Dinner in Dubai? | Muslim Manners

Approx read: 3 mins

Dinner in Dearborn or Dubai? Here are some tips for minding your Muslim manners.

So you got invited to a Muslim household for dinner. What do you do? Read on for how to mind your Muslim manners.

Say hello

Greet the elders first, but be sure to greet every person individually.  Shake hands with the men, wait for the women to extend a hand before you shake it.

Bring something

Most Muslims bring a token gift when invited for a meal. Many also bring a gift on the first visit. So, what should you bring? You can never go wrong with sweets. Just make sure that they’re alcohol-free, and not made with lard, gelatin, or any other pork product. This includes chocolate-covered cherries and Gummi Bears.

Elan Morgan/CC BY 2.0

Wear clean socks

Most Muslims remove their shoes before entering the home. There’s usually a spot near the door for shoes. Remove your shoes if everyone else does. First guest? Look down. Is the host wearing shoes?

Wash your hands

Both of them, even though you’ll only be eating with the right. For the duration of the meal, the left hand is dead to you.

Some of the best Middle Eastern cuisine is finger food. And it’s good for you: scientists have found that your fingertips contain enzymes that aid in digestion. Use your thumb and two fingers to convey nourishment to your food-hole. Any more than 3 digits indicates gluttony.

Sit like a grown-up

Let your host seat you and when sitting be sure to keep your feet flat on the floor or crossed underneath you. Pointing the soles of your feet at another is rude.

Kamya Adl/CC BY 2.0

Get talked into seconds

Take small portions of everything. As the guest, you are expected to take seconds. Enjoy the teeny drama of refusing a first time, then allowing your host to convince you to have another round. And this time, you can skip the animal-head soup.

Wash your hands

You may think you’ve got every last bit of hummus off your fingers, but wash your hands again anyway.

Follow the leader

If unsure of anything, just look around. How are your fellow diners handling this culinary challenge? You’re the newbie, if you get stuck, ask.

Wikipedia/BY CC 2.0

Have fun!

Muslim families are just that: families. They want you to relax and have a good time. Be on your best party behavior (easy to do as you can’t get drunk- alcohol probably won’t be served) and enjoy yourself.

Say thank you in writing

You don’t have to write a novel, a quick email or handwritten note the next day will suffice. If the meal is really informal, or all young people, a thank-you text is fine. Be specific: ‘the cow’s foot and head soup was the most remarkable thing I’ve ever eaten!’

Sarah is a blogger, writer and amateur palaeontologist from New Orleans. When not writing or digging dinosaurs, she teaches English.