What should our intentions be in accepting an invitation to someone’s house?
Imam Abu Talib al-Makki tells us in his masterpiece, Qut al-Qulub, explained by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz.
Accepting an invitation is an act of worship. If you have a good intention you will be rewarded for it. If you accept the invitation for some worldly end, however, you will not be rewarded.
You should have seven intentions:
1. Obeying Allah and His Messenger ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ said: “The one who does not accept an invitation has disobeyed Allah and His Messenger.”
2. Following the Sunnah. The Prophet ﷺ said out of humility that if he was invited to the smallest piece of food he would accept the invitation.
3. Honouring your brother. It has been narrated that the one who honours his brother honours Allah, and the one who is given something without asking and then rejects it is refusing Allah’s gift.
4. Making your brother happy. The Prophet said ﷺ: “The one who makes a believer happy makes me happy, and the one who makes me happy has taken a covenant with Allah and the one who has taken a covenant with Allah will never be touched by the Fire.”
5. Preventing your brother from being worried. If you do not accept his invitation, your brother may wonder why and he may worry that you have a bad opinion of him. By accepting his invitation you stop this from happening.
6. Visiting your brother. Allah says: “My love is guaranteed for those who love each other for My sake, visit each other for my sake and mutually sacrifice things for My sake.” You should also intend to visit all the other people who have been invited and you will be rewarded for visiting each individual. Seventy thousand angels seek forgiveness for the one who visits his brother for Allah’s sake.
7. Making a sacrifice. To attain the love of Allah, mutual sacrifice is required: the host must sacrifice his time and money in preparing the food and so on, while the guest must sacrifice his time and effort in coming to the host’s house.
Accepting an invitation is a sign of humility. Accepting the invitation of someone who has no status in society is better than accepting hundreds of other invitations. This is especially the case if that person is poor. The Prophet ﷺ loved the poor and would sit in their company.
It is narrated that Allah says: “You will find Me with the people whose hearts are broken for My sake.”