My friends were over for lunch today and I’ve just returned after seeing them off. I knew I should use this opportunity to blog about one of my favorite activities – entertaining!
I don’t what is more fun – to prepare food for guests, serve them or to enjoy their company! The whole experience is really wonderful. I’m really grateful to Allah(swt) to have blessed me with parents who love to entertain and generously, at that. I’ve grown up seeing my mother prepare food for guests who were expected and she’d put so much care and effort into it that I’d be amazed. My father would bring in fruits and other food stuff from the market happily when he heard people were expected and a jovial atmosphere filled the house.
We always had guests coming to visit frequently, Alhamdolillah, especially at out previous residence. One of the first things I learned about entertaining, by watching my mother serve guests, was to always serve the best of what you have. If something wasn’t available ready, she’d whip up a nice little party in such a short time that I would really consider it a miracle. I’d say, “No, Amma, we won’t be able to make it in such a short time,” she’d say, “Don’t worry… just hand me that stuff and I’ll show you…” And there you’d have it – sandwiches, spaghetti, kebabs, burgers… you name it, it’d be ready! Today, when I’m preparing something for guests, my sisters say, “No Biya (my nickname), it’s not enough… there’s very little and we can’t serve that!” Knowing better, having learned from my dear mother, I’d smile and pass it on for serving – and it always worked fine! 🙂
I know some people frown and squirm at the idea of guests coming – they only think of the pile of dishes to be washed afterwards or the time “lost” in giving the guests company. But it’s just about how you view things. Entertaining guests is encouraged and loved in Islamic etiquette and if you do so sincerely, for the sake of Allah, it’s considered an act of worship to Allah(swt). It’s the right of the guest to be entertained in a beautiful manner, in whatever way you can and thus, so if the Iman is strong, you’ll really be thinking about all the opportunity to gain rewards here too!
I’ve come to a point where I’m proud to say that I’ve absorbed many of my mother’s qualities when it comes to entertaining, Alhamdolillah! I learned from her model (and she from her mother) that the real pleasure lies in preparing for the guests, serving them and then spending some time in their enjoyable company. Sincerity really shines through and that’s how bonds are strengthened. Unfortunately, this is something that many girls (and boys) of my generation are missing entirely – the real concept of generosity and entertaining the visitor. By preferring to stay out of sight when guests arrive, they lose out on the chance to interact with the elders in an amiable environment, to exchange news and benefit from their sincere duas.
When my friends came over to our place today and we served a subcontinent favorite – pooriyan (fried chapattis) with different curries, kheer (a milk and rice sweet dish) and halwa (another sweet dish made from semolina). It was fun of course and the food was heartily appreciated, Alhamdolillah. And you know what? I really think it’s the love and care that goes into preparing it that makes all the difference! 🙂