If you enter a room, greet everyone inside. If you want to shake hands with those present, start with the most eminent, the most knowledgeable, the most pious, the oldest or those who have similar Islamic distinctions. Do not overlook the most distinguished or most eminent and start with the first person on your right. If you cannot decide who is the most reputable, or if those present happen to be of comparable status, then start with the elderly, for they are easier to recognize.
Al-Bukhari explained that the Prophet said, ‘The elder! The elder!’ In another version he said, ‘The elderly come first.’ ‘Abu Yalla and Al-Tabarany in Al-Awsat reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘Start with the elderly, or , he said, ‘with the notables.’ ‘
3.9 SITTING BETWEEN TWO PERSONS
If you enter a room do not sit between two persons. Instead, sit on their left or right side. Abu Dawood reported that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘No one is to sit between two people without their permission.’
Sometimes two persons will be kind enough to favour you by making room for you to sit between them. Acknowledge this kind gesture by accepting their offer. Do not sit crossed-legged to crowd them out. A sage said: ‘Two persons are considered immoderate: a person to whom you give advice and he arrogantly holds it in contempt against you, and a person who is favoured with a seat in a room and he sits crossed-legged.’
If you are seated between two people, do not eavesdrop and listen to what they say, lest their conversation be a confidential or private matter. Eavesdropping is a bad habit and a sin. Al-Bukhari reported that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘Whoever listens to people’s
conversation against their wishes, will be punished by liquid lead being poured down their ears on the day of Judgment.’
You should seek to benefit from the company and wisdom of the elders who are described as ‘ a fruit at the end of the season.’ I would add, ‘a sun wearing the veil’ since it will leave us and disappear at night. Be keen to attend the gatherings of the elders whether scholars, pious persons, nobles, or relatives. Soon you may lament their departure and your loss.
It is an inappropriate Muslim manner to whisper to someone sitting next to you if you are in a group of three people. The third person will feel deserted and isolated and will think the worst of thoughts. The Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) hated this. Imam Malik and Abu Dawood reported that he said: ‘No two shall exchange whispers in the presence of a third person.’ That the Prophet used ‘No two…’ in an assertive negative form, indicates that such a mistake is not only inappropriate but an unimaginable and instinctively despicable. ‘Abdullah Bin Omar was asked, ‘What if they were four?’ ‘Then it does not matter,’ he answered, meaning it is not irritating then to whisper or to mutter. If a friend entrusted you with a secret, do not betray him or her. Do not tell it even to your best friend or closest relative.
3.10 THE HOST’S DUTIES AND THE GUESTS’ RIGHTS
If you are having a guest overnight, be hospitable and generous. But do not exaggerate when providing food and drink to your guest. Moderation without excess is the Sunnah. You should try your best to make your guest’s stay pleasant and comfortable during wake and sleep. Inform your guest of the direction of Qibla and show them the way to the bath.
Your guest will need to use towels after showers, ablution or washing hands before and after meals. Make sure that they are fresh and clean. Do not offer towels that you or your family members have used. It is also a nice idea to offer guests some perfume and a mirror. Make sure that the toiletries and bath accessories they will be using are clean and sanitized. Before leading your guest to the bathroom, inspect it and remove anything that you don’t want your guest to see.
Your guests will need rest and a quiet sleep. Spare them the noise of the children and the house as much as possible. Remove intimate clothing from their view. If the guest is a man, remove all women’s clothing and belongings. This is a desirable, decent practice that will leave you both feeling comfortable. When meeting your guests, serve them with tact and respect. Dress properly and look your best but do not overdo it. The close relationship between you is no excuse for negligence or indecency in your manner or look. Imam Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad reported that our forefathers used to look their best when visiting each other. Be kind and generous to your guests. As a rule do not ask them to help you with house chores. Imam Shafie’ said ‘Gentlemen do not employ their visiting guests.’
If you visit a relative or a friend, you should be considerate of your host’s circumstances and work commitments. Shorten, as much as possible, the length of your visit, since every person has various duties, obligations and responsibilities. Be considerate of your hosts and help them with their business , house chores and obligations. While at your hosts’ house, do not inspect and examine every corner, especially when you are invited beyond the guest room, lest you see something you’re not supposed to notice. In addition, do not bother your hosts by asking too many questions.
from the book ISLAMIC MANNERS
By Shaykh Abdul-Fattaah Abu Ghuddah (RA)