Jun 20, 2014

The Etiquette of Visiting Another Home

By Melody


What I find fascinating about the Qur'an is the way it helps us see matters in their proper perspective. Sometimes, our judgements can be made cloudy due to cultural or social norms and we are confused about what is actually right and proper; the Qur'an helps set these matters straight and guides society to do what works best. For example, at the time of the Prophet Muhammad salAllahu alaihi wa sallam, wine drinking was considered praiseworthy and a means for pampering the soul, but the Qur’an came to gradually abolish drinking alcohol and highlights that, though it has its benefits, its disadvantages outweigh the advantages and so the best solution would be to avoid it all together. Similarly, the Qur'an and sunnah explain in detail the etiquette of visiting another home, making Islam a true a way of life in even the simplest of matters.

1) Ask permission before entering a person’s home

“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.” [24:27]

Before entering another person's home, it is important that permission is sought first. Alhamdulillah, nowadays, with technology, it is easy to contact others beforehand to arrange a time that is suitable for both and thus avoid awkwardness.

2) Knock three times

Three times is the maximum. The most common way that we ask permission before entering a person’s home is by knocking, but of course one can easily ring the doorbell as well or any other means to indicate your presence including giving salaam. If after knocking, nobody answers, it is required to leave.

“If any one of you asks for permission three times and it is not given, then let him go away.” (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 74, Number 262)

3) If refused entry, go back

Even if you have come a long way, and gone to specifically visit a person, if either nobody answers the door or you are asked to go back then it is necessary to leave. Banging on the door shouting “I know you are in there!” is a complete no-no. It can be hard to be told to go back when you have made the effort to come, but remember that this is the homeowner’s right; let that help you be content with their decision. We are told specifically in the Qur’an:

“And if you do not find anyone therein, do not enter them until permission has been given you. And if it is said to you, "Go back," then go back; it is purer for you. And Allah is Knowing of what you do.” [24:28]

4) Standing to the side

Whilst standing outside the door of another’s home, it is important to stand on either the left or right of the doorway, and not in the middle to avoid the invasion of privacy. Perhaps there is something in the home that the homeowner would prefer you didn't see, so it's best to stand to the side where you're not able to see the contents of the home.

A hadith recorded by Abu Dawud from `Abdullah bin Busr, who said:

“When the Messenger of Allah came to someone's door, he would never stand directly in front of it, but to the right or left, and he would say, As-Salamu `Alaykum, As-Salamu `Alaykum.”

5) Greet with As-salamu'alaikum

Once permission has been given and you are welcomed in, say the islamic greeting of salam (i.e. As-Salamu `Alaykum), as highlighted in the above hadith.

6) When asked who you are, respond with your name

This is an interesting point. When you knock on the door and someone asks who you are, you should say your name rather than simply say "It's me!" Much confusion will be avoided this way because although your voice may appear obvious to yourself, the person behind the doorway may not be so sure. It's fascinating that there is an actual hadith (Sahih Bukhari 8:267) narrated that outlines this very point!

"I came to the Prophet with something that was owed by my father and knocked at the door.
He said: Who is that?
I said, "I am!'' He said “I,I” as if he disliked it.''

So there you have it. Outlined here are simple points we can carry out the next time we visit another person, based on the Qur’an and sunnah. This way, the homeowner has rights which are fair. We all desire to rest and take our freedom in our own homes; the placement of this advice helps create order and peace within our community.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please leave comments in the section below!


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