Hosting guests is an important part of the Islamic tradition and is something that is highly encouraged. According to the sunnah, offering hospitality to guests is a great act of kindness and generosity that can be rewarded both in this life and the hereafter. It also serves as an opportunity to help those who are less fortunate, as it gives them a chance to experience the comfort of being hosted in someone’s home.
Hosting guests has many benefits, both for the host and for those who are welcomed into their home. It helps build relationships with others, while also providing a chance for people to practice kindness and generosity. It is among the appreciated Islamic characteristics of the Believers.
Hospitality Displays Your Faith in Allah and the Last Day
Abu Shuraih Al-Adawi said, “My ears heard and my eyes saw the Prophet (ﷺ) when he spoke, ‘Anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his neighbor generously, and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should serve his guest generously.’” (Sahih Al Bukhari 6019)
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Hosting Guests is a Prophetic Tradition
Imam Bukhari records in his Sahih, under the Book of Faith,
“It was asked to the Messenger of Allah, ‘Which act of Islam is the best?’ He replied, “To feed the people and to greet the people that are known to you and those that are not known to you.” (Sahih Al Bukhari 27)
Hospitality towards visitors and guests includes both the best traits, greeting and feeding.
Hospitality towards guests has been a tradition of all the Prophets since ancient times. The Qur’an gives few examples of generous and protective hosting,
“Indeed, Our messengers came to Abraham, bearing glad tidings. They greeted him with ‘Peace,’ and Abraham answered back to them, ‘Peace,’ and hurriedly brought to them a roasted calf.” [Surah Hud :69]
“He (Lut) pleaded, ‘These are my guests so do not embarrass me.’” [Surah Hijr :68]
These two verses speak about the prophetic etiquette of hosting guests.
The following are some etiquettes concerning the guests:
- Do not take guests as a burden but greet and welcome them warmly. It was narrated by Al Bara’a that the Messenger of Allah said.
“There are no two Muslims who meet, (greet) and shake hands, but they will be forgiven before they part.” (Classified sahih by Shaikh Albani in Sahih Abu Dawood, no. 5212)
- Offer them food generously. We see that the Prophet Ibrahim offered a roasted calf, and that too hurriedly as did not like to keep his guests waiting.
- Your guests are your responsibility, and so they should also be provided with safety and security.
Host a Guest Even If You Were to Run Short on Food
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,
“The food of two people is sufficient for three, and the food of three people is sufficient for four.” (Sahih Al Bukhari 5063)
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrated,
“A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger, poverty has struck me.” The Prophet (ﷺ) sent a messenger to his wives [to bring something for that man to eat] but they said they had nothing. He then announced, ‘Who will invite this person or entertain him as a guest tonight?’ An Ansari responded, ‘I, O Allah’s Messenger!’ So he took him to his wife and said to her, ‘Entertain the guest of Allah’s Messenger generously.’ She replied, ‘By Allah! We have nothing except the meal for my children.’ He said, ‘Let your children sleep, if they ask for supper, turn off the lamp and we go to bed tonight while hungry.’ She did what he asked her to do. In the morning, the Ansari went to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) who said, ‘Allah wondered or laughed at the action of so and so and his wife.’ Then Allah revealed, ‘And they gave preference to them over themselves though they were in need of it.’ [Surah Hashr: 9]” (Fath al-Bari, Volume 8 Hadith 500)
Ibn Kathir says, “In the other narration, the name of the Companions is also mentioned, and he was Abu Talha Al-Ansari ( Allah be pleased with him).” In those days there were no hotels and Stay-In facilities for travelers therefore people used to host them at their homes and offer the food they ate. In this incident we also note the cooperation of wives in Birr and Taqwa and such wives are blessed says a Hadith,
“The world is a provision and there is no provision in the world better than a righteous wife.”(Sunan Ibn Majah 1855)
Do Not Miss Out on Inviting the Poor
Abu Huraira said that the Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“The worst food is that of a wedding banquet to which only the rich are invited while the poor are not invited. And he who refuses an invitation [to a banquet] disobeys Allah and His Apostle.” (Sahih Al Bukhari 5177)
Wedding banquets or waleemah, were not a gathering of high status and rich people but poor were included. Such hostings fostered the brotherhood and mutual respect of each other.
