Hospitality is a courtesy that is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. With reference to Hadhrat Ibrahim (on whom be peace) it is mentioned twice. Firstly, in Surah Al Dhariyat when the guests greeted Hadhrat Ibrahim (on whom be peace) with ‘Salaam’ Hadhrat Ibrahim responded in kind. ‘When they entered upon him and said, ‘Peace!’ he said, ‘Peace!’ They were all strangers’. (51:26). The apparent significance of this is that they both wished each other peace. However, according to lexicon a distinction has been made; the guests greeted with the word ‘Salaam’, however Hadhrat Ibrahim (peace and be on him) responded with ‘Salaamun’, which has more eloquent connotation. Here the courtesy of the Quranic verse, ‘And when you are greeted with a prayer, greet ye with a better prayer or at least return it…’ (4:87) was being abided. Huzur explained that the greeting of ‘Salaamun’ signifies lasting peace. This was the high standard of the morals and courtesy of a Prophet of God. By citing this example it is indicated to us that as the Ummah of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) we should always follow this standard to welcome guests; thus expressing and conveying our delight at receiving our guests. The Qur’an goes on to state that Hadhrat Ibrahim (on whom be peace) made prompt arrangements to serve the guests, ‘And he went quietly to his household, and brought a fatted calf,’ (51:27) or it is stated in Surah Hud, ‘…They said, ‘We bid you peace.’ He answered, ‘Peace be on you,’ and was not long in bringing a roasted calf.’ (11:70). Huzur explained that God likes timely hospitality extended in the best possible manner that one can afford. In Surah Al Dhariyat the subject-matter is not of hospitality, yet by mentioning it, the excellent civility has been cited that in spite of being strangers they were greeted and served in a fine manner. Preparation for their hospitality ensued without any questions asked. Huzur said God loves this quality and it is a characteristic of Islam.
Excellent hospitality was the distinction of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) even before the advent of his prophethood. Arabs are a very hospitable people, but this quality was present in the Prophet with greater splendour. When he received his first ever Divine revelation and went home perturbed with the awe of his experience, Hadhrat Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) consoled and comforted him. She said that God would never let him down because he was most careful in fulfilling the dues of his relations, shared others’ problems, established the high morals that had been abandoned, was hospitable, helped the poor and the needy, how could God let him be wasted? Huzur said here the mention of hospitality, among his other qualities, tells us that it was of distinct excellence. Indeed, after prophethood this was further burnished to perfection.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) did not merely honour his guests with good arrangements of food; rather, he took care of their small needs and at times served them personally. He counselled his followers to do the same and said, ‘if you claim to love me then follow me’. The hospitality he enjoined was without the hope or wish for a return of favour, or praise and purely for the sake of obeying God’s command. He advised to serve guests in an excellent manner for three days for this was the guests’ due. He said if one believed in God and the Day of Judgement one should honour guests. The Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) hospitality was borne out of fervour to serve but he also carried it out to exemplify the teachings of Islam to people of other faiths or of no faith. We thus note that his hospitality was not just for the apparent and physical well-being of his guests but also for their spiritual well-being. This is also the teaching he imparted to his followers.
Once, a disbelieving guest came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). The Prophet sent for milk of one goat to serve him. The person drank the milk. One after another, on his request, milk of seven goats was brought for him and he drank it all. The man was most impressed at the level of this hospitality which was without any hesitation and without the hope for reciprocation. The next day he embraced Islam. Again, it was arranged to fetch some milk for him. He drank one goat’s milk but could not finish the second round. Following this, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that a believer eats the fill of one bowel where as a disbeliever eats the fill of seven bowels. Huzur explained that first arrangement was made to meet his needs and only when he declined to drink any more did the Prophet made the remark informing him of the station he had acquired by coming into Islam.
Once, a delegation from Emperor Najashi came to visit. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) personally served them. His Companions asked him why he undertook serving them when the Companions were there to be of service. The Prophet replied that the people of Najashi had honoured the Muslims therefore he preferred to serve them himself to reciprocate their favours. Once, due to some ailment, a visiting Jew soiled the bedding. Embarrassed, he left early in the morning leaving behind the soiled bedding. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) washed it himself. The man had left something behind, so he returned. When he saw the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) washing the soiled bedding he was mortified. It is said he embraced Islam. Once, a traveller came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who sent a message to his household to send some food. The reply came that there was nothing in the house except water. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) asked his Companions who among them could arrange for some food. An Ansari said he would. When he went home to ask his wife to prepare some food for the guest she said they only had enough to feed the children. He asked her to light the lamp and send the children to bed. When the food was ready and the guest arrived, he got up on the pretext of adjusting the lamp and instead extinguished it. He and his wife pretended to eat in the dark while the guest ate satisfactorily. Next day, when the Ansari went to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), he laughed and said, ‘your planning of last night also made Allah laugh’. It is then that the following verse was revealed: ‘…and find not in their breasts any desire for that which is given them, but prefer others to themselves even though poverty be their own lot. And whoso is rid of the covetousness of the soul – it is these who will be successful’ (59:10).
