ONE late Sunday afternoon two weeks after Eid Fitri as I was about to doze off in my bed at home, I heard the sounds of boys giving 'salam' (greetings) and saying "kami datang nak beraya" (we came to celebrate Hari Raya).
At first I thought to answer their 'salam' and open the doors for them but my wife who was next to me pulled a section of the curtain to peek outside and whispered to me: "Shyyy, two of the boys had came last weekend. Now they came back with other friends; they are hopeful since on their visit I gave them RM5 each.
My wife and I remained silent; I heard the boys repeating their 'salam' many times, knocking the main door hard and then after grumbling among themselves left our house.
"They have all gone...yeah now I am free to sleep," I told myself but 'a new problem' popped up; well I could not fall asleep!
I laid on bed with an uneasy feeling, I could hear these words thundering into my head: "LanH you are a hypocrite...your action (not welcoming people who came to you house) are against the good values that you often write and speak...you often tell people that any guest, invited or uninvited even beggars should be welcome and treated fairly, at least you could please them with a glass of water...how come you 'shove away' those children?"
My inner self also said: "LanH, why you let your wife decides for you? You should jump out of bed to meet the children and not let your wife overpowered you...do you not remember that historically episode when Prophet Adam a.s. (peace be upon him) was coaxed by his wife, Hawa (Eve) to do something that displeased Allah SWT?
I wanted to further condemned myself but wait; I had read an opinion letter in the Star Online, dated July 15 in which the writer, Alkut from Kota Bharu experienced the same situation. Among others he noted in the letter entitled 'Little beggars the bane at Raya': "Traditionally, Hari Raya Aidilfitri is celebrated with much joy, abundant food, morning prayers, visits to the graveyards, visits by friends and relatives and the young asking for forgiveness from their elders.
"These few years, however, a new trend has been added to these noble traditions. Young children whom you have never seen before are now coming in droves to your house to ask for forgiveness and expect 'duit raya' in return.
"Not too long ago, you only gave 'duit raya' to family members, relatives and children of the neighbors. Now, the list has been extended to include every youngster who comes a-calling.
"These are not children from the far-end corner of your housing area whom you hardly talk to or some distant, long-forgotten cousins.
"Most of the time, they do not even know the owner of the house or any other member of the family. They come in large or small groups from different areas of the towns or villages, moving patiently from house to house with a mission to collect as much 'duit raya' as they can.
"Their presence can be very embarrassing, unpleasant and totally unfair for the hosts as many of these young, uninvited guests are not there to get to know you or for the food and drinks."
Perhaps Alkut might be right, but on the night I did not welcome the boys, when I went to the 'masjid' near my house to perform my 'maghrib' (dusk) prayers and then followed a 'tazkirah' by an 'ustaz', the subject he mentioned was about the importance of honoring guests.
I was shocked and at 'loss for words', it was because what the 'ustaz' was lecturing it seemed to target me for not welcoming guests in my house. My throat dried when the 'ustaz' mentioned: "Invited guests are the Prophet's guests while the uninvited ones are Allah's guests!"
Subhanallah, what you have done LanH? How dare for you to turn away Allah's guests? Yes, the children were Allah's guest...
Allah SWT commands Muslims to be hospitable to guests. There is a great reward in doing so. In Islam, guests who visit our homes must be treated with kindness and respect. The same principle applies whether the guest is a family member, a stranger, Muslim or non-Muslim. Muslims should provide an abundance of food and drink to their guests to the best of their abilities.
I heard other words from the 'ustaz' that made me more scared. He said: "Guests bring along with with them 'rahmat' (blessing) and when they return, they take away with them all the 'bala' (misfortune or bad things) from our house. By treating guests the best we could, we are like welcoming 'Malaikat Rahmat' (angel which brings blessing) to our house."
He then related stories of hospitality in Islam; among others regarding Prophet Ibrahim a.s. who was most hospitable to his guests. Ibrahim a.s. disliked eating unless he had a guest to eat with him and would often look for guests that he could invite to dinner. When he received three of God’s angels as guests, he immediately served them a roasted calf as he mistook them for travelers and did not yet know their Divine mission.
The 'ustaz' then told this story: Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was always generous to his guests and instructed his companions to do the same. There is even a Qur'anic verse that was revealed highlighting the hospitality shown to a guest by Abu Talha and his wife Umm Sulaim.
Abu Talha welcomed a hungry traveler into his home even though there was very little to eat. So he instructed his wife Umm Sulaim to bring whatever provisions they had and give it to the guest. As the guest ate his fill, these two devout Muslims pretended to eat in the dim candlelight. The following day the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. gave them the news about the verse God revealed: (…but give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their (own lot). And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls- they are the ones that achieve prosperity.) - Qur'an 59: 9
The 'ustaz' then told congregators the story of a Western traveler to Turkey who became a Muslim after experiencing and seeing the hospitality of a Muslim's family who invited him to their home after he could not find a hotel room in the country.
The 'ustaz' said, family members of the Turkish man 'sacrificed' their house and of course their comfort; some of them slept under trees just to give the traveler 'the feeling of like his own house' when he stayed there.
Now with 'this fine example', what have I done...I 'shoved away' children that came to my house for 'Hari Raya'. Ooo Allah, I repent to you...Before leaving the 'masjid' on that night, I searched for some money in my pocket and 'dumped' it in one of its donation box. Ooo Allah, pardon me for my mistake...- ES