By Amina Salau
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
This is the second in a two-part post on etiquette. The previous post on the etiquette of a guest can be found here.
At one point or the other, we have people stay over in our homes, regardless of duration. How do we show them hospitality? Here are some pointers on how we can give their guests a good experience.
Welcome them positively
Since you have accepted for them to stay over at your place, greet them in the most positive way. There is no easier way to start an unpleasant experience than to meet your guests with a frown. Welcome them into your home with a cheerful face. If you are able to pick them up at an airport, bus, or rail station, fine. Otherwise, be helpful with regard to how they will find their way home.
It was narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever believes in the Last Day should honour his guest, and grant him reward for a day and a night. And it is not permissible for him to stay so long that he causes annoyance to his host. Hospitality is for three days, and whatever he spends on him after three days is charity.” (Ibn Majah; authentic)
Guests may have a short stay, or they may need to stay for longer. Even though the hadith says hospitality is for three days, it does not mean that one should show the guests to the door after that period. If it is convenient for you, let your guests stay as long as they need to.
The believer is simple and generous. (Abu Dawud; reliable) Make your guest’s stay a memorable one by exerting your best efforts. Serve them the nicest dishes you can offer, make toiletries and other household needs readily available, and always be willing to make them more comfortable to the best of your ability. This will be rewarded by Allah, and it will also foster feelings of warmth and love between you and your guests.
Chances are that your guest is a friend, an acquaintance, or an extended family member. They do not live with you daily and may have habits or mannerisms that are not your regular cup of tea. If these habits are haram (forbidden as per Islamic teachings), you need to address it to make them stop, or find a polite way to make them leave. If they are not haram, it is advisable to be as tolerant as humanly possible. We can’t possibly be alike in the way we behave.
Do your guests know their way around the town? Can they use the public transportation system without assistance? Do they need help achieving their reason for staying at your place? If your guests are tourists, either take time out to show them some interesting attractions in your town or assist them to find a guide who will.
Stay out of their private matters
A person may be your guest, but it most certainly does not give you the right to invade their privacy. Don’t snoop into their luggage while they are out; don’t listen in on their conversations; never check their phones or monitor their movement (unless they are unfamiliar with the town and you want to ensure their safety). Give your guest the freedom they deserve and do not treat them like a prisoner.
Your guests’ stay may have had some not-so-enjoyable sides to it. Maybe you couldn’t even wait for them to leave. A Muslim is someone who covers up the deficiencies of another. You don’t have to get on the phone and tell another person what happened. Wish them well, remember them in your prayers, and let bygones be bygones.
Even if their stay was enjoyable, you may now be privy to some private details about them. Please, keep it to yourself.
Amina Salau is a freelance writer who is passionate about women’s issues in Islam.
© IIPH 2015