HOSPITALITY OF THE PEOPLE OF MADINAH
Indeed, hospitality is a speciality of the people of Madinah. Whilst leaving the Haram on one occasion we met our Ustaad Qari Abdullah Salim Saheb who had taught us Qiraat and Tajweed in Deoband. Qari Saheb is currently running a very successful Darul Uloom in Chicago, U.S.A. He had mentioned a very important point which added to our knowledge greatly which also indicates that a person is learning all the time. One should always regard himself as a student and not one that knows everything. When a person feels that he knows everything and should teach others then one is closing the doors of knowledge upon himself.
Maulana explained that he has a nephew that is a Hafiz-ul-Quraan as well as an engineer by profession. He resides in Madinah Sharif and is a very hospitable person. He goes out of his way to serve the Ulema that visit the holy lands. He then explained the requirement in order to qualify to be a resident of Madinah Munawwarah is that one should be hospitable. It is not necessary to be a great Aalim, nor a great Aabid, nor an Aashiq. Whoever visits Madinah Munawwarah are the guest of Rasulullah g, and Rasulullah g went out of his way to host his guest.
DELEGATION THAT CAME TO MADINAH
Once a delegation came to Madinah Munawwarah, it was the habit of Rasulullah g to ask Sahaaba, “Who would host the guest of Rasulullah g?” In Madinah Munawwarah, Rasulullah g had a non-Muslim guest. Rasulullah g enquired from the Sahaaba, “Who is it that will entertain our guest?” The entertaining of these guests was not only to feed them but to teach them Deen. The Sahaaba knew the terrible character of this non-Muslim so they refused to entertain him. Generally, we will not want to entertain people with evil character. However Rasaulullah g said, “The guest will stay at my house.” He spent the night at the home of Rasulullah g and messed the bed. He then left the home in the middle of the night fearing his dignity. In that era the most valuable possession of a person is his sword. The sword was extremely valuable as the car of a person in today’s time, or a person is totally paralysed without his cell phone. It holds extreme value to a person. This person forgot his sword. On the other hand Rasulullah g noticed that the guest had messed the bed and began cleaning the mess personally. That Nabie of Allah c that was absolutely pure internally and externally began cleansing the bed. When this person returned and seen Rasulullah g cleaning the mess, he immediately said, “O Nabie of Allah, cleanse my heart of the filth of Kufr and Shirk.”
Similarly, the guests that come to the Khanqah are the guest of the Sheikh. It is physically impossible for the Sheikh to host every one of them. Whoever is chosen to entertain the guests are actually acting on behalf of the Sheikh. When this delegation arrived, then Sahaaba took the guests to their home. Similarly, we are also regarded as the host of Rasulullah g in this day and age. Who would have visited Madinah Munawwarah if Rasulullah was not resting there. The value of the Masjid is because of Rasulullah g. The value of the Rowdah is because of Rasulullah g.
HOSPITALITY IN THE LIVES OF THE AMBIYA
Hospitality was a quality that was dominant in the lives of all the Ambiyaa n. Similarly, hospitality was found in the life of all the Sahaaba and the Awliya. In our country, there was a time where the guest would be taken home if they are seen outside the Masjid. Unfortunately we avoid the guests that come nowadays. The hospitality of the people of Madinah is outstanding to such an extent that no other city in the world has hospitality like the residents of Madinah Munawwarah. People will bear witness that Dastarkhaans are laid out in Madinah on a daily basis. The host serve dates in punnets, cups, etc. Many people eat the dates even before the Maghrib Azaan but the host will never refuse them. The host who is generally a wealthy Arab breaks the bread and distributes the dates personally. This type of hospitality is not found anywhere in the world.
RAMDAAN IN MADINAH MUNAWWARAH
We were once in Madinah Sharif during the month of Ramdaan with our Sheikh r. The host had appointed certain people to bring guests to their Dastarkhaans. They then take a promise that you will only come to this specific Dastarkhaan for the remainder of your stay. The people fight with each other to host the guests. We had also experienced that whenever we visited the poorest people of the poorest country, then too they will host in such a manner that one will think that these people are extremely wealthy. This is a quality that is leaving us and we should strive to revive this quality. It is not necessary that one should only be hospitable to a Muslim but even one is permitted to be hospitable to a non-Muslim. Fortunate is the person that makes an intention of inviting people to meals when going for his Salaah to the Masjid. The Sahaaba were such that they didn’t even eat if they didn’t have a guest.
