The adab of Visiting
Abu Huraira (radiAllahu anhu) relates that the Holy Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said, "A man set out to visit a brother in the neighboring town. Allah deputed an angel (for his protection) on his way. When the man met the angel en route, it asked him, 'Where you are going?' He answered, 'I want to visit my brother who lives in this town.' The Angel asked, 'Are you going to take something valuable to him?' The man answered, 'No. I have no desire except to visit him, because I love him for the sake of Allah alone.' The Angel said to him, 'I am a messenger from Allah sent to tell you that Allah loves you as you love your brother for His sake" (Muslim).
Having a true friend who loves you for the sake of Allah, helps guide you to the path to success in this world and in the Hereafter, and will never lead you to evil is a blessing from Allah. And most of us enjoy spending time with our friends. Islam has taught us the great benefits we reap when we visit people because we love them for the sake of Allah.
Islam has also taught us that while visiting others, we should follow prescribed rules of etiquette (Islamic Adab). Without doing this, we could easily lose our beloved friends.
Sometimes people visit one another without calling ahead to announce that they are coming. However, it is sometimes difficult to receive guests unexpectedly. In that awkward situation, people often feel they have to apologize because they cannot receive guests when, actually, the fault is on the part of the visitor. Instead of understanding, though, many times the visitor becomes upset.
Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) said,
"If you were asked to go back, go back; that makes for greater purity" [Surah Nur; 24:28].
Should we corner our friends into receiving us at a time that is inconvenient for them? Are we able to just accept an explanation and apology, or do we become offended?
We should do our best to not embarrass others with an unexpected visit. Choosing an appropriate time to request visiting our friends is also important. We should never disturb them at times that are reserved for resting or relaxing.
Long visits are inappropriate. If we sense from a friend's gestures or body language that they are busy or tired, we should leave immediately and not embarrass them (or ourselves) by having them ask us to leave.
Imam al-Tabari, in his tafsir (Exegesis), reported that a man of the Muhajirin said, "All my life, I wanted to practice this verse, 'If you were asked to go back, go back; that makes for greater purity,' but I could not. I was hoping I would seek permission to visit a brother and he will tell me, "Go back!' I will gladly go back fulfilling this directive of Allah."
Islamic adab also teaches us not to look inside someone's home without first getting permission. Sa'd ibn Ubada (radiAllahu anhu) relates that, "A man stood facing the door of the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) while asking permission (to enter). The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said, 'Turn this way,' turning him away and ordering him to move farther from the door, saying, 'Asking permission is prescribed to prevent intrusion'."
[abu dawud and al-Tabarani].
Once we have gained permission to make a visit to a friend's home, we still must continue to follow the Islamic manners of visiting. We should sit where our host requests us to sit and not venture into private areas of the house, possibly invading the privacy of other residents of the house.
It is also un-Islamic to uncover things that are hidden or concealed.
As well, some people have no problem with making a multitude of requests from their hosts, such as use of the bathroom or telephone, or they do things like going inside of the refrigerator without permission. Perhaps a person has little food inside their refrigerator and would be embarrassed by this being known to others, or their bathroom might not be presentable for guests.
It is important to teach our children the Islamic manners of visiting the importance of respecting others' privacy and rights. When our children are too young to understand or follow these manners, they may disturb our hosts. In this case, we should immediately take them home to show respect for the home of our friends.
If we follow the way of the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) while visiting our friends, we will avoid many problems and we will be able to protect our friendships, Insha'Allah. And if we love our friends for the sake of Allah, we will respect their rights of privacy and our behavior will not cause them to feel offended by us or alienate them from us.