Being Considerate of People's Feelings

Islam
Typography

Etiquettes Between the Guest and the Host

1. Being considerate of the host’s feelings when you cannot attend:

The food prepared for a guest is a form of generosity to the person invited and a means of welcoming them and showing kindness to them. This kindness must be returned with goodness as Allaah Says: {Is the reward for good [anything] but good?} [Qur'an: 55: 60].

This is the proper thing to do unless there is something to prevent it. For instance when there is something that goes against the Sharee’ah, or for health reasons... etc. In these cases the person must “take into consideration the Sharee’ah and put it before people and desire.”

However, the person must apologize kindly and courteously. Sa’b ibn Juthaamah, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that he gifted the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, a wild donkey when he was in Al-Abwaa’ or Waddaan. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, turned it down. The narrator says, When the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, saw my face (in another narration: saw how I disliked it from my face) He, sallallaahu‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “We only turned it down because we are in the state of Ihraam.”

Ibn Hajar, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: “This proves that a person can reject a gift due to a (valid) reason. Al-Bukhaari, may Allaah have mercy on him, has a chapter on this topic [Rejecting a gift due to a reason.] It also shows that one must apologize when rejecting a gift so as not to upset the person who offered you the gift. It also proves that a gift does not become your possession until you accept it and that your ability to possess it does not make you possess the gift. Also the person in a state of Ihraam must get rid of any kind of prey that was hunted if it is forbidden to be hunted.”

2. Being considerate of the feelings of the host when he does not have the means to be hospitable to his guest:

Sometimes the Muslim may unexpectedly have a guest arrive when he is in a difficult situation. He may be busy, ill, living in a small house or have financial troubles. In this case the guest must try to ease the situation with kind speech that will relieve the host and the difficulty of the situation. In fact, a person must consider these factors before causing trouble, and so he should not disturb his poor relative and not arrive unexpectedly at somebody’s house at lunchtime or dinnertime.

Thawbaan, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: "A Bedouin guest came to us and the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, sat in front of his wives’ houses and started asking the Bedouin if his people were happy with Islaam and about their situation with prayer. The Bedouin continued to inform the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, until he was joyful and his face lighted up. Then it reached midday and it was time to eat and the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, called me out of view and told me to tell ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, has a guest. She said: 'By the one who sent you with the truth! I have woken up with nothing that people can eat.' He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, sent me to the rest of his wives and they all apologized as ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, did. I saw the color in the Prophet’s face change. The Bedouin said: 'We are not from the city and we endure more than (the people of the city). A handful of dates and some water will suffice. That is considered abundance (to us).' At that time a she-goat passed by and she had been milked. We used to call her Thamar Thamar. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, called her by her name: 'Thamar Thamar.' She approached the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, whinnying and he took hold of her leg and said Bismillaah (In the name of Allaah). He then restrained her saying Bismillaah (In the name of Allaah). Then he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, wiped her teat saying Bismillaah (In the name of Allaah). She became full of milk and he called me to bring a pail and I brought it to him. He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, milked her saying Bismillaah (In the name of Allaah). He filled the pail and pushed it to the guest and he drank a lot and wanted to put it down, so the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 'Drink more.' He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, repeated this to him until the guest was full and had drank what he desired. He then milked the goat again saying Bismillaah (In the name of Allaah) and he filled (the pail). He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then said: 'Take this to ‘Aa’ishah.' So she drank what she desired, then I returned to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and he milked the goat again saying Bismillaah (In the name of Allaah). He then sent me with it to his wives, and every time one drank I returned to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and he milked the goat saying Bismillaah (In the name of Allaah) filling the pail. He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then said: 'Give it to the guest.' I then gave it to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and he said Bismillaah (In the name of Allaah) and he drank what Allaah Wills and then he gave it to me. I tried to place my lips where the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, drank and I drank a drink that was sweeter than honey and more perfumed than musk. Then the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alyhi wa sallam, said: 'O Allaah! Make this she-goat blessed for her owners.'"

From this Hadeeth we see how the Bedouin guest was tactful and how he was considerate of the Prophet’s condition when he didn’t have the means to be hospitable to his guest.

3. Being considerate of the guest’s feelings by not making him feel that the host has selflessly given him his food:

One of the etiquettes of hospitality that Islaam has encouraged is for the host to be considerate of the guest’s feelings while eating. He should not make the guest feel uncomfortable or awkward, such as making the guest feel that he has disturbed them, or by watching him eat, or remaining silent when the guest is present. All these can make the guest feel uncomfortable and awkward and make him hasten to leave. The guest should see the host happy and welcoming on his arrival, and they must favor him with food if needed.

Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: "A man came to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and said: 'I am hard pressed by hunger.' He, sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam, sent a word to one of his wives who replied: 'By Him Who has sent you with the Truth, I have nothing except water.' Then he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, sent the same message to another (wife) and received the same reply. He sent this message to all of them (i.e., his wives) and received the same reply. Then he, sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam, said: 'Who will entertain this (man) as guest?' One of the Ansaar said: 'O Messenger of Allaah, I will.' The Ansaari asked his wife: 'Have you got anything?' She answered: 'Nothing, except a little food for the children.' He said: 'Keep them busy with something, and when they ask for food put them to sleep. When the guest enters, extinguish the light and give him the impression that we are also eating.' So they sat down and the guest ate and they passed the night hungry. When he came to the Prophet, sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam, in the morning, he said to him: 'Allaah admired what you did with your guest last night.'"

This is not the kind of overburdening that is forbidden, as this man was pressed by hunger and he was the guest of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the Ansaari did an act of selflessness because he had but little. As for burdening yourself more than your capacity and getting into large debts or its like then this is forbidden, as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Do not burden yourself beyond your scope when (receiving) a guest.”

Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: "The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with them were brought out by hunger. They went to visit a man of the Ansaar, but he was not at home. When his wife saw the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, she said: 'Welcome! Welcome!' The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to her: 'Where is so-and-so?' She said: 'He has gone to get water for us.' Then the Ansaari came and saw the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and his two companions and said: 'Praise be to Allaah. Today no one has more honored guests than I!' He went and brought them a branch with unripe and ripe fresh dates on it and said: 'Eat.' He took a knife and the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to him: 'Don't slaughter one which yields milk.' So he slaughtered for them and they ate from the sheep and from that branch and drank. When they were full and their thirst quenched, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to Abu Bakr and 'Umar, may Allaah be pleased with them: “By the One who has my soul in His hand, you will be asked about this blessing on the Day of Rising. Hunger brought you out of your houses and you did not return until you had received this blessing.'”

An-Nawawi, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: “A number of the Salaf disliked for someone to burden themselves when receiving a guest. The meaning of burden is the evident trouble it causes for the host and how it prevents him from sincerity and true joy for having his guest and it may also be apparent to the guest which will harm the guest too. The guest may also realize that he has been offered something that has troubled the host and that he is overburdening himself. This may make the guest feel bad because of his sympathy for the host. This all goes against the Prophet’s saying, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: 'He who believes in Allaah and the Last Day, let him be hospitable to his guest.'”  The most perfect hospitality is making the guest feel at ease and displaying joy at his As for the act of the Ansaari and the sheep he slaughtered, this was not troublesome for him. Even if he had slaughtered a number of sheep and spent money in order to be hospitable to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and his two companions, the man would be happy to do so and was lucky to do so. Allaah knows best.”

4. Being considerate of the guest’s feelings by making sure he doesn’t feel that he is a burden upon his host:

A guest may feel that he has burdened the host and so the host must strive to eliminate this kind of feeling in his guest. Laqeet ibn Sabirah , the leader of the delegation of Banu Al-Muntafiq, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: "My companion and I went out to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, but we did not find him in his house. We found there 'Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, the Mother of the Believers. She offered us dates and ‘Aseedah (gruel). Then the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, came walking quickly. He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, asked: 'Has anything been served to you?' We replied: 'Yes, O Messenger of Allaah.' While we were sitting in the company of the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, we suddenly saw that a shepherd was driving a herd of sheep to their fold. He had with him a newly-born lamb that was crying. He (the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked him: 'Has she given birth?' He replied: 'Yes.' He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then said: 'Slaughter for us a sheep.' He then turned to us and said: 'Do not think that we are slaughtering it for you. We have one hundred sheep and we do not want their number to increase. Whenever a ewe is born, we slaughter a sheep in its place.'

Al-Mubaarakfoori, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: " The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, meant when saying: 'We are slaughtering it' we are not burdening ourselves (with slaughtering the ewe) for you so they would not reject the hospitality and to avoid showing off to the guest. 'We slaughter a sheep in its place' Meaning, do not think that I am burdening myself for you. It is apparent from this phrase that when they heard that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had ordered the shepherd to slaughter they said: do not overburden yourselves for us. So the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, replied by saying: 'Do not think' This is what is understood from the context of the event.

