Etiquette of the Host
Etiquette of the Host
(1) The host should not insist that the guest eats. This is contrary to the well-being of the guest.
(2) If there is a need to serve more food, do not remove the utensil (in which there is still some food) from the presence of the host. Bring more food in another utensil.
(3) If the intention is to invite some of the associates of one's Buzrug (Shaikh, Ustaadh, etc.) along with the Buzrug, then do not ask the Buzrug to bring them along, It is disrespectful to extract service from him. Take permission from him and do the inviting yourself. The associate should also seek permission from the Buzrug before accepting the invitation.
(4) Be hospitable to the guest and tend to his needs and comfort. Feed him a sumptuous meal (within one's means) at least on one occasion. The guest has a right of three days.
(5) When sending food to the guest, ensure that it is covered.
(6) When the guest is departing, see him off until the door. This is Sunnat.
(7) The host should not overwhelm the guest with his continuous presence. He should leave the guest free, The guest should be left to eat as he pleases.
(8) People sometimes stare at the guest while he is eating, taking note of what and how much he is eating, The guest is irked by this behaviour.
(9) When the guest arrives, show him the toilets so that he is not inconvenienced if he suddenly has to answer the call of nature.
(10) As soon as the guest arrives, make arrangements for his eating. Whatever is easily available and could be prepared quickly should be arranged. If by the means, more sumptuous meals may be arranged later.
(11) Do not go out of your way in acquiring things for the guest. Whatever good things are easily available, make do with them. Do not be unnecessarily formal.
(12) The host should not merely deliver the food to the guest and leave thereafter. He should remain to see to the further needs of the guest. While keeping a watchful eye on the guests, the host should not stare at the guest nor make him aware of his attention. He should merely cast an occasional glance to ascertain whether the guest requires anything more.
(13) When there are two guests, treat them with equality.
(1) A guest (dhaif) is one who arrives solely on account of friendship. The right (Haqq) of such a guest devolves solely on the person whom the guest came to visit.
A traveller (musaafir or ibnus sabeel) is one who has come for some work or need. In the process he arrives to greet. The right of the musaafir is over all the neighbours (in the locality) in the Kifaayah category, i.e. a single person entertaining the musaafir will suffice to discharge the duty on behalf of the entire neighbourhood.
(2) When I went to Dhaka on the invitation of the Nawaab, Ulama from various parts of Bengal came to meet me. I told all of them to make their own food arrangements. When this reached the ears of the Nawaab he instructed his manager in charge of the food arrangements to notify me that all the Ulama should have their meals at his place. I informed him that they (the Ulama) were my honoured friends. They were not people who merely tagged along with me. I shall not tell them. He should himself invite them if he so wishes and if they accept, it is their pleasure. He then invited them all individually. In this method their respect and esteem were ensured whereas this would not have been the case if they had joined in the eating merely on my account.
(3) Once a bid'ati durwaish (saintly person) was the guest of Hadhrat Maulana Nanotwi (rahmatullah alayh) who honoured the guest considerably. Someone informed Maulana Gangohi (rahmatullah alayh) of this. Maulana Gangohi said that ”this was not good”. The informer narrated this comment to Maulana Nanotwi who said:
"Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) honoured even kuffaar guests."
This informant conveyed this reply to Maulana Gangohi who commented:
"In honouring a kaafir there is no danger (to Imaan), but in honouring a bid'ati there is danger."
When the informant once again conveyed this comment to Maulana Nanotwi, he reprimanded him and forbade him from carrying messages to and fro.
(4) We should steadfastly adhere to Islamic simplicity. When we desire to be somewhat extravagant in entertaining guests, we should bear in mind the limits of Islamic moderation. Be not wasteful. In observance of moderation is our respect. But, nowadays Muslims regard respect and dignity obtainable in emulating western culture. They emulate western dress, appearance and styles in all facets of life. Truly, there is no respect and honour in such emulation.
(5) Once Imaam Shaaf'i (rahmatullah alayh) was a guest of a certain person. It was the practice of this host to hand a written menu to the servant who would prepare all the foods listed for the occasion. One day Imaam Shaaf'i took the menu from the slave and added to the list a certain delicacy of which he was very fond. When the host saw the new dish, he enquired from the slave the reason for the additional variety. The slave informed his master that the food was prepared at the request of the guest. This pleased the host so much that in happiness he emancipated the slave.
(6) It is one of my practices to differentiate my guests at meal times. If a number of guests are present I do not gather them all at once to have meals together. If the guests are strangers to one another, I do not feed them together. However, if I join them, then only do I have a single session for meals, for then I act on behalf of them all.
The reason for this practice is that people are of different temperaments, cultural background and persuasions. When strangers are seated together for meals, some people are not able to relax and eat freely and informally. They feel inhibited.