Tuesday 13 August 2019

Unexpected Guests

With my older children away, I was expecting a quiet easy-going Eid with the Babies and a chance to just enjoy the moment.  With the house cleaned and organised, the menu planned, the food shopping done and a decision to wear what we already have rather than buy new clothes, Eid was looking good alhamdulillah.

Then we got a call from friends saying they were on their way to come and stay with us for Eid – all seven of them.  And they had left and were a few hours away – of an eight-hour drive.

This may seem strange to people and you may question why we just didn’t tell them not to come, but as Muslims we have always prided ourselves on our hospitality and have always tried to help others.  The rewards for taking care of guests are supposed to be significant:

Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
 said, "Whoever believes in God and the Last Day, let him honor his neighbor; whoever believes in God and the Last Day, let him honor his guest as he is entitled." It was said, "What is his entitlement, O Messenger of God?" He said, "[The best treatment] for one day and one night; and hospitality is for three days, and anything after that is charity bestowed upon him.  And whoever believes in God and the Last Day, let him, speak good words or else remain silent. (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said, "If Allāh wants good for a people, He sends them a gift." They asked "What kind of gift, oh Prophet of Allāh?" He said, "The guest comes with his own provision, and leaves with the sins of the people of the house."

The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam said, "Whoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day must be generous with his guest." (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5560)

Both mum and dad in law were fuming.  Dad because he didn’t want to have to give up his bed and mum-in-law because, as she out it, “I went out of my way to shame them the last time they came, so that they wouldn’t come back, and now you let them back!”

My husband is a kind, helpful man and he didn’t feel like he could say no.  Our guests turned up at 1am expecting dinner, which hubby mainly got from the shops – we are lucky there is always something open near us.  We had to pull out mattresses and put some of them in the kid’s room which are empty at the moment as they are in Pakistan.  The Babies outright refused to leave their room and had to be bribed with being allowed into my bed (we put them on a mattress once they fell asleep).

We spent the next day trying to feed and take care of our guests with trying to complete Eid preparations. I hadn’t taken any time off work, so the day before Eid (a Saturday) was the only day I had to prepare for Eid.  Not expecting guests, I had invited my family over for dinner, so had lots of grocery shopping and food prep to do. 

By the end of the day, I realised I had clocked about 24,000 steps on my Fitbit watch trying to get everything done – I was exhausted.  I had also been feeling off kilter physically, and the lack of sleep the night before left me disorientated.  In hindsight I think my blood pressure was low and making me slow and tired.

By the time they left, the day after Eid, I was tired, grumpy and feeling a little ashamed at not feeling so hospitable (although I did behave and be kind to my guests). I was a bit annoyed with myself that I had gone through all of the effort, but not corrected my intentions - the reward for any good deed is based on your intention to please Allah (SWT). I put it to my husband – Is the duty to care for your guests such that you let yourself become ill?  He agreed that it was clearly not, but what could he do?

Alhamdulillah, sometimes the reminders of the virtues of our faith help (like the story below), but it's also important that we find a balance between a good deed with the right intention and doing what we can actually manage.

A Story About Guests:
A woman came to The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam and complained to him about her husband that he invites too many guests and she has become weary from preparing food for them and hosting them. The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam did not answer and the woman left.
Sometime later The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam called the woman’s husband and said, "I am your guest today."
The man was so happy he went home and told his wife "The Prophet of Allāh ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam is our guest today."
 His wife was ecstatic and spent time and effort and used every bit of food to prepare for the arrival of the Most Honored Guest, The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam.
After the amazing joy of hosting The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam generously, The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam told the man, "Tell your wife to watch the door from which I leave your home."
So the wife watched the door from which The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam left her home and saw all kinds of creatures, scorpions and other harmful creatures leaving the house behind The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, upon which she fainted due to the immense manifestation and greatness of what she had witnessed.
When she came to The Prophet ‎ ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam, he said to her, "This is what happens when the guest leaves your home, with him all kinds of harm, trials and tribulations and harmful creatures depart from your home, and that is the wisdom behind being generous to one’s guest and becoming weary doing so." (source: IslamFaith blog)

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