It is stated in a verse that visitors should not go to the Prophet’s house. How can it be explained?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Hz. Prophet (pbuh) married Zaynab. My mother, Umm Sulaym said to me,

"Let us give a gift to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)." I said to her, "Cook something." Thereupon, she brought some dates, oil and some saltless cheese. She put them in a saucepan and cooked. Then, she told me to give it to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and I took it to him.  He said,

"Leave the food!" Then, he gave me the following order: "Call me such and such people." He told me those names one by one. He also said, "Call anyone that you come across with."

Anas narrates: I fulfilled his order and returned. The house was full of people. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) put his hand on the food and said something that nobody but Allah knew. Then, he invited the congregation in groups of ten. Everybody ate from that food. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to those who were eating,

"Start eating by mentioning Allah's name. Everybody should eat the food in front of them." This continued until everybody ate and left. After the meal, some people left but others stayed there to talk. After a while, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stood up and walked toward the rooms. I followed him and said,

"The guests have left." The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) returned home and placed a cover on himself (which was a sign of revelation). I was in the room then. When the revelation ended, he read the following verse:

"O ye who believe! Enter not the Prophet's houses,- until leave is given you,- for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation: but when ye are invited, enter; and when ye have taken your meal, disperse, without seeking familiar talk. Such (behavior) annoys the Prophet: he is ashamed to dismiss you, but Allah is not ashamed (to tell you) the truth." (al-Ahzab, 33/53) (1)

Besides, people are ordered to enter houses based on certain principles in the religion of Islam:

"O ye who believe! enter not houses other than your own, until ye have asked permission and saluted those in them..." (an-Nur, 24/27-29)

As it is seen, asking for permission before entering a house and greeting the host are rules of etiquette ordered by the Quran. In addition, asking for permission before leaving a house is a nice act indicating being a believer. (an-Nur, 24/62). It is stated that even the people living in the same house have to ask permission to enter rooms, particularly in the following three time periods:

"O ye who believe! let those whom your right hands possess, and the (children) among you who have not come of age ask your permission (before they come to your presence), on three occasions: before morning prayer; the while ye doff your clothes for the noonday heat; and after the late-night prayer: these are your three times of undress: outside those times it is not wrong for you or for them to move about attending to each other..." (an-Nur, 24/58).

Slaves and children are not allowed to enter the room of the parents in those three time periods. The children who have reached the age of puberty have to ask permission all the time. (an-Nur, 24/59). We are also ordered to greet when we enter a house:

"...But if ye enter houses, salute each other - a greeting of blessing and purity as from Allah..." (an-Nur, 24/61).

The Prophet (pbuh) gave Anas b. Malik the following advice:

"O boy! When you enter the house of your family, greet them. This is a blessing for you and your family." (Tirmidhi, Isti'dhan, I0).

The reason why it is forbidden to enter houses without permission is privacy. Therefore, when a person enters a house without permission and informing the household, he will have violated their privacy. One of the rules that needs to be obeyed is to enter houses through their doors. The following is stated in the Quran:

"...It is no virtue if ye enter your houses from the back ... Enter houses through the proper doors..." (al-Baqara, 2/189)

Thus, the habit of entering a house from the back and through windows, which was one of the customs of the Era of Jahiliyya, was abolished. (Fakhruddin ar-Razi, Mafatihul-Ghayb, II, 144).

As it can be understood from the information given, it is necessary to get permission to enter the houses that belong to someone else and that one has no right of entrance. Otherwise, the deed is considered as housebreaking. The people living in that house will have every right to defend the house against that person. It is possible to wound or kill a relative out of fear or by mistake. Therefore, it is both appropriate and prudent to ask for permission or ring the bell when entering homes or rooms that one is allowed to enter or to ring. The request for permission should be done three times; if one is not given permission, he should return after the third one. (Bukhari, Isti'dhan, 13)

It is necessary to greet first and to ask for permission after that. The Prophet (pbuh) advised someone who came to visit him to do so. (Tirmidhi, Isti'dhan, 18) Similarly, when people ask, "Who is that?", the one who knocks on the door or rings the bell should say his name. Otherwise, the host might be put into a difficult situation.   

Once, Jabir knocked on the door of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). When the Messenger of Allah asked, "Who is that?", Jabir said, "Me! Me!". The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not like his answering like that and pointed out that he should have said his name. (Bukhari, Isti'dhan, 17; Tirmidhi, Isti'dhan, 18)

One of the rules to be obeyed while asking for permission is not to look inside the house. The reason for it is the importance given to family privacy in Islam and avoiding haram looks. That is the real reason for asking for permission. Abu Dharr reports the following from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) regarding the issue:

"If a person opens a curtain (door), looks inside and sees the haram parts of the people in the house, he will have done something that is not legitimate. If the man of the house saw him like that and blinded his eyes, I would not act against him. If somebody looks inside a house that is not covered/closed with a curtain/a door, the person who looks is not guilty. The owner of the house is guilty." (Tirmidhi, Zuhd,16)

This hadith shows the importance the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) gives to the issue. Besides, it is known that the Messenger of Allah got angry with the people who acted like that. (Tirmidhi, Isti'dhan, 17)

(1) see Bukhari, Tafsir, al-Ahzab 8, Nikah 67, 64, At'ima 59, Isti'dhan 10, 33, Tawhid 22; Muslim, Nikah 89, (142).

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