HomeIslamic Manners › Choosing Seat

Chapter 3.5. Choosing A Seat

Sit where asked to by your host. Do not argue with your hosts about the place where they wish you to sit. If you sit where you want, you may overlook a private area of the house, or you may cause inconvenience to the house residents. Ibn Kathir narrated in Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah that the honoured companion ‘Adi bin Hatam Al-Tay converted to Islam and came to Madina to see the Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet honoured Hatam by seating him on a cushion, while he himself sat on the floor. ‘Adi said: '...then the Prophet took me along and upon reaching his house, he took a leather cushion filled with palm fiber and threw it on the floor. ‘Sit on this,' he said. ‘No, you sit on it,' I answered. The Prophet insisted, ‘No you.' So I sat on it while the Prophet sat on the floor.' '

Kharija bin Ziada visited Ibn Sireen. He found Ibn Sireen sitting on a cushion on the floor and wanted to also sit on a cushion, saying, 'I am content as you are.' Ibn Sireen replied: 'In my home, I will not be content until I provide you with what I am usually comfortable with. Sit where you are asked to sit.' Do not sit in the patron's seat unless he invites you to it.

In this regard, the Prophet (PBUH) said: 'No person shall lead another in prayer while the first is at the latter's house. No person shall sit, uninvited, at the favourite seat of the patron of the house.'

If it happened that you arrived early and your host, out of kindness, directed you to sit at the most prominent seat, be prepared to stand up and give this seat to the elder, the notable, or the scholar when they arrive after you since they are more deserving of this seat.

Do not be insensitive and tactless. If you refuse to give your seat to those who are considered more deserving of it by those around you, this will only indicate your lack of manners and common sense. You will become one of those referred to by the Prophet, when he said, 'Those who do not respect our elders do not belong to us.'

To remain entrenched in your seat will not elevate your status, and it will certainly surprise those present. You will be considered a snob since you are insisting upon an undeserved honour. This rule applies equally to men and women. Insensibility does not enhance social standing. On the contrary, it will be a terrible mistake that will only tarnish your reputation. To honour an honourable person can only improve your standing and stir admiration for your manners and humbleness.

If you happened to sit in the second best place and a notable person entered the room, you should give up your seat to that person. To be respectful of our elders is evidence of your good manners and social sense. Imam Muslim reported that the Prophet said, when organizing prayers, 'The wisest of you and the elders should stand next to me, then those below them, then those below them.'

In the gathering, a prominent person may call upon you to discuss a matter, or to answer a query, or to give you an advice. If you sat beside him or near him, it is desirable that you return to your previous seat once the matter is concluded unless that person or other notables insist that you remain at your new seat. This is provided that by doing so, the space does not become so tight as to cause discomfort to those already sitting there. Manners are based on common sense. They could be developed by socializing with prominent and tactful individuals. By observing how they act and behave, you will be able to enhance your common sense, good manners and graceful behaviour.

You could be called to a gathering where you are the youngest. In such cases, do not sit before you are invited to do so. Do not sit if you will be crowding out others, or forcing others to leave their seats for you. If you are invited to sit, do not proceed to the best place when there are others more deserving of it. Be prepared to give up your seat to such individual. Doing this on your own, before being requested to do so, will enhance admiration and respect for you.

Chapters

Chapter 1

Importance Of Appearance

Chapter 1.1

Distinct Muslim Personality

Chapter 1.2

Cleanliness And Washing

Chapter 1.3

Arriving From A Journey

Chapter 1.4

Dress Properly With Family And Friends

Chapter 2

Entering Or Leaving A House

Chapter 2.1

How-to-enter

Chapter 2.2

Entering While Others Are Asleep

Chapter 2.3

Greeting

Chapter 2.4

Announcing Your Presence

Chapter 2.5

Seeking Permission To Enter

Chapter 2.6

Knocking And Ringing

Chapter 2.7

Answering 'Who Is It?'

Chapter 3

The Manners Of Visiting

Chapter 3.1

Keeping Appointments, Delays And Cancellation

Chapter 3.2

Declining A Visit

Chapter 3.3

Control Your Eyes

Chapter 3.4

Removing Your Shoes

Chapter 3.5

Choosing A Seat

Chapter 3.6

A Visitor Is Not An Inspector

Chapter 3.7

Timing Your Visit

Chapter 3.8

Greeting

Chapter 3.9

Sitting Between Two Persons

Chapter 3.10

The Host's Duties And The Guests' Rights

Chapter 3.11

Stay In Touch

Chapter 3.12

A Brief Advice To My Sisters

Chapter 4

The Manners Of Conversation

Chapter 4.1

Selecting Suitable Topics

Chapter 4.2

Talk In A Suitable Tone

Chapter 4.3

The Art Of Listening

Chapter 4.4

Discussions And Debates

Chapter 4.5

Swearing By Allah

Chapter 4.6

Answering A Question

Chapter 5

Social Manners

Chapter 5.1

Respect And Favour The Elderly

Chapter 5.2

The Elderly Are To Lead Prayers

Chapter 5.3

Walking With The Elderly

Chapter 5.4

The Elderly Are To Be Served First

Chapter 5.5

Manners With Parents

Chapter 5.6

Tell Your Family Your Whereabouts

Chapter 5.7

Respect The Poor

Chapter 5.8

Dealing With Non-muslims

Chapter 6

Manners Of Eating

Chapter 6.1

The Importance Of Eating Manners

Chapter 6.2

Manners Of Eating

Chapter 6.3

Manners Of Drinking

Chapter 6.4

Avoid Gluttony

Chapter 6.5

Gold And Silver Cutlery

Chapter 7

Weddings

Chapter 7.1

Weddings Are Part Of The Prophet's Tradition

Chapter 7.2

The Manners Of Attending Weddings

Chapter 8

Visiting The Sick

Chapter 8.1

Visiting A Patient

Chapter 8.2

Praying For The Sick

Chapter 8.3

The Length Of The Visit

Chapter 8.4

The Manners Of Visiting A Patient

Chapter 8.5

How The Ill Express Their Complaints

Chapter 9

Condolence

Chapter 9.1

Breaking Unpleasant News

Chapter 9.2

Expressing Condolences Is A Courtesy And A Duty

Chapter 9.3

Expressing Condolences And Sympathy

Chapter 9.4

Sending Flowers And Reading Quran During Funerals

Chapter 9.5

A Final Word