24-Surah An-Noor ( The Light ) 27
    O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded.
    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتًا غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ حَتَّىٰ تَسْتَأْنِسُوا وَتُسَلِّمُوا عَلَىٰ أَهْلِهَا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

    Quran's Tafhim ( explanation)

    *23) The Commandments given in the beginning of the Surah were meant to help eradicate evil when it had actually appeared in society. The Commandments being given now are meant to prevent the very birth of evil, to reform society and root out the causes responsible for the creation and spread of evil. Before we study these Commandments, it will be useful to understand two things clearly:
    First, the revelation of these Commandments immediately after the Divine appraisal of the incident of the "slander" clearly indicates that permeation of a calumny against the noble person of a wife of the Holy Prophet in the society, was the direct result of the existence of a sexually charged atmosphere, and in the sight of Allah there was no other way of cleansing society of the evil than of prohibiting free entry into other people's houses, discouraging free mixing of the sexes together, forbidding women to appear in their make up before the other men, excepting a small circle of close relatives, banning prostitution, exhorting men and women not , to remain unmarried for long, and arranging marriages even of the slaves and slave-girls. In other words, the movement of the women without purdah and the presence of a large number of unmarried persons in society were, in the knowledge of Allah, the real causes that imperceptibly give rise to sensuality in society. It was this sexually charged atmosphere which kept the ears, eyes, tongues and hearts of the people ever ready to get involved in any real or fictitious scandal. Allah in His wisdom did not regard any other measure more suitable and effective than these Commandments to eradicate this evil; otherwise He would have enjoined some other Commandments.
    The. second important thing to remember is that Divine Law dces not merely forbid an evil or only prescribe a punishment for the offender, but it also puts an end to all those factors which provide occasions for the evil, or incite or force a person to commit it. It also imposes curbs on the causes, incentives and means leading to the evil so as to check the wrongdoer much before he actually commits the crime. It does not like that people should freely approach and loiter about near the border lines of sin and get caught and punished all the time. It does not merely act as a prosecutor but as a guide, reformer and helper, too. So it uses all kinds of moral, social and educational devices to help the people to safeguard themselves against evil and vice.
    *24) The Arabic word tasta `nisu in the Text has been generally interpreted to mean the same as tasta `zinu. There is, however, a fine difference between the two words which should not be lost sight of. Had the word in the Text been tasta `zinu, the verse would have meant: "Do not enter other people's houses until you have taken their permission". Allah has used tasta`nisu which is derived from the root uns, meaning fondness, affection, regard, etc. According to this, the verse would mean: "Do not enter other people's houses until you are sure of their affection and regard for yourself." In other words, you should make sure that your entry in the house is not disagreeable to the inmates and you are sure of a welcome. That is why we have translated the word into 'approval' of the inmates instead of `permission' of the inmates, because the word `approval' expresses the sense of the original more precisely.
    *25) According to the Arab custom of the pre-Islamic days, people would enter each other's house freely without permission just by pronouncing `good morning' or `good evening'. This unannounced entry sometimes violated the privacy of the people and their women folk. Allah enjoined the principle that everybody has a right to privacy in his own house and no one is entitled to force his entry unannounced and without permission of the inmates. The rules and regulations enforced by the Holy Prophet in society on receipt of the above Commandment are given below serially:
    (1) The 'right of privacy' was not merely confined to the question of entry in the houses, but it was declared as a common right according to which it is forbidden to peep into a house, glance from outside, or even read the other person's letter without his permission. According to Thauban, who was a freed slave of the Holy Prophet, the Holy Prophet said: "When you have already cast a look into a house, what is then the sense in seeking permission for entry?" (Abu Da`ud). Hadrat Huzail bin Shurahbil has reported that a man came to see the Holy Prophet and sought permission for entry while standing just in front of the door. The Holy Prophet said to him: "Stand aside: the object of the Commandment for seeking permission is to prevent casting of looks inside the house." (Abu Da'ud). The practice of the Holy Prophet was that whenever he went to see somebody, he would stand aside, to the right or the left of the door, and seek permission as it was not then usual to hang curtains on the doors. (Abu Da'ud). Hadrat Anas, the attendant of the Holy Prophet, states that a man glanced into the room of the Holy Prophet from outside. The Holy Prophet at that time was holding an arrow in his hand. He advanced towards the man in a way as if he would thrust the arrow into his belly. (Abu Da'ud). According to Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas, the Holy Prophet said: "Whoever glances through the letter of his brother without his permission, glances into fire." (Abu Da'ud). According to Muslim and Bukhari;, the Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "If someone peeps into your house, it will be no sin if you injure his eye with a piece of stone." In another Tradition, he has said: "The inmates of a house, who injure the eye of the man peeping into their house; are not liable to any punishment." Imam Shafi`I has taken this Commandment literally and permits smashing of the eye of the one who casts a glance like this. The Hanafis, however, do not take the Command in the literal sense. They express the opinion that it is applicable only in that case where an outsider forces his entry into a house in spite of the resistance from the inmates and has his eye or some other limb smashed in the scuffle. In such a case, no penalty will lie on the inmates. (Ahkam'al--Qur an, Al-Jassan, Vol. III, p. 385).
