پایگاه اطلاع رسانی آیت الله ابراهیم امینی قدس سره

Receiving Guests

Receiving Guests


One of the inevitable tasks of every family is to entertain guests at one time or another. This is an enjoyable tradition as a result of which friendships become closer and people can forget their problems temporarily. Keeping company with friends and relatives is one of the healthiest pastimes.

"The Prophet (SA) of Allah stated: 'The sustenance of a guest is descended from the heavens. and upon eating it, the sins of the host are forgiven'."[119]

"Imam Reza (AS) stated: ' A generous person eats the food offered to him by others so that they eat his. But a miser would not eat the offered food by others lest they eat his'." [120]

"The Prophet (AS) of Allah stated: 'Associating with friends causes kindness (amongst them)'". [121]

"Imam Muhammad Taqi (AS) stated: ' Associating with friends matures one's mind and enlivens one's heart, be it even only slightly'."[122]

In the turbulent sea of life, one's soul needs tranquility, and this peace of mind can be found when keeping company with one's friends.

People would forget their problems while present in a friendly gathering. Not only can friendships become stronger, but it would serve to boost one's morale.

Entertaining guests is a good custom and rarely one would deny its merits, but there are two difficulties with it that make some families reluctant to take part in this age-old tradition.

First: Luxury goods and vying with one another has made life difficult for many of us. Household goods which are meant to serve our comfort have turned into a means of showing off and ostentation. Thus people are tending to associate less frequently with each other. Although many who are willing to socialize, refuse to do so, because they have the wrong idea that they do not possess many luxurious items in their homes that it would be better to keep away from others and save themselves the embarrassment. This reflection destroys one's situation in the life after death as well as placing him in a difficult situation in this world.

Dear madam! do your friends come to your house in order to watch your luxury goods? If so, advise them to go to the stores and museums instead of coming to visit you. Associating with others is meant to increase one's friendship with them as well as having a pleasant time. It is not meant for showing off or filling one's stomach. Everyone is annoyed with 'luxurism' and rivalry of this kind. But they dare not dispose of this mistaken tradition.

If you were prepared to entertain your guests in a simple manner, you would see that they would follow you. This way you can associate with your friends simply and without going to too much trouble. Thus, the solution to this problem is easy .Instead of trying to match your belongings to those of others', you should concentrate on strengthening the bonds of friendship with them through kindness.

Second: Another difficulty is about the hosting of one's guests. A housewife goes through the trouble of making food for a few guests over a period of a few hours. Sometimes a woman cannot prepare a delicious meal, after which the husband may become upset. Her husband may also show his displeasure towards her cooking. Therefore, some parties are accompanied with the anxiety of the host couple as a result of which people tend to avoid having a party.

Of course it is true that holding a party is not easy, but the main difficulty arises when the housewife does not have sufficient knowledge about how to look after her guests.

Hosting one's guests becomes easy if one is prepared to learn the necessary skills. Here two case studies are presented. You may follow whichever you prefer while entertaining your guests:

Case(a): The man informs his wife that on Friday night, ten of his friends are coming for dinner His wife who has had bitter experience with previous parties, suddenly becomes enraged and protests to her husband. After a detailed discussion and the husband's pleading, the reluctant wife agrees to arrange the dinner for his guests. They spend their days and nights in a certain air of restlessness, and excitement until Friday.

On Friday morning one of them goes for shopping. He remembers the necessary items to buy and after purchasing a few items, returns home.

The housewife starts her job after lunch. She suddenly confronts many problems. She has to do the cooking, washing, sweeping, dusting, arranging the guestroom, and so on. Also, she has to do all this and more on her own or at the most with only one person helping her. She begins to work with a great deal of worry. She looks for the knife to cut the onions, searches the house for salt, etc. She realizes that there is not any tomato in the house, so she sends somebody to buy it. She must then fry the chickens, cut the meat, soak the rice in water, clean the vegetables,... etc.