Show Hospitality Even if the Guest Has Not Been a Good Host to You
Malik ibn Nadlah ( Allah be pleased with him) reported,
“ A man came and said to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), ‘I stayed with a man and he did not host me or show me hospitality. Now he is staying with me. Shall I recompense him with the same?’ He replied, ‘No, but host him well.’” (Sunan al Tirmidhi 2006)
Such overlooking of faults builds better relations as the Qur’an encourages,
“Repel evil with that which is good and those who were sworn enemy ( or did evil) to you will be your fast friend.” [Surah Fussilat: 34]
Display Good Manners Because They are Observed by Your Guests
Abu ‘Uthman related,
“I was a guest of Abu Hurayrah ( Allah be pleased with him) for seven days. Abu Huraira, his wife, and his slave used to get up and remain awake for one-third of the night by turns. Each would offer the night prayer and then awaken the other. (Sahih Al Bukhari – Volume 7, Hadith 352)
Abu Umamah related,
“Whenever the dining sheet of the Prophet was taken away [i.e., whenever he finished his meal], he used to say, ‘Al-hamdu lillah kathiran taiyiban mubarakan fihi ghaira makfiy wala muwada’ wala mustaghna’anhu Rabbuna (praise be to You, O our Lord! Your favor cannot be compensated, nor can be left, nor can be dispensed with, O our Lord)!” (Sahih Al Bukhari, Volume 6, Hadith 214)
Such display of good manners and humbleness becomes a source of learning for the guest and is passed on to others too.
Host the Poor for an Expiation of a Missed Fast
It has been related,
“When Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) was sick and old, he was unable to fast, so he would gather thirty poor people and fed them in one gathering.” (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah vol 7 #533)
We rarely see such hostings nowadays but for the salaf, it was a regular deed without being taken as a burden.
Remembering Allah in Your Gathering
It has been related,
“If a gathering of the people does not remember Allah or send salutations (darood) upon the Prophet, then the gathering will be regretful. If Allah wills, He will punish them, or if He wills, He will forgive them.” (Classified as authentic by Shaikh Albani in Sahih Al-Tirmidhi, Volume 3 #340)
Being grateful to Allah for the food He has provided is an established sunnah and it must be acted upon.
Hosting a Walimah (Wedding Feast) Will Allow Plenty of Supplications from the Guests
Ibn Battal said. “The walimah (wedding feast) is obligatory, according to one’s means. There is no minimum number of people that must be invited. The more you add [to the number of guests] at the wedding feast the better because that helps to announce the marriage more widely and increases the supplications for the blessing of one’s family and wealth.” (Sharh Sahih al-Bukhaari, 13 #282)
Do Not Entertain With Haram Activities
Whether it is a wedding banquet or a family gathering, anything that leads to disobedience should be abstained from. Music, singing, dancing, intermingling with non-mahrams, backbiting about people, etc., have become a part of many hostings. Allah says,
“And among mankind is one who purchases idle talks (lagw), to mislead people from the path of Allah”. [Surah Luqman :36]
Al-Sa‘di, in explaining the above verse, says, “Lagw includes music, all idle talk and falsehood, refuting the truth and arguing in support of falsehood to defeat the truth, backbiting, slander, lies, insults, and curses.” [Tafsir al-Sa‘di, 6/150]
There Should be no Segregation in Sitting Between the Rich and the Poor During a Meal
Ibn al-Arabi said, “It would be a humiliation if the poor are told to sit separately during a feast, even if they are offered food. Such an act can be a sin.” (Aridah Al Awadi 5/9)
Hosting guests is part of the Islamic character. For these reasons, hosting guests should be seen not only as an obligation but also as an opportunity to do good deeds in the service of Allah.