The people of Madinah Sharif exceed all others in the quality of hospitality as the people that go to Madinah are the guest of Rasulullah g. The host has to host his guest. Whilst Rasulullah g was alive he would ask the Sahaaba, “Who is it that will entertain the guest (i.e. guest of Rasulullah g)?” We should also learn that this is what the Khanqah and Tasawwuf is all about. The guests that come to the Khanqah are actually the guests of the Sheikh but he is unable to host all of them. Those that host the guests of the Sheikh are indeed very fortunate as these guests have come to learn the love of Allah c. The Sahaaba of Rasulullah g involved themself in two Khidmat, one was to serve them by feeding them and secondly to teach them the Deen. This is exactly what the Khanqah is about.
Every Nabie, Rasool, Sahaabi, Wali of Allah c possessed the quality of hospitality. They were extremely hospitable. Any person that wants to be pulled to Madinah Munawwarah doesn’t have to worry about having his Iqaamah documents but just inculcate the quality of hospitality and Allah c will sort out the remainder.
It is absolutely easy to speak of this character and to listen to these talks are even easier. However, if a person adopts this character of Rasulullah g, then the life of a person will be absolutely enjoyable in this world as though he is enjoying the bounties of Jannat. When a person learns to forgive others then Allah c will keep you happy. When a person cannot forgive then the heart and mind of a person will be totally tightened. He has no enjoyment in life and he is a totally unhappy person. When a person learns to share and forgive then a person enjoys tremendous happiness. Nowadays we enjoy eating plates of Biryani. The happiness is even greater if we get the Taufeeq of feeding a poor and hungry person. A person with good character enjoys to the maximum. A person that has a light at home gets the maximum benefit from it. On a cold night you have the heater switched on, you will get the maximum benefit from it. In short, the person that possesses good character benefits the most. The Ulema have written volumes on the character of Rasulullah g, but sufficient is the verse of the Quraan Sharif which indicates that the character of Rasulullah g is sublime. Rasulullah g had complete control of his character.
The Khanqah of Hadrat Maulana Hussein Ahmad Madani r was very famous. Sheikh-ul-Islam Hadhrat Moulana Sayyid Hoosein Ahmad Madani r was once travelling by train, a Hindu gets up to relieve himself and returns shortly thereafter. Hadhrat understood immediately that the toilet is not in a clean condition, the spiritual son of Nabi g quietly gets up and with his own hands, cleans the toilet, returns and tells the Hindu the toilet is now in a usable condition! He says first cleanse my heart of Kufr before I even relieve my body of its dirt. Subhanallah! This was the character of our elders, whose name we take and boast about - but where are we?
A GUEST AT THE KHANQAH
In the Khanqah of Sayyid Hadrat Maulana Madni r, a person never used to perform Salaah but used to be first on the Dastarkhaan. The remainder of his time would be spent walking in the market place. The Naazim (person responsible for the Khanqah) expelled him from the Khanqah. When Hadrat found out, he reprimanded the Naazim. He said, “He is my guest not your guest. Your duty is to take care of the guest and not make Tarbiyat of the guest.”
Hadrat Maulana Saeed Khan Saheb r used to say, “The hotels have removed the quality of hospitality.” Muslims no longer give loans to others but you are now directed to the bank for a loan. Previously, people used to go for Salaah to the Masjid and one specific intention they would make was that of bringing home a guest for meals.
HADRAT SHEIKH r
Hadrat Sheikh r was a very hospitable person. On one occasion some guest arrived at Zuhr time. Hadrat told his family to make Kitchri which is similar to the Kitchri that we make. He then bought the sour milk and left it at home before Zuhr Salaah and then proceeded for the Zuhr Salaah. After the Zuhr Salaah, when he returned the food was freshly prepared for the guest. All our Buzurgs were always hospitable.
Today, we pretend as though we didn’t see anyone at the Masjid. May Allah kindle the quality of hospitality in us which is a great Ibaadat. Ameen!