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23 Eylül 2020

A Guest Is a Blessing From God

Cultures all around the world have different attitudes toward strangers who visit their house or city for a short period. They may offer a place to stay, a meal, clothes, presents or even money according to what has been learned and inherited from the previous generations as the proper way to welcome guests and make them feel at home. Before seeking new experiences and challenges abroad, and being a guest in many different houses and cities myself, I have observed the way my compatriots deal with this very important and honorable matter. A guest in Morocco is not a person that enters your home and leaves without any changes to take place, guests bring the joy and the cheerfulness of Eid-Al Fitr or Eid- Al Adha (two Islamic festivals) to your house.  When a family receives guests, they are comfortably installed in the largest room reserved for the occasion on sofa like beds. After serving the traditional mint tea, which respects a specific process, often accompanied by sweets, comes the time of the hearty and delicious meal shared by all the guests in a unique dish. It begins with an invocation to God’s grace, “Bismillah”, and then ends with a “Hamdullilah” (mark of gratitude to God).    I still remember the answer my mother gave when I asked “ why ?” when a guest was invited “guests are a blessing my dear”. At first I didn’t understand what she means however the amount of preparations and the big smiles we had when we are sharing whatever we had was a good explanation to my question, as well as the amount of ready-made food we had stocked in the fridge will definitely keep me out of the kitchen at least for a week. “Guests are a blessing indeed”.

Apart from being a blessing, a guest may also be a test. This common believe in Morocco states that guests wont knock at your door only during good times : when you can offer them instead of a meal two or three until they get confused while counting the number of tablecloths. The guests may come to you during hard times as well. The times that the roads to the local markets closes due to snow, or the times, the father could not find a stable job and the kitchen’s cupboards carry just the basic ingredients for an unsatisfying meal and probably you will keep apologizing for serving nothing and the guest needs to revisit so you will host him better. Hospitality in Morocco is not limited in the households. Wherever you go Souks, shops, an official meeting, a plate of tea and biscuits will immediately be offered. People may think that There are formalities in these interactions or script that dictates every Moroccan must serve their guests tea or feed them until they burst, However, it is just our way of showing our gratefulness to the guest because having him/her among us is a real honor and blessing from God.

İlham Agour

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