Adab of Visiting & Having Guests
Visiting elders, teachers, relatives and friends are deeply encouraged to mend broken relations, strengthen existing bonds and to increase the love between Muslims and communities. However, there are certain adab (etiquettes) that guests and hosts should keep in mind so that this act of visiting and hosting does not become a burden on any party.
In Al-Adab al-Mufrad, it is related:
Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When a man visits his brothers, Prophet tells him, ‘You have been good and your evening will be good and you can take your place in the Garden.'”
Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “A man visited a brother of his in a village, so Allah put an angel in wait for him on the road. He asked, ‘Where are you going?’ He replied, ‘To a brother of mine in this village.’ He said, ‘Is he responsible for some blessing you have?’ He said, ‘No, I love him for Allah.’ He said, ‘I am a messenger of Allah to you. Allah loves you as you love him.'”
Despite the excellence of visiting and hosting, we should also uphold the highest manners as the Prophet SAW has said,
“The best of you are those with the most excellent character and manners.”
What Not To Say
We know that milestones such as marriage, having children and death are decreed in the womb. If we find it rude and appalling to ask when someone will die, why do we not extend that same courtesy to marriage and family planning? They’re all decisions by Allah.
That’s another way of saying “Stop asking the singles in your family when they are getting married or the newlyweds when they will have children!”. A better alternative would be to make a prayer instead (silently too unless you know they will appreciate it and not add to the pressure).
Adab for Guests
1. Inform your host of your visit in advance
Unless your host is having an “Open House” and have invited you, you should call beforehand to let them know you are coming. Even though it may be Eid, it can be very burdensome to receive guests unexpectedly. Outside of Eid, you might also be intruding into their private time with their family. And when we say “in advance”, we do not mean a call when you’re already under their block.
2. Do not visit too early, or too late.
Again, if you had called in advance, you would be able to agree on a suitable time for both parties. However, there are some incidents when visitors insist on a certain time because they cannot make it otherwise. Or when they want to come past 1030pm. For some, this timing may still be acceptable, especially if you are close friends or relatives with the host.
But as a general rule, let 10pm be the cut-off time for visiting others. If you are already at someone’s house, make sure to not overstay as they may have elder people or young children to take care of, and of course, people are tired at the end of the day and they might need to work the next day. Take note of body language and cues to take your leave. If your hosts have already yawned thrice in a 5-minute time span, it would be wise to wish them goodnight and go home yourself.
3. Stick to your appointments.
If you have agreed to come after zuhr, do not come at 4pm even though that is still technically “after zuhr“. When someone says “after zuhr“, it should be understood to be around 130 to 2pm. And if you have indicated your intention to visit but are unable to do so, please inform your hosts of your cancellation. Even if you know that your hosts will be home all day, it is still considerate to inform them as no one likes to be kept waiting.
4. Seek permission.
Ask before you enter someone’s house. Ask again if you can start eating or drinking. Honestly, opening the kuih containers and stuffing your face with Desert Roses before the hosts have invited you to eat is really rude. Ask before using their toilet. Ask if you can use their rooms to pray (and which room!).
Do not go snooping around the house and going to places that you shouldn’t be going to. Do not adjust the fans, the curtains, the temperature of the air-con, move furniture or open a new bottle of carbonated drink without prior approval from the hosts.
5. Be considerate.
Do not ask for Root Beer, Bandung, Laksa or Maggi Mee if you do not see them on the table. Eat and drink only what is served. Do not bring your own food unless you’re giving it to the host. Do not stare at the pictures in the house and ask unnecessary questions about who the non-mahram person in the picture is.
Do not bring up topics of conversation that might be humiliating or embarrassing for the host. Do not boast about your children’s academic prowess if the host’s children are school dropouts. Do not compare aloud the size of the host’s house/rooms/car/table/refrigerator/jewellery unless its a friendly banter that you engage in with them every year.
Either way, please don’t.
Adab for Hosts
1. Greeting guests.
If you know guests are coming to your house, dress appropriately. While you may be very comfortable in your holey t-shirt from the 80s and equally holey Spongebob Squarepants boxers, it might not be appetizing for your guests. Do not wear anything that you will not be seen wearing outside of the house.
2. Be generous.
Food & drink should be provided for the guests, although not excessively. Every morsel of food that your provide for others will insyaAllah be counted as sadaqah (charity) for you so do not be stingy. Do not charge your guests if they do not want the carbonated drinks but water instead.Also, do not emphasize your generosity. Saying stuff like “I know you like my cheesecake so I stayed up all night baking this for you” or “I went to 7 different stores to find the drinks that you like” is a no-no. No one likes to be taken on a guilt trip. If you made that extra effort, keep it to yourself. Speaking of it diminishes everyone’s experience.
3. Appear cheerful.
Hosts should show the appearance that you are happy to have visitors come over, even if you’re dying to change into your holey t-shirt from the 80s and lie in bed. Smile and be cheerful;a frowning and ungracious host seems to defeat the purpose, and certainly puts a damper on the guest’s experience.
4. Be considerate.
Do not fill up your guest’s plates if they look like they’re about to pass out from all the food. The Malays in Singapore are very hospitable and love to feed their guests. While this is commendable, forcing them beyond the constraints of their kain samping will only make your visitor skip your house next year. It is good adab for the guests to eat what the hosts are serving but it is equally good adab for the hosts to not impose it on them.
For Eid, some families visit up to twelve to thirteen houses in a day. If you do not want anyone to vomit on your new sofa, it is best to let them be if they do not wish to have the third serving.Hosts should also not force their visitors to stay when the visitors have yawned thrice in the span of 5 minutes. Thank them for coming and take out your deck of Monopoly Deal for a next visit, not now.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam said, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him show hospitality to his guest; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain good relation with kins; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Have an enjoyable Eid and be pleasant to each other!
Ameera is the Editor of Muzlimbuzz.sg, a chronic reader and a news junkie.