5. Being considerate of the host’s feelings by reserving his authority and Imaamah (leading in prayer) over his guests:

It was narrated that Abu Mas’ood Al-Ansaari, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: The Messenger of Allaah , sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “The people should be led in prayer by the one among them who has the most knowledge of the Book of Allaah; if they are equal in knowledge of the Qur’aan, then by the one who has most knowledge of the Sunnah; if they are equal in knowledge of the Sunnah, then by the one who migrated first; if they are equal in terms of Hijrah, then by the one who became Muslim first.” However the host is the leader in his house and nobody can overtake this leadership. The Imaam (one who leads in prayer) has authority over the people praying behind him and they must be led only by the owner of the house unless he permits otherwise. This is why the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said at the end of the previous Hadeeth in another narration: “No man should lead another in prayer in his domain of authority, or sit in his place in his house, except with his permission.” 1 Abu ‘Atiyyah, may Allaah have mercy on him, reported: "Maalik ibn Al-Huwayrith used to come to us in our prayer place and talk to us. The time for prayer came one day and we said to him: 'Go forward (to lead the prayer).' He said: 'Let one of you go forward, until I tell you why I will not. I heard the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, say: 'Whoever visits a people should not lead them in prayer. Let a man from among them lead them in prayer.'”

Something similar to this is that the owner of a beast/animal has more right to ride the front of it. Buraydah, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: "I was walking with the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, when a man came to him with a donkey, so he said: 'O Messenger of Allaah! Ride' and the man moved toward the back. The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 'No, you have more right to the front of your beast, unless you allot it for me.' He said: 'I have allotted it for you.' He said: 'So he rode.’"

6. Being considerate of the feelings of the host by not disturbing him and overstaying:

Anas ibn Maalik, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: When the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, married Zaynab bint Jahsh, he invited the people to a meal. They took the meal and remained sitting and talking. Then the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, (showed them) as if he is ready to get up, yet they did not get up. When he noticed that (there was no response to his movement), he got up, and the others too, got up except three persons who remained sitting. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, came back in order to enter his house, but he went away again. Then they left, whereupon I set out and went to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to tell him that they had departed, so he came and entered his house. I wanted to enter along with him, but he put a screen between me and him. Then Allaah revealed: {O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal, without awaiting its readiness. But when you are invited, then enter; and when you have eaten, disperse without seeking to remain for conversation. Indeed, that [behavior] was troubling the Prophet, and he is shy of [dismissing] you. But Allaah is not shy of the truth. And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a partition. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. And it is not [conceivable or lawful] for you to harm the Messenger of Allaah or to marry his wives after him, ever. Indeed, that would be in the sight of Allaah an enormity.} [Qur'an : 33: 53].

There is another narration by Al-Bukhaari: Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “Another group remained chatting and I was upset (because of this).” Ibn Hajar, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: “He was upset because he understood that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was shy to tell them to leave and their inattention by chatting and not leaving.” Ibn Hajar, may Allaah be pleased with him, also said: “Ibn Battaal, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: ‘From this we understand that one should not enter another person’s house without their permission. When permitted to enter the person must not overstay after the period permitted is over so as not to disturb the people of the house and to not prevent them from going about their lives. We also understand that when a person does this until the people of the house are harmed, the owner of the house can show his irritation and dislike and he may get up without excusing himself for them to understand. Also, if the owner of the house leaves his house the guest that was permitted to enter should not remain without renewing the permission. Allaah knows best.’”

Ibn Hajar, may Allaah have mercy on him, also said: “Ibn Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: 'A man entered upon the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and remained sitting for a long time. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, left three times so the person would leave but he did not. Then ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, entered and saw the Prophet’s face and his dislike, and said to the man: 'Maybe you are disturbing the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.' The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 'I got up three times for him to follow me but he did not do so.' ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: 'O Messenger of Allaah, why not put a screen (in front of your wives) as your wives are not like other women and it is more pure for their hearts.' So the verse of Hijaab (the veil) was revealed.'”

Shurayh Al-Ka’bi, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Whoever believes in Allaah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his guest according to his right; which is for a day and a night, and hospitality extends for three days. What is beyond that is charity and it is not permissible for (the guest) to remain until it disturbs him (the host).”

Ibn Hajar, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: “His saying 'until it disturbs him' refers to discomfort and disturbance. An- Nawawi, may Allaah have mercy on him, said about a narration by Muslim: 'until it causes him to sin.' Meaning until he falls into committing a sin (because of the guest) as the host may backbite about the guest due to his prolonged stay or may harm him or think badly of him. However it is permissible if the guest remains after the host requests from him to prolong his stay or when he most likely does not mind it. This is concluded from his saying: 'until it disturbs him' because if there is no disturbance or harm then it is permissible. Abu Shurayh, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: 'It was said: 'O Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, what will make him sin?' He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 'He resides at the person’s house until they do not have anything to offer him.'” Ibn Battaal, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: 'It is disliked for a guest to reside for longer than three days, so as not to harm the host and cause him to sin after the reward that he had gained (for his hospitality).'

Source: https://islamqa.info/en  [see the website for all citations and references]