Etiquette guide for being the ideal guest
Whether it's your uncle in the Middle East, your aunt in the Midwest, your friend in Malaysia, or your nephew in Pakistan, invitations from relatives to visit for most Muslims are not scarce, Alhamdu lillah.
And why not? Welcoming guests is a part of our way of life as Muslims. But
being a good guest is the other side of this coin. Below are some tips to keep
your hosts happy and your visit virtually problem-free.
He was asked: And what does he deserve, O Messenger of God?' and he answered:
A day and a night of what he deserves, and hospitality for three days. More than this is charity.' (Bukhari, Muslim).
As the above-mentioned Hadith indicates, guests are to be welcomed. But this openness and generosity should not be abused so as to be a burden on the hosts.
This factor should be taken into consideration for those of us who come from
families back home who may not be well off financially. We should act wisely
and judge for ourselves how long is too long for our hosts.
What better way to bridge the gap between relatives hundreds or thousands of
miles away than to give a gift? In particular, encourage kids to give gifts
to relatives of the same age and gender. This may be the springboard to developing
a deep, meaningful friendship, not just a blood relationship. But these gifts
should not become an excuse for extravagance or showing off, both of which are
condemned by Islam.
This is not acceptable when visiting friends and relatives, especially those in a Muslim country or from one. Such behavior could be considered obnoxious and ungrateful.
Accept all gifts graciously. Even if it's the 100th leather wallet you've received,
don't make a fuss about it.
Respecting your elders is a requirement of Islam, whether you're in North America
or in the Muslim world. Certain behaviors need to be avoided in this regard:
speaking with disrespect, even if you disagree with an older person; stretching
your legs or putting your feet up on the table in front of everyone present
when there are elders there, for example.
Find appropriate ways to respond to this, whether it's by using a truthful excuse (i.e. I really will get very, very sick if I eat any more), or even better, tell her the Hadith about eating in a way that you have one-third water, one-third food and one-third air in your stomach.
The ideal guest will be polite, discreet, grateful and respectful. He or she
will also make sure not to hurt the host's feelings or be hostile.
So if you wake up for Fajr, and not all members of the host family do, make Wudu and pray without disturbing others. Perhaps later in the day, you can talk about how much you enjoyed going to pray Fajr at the local mosque, or the peace and tranquility you felt praying in the silence before sunrise.
That said though, this does not mean you give up Islamic duties to please guests. Prayer, wearing appropriate Islamic attire in front of the opposite sex, for instance, must be maintained, regardless of the level of Islamicity of the host family.
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