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The Prophet (saw) said:” Hospitality is for three days, and full hospitality is one day and night. It is not permissible for a Muslim man to stay with his brother until he causes him to sin. The people asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah! How could he cause him to sin?’ He answered: ‘When he stays with him until there is nothing left with which to entertain him.’” (Muslim)

Welcoming our guests is a highly commendable moral duty and obligation in Islam. This is what the Prophet (saw) insisted on in this hadith. He (saw) advised that hospitality is for three days and nights, and full hospitality, or the guest’s reward, is a day and a night.

According to Muslim scholars, this means that when the guest departs, complete hospitality includes that he should be given provisions for a day and a night’s journey, to ease the guest’s travel. This was the view of Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in his commentary to this part of the hadith.

Thus, we have a moral obligation to welcome our guests and visitors with a clean and open heart for three days and nights, to serve them with the kind of food we eat, and to provide good accommodation to the same standards that we accommodate ourselves. If we sincerely welcome our guests and visitors in this manner, on an equal footing without discrimination, then we will have fulfilled our moral obligation and our rewards are assured with Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) said:” Never will you attain righteousness until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love; and whatever you spend, indeed Allah knows it well.” (Qur’an 3: 93). Allah (swt) further said:” Not yours (O Muhammad), is responsibility for their guidance. Allah guides whom He wills. Whatever good you (believers) spend is for (the benefit of) yourselves, and you do not spend except seeking the countenance of Allah. Whatever you spend of good (of your wealth, property, resources, time, efforts, and so on), it will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.” (Qur’an 2: 272)

Without discrimination means that one should not treat some guests who one feels are from a higher socio-economic class differently from those that one feels are from a lower socio-economic class. Because all children of Adam – all human beings – are equal in Allah estimation.

Allah (swt) said:” O humankind, indeed We created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another (not that you may despise or discriminate against each other). Verily that most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you and Allah has full knowledge and is Well-Acquainted with all things)” (Qur’an: 49: 13)

However, another important point in this hadith, as explained by Prophet Muhammad (saw), is that just as hospitality on the part of a host is a moral obligation, similarly, it is a moral obligation for the guest to exemplify the best character and behaviour while under the host’s care.

Moreover, the guest should not be too demanding and choosy in terms of food and accommodation. The guest should not stay with the host beyond the limit sanctioned by the Shari’ah or beyond the ability of the host such the guest becomes an inconvenience and a nuisance for the people of the house. Rather, the guest must exercise humbleness, and show gratitude and satisfaction for the hospitality accorded to him or her.

In fact, it was the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (saw) to supplicate for the host before he left.

Abdullah Ibn Bushr from Banu Sulaym reported: The Messenger of Allah (saw) came to my father and stayed with him. My father offered him food – and he mentioned the type of food that he brought to him. Then he brought him something to drink, and he drank it. Then he passed it to the person who was on his right (to drink from it also). He ate some dates and put the date stones on the back of his forefinger and middle finger. When he stood up (to go) my father stood up, took hold of the reins of his mount and said:” Supplicate to Allah for me.” He (saw) said:” Allahumma baarik lahum fima razaqtahum waghfir lahum warhamhum (O Allah, bless them in what You have bestowed upon them and forgive them and have mercy on them)” (Abu Dawud).

Knowing the situation of the guest, the host may sincerely welcome him or her to stay for a period of more than three days and nights. In this case, anything beyond three days and nights is charity on the part of the host and not a duty-bound obligation. Nevertheless, it is a meritorious act of generosity in the sight of Allah (swt).

(Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim)