Q. Are we allowed to take our wives out to restaurant occasionally bearing in mind that there may be non mahram men present.
Going out for meals has become a must thing for people to do these days not just here in the U.K but all over the world. Restaurants make thousands every night from people who like to dine out with their family, friends and colleagues. In Islam, not only is taking your wife out for a meal to a restaurant permissible but it is in a sense the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him).
Imam Muslim narrates in the book of drinks (Kitab Al-Ashriba) that:
أن جارا لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فارسيا كان طيب المرق ، فصنع لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم طعاما ثم جاء يدعوه فقال : وهذه ؟ – لعائشة – فقال : لا . فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : لا . فعاد يدعوه ، فقال : رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : وهذه ؟ ” – لعائشة – فقال : لا . قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : لا . ثم عاد يدعوه ، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : وهذه ؟ قال : نعم في الثالثة ، فقاما يتدافعان حتى أتيا منزله
Anas reported that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ (peace be upon him) had a neighbour who was Persian (by descent), and he was expert in the preparation of soup. He prepared (soup) for Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and then came to him to invite him (to that feast). He (Allah’s Messenger) said: Here is ‘A’isha also (and you should also invite her to the food). He said: No. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger ﷺ (peace be upon him) also said: No (then I cannot join the feast). He returned inviting him and Allah’s Messenger ﷺ (peace be upon him) said: She is also there (i. e. ‘A’isha should also be invited). He said: No. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger ﷺ (peace be upon him) also said: No (and declined his offer). He returned again to invite him and Allah’s Messenger ﷺ (peace be upon him) again said: She is also there. He (the host) said:” Yes” for the third time. Then he accepted his invitation, and both of them set out until they came to his house. [i]
We are able to deduce from the above hadith of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) that it is permissible for a husband to take his wife (or family) out for a meal in a restaurant or if they are invited to a guests house. Imam Nawawi in his commentary of Sahih Muslim states, ‘‘and this (the Prophet’s insistence on Aisha’s presence) is from the beautiful dealings and good companionship’’[ii]. Therefore inviting your wife or taking her out for a meal occasionally is from the husn al mu’sharat or the good conduct of a husband.
Imam Nawawi further comments that the reason why he ﷺ (peace be upon him) insisted that Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) goes along with him was because she too was hungry, and the reason why the Persian neighbour did not want Aisha (an extra person) to come along with the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) was due to the shortage of food he had in his house. [iii]
One can only imagine the humble and modest state and the condition of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) and his wives even from this hadith. Sometimes there would be no food in his ﷺ (peace be upon him) house to eat except some dates and water, and even then they would not complain. Another point of benefit from the hadith we learn is that even when there was shortage of food in the neighbour’s residence he still desired to welcome and be generous to the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) because of the love he had for the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) and the general awareness he had of the rights of neighbours in Islam.
Another point of benefit we may deduce from the hadith is that when the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) allowed his wife Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) to eat with him and the neighbour, who was a non-mahram to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), he ﷺ (peace be upon him) allowed that on the basis she was wearing the full hijab. There are, on the other hand, some scholars who suggest that this incident took place before the commandment of hijab was established and hence the Prophet’s ﷺ (peace be upon him) approval of Aisha’s (may Allah be pleased with her) presence. However, even if this is true there is nothing in the Shari’ah explicitly prohibiting the action as long as the proper decorum is maintained and there is no fear of sedition or fitnah.
When the husband takes the wife out for dinner, for example, she must ensure that she maintains the Islamic etiquettes of a Muslim woman. Many restaurants have family areas therefore if it is possible it would be advised that the husband pre-books a table in that particular area. If, however, the restaurant does not have a family area they must make sure that she is wearing the appropriate hijab and both the husband and wife are following the correct decorum of a Muslim couple.
What are the manners of inviting others to dine at ones house?
1. Inviting others to dine is recommended, provided a Muslim’s intention is not to boast about his own achievements.
2. Invitations to a banquet should not be confined to the rich and influential, the poor and needy should be included too.
3. Invitations to dine should be restricted to good Muslims, though inviting others is not forbidden. Priority should be given to Muslims, however, since a result of dinning together is a strengthening of friendship and brotherhood and this aim should be reserved for fellow Muslims.
4. It is recommended that neighbours are among those invited to dine.
5. Showing generosity to invited guests is an important matter, provided exaggeration and extravagance are avoided.
6. Although the guests may begin eating as soon as the meal is served, it is nevertheless good conduct to indicate to the guests that they should begin by saying: Bismillah (In the name of God). [iv]
7. It is polite and considered a form of generosity to urge guests to eat and drink, but not to excess, and not to insist that they eat a certain kind of food.
8. A Muslim should be careful when speaking not to praise his own generosity or his own table.
9. Restricting invitations to dine only to special occasions is not recommended; an invitation may be offered at any time.[v]
10. A host should avoid giving his guests the impression that he is observing how much he eats or that he thinks he is eating too much.
11. If a guest arrives unexpectedly, it is a Muslim’s duty to see that he is adequately cared for.
What are the manners that should be observed when invited to a meal?
1. If a Muslim is invited to a meal, it is recommended that he accepts. It is obligatory to accept a wedding feast invitation (though not if it entails forbidden things).
2. An invitation to a meal from anybody who is extending the invitation only out of personal interest should be declined.
3. If a Muslim is invited by someone to a meal while fasting voluntarily, then he is free either to break his fast or to visit him and keep his fast.
4. When going to a meal in somebody’s house, a Muslim should not take anyone with him who has not been invited. [vi]
5. If someone follows a Muslim and accompanies him without his consent when he is going to his host, it is his duty to inform the host of the situation. The host may accept or reject the uninvited, guest as he wishes.
6. When the meal is served, it is not good manners to rush to the table. It is correct to follow the person who is to one’s right.
7. The invitations of people competing with each other to provide a feast for the sake of ostentation should not be accepted.
8. An invitation from morally corrupt person should not be accepted merely because one does not wish to say no to him. The invitations may be accepted only if the intention is to bring him back to Islam, otherwise not. Cautioned should be maintained not to make him feel uncomfortable.
9. If something among the dishes or drink offered to a Muslim is forbidden according to Islam, such as wine or pork, then he should inform the host of the necessity of removing it, otherwise of his leaving, and if it is not removed he should leave immediately.
10. A guest should thank the host for his invitation and ask God to bless him. The following dua may be recited: Akala ta’amukum al-abrar, wasalla‘alaykum al-mala’ikawaaftara ‘indakum as-sa’imun’ (May the righteous eat your food, may the angles invoke blessing on you, and may those who have been fasting break their fast with you). [vii]
I hope the aforementioned points are of benefit.
Allah knows best.
Yours Islamically and Maqasically,
[i] Book 023, Number 5054, Translation by Abdul Hamid Siddiqui
[ii] Sharh Sahih Muslim by Imam Nawawi, Dar al Khair, hadith 2036
[v] All these points are based on Hadiths from the Prophet, specifically Adab al mufrad, Riyadus Salihin, Bukhari and Muslim. Taken from, with slight modifications, Marwan Ibrahim Al-Kaysi’s Morals and Manners in Islam, Islamic Foundation, U.K.
[vii] All these points are based on Hadiths from the Prophet, specifically Adab al mufrad, Riyadus Salihin, Bukhari and Muslim. Taken from, with slight modifications, Marwan Ibrahim Al-Kaysi’s Morals and Manners in Islam, Islamic Foundation, U.K.