When hosting others, you should not go beyond reasonable limits in entertaining them. We should not overburden ourselves in entertaining our guests; in a more general sense, forbidden from resorting to exaggeration or affectation in our lives. Anas [RA] said, we were with Umar [RA] when he said:
"We were forbidden from takaalluf [affectation and going to extravagant troubles]." [Bukhari].
We cannot really specify a limit, beyond which one is considered to have gone to extravagant troubles in entertaining his guest. Custom is the judge in this matter; or in other words, in a given time and society, what people consider to be extravagant is indeed extravagant; and what they dont consider to be extravagant, isn’t extravagant [unless, of course, when all people in a society follow extravagant ways that are contrary to the guidelines of the Shariah].
In general, however, we can say that you should prepare the amount and variety of food that is sufficient for your guest, without being extravagant or miserly; and the best of matters are those in the middle. Jaabir bn Abdillah [RA] reported that he heard the Messenger of Allaah [peace and blessings of AIIaah be upon him] say:
"The food of one is sufficient for two; the food for two is sufficient for four; and the food of four is sufficient for eight"[Muslim]
These days, it is as widespread as it is deemed normal for people to go to extravagant lengths in conducting marriage banquets, very often surpassing the limits of reasonableness set by the Shariah. Some people even compete, if not openly then at least in spirit, to see whose banquet boasts of the greatest variety and quantity of food. Then, in social circles, people praise them for how wonderfully they hosted their banquet. All of this, no doubt, is objectionable; in fact it is not permissible to eat the food served in such banquets, for ibn Abbas [RA] related that the Prophet [peace and blessings of AIlaah be upon him] forbade people from eating the food of competitors [i.e., people who compete to serve to serve the most extravagant banquet]. [Abu Daawud].
AI-Khattaabee said, "Competitors seek to outdo and beat one another, and it is disliked [in this and similar matters] because it involves Riyaa [doing deeds so that others can see them] and showing-off, and because such competition here falls under Allaah’s general prohibition of eating wealth unjustly.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited