Incline Towards Others

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the twenty-fourth in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

Break your fast if you are invited for a meal, if it is a voluntary fast. The believer is someone who brings the sunna of fasting into their lives if they can fast. If you are fasting an obligatory, such as a makeup fast from the days of Ramadan, you would not break your fast. As for a voluntary fast, you can break it and there are legal details related to it as to when they invite you, etc.

This is if the host would mind in any way if you continued fasting. Taking care of the other person’s feelings is more important than completing your fast. Even if they only invited you to tea and some nuts or snacks. If there is a reasonable fear that they would mind, it is better to break the fast and you have the full reward for it. 

If they do not mind, especially if it is a friend who would not care or somebody who is perhaps religiously mature and understands the virtues of fasting, then in that situation, participate with enthusiasm.

Smile and Take Part

If your siblings invited you over to discuss some family plans and they are having some sandwiches, and you are not eating, participate in the conversation. Make dua for them. Do not be sitting in the corner looking for when they are done. You should not tell the guest you went to trouble. Make them feel important. 

The host honors the guest and the guest honors the host. One of the important etiquette of the guest is to be enthusiastic. When you are a host, your remembrance (dhikr) is being attentive to the guest. If you are the guest, your remembrance is to be appreciative of the host. Be with them. The remembrance there is your good intentions.

It is also bad manners to be on one’s phone before the host. Intend the sunna of smiling, being appreciative, and participating in the conversation.

Visit Your Brethren

The beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said in a well-established hadith:

“Visit from time to time and you’ll increase in love.”

The expression in Arabic is beautiful. Visit from time to time. Do not visit only rarely. Also, do not visit so regularly that it becomes a burden. This is a neglected Sunna.

Very often, we turn visiting one another into a very formal thing. Such that unless there is some big thing people do not visit one another. That is not a good custom. 

One of the things that is not difficult to practice, is that if you go shopping, pick up a few things for different people. They do not have to be big. It is more the gesture that means a lot. It cultivates the relationship. Do not make it heavy so that they do not feel it is a burden. 

Leave burdensome expectations such that anytime you visit, you have to take a gift or you have to do this or you have to do that.

Be Straightforward

The Sunna is to be straightforward. Interestingly, in Madinah, there were companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) who got married. Companions who were close to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and did not tell the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). 

As for our master Jabir ibn Abdillah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) noticed him wearing a ring and asked him, “O Jabir, what is that ring?” He replied, “O Messenger of Allah, I just recently got married.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) prayed for him.

He did not ask him, “Why did not you invite me?” You have to be aware of social norms and circumstances, but there is a degree of straightforwardness that is important as well. Even with preparing meals, make it easy for yourself to invite people over. Do not overdo it. Do the amount that is easy for you. 

Likewise, if you contact somebody, you do not have to have a long conversation with them. Just call them to ask them how they are doing and such. There are great merits in visiting others. But, hosting has tremendous reward and merit as well.

Always Benefit

There was a man who went out of his way to visit a friend of his who lived in a village. He traveled to that village just to visit his friend. Allah sent an angel who stopped him on the way and asked, “Why are you traveling?” He said, “I’m going to visit my friend in that neighborhood.” He said, “Is there any other purpose you have for that trip?” And he said, “No, just to visit my brother because I love them for the sake of Allah.” The angel said, “I am a messenger from Allah sent to you to inform you that Allah has loved you out of your love for that person.” 

Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, the great companion said, “If any of our brethren we felt their absence, we would go visit them. Then if we found that they were sick, it would be from visiting the sick. And if they were busy with something, it would be from helping others. And if there is no other reason, then it would be from visiting one of our brethren.” 

There would always be benefit to the visit. If they are sick, it would count as visiting the sick. If they are in need, they would assist them. Were they not sick, they would have the reward of visiting someone for the sake of Allah.