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.