The Etiquette of Visiting
Translated from "Aadabe Mulaaqaat"
Courtesy: Madrasah Arabia Islamia - Azaadville, South Africa
The Holy Qur'an commands: "When you enter homes, observe Salaam with one another - a Salaam of blessing and purity from Allah." (Surah Nur verse 61)
1. Don't enter anyone's house or room without permission. You are obligated to seek their permission first.
2. The Islamic code of seeking permission specifies that one should stand close to the door, (knock) and thereafter say "Assalaamualaikum wa Rahmatullahi", may I come in?
3. If this does not elicit a reply, employ the same method of Salaam etc. a second and third time. After the third time, if you fail to get a reply, consider it an inopportune moment for meeting. There could be some valid excuse. Therefore, return and do not ever feel offended.
4. Whilst seeking permission to enter, stand on one side. Don't stand in such a way that you can see inside. However, if the host is right in front of you, make Salaam and seek permission to enter.
5. It is despicable to peep inside. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam vehemently forbade this.
6. Observe Salaam loudly even when entering your own house and make your presence known to the occupants of the house.
7. If you are asked: "Who is there?", give your name. Do not say: "It's me!" because the occupant does not know who is "me."
8. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam advised a Sahaabi thus: "Come and meet me every alternate day (and not daily) as this would increase our love for one another."
9. Avoid visiting someone during meal or snack times. If you are compelled to visit at such times, first eat and then go. However, if you are unable to eat and go, then do not lie to the host that you have already eaten. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: "Do not bring lies and hunger together." However, you may decline on some other pretext.
10. If you have to visit someone in another city or town, inform him before hand.
11. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam strictly forbade reaching someone’s home at night. In fact, he even forbade the people from returning to their own homes at night without informing their families.
12. When you enter someone’s home, enter with Salaam. The occupant of the house should make the first move when it comes to shaking hands or embracing. If he does not make the first move or he is busy, do not disturb him.
13. Do not observe Salaam when you enter a gathering in which a lecture or lesson is taking place, nor should you make Salaam when entering a Masjid in which people are engaged in Salaah or other forms of Zikr. However, if someone draws your attention, you should make Salaam silently.
14. When you enter someone’s house, do not sit at the best spot nor sit on a place especially reserved for the owner of the house. It is upto him if he wishes to seat you on his place or on any other appropriate place.
15. The Qur'an orders both men and women to lower their gazes. Be very particular about this at all times. When you go to someone’s house, do not look around.
16. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam advised us to be soft-natured and dignified. Always keep this advice in mind. If you go anywhere, speak gently and act in a dignified manner. Do not touch anything without permission. Do not stare at anything covetously nor act as though you are impressed and awe-struck with the host’s pomp and splendour, resulting in you suffering from an inferiority complex.
17. Do not sit nor converse for very long. Once your work is complete, seek permission to leave immediately. However, on the insistence of the host, you may remain until it is convenient for you.
When Others Come to your Place
"And when you are greeted with any greeting, offer a greeting more courteous than that or (at least) return the greeting. Verily, Allah Ta'ala takes careful account of everything." (Surah Nisaa Verse 86)
When anyone comes to your house, you are Islamically obligated to give him a warm reception. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam is reported to have said: "A mu'min is he who honours his guest and is hospitable towards him."
1. It is Wajib (compulsory) to answer to the Salaam. The Qur'an urges you to ensure that your reply is more superior, cultured and more vigorous than the Salaam of the other person. For example, if you are greeted with "Assalamualaikum" add on "warahmatullah" after "waalaykumussalaam" when replying.
2. The following words may be added to the Salaam or to the reply: "warahmatullahi", "wa-barakaatuh" "wa-maghfiratuh." Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam had promised ten additional rewards for every word added to the Salaam.
3. Be cheerful when welcoming your guest. Stand up and welcome him. Shake hands with him and if you are meeting him after some time. Embrace each other as well. Thereafter, seat him with respect.
4. The impoliteness of those who are impolite towards you is obviously incorrect but when they come to your door, ethics demand that you confront them courteously. Do not act peevishly. Meet them with a cheerful countenance. Converse in a cultured and dignified manner.
5. The Arabs have a charming custom of welcoming their guests with the following phrase: Ahlan wa Sahlan wa Marhaba, which figuratively means: "Make yourself at home. Everything you require is found and you are welcome."
6. Employ your discretion in welcoming your guests. Determine their needs according to prevailing weather conditions etc. Endeavour to fulfil their needs before they even request you to do so.
7. Ascertain the habits of the guest in regards to his food, snacks, bathing etc. Make preparations for him according to his habit and disposition. This will comfort him whilst eliciting great rewards for you as well (Insha Allah).
8. Upon his departure, walk a little distance with the guest and bid him farewell. Allow him to take leave from you instead of you bidding him farewell first.
9. If you have some conveyance, offer it to the guest.
10. Whenever anyone took leave of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, he would clasp the former’s hand with his own - out of love and affection - and he would continue holding the other person’s hands until the person himself drew his hands away. When bidding anyone farewell, he used to recite: "Astaudi'ullaha Dînak Amânatak wa khawâtîma 'amalik."
The Holy Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:
"Verily this religion is inexorable, so enter its depth gently; if you try to seize it all at once, it will overpower you" (Bukhari, 39).