The Quran

Commentaries for 24.29

An Nur (The light) - النور

24.29 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then Allah gave them leave to enter houses which are not theirs-it is here a question of the inns which are usually found in the roads-saying: ((It is) no sin) there is no constraint (for you to enter uninhabited houses) houses which do not have known inhabitants, such as inns and hostels (wherein is comfort for you) where you can find some benefit, against cold in the winter and heat in the summer (Allah knoweth what ye proclaim) of asking permission and invoking greetings of peace (and what ye hide) of giving a response and permission.
24.29 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
You would not be at fault if you enter [without permission] uninhabited houses wherein is comfort, some benefit, for you, in the way of finding shelter and so on, as in the case of travellers inns and charitable hostels. And God knows what you disclose, [what] you do openly, and what you hide, what you do secretly when entering houses other than your own, be it for a righteous purpose or otherwise. It will be mentioned shortly that they should bid themselves peace when entering their own houses.
24.27-29 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Seeking Permission and the Etiquette of entering Houses
This is the Islamic etiquette. Allah taught these manners (of seeking permission) to His believing servants and commanded them not to enter houses other than their own until they had asked permission, i.e., to ask for permission before entering and to give the greeting of Salam after asking. One should seek permission three times, and if permission is given, (he may enter), otherwise he should go away.It was reported in the Sahih that when Abu Musa asked `Umar three times for permission to enter and he did not give him permission, he went away. Then `Umar said, "Did I not hear the voice of `Abdullah bin Qays asking for permission to enter Let him come in.'' So they looked for him, but found that he had gone. When he came later on, `Umar said, "Why did you go away'' He said, "I asked for permission to enter three times, but permission was not given to me, and I heard the Prophet say,
«إِذَا اسْتَأْذَنَ أَحَدُكُمْ ثَلَاثًا فَلَمْ يُؤْذَنْ لَهُ فَلْيَنْصَرِفْ»
(If any one of you asks for permission three times and it is not given, then let him go away.)'' `Umar said, "You should certainly bring me evidence for this or I shall beat you!'' So he went to a group of the Ansar and told them what `Umar said. They said, "No one will give testimony for you but the youngest of us.'' So Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri went with him and told `Umar about that. `Umar said, "What kept me from learning that was my being busy in the marketplace.'' Imam Ahmad recorded a narration stating that Anas or someone else said that the Messenger of Allah asked for permission to enter upon Sa`d bin `Ubadah. He said:
«السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ»
(As-Salamu `Alayka wa Rahmatullah) Sa`d said, "Wa `Alaykas-Salam Wa Rahmatullah,'' but the Prophet did not hear the returned greeting until he had given the greeting three times and Sa`d had returned the greeting three times, but he did not let him hear him i.e., Sa`d responded in a low voice. So the Prophet went back, and Sa`d followed him and said,"O Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransomed for you! You did not give any greeting but I responded to you, but I did not let you hear me. I wanted to get more of your Salams and blessings.'' Then he admitted him to his house and offered him some raisins. The Prophet ate, and when he finished, he said,
«أَكَلَ طَعَامَكُمُ الْأَبْرَارُ، وَصَلَّتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ، وَأَفْطَرَ عِنْدَكُمُ الصَّائِمُونَ»
(May the righteous eat your food, may the angels send blessings upon you and may those who are fasting break their fast with you.) It should also be known that the one who is seeking permission to enter should not stand directly in front of the door; he should have the door on his right or left, because of the 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,
«السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ، السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ»
(As-Salamu `Alaykum, As-Salamu `Alaykum.) That was because at that time the houses had no covers or curtains over their doorways.'' This report was recorded by Abu Dawud only. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said:
«لَوْ أَنَّ امْرَءًا اطَّلَعَ عَلَيْكَ بِغَيْرِ إِذْنٍ فَخَذَفْتَهُ بِحَصَاةٍ فَفَقَأْتَ عَيْنَهُ، مَا كَانَ عَلَيْكَ مِنْ جُنَاحٍ»
