Being a good guest is an advisable thing in all religions. But when it comes to Muslim houses, it will be a little bit different to be a good guest in terms of customs and religious traditions. Below is some advice you should be aware of to keep your Muslim host happy and your visit probably problem-free.
1- Bring a gift
Generally, Muslims are very generous and they appreciate generosity. Prophet Muhammad used to exchange presents with the people he lived with and encouraged his followers to do so. He said that it is a better way to bridge wide gaps and develop a deep meaningful friendship. So, it is appreciated to bring a gift when you visit a Muslim home, but not obligatory.
Usually, people bring something to consume during dinner. But, since they are Muslims, you should be aware of the difference between haram and halal. Muslims only eat halal food, and do not consume alcohol. When you visit their home, don’t ever bring or expect to eat anything that has pork or alcohol, as they are all considered haram or prohibited. This includes cheese, bread, gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen that are not taken from halal animals. Thus, check the ingredients well as many Muslims observe the rule. When in doubt, don’t bring food, or try to find a fully halal food at any halal grocery made especially for Muslims.
However, you will be safest if you steer clear of anything having to do with either alcohol or meat products. Fruit and flowers may seem perfect ideas.
2- Do not overstay
Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (Peace be upon him), said:
Whoever believes in the Last Day, let him honor his guest, and grant him reward for a day and a night. And it is not permissible for him to stay so long that he causes annoyance to his host. Hospitality is for three days, and whatever he spends on him after three days is charity.”[Sunan Ibn Majah]
So, when visiting a Muslim house try to not overstay and become a nuisance guest.
3- Know the customs of the house and respect their privacy
There is a great diversity of culture concerning Muslim houses. Some Muslims might be very western, but the majority maintains more of their traditional upbringing. When you enter into a Muslim home, they will often take off their shoes at the door or before they walk on carpets. If they do, then you can too. It is a matter of cleanliness which is very important in Islam, as Muslims pray in their homes, and they are not to pray in a dirty area and the bottoms of shoes are considered unclean. Moreover, if they ask you to sit in a specific room try to stick to it and do not move or sneak up to other rooms until they ask so.
When it’s time to eat, it is religious for most Muslims to mention Allah’s name and to eat with their right hand. The Messenger of Allah ordered Muslims to “Mention Allah’s Name (i.e., say Bismillah before starting to eat), eat with […] right hand, and eat from what is near […].” Moreover, if you are sharing a common plate, then eat out of your area of the dish. Although it is not obligatory rather than favorable to do the above-mentioned tips, but if you are a Muslim already, you will find yourself in a hot seat.
4- Be careful with the opposite gender
Generally, in many Muslim homes there will be segregation between different genders. Men will gather in one room and women will congregate in another. However, in less strict houses all people sit together, but still there are certain rules to follow. For example, there should be no touching of the opposite sex, even if it were an innocent touch. And any flirtatious behavior shouldn’t be existent. Furthermore, conversations between opposite genders shouldn’t be excessively playful rather than necessary, group conversations and professional.
Upon greeting, embraces, kisses and handshakes are acceptable. An embrace usually entails a hug or partial hug and kissing both cheeks. However, mixed gender still can’t touch each other, as orally greetings is sufficient. Always “A-sa-laam-a-lei-kum” (peace be upon you) is the official greeting, and one should respond saying “wa-alaikum-el-salam” (upon you too).
Although these rules are extremely important in some Muslims houses, but most of them will not mind if you don’t follow their rules. After all, it is a sigh of respect to follow and to not break the rules of the house. In turn, your Muslim host will appreciate it, respect and love you more.