Wisdom on the Adab of a Guest

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Wisdom on the Adab of a Guest

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

wa alaykum as-salam:

Notwithstanding the excellent advice noted below by … Sidi Faraz, I thought it prudent to share a nugget of wisdom that I gleaned from some interactions with a great shaykh. He told his students that the ‘jihad’ concerning food is as follows:

To consume as little as possible to merely nourish one’s body when eating privately at one’s own home, and to consume as much as possible when eating publicly as an invited guest at a host’s home. That is, the adab of being a good guest is to honor one’s host by stuffing oneself to an almost ridiculous degree. This is particularly the custom (`urf) as I understand it among subcontinent Muslims. His point was to emphasize how big a deal it is to bring happiness to the heart of one’s host, and how one should even go to an extreme degree to avoid bringing any sadness or disappointment to the heart of one’s host.

In fact, on the occasion when he taught us this, a few students of the shaykh were sitting trying to consume the very last portion of the night’s dinner, after they had been stuffing themselves for over an hour and a half. They were looking sickly and on the verge of vomiting. The shaykh saw the condition of these faqirs and smiled, commenting:

Haan, aase hi mehman ko hona chahi yein.

Yes, this is exactly how a guest should be.

Of course, Allah knows best, and truly success comes only from Allah Most High.

I remain, at your service,

Azhar Usman

Faraz adds: The basis of this are the words attributed to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace),

“The best of faith is bringing happiness to a believer’s heart.” [Tabarani; Hathami said in Majma` al-Zawa’id that its transmitters are reliable, except one who is differed upon; Mundhiri and Iraqi pointed to its weakness, though it is slight]

The intention in eating more than one’s normal habit should be:

a) to honor one’s host;

b) to bring happiness to another’s heart;

c) to express one’s thankfulness to them (for, as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The one not thankful to people is not thankful to Allah”);

d) to strengthen relations between believers, family, friends, associates, or neighbors;

e) to make this a sign of one’s loving the host for the sake of Allah, which too is from the highest of faith; and

f) to follow the example and guidance of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).

The one who does this is actually engaged in a most noble act of worship. If one’s intention is merely satisfying one’s desire for food, then one was simply engaged in worldliness. “And each person shall have what they intend,” said the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).

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