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Safar\Rabi-Ul-Awwal 1424 H
May 2003
Volume 16-05 No : 197
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Hadith


Islamic Manners Stress on Respecting Privacy!


Islamic Manners Stress on Respecting Privacy!

There is a Hadith reported by Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari who says: "I sought permission to see Umar and I did not have permission after three times. Hence, I left. He called me and said: 'Abdullah, have you found it hard to wait at my door? You better know that people may find it hard to wait at your door.' I said: 'No. I have sought permission three times and I did not obtain it; so I returned, as we have been ordered to do so.' He said: 'Whom have you heard this.' I said: 'From the Prophet'.

Commentary by Adil Salahi


Islamic manners make it clear that privacy must be respected. No one should intrude on another. However, when Islam makes a certain requirement, it looks at all aspects and provides guidance for different situations. Hence we need to look at this guidance so that we know what to do in any circumstance. One important point is that seeking permission to enter a place may be done three times only. If one does not obtain permission after three requests, he should go back. Thus, if you are visiting a friend or a relative and you knock on the door three times, you have done all that you may do to obtain permission. If the people inside do not open for you, then you should leave.

This is borne by the Hadith reported by Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari who says: “I sought permission to see Umar and I did not have permission after three times. Hence, I left. He called me and said: ‘Abdullah, have you found it hard to wait at my door? You better know that people may find it hard to wait at your door.’ I said: ‘No. I have sought permission three times and I did not obtain it; so I returned, as we have been ordered to do so.’ He said: ‘Whom have you heard this from?’ I said: ‘From the Prophet.’ He then said to me: ‘Have you heard from the Prophet what we have not heard? You will either support your statement with further evidence or I will certainly punish you.’ I left him and went to the mosque where I found a member of the Ansar. I asked them about the case, and they said: ‘Is this to be doubted?’ I told them what Umar said to me. They said: ‘Then the best way is that the youngest among us should go with you as witness.’ Thus, Abu Saeed al-Khudri came with me to Umar and told him: ‘We accompanied the Prophet when he went to Saad ibn Ubadah. When he arrived, he offered the greeting of peace, ‘Assalam alaikum’, but no permission was given to him. He repeated his greeting a second time and a third, but no permission was given. He then said: ‘We have done what we can.’ Then he left. Saad came fast after him, and said: ‘Messenger of God! By Him who has sent you with the message of the truth, every time you said the greeting I heard it and replied. But I only wanted that you offer more greetings to me and to my household.’ Abu Musa then said (to Umar): ‘By God I am worthy of trust when it comes to reporting the Prophet’s Hadith.’ Umar said: ‘Certainly. I only wanted to ascertain the matter.’”

This Hadith is related in more than one version by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah. We have chosen here the version which is more detailed and attributed directly to Abu Musa, the Prophet’s companion at the center of the report.

The first point to make regarding this Hadith is the teaching that one may seek permission to enter someone else’s home three times. If he does not gain such permission he should not try a fourth. This is easily understandable because if you are at the door of a friend or relative, you should get an answer with the first or second request. The request here may be the mere knocking at the door. If no one opens after you have knocked three times, it follows that either there is no one inside, or if there are any, they must be very busy. In this case, it is better to leave and come back some other time. Needless to say, this is better all round. The visitor does not wait too long, or try to knock too hard. The people inside can attend to their business without embarrassment.

The other point is Umar’s attitude which sounds strange. He knew that Abu Musa was a learned companion of the Prophet. He would not have doubted his knowledge. Nevertheless, he asks him to support his statement. In some reports of this Hadith, Umar tells him later that he has not doubted his knowledge, but he only wanted that people should not attribute things casually to the Prophet. It might have been that there were with him some new Muslims who had not learned how to treat the Hadith. Therefore, Umar wanted to demonstrate to them that when anything is attributed to the Prophet, the person making the quotation should be absolutely certain of his knowledge.

Another point is that the people who learned of what Umar wanted decided to send the youngest among them. Abu Saeed Al-Khudri was one of the best learned companions of the Prophet, who reported a large number of Hadiths. In sending the youngest, they wanted to say to Umar that the matter in question is common knowledge.

Finally, the report given by Abu Saeed refers to one of the closest companions of the Prophet, Saad ibn Ubadah, a leading figure among the Ansar. When the Prophet visited him, he delayed his permission, because he wanted the Prophet to say more greetings to him and his household. He felt that such a greeting of peace was a blessing for him and his family. Who would not try to get more of such a blessing when the Prophet himself is its source? But the Prophet taught his companions the right attitude in such a case: seek permission three times, and if you do not obtain it, leave.

A different point about seeking permission is that made in a Hadith reported by Abdullah ibn Massoud who says: “If a man is invited, then he has already been given permission.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad).

A similar Hadith quotes the Prophet as saying: “If someone is requested to come and he comes with the messenger giving him the request, then that is the permission he needs.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawood) A different version of this Hadith also quotes the Prophet as saying: “A man’s messenger to another man is the permission the latter needs.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad).

All these three Hadiths stress the same point. If a person is requested to attend, then the request is all the permission he needs. He should come in straightaway. However, he needs to make his presence known because although he is expected, the people of the house may not be aware of him. Therefore, he should offer a greeting to the people inside before entering their home. Although the permission is there in the fact that he was sent for, rather than coming on his own accord, he should still be considerate and allow people a chance to be ready to receive him.

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News Community Roundup Editorial Readers Comments Men, Mission and Machines War & Peace Community Series Profile Investigation Event Diary Muslim Perspective Commentary Children's Corner Narrative Quran Speaks to You Hadith Our Dialogue Reflection Religion The Month Of Rabi-Ul-Awwal Islamic History Women in Islam Islam and Astronomy Living Islam Miscellany Journey To Islam Matrimonial Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

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