Significance of Hospitality

Hudhur said the significance of hospitality in the sight of God is such that He states in the Qur’an: ‘And give thou to the … wayfarer’ (17:17) In the Qur’an we also read about Hadhrat Ibrahim (on whom be peace) presented a roasted calf to his guests and indeed the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: ‘A person who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement should honour his guests.’

Explaining, Hudhur said this signifies that honouring of guest is important for God and for the Day of Judgement. It is an indicator of belief and is an obligation. Another hadith relates that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said: ‘Those who believe in God and the Day of Judgement should pay the rightful dues of a guest.’ When it was enquired what constituted rightful dues, he replied, ‘[stay of] a day and a night’. Hudhur explained that certainly the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) has set limits of hospitality as three days. Stay of a day is the minimum. However, in some circumstances, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was host to people for many days and entrusted other guests to his Companions. The fundamental point that he made regarding hospitality was that of complete respect and regard, stating that it was the right of a guest. Some of the limits set by him are also there to make a guest be mindful of his obligation. Hudhur will give a discourse with reference to this next Friday.

As it is customary for Hudhur to draw the attention of the duty-holders on the Friday before Jalsa, today Hudhur spoke on the trait of hospitality which is important as regards God and the Day of Judgement and is a right of a guest. The Quranic statement to give the wayfarer his due also puts the onus on us to adopt hospitality on a large scale. Not only during the Jalsa period but also in our family life, hospitality should be the distinction of an Ahmadi Muslim.

Today, with reference to hospitality at Jalsa, Hudhur advised each worker and each family playing host at home, to give rightful respect to guests. Hudhur said if God has given an ordinary traveller, a wayfarer so much right, then one travelling in the way of God would have much more rights. Jalsa Salana UK starts from next Friday and guests from far-off countries have started arriving. Some will stay within the accommodation provided by the Jama’at and others will stay with families. The duty of hospitality towards them should be given special significance and efforts should be made about it.

With the grace of God, wherever the Jama’at is increasing there is an extensive arrangement of Langar. The Langar arrangement in the UK is probably the largest after Rabwah. It is obvious that this extent is due to the presence of the Khalifa of the time. However, the biggest merit of this permanent Langar is that a large majority, if not all the people who work for it are volunteers. They have been voluntarily giving their time for the past many years for this. In Rabwah and Qadian, there is paid staff for this work. The UK Jama’at has accomplished the duty of a permanent Langar extremely well and continues to do so. They also undertake this task very well at Jalsa. Hudhur said he was mentioning all this by way of a reminder and also for the new-comers.

The hospitality at Jalsa always impresses the guests from outside, here in the UK as well as other countries. The host volunteers/workers should also bear this in mind in future. In a way each worker presents a model of Ahmadiyyat in practice and this is a great honour. There are other duties aside from Langar duty and they should be undertaken to the best of one’s ability and with a complete sense of responsibility. No matter what task one is entrusted with, it should be not be considered insignificant. The system will only operate properly if each and every duty is given importance. No guest should be inconvenienced due to inadequacy of any task.

Next Hudhur related some incidents from the Register of companions of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) to highlight the significance of hospitality.

Hadhrat Shaikh Asghar Ali sahib: He said that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) personally looked after his guests and also always drew Hafiz Hamid Ali sahib’s attention to it. He said that he arrived in Qadian in 1902 after a long journey via train and horse carriage in rainy weather. He and his friend were given very comfortable accommodation and served delicacies. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) personally inquired if they were inconvenienced in any way during their stay.

Hadhrat Manzur Ali sahib: He said that his father, who was one of the early Ahmadis related that once he and a group of seven others sat down for a meal with the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) including Hadhrat Maulwi Nur ud din (may Allah be pleased with him). Both the dishes served were meat-based. Hudhur Aqdas repeatedly picked pieces of meat from his plate and gave them to other; Hadhart Maulwi Nur ud din also did the same. One of the guests asked how mangoes would fare after the meal. The narrator said the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said something in reply which he did not remember, he probably said he would get some mangoes. Just then a man arrived from somewhere and brought eight mangoes. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) cut the mangoes in slices and served them to the guests. He also offered the mango slices from his own share to others.

Hadhrat Fazal Ilahi sahib: He writes that he used to often travel to Qadian from Lahore. Many times the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) invited him to his residence and personally served tea. Many a time he took meals with the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and on many occasions the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) gave him food from his own plate. He relates one evening after Maghrib the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) sat on the roof top of Masjid Mubarak. The moon of either the fourteenth or fifteenth night shone on the sky and Ilahi sahib saw a ray of luminosity exude from the face of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) and hit the moon.

Hadhrat Chiragh Din sahib: He relates that once at dinner at someone’s home the guests filled up the room and there was no space left for him to sit. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) lifted his knee and asked him to sit next to him and eat with him.

Hadhrat Zulfiqar Ali sahib: He relates that each time he visited Qadian he was served Pilao. He asked Hafiz Hamid Ali sahib why he was served Pilao at both the daily meals. He was told that when he had first arrived the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) had instructed that he should be served Pilao. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) once had the cook of Zulfiqar Ali sahib make Biryani during a visit to Gurdaspur and as it was very well-made he had thought that they ate the dish often. Hence he instructed that Pilao should be made for him on his visits.

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