Be courteous guests (DW#593)

O you who believe! Enter not the dwellings of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for its time to come, unless leave be granted you. But if you are invited, enter; and when you have eaten, disperse. Linger not, seeking discourse. Truly that would affront the Prophet, and he would shrink from telling you, but God shrinks not from the truth. Quran 33:53

Reflection: This verse lays out some rules of social engagement for the early Muslim community. The Holy Prophet (saw) was highly sought after not only due to his wisdom but also because of his amiable personality. When people would be invited to his house, they sometimes overstayed, chatting, causing the Prophet (saw) inconvenience. He was much too polite and kind to tell them to leave. Here Allah tells his companions to be mindful of the time and privacy of the Prophet’s household. It is a lesson for all of us on how to be courteous guests.

What: The verse has these injunctions:

- When you are invited for a meal, accept the invitation
- When you have eaten, disperse
- Be mindful of the host’s time and privacy
Why: Social interaction cements family and community bonds and it is highly valued in Islam to create a society which is governed by a genuine feeling of brotherhood, mutual consideration and respect for the sanctity of people and their privacy.

To create such a community, social interaction and engagement with others needs to follow rules of courtesy so that the host is not inconvenienced. When guests are sensitive and mindful of the host, having company over becomes much easier and a pleasure.

How: In some of our communities, we visit others often, especially in times of joy and sadness. We go with a great intention to provide support to the members of the family. Often these gatherings turn social as we meet others and catch up. It is at times like this that we may sometimes forget the main purpose of being there, overstay our purpose and unknowingly cause inconvenience to the members of the family. This verse can serve as a reminder to be mindful of the situation of the family which we are visiting.

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