(If a person looks into your house without your permission, and you throw a stone at him and it puts his eye out, there will be no blame on you.) The Group recorded that Jabir said, "I came to the Prophet with something that was owed by my father and knocked at the door. He said,
«مَنْ ذَا؟»
(Who is that) I said, "I am!'' He said,
«أَنَا أَنَا»
(I I) as if he disliked it.'' He did not like it because this word tells you nothing about who is saying it, unless he clearly states his name or the name by which he is known, (nickname) otherwise everyone could call himself "Me'', and it does not fulfill the purpose of asking permission to enter, which is to put people at their ease, as commanded in the Ayah. Al-`Awfi narrated from Ibn `Abbas, "Putting people at ease means seeking permission to enter.'' This was also the view of others. Imam Ahmad recorded from Kaladah bin Al-Hanbal that at the time of the Conquest (of Makkah), Safwan bin Umayyah sent him with milk, a small gazelle, and small cucumbers when the Prophet was at the top of the valley. He said, "I entered upon the Prophet and I did not give the greeting of Salam nor ask for permission to enter. The Prophet said,
«ارْجِعْ فَقُلْ: السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَأَدْخُلُ؟»
(Go back and say: "As-Salamu `Alaykum, may I enter'') This was after Safwan had become Muslim.'' This was also recorded by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Gharib.'' Ibn Jurayj said that he heard `Ata' bin Abi Rabah narrating that Ibn `Abbas, may Alah be pleased with him, said, "There are three Ayat whose rulings people neglect. Allah says,
إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عَندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَـكُمْ
(Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the one who has the most Taqwa) 49:13, But (now) they say that the most honorable of them with Allah is the one who has the biggest house. As for seeking permission, the people have forgotten all about it.'' I said, "Should I seek permission to enter upon my orphan sisters who are living with me in one house'' He said, "Yes.'' I asked him to make allowances for me but he refused and said, "Do you want to see them naked'' I said, "No.'' He said, "Then ask for permission to enter.'' I asked him again and he said, "Do you want to obey Allah'' I said, "Yes.'' He said, "Then ask for permission.'' Ibn Jurayj said, "Ibn Tawus told me that his father said, `There are no women whom I hate to see naked more than those who are my Mahrams.' He was very strict on this point.'' Ibn Jurayj narrated that Az-Zuhri said, "I heard Huzayl bin Shurahbil Al-Awdi Al-A`ma (say that) he heard Ibn Mas`ud say, `You have to seek permission to enter upon your mothers.''' Ibn Jurayj said, "I said to `Ata': `Does a man have to seek permission to enter upon his wife' He said, `No, it can be understood that this is not obligatory, but it is better for him to let her know that he is coming in so as not to startle her, because she may be in a state where she does not want him to see her. ''' Abu Ja`far bin Jarir narrated from the nephew of Zaynab -- the wife of `Abdullah bin Mas`ud -- that Zaynab, may Allah be pleased with her, said, "When `Abdullah came back from some errand and reached the door, he would clear his throat and spit, because he did not want to come suddenly and find us in a state he disliked.'' Its chain of narration is Sahih.
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لاَ تَدْخُلُواْ بُيُوتاً غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ حَتَّى تَسْتَأْنِسُواْ وَتُسَلِّمُواْ عَلَى أَهْلِهَا
(O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and greeted those in them;) Muqatil bin Hayyan said: "During the Jahiliyyah, when a man met his friend, he would not greet him with Salam; rather he would say "Huyyita Sabahan'' or "Huyyita Masa'an'' equivalent to "Good morning'' or "Good evening''. This was the greeting among the people at that time. They did not seek permission to enter one another's houses; a man might walk straight in and say, "I have come in,'' and so on. This was difficult for a man to bear, as he might be with his wife. So Allah changed all that by enjoining covering and chastity, making it pure and free of any sin or impropriety. So Allah said:
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لاَ تَدْخُلُواْ بُيُوتاً غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ حَتَّى تَسْتَأْنِسُواْ وَتُسَلِّمُواْ عَلَى أَهْلِهَا
(O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and greeted those in them...) What Muqatil said is good. Allah said:
ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ
(that is better for you,) meaning, seeking permission to enter in is better for you because it is better for both parties, the one who is seeking permission to enter and the people inside the house.
لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
(in order that you may remember.)
فَإِن لَّمْ تَجِدُواْ فِيهَآ أَحَداً فَلاَ تَدْخُلُوهَا حَتَّى يُؤْذَنَ لَكُمُ
(And if you find no one therein, still enter not until permission has been given.) This has to do with the way in which one deals with other people's property without their permission. If he wants to, he can give permission, and if he wants to he can refrain from giving permission.
وَإِن قِيلَ لَكُمْ ارْجِعُواْ فَارْجِعُواْ هُوَ أَزْكَى لَكُمْ
(And if you are asked to go back, go back, for it is purer for you.) means, if you are turned away at the door, before or after permission has been given,
فَارْجِعُواْ هُوَ أَزْكَى لَكُمْ
(go back, for it is purer for you.) means, going back is purer and better for you.
وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ
(And Allah is All-Knower of what you do.) Qatadah said that one of the emigrants said: "All my life I tried to follow this Ayah, but if I asked for permission to enter upon one of my brothers and he asked me to go back, I could not do so happily, although Allah says,
وَإِن قِيلَ لَكُمْ ارْجِعُواْ فَارْجِعُواْ هُوَ أَزْكَى لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ
(And if you are asked to go back, go back, for it is purer for you. And Allah is All-Knower of what you do.)''
وَإِن قِيلَ لَكُمْ ارْجِعُواْ فَارْجِعُواْ
(And if you are asked to go back, go back....) Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "This means, do not stand at people's doors.''
لَّيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ بُيُوتاً غَيْرَ مَسْكُونَةٍ
(There is no sin on you that you enter houses uninhabited,) This Ayah is more specific than the one that comes before it, because it states that it is permissible to enter houses where there is nobody, if one has a reason for doing so, such as houses that are prepared for guests -- if he has been given permission once, then this is sufficient. Ibn Jurayj said, "Ibn `Abbas said:
لاَ تَدْخُلُواْ بُيُوتاً غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ
(Enter not houses other than your own, ) then this was abrogated and an exception was made, and Allah said:
لَّيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ بُيُوتاً غَيْرَ مَسْكُونَةٍ فِيهَا مَتَاعٌ لَّكُمْ
(There is no sin on you that you enter houses uninhabited, (when) you have any interest in them.) This was also narrated from `Ikrimah and Al-Hasan Al-Basri.
24.27-29 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
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 does 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.
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.
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.
Entry into an empty house is not allowed unless permitted as such by the master of the house. One may, for instance, have told a visitor or sent him a message to wait in his room till his arrival. The mere fact that there is nobody in the house or the call is not answered does not entitle anybody to enter without permission.
That is nobody should mind if entry is refused, for everybody has a right to refuse to meet another person, or offer a plea if otherwise busy. The Command "Go back", according to the jurists, means going back in the literal sense and moving away from the door. Nobody has any right to compel the other person for a meeting or to embarrass him by standing obstinately at his door.
"Houses which are not dwelling place" are the hotels, inns, guest houses, shops, staging bungalows, etc. which are generally open to all people.
24.27-29 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(O ye who believe! Enter not houses other than your own…) [24:27-29]. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Tha‘labi informed us> al-Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Dinawari> ‘Abd Allah ibn Yusuf ibn Ahmad ibn Malik> al-Husayn ibn Sakhtawayh> ‘Umar ibn Thawr and Ibrahim ibn Abi Sufyan> Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Firyabi> Qays> Ash‘ath ibn Siwar> ‘Adiyy ibn Thabit who said: “A woman from the Helpers went to see the Prophet and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, sometimes I am in my house in a state in which I do not like anyone to see me, neither father nor son. But then the father comes in or another man of the family comes in while I am in that state, what shall I do?’ [As a response] this verse was revealed (O ye who believe! Enter not houses other than your own without first announcing your presence and invoking peace upon the folk thereof)”. The commentators of the Qur’an said: “When this verse was revealed, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, may Allah be well pleased with him, said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what about the inns and houses along the roads of Syria which are uninhabited?’ Allah, exalted is He, then revealed ((It is) no sin for you to enter uninhabited houses) [24:29]”.