By Tooba Asim
“Oh no! Not again,” I sighed, as I glanced at the clock and went ahead to check the main door. Sure enough, it was my next door neighbour. It was three in the afternoon, and no one else was brave enough to venture out of their homes in this sweltering heat. She was always an exception. Today was different, as my mother was visiting us as well. “Why the sigh? She’s your guest, and guests are a blessing from Allah (swt),” was my mom’s immediate response to my behaviour.
Guests indeed are among Allah’s (swt) blessings, but we can see from the Prophet’s (sa) example that there is a certain etiquette of visitation, which one must follow in order to fulfill the Sunnah. In our society, there are plenty of people like my neighbour, who make their hosts wary of guests instead of welcoming them.
The Prophet (sa) said: “A man visited a brother in another town. Allah (swt) sent an angel to lie in wait for him along his way. When he came upon the angel, he asked him: ‘Where are you going?’ He answered: ‘I am going to visit a brother of mine in this town?’ The angel asked further: ‘Is there any favour that you want to get from him?’ The man said: ‘No, it is only that I love him for Allah’s (swt) sake.’ The angel then said: ‘I am a messenger of Allah to you (to tell you) that Allah (swt) loves you, as you love your brother for His sake.” (Muslim)
The aforementioned Hadeeth makes it clear that visiting somebody for Allah’s (swt) sake alone and not for some personal reason is what Allah (swt) wants from us.
Keeping in mind the importance that Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sa) have placed on visiting, we should certainly take some time out of our busy schedules for our family, neighbours and friends. This, however, should be done keeping in mind some important reminders.
Choose a suitable time…
…and day. Don’t pay a late night visit to someone, who is known to go to bed early or has school-going children. Don’t visit at mealtimes, unless you have been invited by your hosts.
Call before you go
It is better to give your hosts time to tidy up their place and be prepared. Also, it will save you time and unnecessary hassle, if your hosts are not at home or have other plans.
Do not grumble
If your hosts could not be contacted earlier and you had to return home, do not complain.
Take a gift
This does not have to be very extravagant or formal. You can take a home-cooked dish, a small box of biscuits or anything thoughtful that is likely to cheer up your hosts or their children.
Don’t stay too long
Respect the fact that your hosts might also have other commitments. If you’re visiting someone who’s staying at your host’s place, be extra careful.
Avoid indulging in gossip
Don’t pry about people’s lives. Everyone is entitled to privacy. Ask about their well-being, without being nosy.
Visit the sick
Visit the sick to help their attendants with some chores. This relieve them for a while and earn you Allah’s (swt) pleasure.
It is good manners to appreciate the effort your hosts put in for you, no matter how big or small. Anas Ibn Malik (rtam) narrated: “The Prophet (sa) visited some of the Anaar in their house and ate some food there. When he wanted to leave, he ordered that a place be prepared for him where he could pray. He then prayed there and supplicated for his hosts.” (Bukhari)
Good etiquettes go a long way in maintaining healthy relationships. A smile here and a kind word there are sure shot recipes for winning hearts.
The invocation of a guest for his host, as taught by Prophet Muhammad (sa):
“O Allah, bless them in what You have provided for them, and forgive them and have mercy on them.” (Muslim)