12. Serving Guests

The Prophet said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him honor his guests.”

A large part of Islamic culture deals with how to be hospitable and generous to one’s guests. In a day and age where potlucks, buffets, delivery, and take-outs have bombarded society, it is somewhat hard to find a good example of what ‘honoring’ one’s guests means.  You may need to examine the way your mother, aunties, or grandparents served their guests and mimic their gracious hospitality. For some converts, this may prove a challenge, but there is nothing wrong with asking others to help teach you. Hospitality is a mark of faith and learning how to do it properly is another form of worship to Allah Most High.

A wife should know:

  • how to cook a main meal for at least 10 people
  • how to make appetizers and a salad
  • how to make a dessert
  • how to make tea and coffee in large amounts (even if it’s instant)
  • how to clean up the house before her guests arrive and after they leave
  • how to set the table and which serving utensils / platters are needed
  • how to smoothly manage between serving the men’s and women’s side at the same time

If you are not accustomed to hosting, then start with what is easiest for you. Keep trying to improve your skills throughout your marriage. InshaAllah these tips will help make it easier for you and you will be a pro in no time.


Agree On A Menu

Couples need to be on the same page when it comes to serving guests. For newlyweds, it may take some trial and error in order to create the correct balance, especially if you married someone who is from a completely different culture than you because both of you may have dissimilar ideas. So, discuss it! Ask him what his household usually did. Tell him what you like and what you prefer. Ask him how many dishes he would like and if he wants something particular cooked.

Avoid getting offended or hot-headed if he does not agree with your menu, but state your reasons and be flexible. Unless his requests are completely unreasonable, it’s not worth the tension. You’ll probably serve MANY guests within your married life; so doing it his way the first few times and then learning how to adjust it as time goes on is a smart move. Having guests doesn’t have to be stressful, but rather, it can be enjoyable and a way for the couple to bond because they’re trying to complete a spiritual goal together.


Make A To-Do-List

A to-do-list will help you to remember everything inshaAllah. Type it up and save it as a document for future events. Some women try to rely on their minds alone, but with all the pressure, it’s very easy to forget something, especially essential items like rice! Many fights and arguments between couples can simply be avoided by becoming more organized. If you work better without a to-do-list, then do what makes you successful.


Plan Ahead Of Time

Save yourself the hassle of trying to do everything last minute. Make your dessert two nights before and let it set in the fridge or in a cool place on the counter. Then, focus on doing the prep work for the next few days or cook some dishes the night before, and on the day of the event, heat them up. Rice and pasta dishes should never be cooked the night before – rice is best when cooked the day of the event. But it is possible to make curries, stews, soups, rice broth, chili, biryani masala, and spaghetti sauce the day before; in fact, for many of these dishes, allowing them to sit overnight and in the fridge enhances the flavor.

If you’re husband offers to order food for your guests because you are pregnant, sick, have too many small children, or it’s a last minute visit, accept his offer. It may seem uncomfortable at first for those who love to cook and host, but it’s only for a short time inshaAllah.


Thank Him For His Help

Some men will offer a hand or two and help their wives prepare for serving. Remember to thank him for anything he does. This is a time where you can increase the love for each other by showing appreciation and recognizing his generosity towards you. His offering to assist you in your duties is charity; so treat it like you are receiving a gift. Avoid criticizing the way he does things and bossing him around; men hate it and he’ll probably never ask to help again. Encourage what serves your marriage and do it with a lot of thank you’s.


Expect Unexpected Guests

Your husband may be more social than you. As a result, he may like to invite his friends over whenever he likes without much advanced warning. Always keep instant tea/coffee, a cup of sugar, milk powder, and simple guest snacks stocked in your cupboard. Nuts and dried fruit stay for long periods in the refrigerator. Biscuits, cookies, and certain chocolates will also last for at least six months. You can also buy pretty mugs with saucers to make it more aesthetically appealing.

Make sure that you both agree on a simple drill that will happen when he brings unexpected guests, like maybe he seats them first, then tells you to make tea, and within five minutes you should have something ready for him to serve his guests. The more you communicate about the way that you want things to run in your household, the more smoothly things will run and the less likely conflict will occur in this area inshaAllah.


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