Honoring the guest is mandatory in Islam. Muslims, due to their religious values and duties, are known as the most hospitable people. Guests should be honored the moment they arrive, and they should honored most at the time of their departure. This practice is a polite way of making the guest feel the most welcomed next time he or she comes back. Imagine, for a whole year you have been expecting an honorable guest to come to your place, and then finally he arrives. He is kind, generous, and the most beloved. For twenty-nine or thirty days, you have developed an emotional relation with him that you started becoming worried and anxious over the day when he leaves. Eventually, the time comes and the day of his departure is here, and your beloved and blissful guest, Ramadan, is leaving, and leaving soon. This wonderful guest is so polite that he does not come back very often, so that you always desire his return later. Now that you realize his departure, you do not know if you will ever see him again. He might not come next year, or you may not be there when he comes back. These anxious thoughts of fear and hope provoke your heart to cry and your eyes to shed tears. They make you prepare the best farewell party ever made for a guest who, as he leaves, was the most welcomed, Ramadan. How do you bid farewell your honorable guest?
1. My dear guest, I'm sorry
It's the last night of the month of Ramadan. His luggage is packed, placed by the door and the place is full with people who came to have a final look at him and enjoy a last moment with the guest. As we watch the guest sipping his final drops of our hospitality, he asks to be excused; we realize now that all the hospitality we offered was not yet enough to meet his status. So we hold his hand tight wish that he would not let go and hope to keep him longer. We become remorseful and ask for forgiveness and say “My dear guest, I'm sorry.”
At the end of this blessed month we say “O Allāh, forgive me. My Lord, I could have done more but I did not, so forgive me. My Lord, excuse my shortcomings and blemishes, You are indeed oft -Forgiving and You love forgiveness, so forgive me.”
Istighfaar, or seeking forgiveness, at the end of every good deed, not just bad deeds, is the way of the righteous. We need forgiveness to patch the holes we created in our fasting due to our faults and mistakes, or at least for falling short on fulfilling the full rights of hospitality to the guest. After all, arriving with a batched record is better off than arriving with no records at all.
Omar ibn Abdulaziz, the Umayyad ruler famous for his justice, may Allāh have mercy on him, used to send his deputies around the country with the command to summon the deeds of Ramadan with Istighfaar and charity. Let us have a moment of remorse, and excuse ourselves by seeking forgiveness from the Lord of Ramadan.
2. My dear guest, a final token of appreciation
Our guest deserves the best farewell party, the 'Īd prayer. We decorate our lives and go out of our way for this party. We take a shower, we come early, we dress nicely, we take different routes back and forth to spread the news of his departure and we bring to the party all people. We bring out our families; our wives and children, the old and young even the most shy maidens and women with legal excuses. It is a procession of goodness, which no one can afford to miss. It is a final token of appreciation. It is a way to say to our dear guest, thank you.
In order not to show our departing guest any sign of sadness on that day, we show him deliberate happiness. Therefore, we eat few dates prior to our arrival at the party site, the prayer area. He now knows that we accept his inevitable departure, we just broke our long time fast.
Anas may Allāh be pleased with him narrated: “The Messenger of Allāh would not leave to 'Īd-ul-Fitr until he eats few dates, and he used to eat them in odd number.” (Bukhāri) It saddens our beloved guest not to follow the example of Muḥammad . Not breaking the fast until we come back from the 'Īd prayer is indeed a sign of fake piety.
3. My dear guest, this is your legacy
As we prepare for the party, we make sure that everybody around is happy and satisfied. All should participate in this party and no one should be left behind. That was the reason why our guest had come visiting us for anyways, he came to teach us how to care and share. Our guest should not leave us seeing anyone unhappy or dissatisfied. We feed the hungry and keep Ramadan's legacy alive. We give Zakat'l-Fitr.
Ibn Omar may Allāh be pleased with him narrated: “The Messenger of Allāh obliged the payment of Zakat'l-Fitr, the amount of Sa' (four cupped hands) of dates, or barley. This should be paid on behalf every male and female, free or slave and adult or young, from all the Muslims.” (Bukhāri and Muslim)
4. My dear guest, allow us to sing for you
Escorting the guest out with chanting and du‘ā’ until he is out of sight is an Islamic etiquette of honoring the guest. And there is no guest who deserves it more than our beloved Ramadan. Once the announcement of his departure is delivered, as we sight that gesture at night -the hilal, we start making our du‘ā’ and chanting our takbeer until the party next day is over.
Allāh says: “He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him (in takbeer) in that He has guided you, and perchance you shall be grateful.” (al-Baqarah 2:185)
Ibn Abbas may Allāh be pleased with him says: “It is an incumbent duty on all Muslims, when they see the crescent for the beginning of Shawwal, to start their chanting with takbeer until they are done with their 'Īd prayer.”
5. My dear guest, I just did what I could, but I'm sorry.
Our guest is leaving and as he slowly walks away, he turns to us and say: “Farewell my dear friends and good companions. Know that I may not see you again after this day.” The shocking reality strikes, we need to make sure that he leaves happy and satisfied and therefore we concern ourselves with the acceptance of whatsoever we offered of hospitality, even if it was little. It is no longer how much we did; it is how much was accepted and approved. We turn to our guest and present our case and say: “Please, accept the little of our hospitality, for what you saw was indeed the utmost we could afford of our generosity.”
Ali b. Abi Talib may Allāh be pleased with him once said, “Be concerned more over the acceptance of your deeds than over the deeds themselves for Allāh does not accept deeds except from the righteous. Didn't you read Allāh's statement: 'Verily, Allāh accepts only from the Muttaqeen -Righteous.' (al-Ma'idah 5:27)”
Ibn Rajab, may Allāh have mercy on him, said, “The pious predecessors used to spend their efforts on completing their deeds perfectly and precisely. They then, concern themselves over their acceptance, fearing it might be rejected. Those are the people about whom Allāh says: “And those who dispense their charity with their hearts full of fear, because they will return to their Lord.” (al-Mu'minoon 23:60)
So here we are in a moment of muhasaba and self reckoning. We remember the days we spent with our guest, how much good did we do? And how much of what we did we can count on as a sincere act of hospitality?
It's time to prepare our presentation for the angels to see and report to Allāh. How professional do you think our presentation will look? This is the time when you need all the skills of du‘ā’ and invocation you have learned so far. And if you feel it's too late to prepare for this presentation, then know that Allāh accepts from the deeds their ends. Therefore, make your last deeds the best of all deeds.
We ask Allāh to accept from us the little, regardless of how much it was, of what we offered from acts of worship during this blessed month of Ramadan.
6. My dear guest, I'll keep in touch