invited, for the reason of attaining food. This is evident in the Hadith as the Holy Prophet (Peace Be upon Him) did not stop the sixth person from following him, but the final decision still rests with the host on whether or not the follower is allowed to join in the meal.
- In this Hadith there is evidence to show that if someone comes with you that were not invited; you should obtain permission for that person to join, especially if you are not sure if the host invited you for a specific reason that only concerns the two of you.
- There is also proof from this Hadith that there is no harm or awkwardness from the side of the host if he does not give permission for the follower to join them. The reason is because if there was any harm in doing so, the Holy Prophet (Peace Be upon Him) would not have asked permission from the host for the sixth person to join them. This serves as proof that the host has a choice to either permit him to join or send him away.
- There should also be no discomfort if you asked someone permission to visit him or her and that person refused by saying: “Please return home as I am busy at the moment”. The host has the choice either to permit you to enter or to ask you to leave.
Unlike some people, if they seek permission to visit and the person says: “Please return home as I am busy at the moment” they feel upset and uncomfortable. One should try not to have such type of ill feelings. We must remember that people have duties and responsibilities in there homes. It might be that they have other matters to see too. One should rather condition oneself to leave with all ease and comfort as this is more pure for us as Allah Almighty says: “And if it is said to you, “Go back”, then go back; it is purer for you.” [Quran 24:28]
Taken from Fiqhul Hadith.
Narrated Mahmud bin Ar-rabi’ Al-Ansari,
that he remembered Allah’s Apostle and he also remembered a mouthful of water which he had thrown on his face, after taking it from a well that was in their house. Mahmud said that he had heard Itban bin Malik, who was present with Allah’s Apostle in the battle of Badr saying, “I used to lead my people at Bani Salim in the prayer and there was a valley between me and those people. Whenever it rained it used to be difficult for me to cross it to go to their mosque. So I went to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘I have weak eye-sight and the valley between me and my people flows during the rainy season and it becomes difficult for me to cross it; I wish you would come to my house and pray at a place so that I could take that place as a praying place.’ Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I will do so.’ So Allah’s Apostle and Abu Bakr came to my house in the (next) morning after the sun had risen high. Allah’s Apostle asked my permission to let him in and I admitted him. He did not sit before saying, ‘Where do you want us to offer the prayer in your house?’ I pointed to the place where I wanted him to pray. So Allah’s Apostle stood up for the prayer and started the prayer with Takbir and we aligned in rows behind him; and he offered two Rakat, and finished them with Taslim, and we also performed Taslim with him. I detained him for a meal called “Khazir” which I had prepared for him.–(“Khazir” is a special type of dish prepared from barley flour and meat soup)–
When the neighbors got the news that Allah’s Apostle was in my house, they poured it till there were a great number of men in the house. One of them said, ‘What is wrong with Malik, for I do not see him?’ One of them replied, ‘He is a hypocrite and does not love Allah and His Apostle.’ On that Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Don’t say this. Haven’t you seen that he said, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah for Allah’s sake only.’ The man replied, ‘Allah and His Apostle know better; but by Allah, we never saw him but helping and talking with the hypocrites.’ Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘No doubt, whoever says “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah”, and by that he wants the pleasure of Allah, then Allah will save him from Hell.” Mahmud added, “I told the above narration to some people, one of whom was Abu Aiyub, the companion of Allah’s Apostle in the battle in which he (Abu Aiyub) died and Yazid bin Mu’awiya was their leader in Roman Territory. Abu Aiyub denounced the narration and said, ‘I doubt that Allah’s Apostle ever said what you have said.’ I felt that too much, and I vowed to Allah that if I remained alive in that holy battle, I would (go to Medina and) ask Itban bin Malik if he was still living in the mosque of his people. So when he returned, I assumed Ihram for Hajj or ‘Umra and then I proceeded on till I reached Medina. I went to Bani Salim and Itban bin Malik, who was by then an old blind man, was leading his people in the prayer. When he finished the prayer, I greeted him and introduced myself to him and then asked him about that narration. He told that narration again in the same manner as he had narrated it the first time.”
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar,
Allah’s Apostle said, “Offer some of your prayers in your houses and do not make them graves.”
- One may pray at home if the weather conditions are severe (for men).
- Treat your guests well. Food is good hospitality. (y)
- When someone invites you over for a purpose, stick to that purpose.
- NEVER judge someone and/or his Imaan. You don’t know what’s in their heart.
- Whoever says la ilaha illa-llah and seeks Allah’s pleasure, Allah will admit him into Paradise inshaAllah. Prophet (SAW)’s words, not mine.
- Pray at your homes some of your prayers. Don’t let them become graves.
Graves symbolize death. Meaning, your house is dead unless Allah is remembered in it. Bring it to life with Allah’s name!