Huzur said the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had a group of Companions who accompanied him all the time lest they missed something he enjoined. It is an immense favour of theirs on the Ummah to have imparted so many ahadith to us. Hadhrat Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) was the one who related most ahadith. He had the occasion to hear what most others did not. Huzur said this was because he had a disadvantaged background and he simply stayed around the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) while others would visit during certain times of the day. In the early days Hadhrat Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) would tie a rock to his belly to fight hunger pangs.
One day, in such a state, he sat at a spot where people would usually pass by. He stopped Hadhrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and asked him about the meaning of a Quranic verse with the hope that he would also feed him. However, he just explained the verse and left. Later, Hadhrat Umer (may Allah be pleased with him) passed and Hadhrat Abu Huraira repeated the question with the same expectation but he also left after explaining the verse. Then the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) passed. He saw Hadhrat Abu Huraira and asked him to go with him. He took him to his home where there was half a bowl of milk some had sent over. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) asked Hadhrat Abu Huraira to gather all the As’hab us Suffah (Companions who had no means of subsistence and who lived in a portion of the Prophet’s Mosque). Hadhrat Abu Huraira did not like this as he was extremely hungry and wondered how many people the bowl of milk could satiate. However, in obedience, he called everyone. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) asked Hadhrat Abu Huraira to pass the bowl to everyone. When they had all drank, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) smiled and gave the bowl to Hadhrat Abu Huraira and asked him to drink to his fill. When he had had his fill the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) took the bowl, praised God, said Bimillah and then drank the milk. Huzur said the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) considered Ashab us Suffah his guests, that is why he offered the milk to them first. The milk would have been blessed even if he had drunk it first but he gave it to the others out of his sense of hospitality.
After the victory of Makkah many foreign delegations would come to meet him. He would receive them with great respect and would arrange for gifts for them. He had said when a leader or a dignitary of another nation visits you, afford him honour accordingly. Although he commanded to honour leaders, he would respect all his guests.
Huzur said the ardent devotee of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), the Promised Messiah replicated this blessed model in the current age. Once he was visiting the town of Gurdaspur and although a visitor himself, he would take great care of those who came to see him. He often said that people who came to visit should feel relaxed in asking for whatever their specific needs were. He went to great lengths to make his guests feel comfortable and relaxed. He once said the heart of a guest is like a glass; it breaks at the slightest of knocks. He enjoined his followers to be extremely polite and courteous to guests and to keep quiet in a situation that escalated to verbal abuse. He instructed the person who was in charge of the Langer Khana (communal/public kitchen) to take care of every person’s needs. He added that as he handled all the work on his own, he may forget to do so, in which case others should remind him of this. He instructed to serve everyone, regardless of their outward appearance, without any distinction.
Huzur related a few incidents exemplifying the extraordinary measures the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) took to serve his guests. He would always meet people with cheerfulness and this was because it was the Sunnah of his master.
Huzur said it is now our responsibility to carry this tradition on. These days we are receiving guests who have come to attend Jalsa Salana. The Jalsa that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) initiated after being Divinely informed. He also prayed abundantly for those who attend Jalsa Salana. In this way these are the guests of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and we must extend our hospitality to them purely for the sake of seeking God’s pleasure and in consideration of religious brotherhood.
Huzur said the Jalsa duty-holders should carry out their duties with diligence, courtesy, patience and tolerance. Every small requirement of the guests should be taken care of. Each guest should be treated as if he/she is a special guest of the person on duty. May God enable each duty-holder to fulfil his/her obligation in an excellent manner.
Next Huzur announced that he would lead two funeral Prayers in absentia after Jummah. Chaudhry Mahmood Ahmad Cheema sahib who was a life-devotee passed away on 12 July in Rabwah. He was 81. He had served in Sierra Leone, Germany and Indonesia. His service in Indonesia spanned 33 years. He finally returned to Rabwah in 2002. He had had the privilege to perform Hajj. He was a pious, sincere, and dedicated life-devotee. He had an extremely sincere connection with Khilafat. He leaves behind daughters, may they continue with the piety of their father.
Sahibzadi Amatul Momin sahiba, wife of Sahibzada Mirza Naeem Ahmad sahib passed away at the age of 68. She was the paternal granddaughter of Hadhrat Mirza Sharif Ahmad and maternal granddaughter of Mirza Aziz`Ahmad sahib. Her father was Sahibzada Mirza Zafar Ahmad sahib and her mother was Amatul Naseer sahiba. She was a daughter-in-law of Hadhrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him). She was most steadfast, patient and sincere. She bore the passing away of her parents and her husband most steadfastly. She suffered from a long illness with fortitude and never complained. May God elevate her status and keep her offspring firm on piety.