She becomes touchy and nervous, and then shouts at the servant, curses her daughter, hits her son and then runs out of gas or kerosene. "Oh God! what shall I do?", she screams.

All of a sudden the door bell rings. The guests have arrived! They come in one after another. The poor husband who is aware of wife's anxiety, welcomes the guests into the house and leads them to the sitting room. He then intends to serve them with tea, but he finds out that tea is not ready. He shouts at his daughter or son for not putting the kettle on the samovar. Once the tea is made, he finds out that they do not have enough sugar. After having to buy some more sugar, he takes a few cups of tea to the guests. He looks at them but his mind is in the kitchen. He knows what is going on in that quarter. He cannot sit comfortably or talk to the guests peacefully. He is worried about the dinner. It is even worse if there are women among the guests in which case they keep asking where the woman of the house is. The man must answer that his wife is busy cooking and she will be with them soon.The wife, occasionally goes to the guests but cannot stay and sit with them. She, while apologizing to them once again returns to her kitchen. It is not possible for her to prepare a really delicious meal under these conditions.

Once the meal is ready, she has to look for the dishes, make a drink, get the glasses, fill the salt and pepper shakers, etc.

The guests after eating their meal finally say 'good-bye' to their hosts and leave.

Conclusion: The meal was either too salty or salt less, burnt or less- cooked. Also some of the items may have been forgotten by the hostess, and therefore not placed before her guests.

It is now midnight and the wife is exhausted. She has not had a moment of rest since noon. Also she was unable to attend to the guests properly.

The husband has gone through a great deal of worry. He has spent a lot of money for the party, but the evening was not enjoyable and he may even blame his wife.

The couple, not only have not enjoyed the party, but may also have an argument over it, and may even decide not to hold any more parties.

The guests did not enjoy the party either, because they felt that they had caused a lot of trouble for their hosts and they probably wished that they had not come at all.

Undoubtedly, the readers would not enjoy such a situation and would not be prepared or willing to have this kind of experience.

Do you know what the source of this problem is? Well, the only real cause is the lack of experience and know-how of the housewife about how to entertain her guests. Otherwise, holding a party is not such a difficult task.

Now the second option:

Case (b): The man informs his wife that ten of their friends will be coming for dinner on Friday night. The wife responds by saying "Very well, what should we prepare for dinner that night?" The couple decides on this matter together and then writes down all the necessary items needed for the party. They recheck their needs again and by crossing out those items that they already have in their house, re-write the items that they would have to purchase. Then in good time they do their shopping.

On Thursday, a day before the party, they finish some of the work such as cutting onions, washing the potatoes, filling the salt and pepper shakers, preparing the table wares and so on.

The following morning, the woman of the house after eating breakfast, carries out some of her tasks like washing, cutting and frying the meat, chicken, and potatoes. After lunch she can take a rest after which she can finish the remainder of her work.

So she can finish all her cooking, tidying up and arranging the house without any rush or worries. There would be no need for arguments or any cause for confusion. She would have enough time to get herself ready and prepare a cup of tea when their guests arrive. She can then welcome the guests alongside her husband and sit and talk to them. She would just need to go to the kitchen to make sure everything was going smoothly.

She can ask her husband and the children to help her in setting the food in front of the guests. Therefore, everyone would be able to comfortably enjoy their delicious meal.

Conclusion: The guests have enjoyed the company of their hosts. They have talked and their friendship had become stronger. They have enjoyed the meal and have admired the housewife for her ability to entertain them. Finally, they have enjoyed an evening which they would remember for a long time to come.

The husband has been able to associate with the guests. He has had a good time with his friends and is happy with his wife for not letting him down. They become encouraged to invite their friends over and over again.

Finally, the woman who, through patience and know- how, has been able to entertain the guests normally and without any problem, is satisfied with herself. She feels happy with her husband and has proved herself to be a good hostess.

Now you can choose to follow either of the two examples.

[119] Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol 16, p 557.
[120] Ibid, p 520.
[121] Bihar al-Anwar, vol 74, p 355.
[122] Ibid, p 353.