Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|To have a mosque in one's own home|
|08/16/01 at 02:19:45|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]To have a mosque in one's own home
By Adil Salahi[/center]
At the time of the Prophet, his companions always wanted him to visit them in their homes. Anyone who received the Prophet in his own home felt that was a great honor. He would try his best to be more hospitable. However, the Prophet did not look for any grand reception. He wanted his companions not to go to great trouble in order to show their hospitality. He indeed encouraged them to be hospitable to their visitors, but he told them a host should never disdain to offer his guest what he has, and a visitor should never disdain what he is offered. He himself was the easiest and most welcome of guests. He sat wherever his host wanted him to sit, ate whatever was presented to him and always prayed for his hosts and blessed them and their children.
Al-Bukhari relates in his Sahih, the most authentic of Hadith collections, on the authority of Anas ibn Malik that "God's messenger (peace be upon him) visited a family of the Ansar and he had some food at their place. When he wanted to leave, he pointed to a place in their house where a rug was put for him. He offered his prayers there and made his supplication, praying for that household."
This story is a very common one, so much so that some of us may be surprised that scholars should see fit to report it and research it in order to establish its authenticity. That is part of the study of Hadith which aims to provide a complete record of what the Prophet said or did because we are commanded by God to follow the Prophet's example. His guidance shows us the best course of action that cements friendship and strengthens social ties. As we have often said in this column, the establishment of brotherly relations between all members of the Muslim community is given a high priority in the Islamic social setup. From this Hadith we learn that it is recommended to us to visit one another and it is also proper for a person in a high position to visit his subordinates if he is invited by them. It is needless to say that the invitation should have no aim other than the strengthening of social ties and the demonstration of brotherly feelings. If the invitation has ulterior motives, such as gaining an unfair advantage over others, then it should not be accepted.
We also learn from this Hadith that it is recommended for a host to offer his guests whatever he has available of food, drink or fruit. That helps to strengthen friendly ties. Jabir ibn Abdullah, a companion of the Prophet who has reported numerous Hadiths, "was visited by a number of the Prophet's companions. He offered them bread and vinegar, and said: "Please have something to eat. I heard God's messenger (peace be upon him) say: 'Vinegar is good food to eat with bread. It ruins a person who has some of his friends visiting him and he disdains what he has at home of food to offer them, and it is ruinous for them to disdain what is offered to them'." (Related by Al-Hakim and Abu Ya'la).
Apparently this incident happened when the Muslim community in Madinah was still very poor. Jabir was a young man whose father was killed in battle and he was the supporter of his several sisters. It is very likely that he had nothing at home at that time other than the bread and vinegar. Nevertheless, he presented that to his guests and requested them to eat, quoting the Prophet's Hadith in which the Prophet describes vinegar as something good to eat with bread. It must have been said by the Prophet on a similar occasion, probably when he himself was offered nothing else to eat. The Prophet was the easiest of people when it came to what he should have to eat. He never showed contempt of any food whatsoever. When anything was presented to him, he ate of it if he liked it, or he did not eat of it at all. He never criticized or showed dislike of any food.
It is also important to note that the Prophet has encouraged us to visit our friends and brothers. When such a visit is made for no purpose other than the social aspect for which most visits are exchanged, it earns the visitor a reward from God and it earns the host also a reward if he receives his visitors well. Abu Hurairah quotes the Prophet as saying: "When a man visits an ill person or visits his brother in Islam, God says: Blessed be your life and your walk, and you have a house made for you in heaven." (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and At-Tirmithi)."
This Hadith provides very strong encouragement for us to visit one another. More important is to visit people who are ill, to enquire after their health and to show them that we care for them. It is needless to say that when a person is ill, he finds visits by his relatives and friends most encouraging. It helps him to pass his time and bear his illness with patience. But also visits to friends who are not ill, i.e. social visits, are a means to earn reward from God. The reward which this Hadith outlines is inevitably felt to be far greater than the action itself merits. People normally visit their friends because they like them and enjoy their company. Why should they receive a reward for that? There is indeed no reason except for the fact that their community becomes more coherent and united. Islam is keen to achieve that goal because the Muslim community faces much opposition from different quarters. Unless it is well united and closely knit together, it cannot face up to the many challenges that it may encounter. The best thing to ensure its continued strength is for its members to be well united. The Hadith shows that God Himself promises this reward which includes the blessing of the life of the visitor, and his journey, and promises him a house in heaven.
The first Hadith which we have quoted mentions that after the Prophet had eaten, and before he departed, he indicated that he wanted to offer his prayers in their house. They immediately made the arrangements and laid a rug for him to pray. He offered his prayers and included his hosts in his supplication, praying for their welfare and that God may take care of them and bless them. They obviously were so pleased by his prayer, because it ensured that their house was blessed.
Needless to say, a host should provide his guests with the means to offer their prayers, if an obligatory prayer falls due. Similarly, if the guest feels that it is no inconvenience to his host to arrange for his ablutions and prayer, he may offer his prayers in his friend's home. The question of convenience or inconvenience arises only with voluntary prayers. If it is an obligatory prayer which the guest wants to offer, then his host must facilitate that. Muslims will always provide such facility because they know that when someone else offers his prayers in their homes, they earn a reward from God for facilitating his prayer.
We also understand from this Hadith that it is recommended to pray for our hosts and ask God to bless them and their home. This is the best return of their hospitality. Whatever they might have offered us and however generous and hospitable they are, God is more generous with His reward. When we pray for them, He answers our prayer, especially when we say that prayer in their absence. However, when we visit them, it is proper to pray for them in their presence. Our prayer is bound to increase our mutual feelings for one another.
[i]Arab News - 01 October 1999[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 f's)
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