    (2) The jurists have included `hearing' also under `glancing'. For instance, if a blind man enters a house without permission, he will not be able to see anybody, but he will certainly be able to hear whatever is going on in the house. This also amounts to violation of the other person's right of privacy.
    (3) The Command to seek permission is not only applicable in cases where a person wants to enter the other people's houses, but it also applies to entry in the house of_ one's own mother or sister. A man asked the Holy Prophet: "Sir, should I seek permission to enter my mother's house also?" The Holy Prophet replied that he should. The man stated that there was nobody beside him to look after her, and asked whether it was necessary to get permission every time he wanted to go in. The Holy Prophet replied: "Yes; would you like that you should see your mother in a naked state" (Ibn Jarir quoting from `Ata bin Yasar). According to a saying of `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, one should seek permission even when going to see one's own mother or sister. (Ibn Kathir). He has suggested that even when a person goes to visit one's wife in one's own house, he should announce his arrival by coughing, etc. It is related by his wife Zainab that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud would always announce his arrival by coughing, etc. and never liked that he should enter the house unannounced all of a sudden. (Ibn Jarir).
    (4) The only exception to the general rule is that no permission is needed in case of an emergency or a calamity like theft, fire, etc. One can go for help without permission in such cases.
    (5) In the beginning when the system of seeking permission was introduced, people did not know the exact procedure to be followed. Once a man came to the Prophet's house and shouted at the door, "Should I be in ?" The Holy Prophet said to his maid servant, Roudah, "Go and instruct him about the correct way. He should say: Assalam-o- `alaikum (peace be upon you): May I come in?" (Ibn Jarir, Abu Da'ud). Jabir bin `Abdullah says that once he went to the Holy Prophet's house in connection with certain liabilities of his father and knocked at the door. The Holy Prophet asked: "Who is it?" I replied, "It's me." The Holy Prophet thereupon repeated twice or thrice: "It's me, it's me!" That is, how can one understand from this who you are? (Abu Da'ud).
    A man named Kaladah bin Hanbal went to see the Holy Prophet and got seated without the customary salutation. The Holy Prophet told him to go out and come in again after calling: Assalam-o-`alaikum (peace be upon you). (Abu Da'ud). Thus, the correct method of seeking permission was to disclose one's identity first and then ask for permission. It is related that whenever Hadrat `Umar went to see the Holy Prophet, he would say: "Assalam-o- alaikum ya Rasul-Allah, I am `Umar: May I enter!" (Abu Da'ud). The Holy Prophet enjoined that permission should be asked thrice at the most. If there is no reply even at the third call, one should come back. (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu D'ud). The same was his own practice. Once he went to the house of Hadrat Sa'd bin `Ubadah and sought permission twice after greeting with: Assalam-o-`alaikum wa Rahmatullah (peace be upon you and mercy of Allah), but there was no response. After calling for the third time when he received no response, he turned back. Sa'd came out running from the house, and said, "O Messenger of Allah, I was hearing you all right, but I desired to have Allah's peace and mercy invoked upon me through your sacred tongue as often as possible; therefore, I was replying to you in a low voice. " (Abu D'ud, Ahmad). The three calls as enjoined above should not be made in quick succession, but at suitable intervals so as to allow sufficient time to the inmates to make the response in case they are not free to do so.
    (6) The permission for entry should come from the master of the house himself or from some other reliable inmate like a servant or a responsible person, who gives permission on behalf of the master. One should not enter the house on the word of a mere child.
    (7) Undue insistence for permission to enter or to keep standing at the door obstinately even after refusal, is not permissible. If no entry is permitted even after three calls, or the master refuses to see, one should go back.
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