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The Sunnah of Hosting

Kanika Aggarwal takes us through the sunnah of being both a host and a guest in preparation for the blessed days of ‘Eid.

The end of Ramadhan is a time for celebration. We celebrate our hard work, sacrifices and efforts that we put into various acts of ‘ibadah (devotion) during Ramadhan, for the sake of Allah (SWT). The onset of ‘Eid brings about many opportunities to host parties and get-togethers with friends and family to enjoy the festivities. While indulging in merry-making, there are many acts of sunnah (the way of the Prophet (SAW) that we can follow to increase our reward and make our gatherings blessed.

 

First and foremost, realise that being hospitable to guests is following the way of the prophets of Allah (SWT), as can be seen by the example of Ibrahim (AS).

 

 

Allah, the Exalted, says:
“Has the story reached you, of the honoured guests [three angels; Jibril (Gabriel) along with another two] of Ibrahim (Abraham)? When they came in to him and said: ‘Salam (peace be upon you),’ He answered: ‘Salam (peace be upon you),’ and said: ‘You are a people unknown to me.’ Then he turned to his household, and brought out a roasted calf [as the property of Ibrahim (Abraham) was mainly cows]. And placed it before them, (saying): ‘Will you not eat?”‘
(Adh-Dhariyat: 24-27)

 
The following hadith of the Prophet (SAW) serves as further encouragement for true Muslims who are believers in Allah (SWT) and the last day, to be hospitable and welcoming towards their guests.

 

“Whoever believes in Allah and the last day, let him honour his guest.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

 

 

The duties of the person who is hosting a gathering include welcoming the guest, taking care of their comfort and ease, and treating them in a nice manner according to their own capacity.

 

 

Listed below are some general etiquettes for the host and the guests to make the gatherings blessed by following the sunnah of the Prophet (SAW):

 

 

GUIDANCE FOR THE HOST

The virtue of offering food
It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Salaam (RA) said that the Prophet (SAW) said: “O people, spread salam, give food and pray when the people are sleeping; you will enter Paradise in peace and safety.” (Tirmidhi)
Thus, offering food to guests is highly encouraged in Islam, because not only is it considered a sign of generosity, it is also pleasing to Allah (SWT).

 
Do not be stingy with the quantity of food
Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said, “The food of two persons suffices for three persons, and the food of three persons suffices for four persons.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

 

 

The host should not be miserly and worry about his resources depleting because of guests. Rather, he should be generous because of the words of the Prophet (SAW) which indicate that when people share food at a gathering, Allah (SWT) places barakah (an increase) in the quantity and it can suffice everyone.

 

 

Extend a handshake when your guests arrive
Al-Bara’ (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Two Muslims will not meet and shake hands without having their sins forgiven (by Allah) before they depart.” (Abu Dawud)

 
This hadith indicates that Allah forgives the (minor) sins of the two believers who shake hands upon meeting. This should be practiced by the host when the guests arrive. This will benefit both the host and the guest by increasing the mutual love for each other and attaining forgiveness for minor sins.

 
Encourage guests to eat more but do not push them
It is reported in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (RA) in the book of Bukhari, that the Prophet (SAW) asked him repeatedly to drink milk, by saying, “Drink,” until he (Abu Hurayrah) said, “By the One Who sent you with the truth, I have no more room for it!”

 
We can learn that once the guest stops eating, the host should encourage him to eat more, but scholars suggest that he should not repeat it more than three times to avoid pushing the guest to eat more and cause discomfort to himself.

 

 

 

GUIDANCE FOR THE GUEST

Initiate Salam when you arrive at the host’s house
Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported: the Prophet (SAW) said, “When one of you arrives in a gathering, he should offer Salam to those who are already there, and he should also do so when he intends to depart. The first act of greeting is not more meritorious than the last.” (Abu Dawud)

 
This hadith encourages the guest to offer Salam to the host and those present at the gathering, at the time of arrival and departure. Gestures such as saying “Asalaamu ‘alaikum” and hand-shaking break the ice and set a great atmosphere for an Islamic gathering.

 

 
Make du’a for the host
The sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) teaches us that the guest should make a du’a (supplication) for the host, his well-being and for an increase in his sustenance, as a token of thanks for his hospitality.

 
The du’a is as follows: Allaahumma baarik lahum feemaa razaqtahum, waghfir lahum warhamhum. (O Allah, bless them in what You have provided for them, and forgive them and have mercy on them.) (Muslim)

 
Following these prophetic practices will not only increase the host and the guests in love for each other for the sake of Allah (SWT) and His Deen, it will also cause the gatherings to be more Islamically prosperous and beneficial for everyone involved.

 

 

So, go ahead and enjoy your ‘Eid! May Allah (SWT) allow us all to come closer to Him, and each other, for His sake through these gatherings, ameen!

 

 

Kanika is a recent graduate of a Bachelors in Islamic Sciences program and conducts online seminars for sisters at http://habibihalaqas.org

 

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Let Them Be, It’s ‘Eid!