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Interpretation of Sura an-Nur - Verse 27 - Control and regulation of morals Commentary

Adopted from the book: "The Light of the Holy Qur'an - Interpretation of Sura an-Nur" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani & a Group of Muslim Scholars"

Restrictions against uncontrolled visits to other’s residences - Guarded dealings between males and females -Exhortation for chastity among men as well as women – Display of personal beauty and adorning prohibited - Appearance of women before males, other than her husband, regulated - Wedlock commanded - Liberation of slaves enjoined - Compulsion to slaves to yield to unchaste ways prohibited – Allah’s Pardon for the repentant promised

27. “O you who believe! Do not enter houses other than your own houses until you have asked permission and saluted those in them. That is better for you, so that you might be admonished.”

Commentary

The Arabic word /’istanas/ means to ask permission and to declare one’s entrance or coming in. According to some Islamic narrations, entrance to a place can be stated by saying Allah’s name, or by footfall, or by greeting calling hello, and the like. 34

Some one asked the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) whether he had to ask permission for entering his mother's house. He said:

“Yes.” That man said: “Except her no one lives in the house, and except me no servant she has!” The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: “Do you like to see your mother nude?”The man said: “No.” Then the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: “So ask permission.”

There is another narration in which the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) prohibited men from entering the houses in which women’s guardians are not present. 35

In narrations we read that we must ask permission for three times so that those people in the house may have time enough to get ready. (Of course, permission is asked only for entering others’ house. Man can enter his house without prior notice.) For saving a person who is sinking in the water, the oppressed and one who is trapped in fire no permission is needed. 36

Whenever the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) wanted to enter a house, he did not stand in front of its door for asking permission, but he stood either on the left or right so that his blessed look might not fall inside the house. 37

In another authentic narration we read that when the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) wanted to enter the house of his daughter, Fatimah (a.s.), he put his hand on the door and then pushed it aside a little. Then he said: “Peace be upon you!” Fatimah (a.s.) answered her father. Then the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: “May I enter?” Fatimah (a.s.) said: “Yes, O’ Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.)!” The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: “May my companion enter the house, too?” Then she said: “I have no veil on my head.” When she veiled herself in an Islamic way, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) made salutation again and Fatimah (a.s.) answered. Again he (p.b.u.h.) asked permission for himself. And after her agreement, he asked permission for his companion, Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah.

This tradition shows well how exactly the noble Prophet (p.b.u.h.), who was a paragon for common Muslims, observed these matters.

Even in some narrations we read that 3 times we must ask permission. The first time for hearing the voice of the person who asks permission. The second one is for getting ready. The third one lets the household to issue permission or not.

Even some say that some time must be passed between each time of getting permission so that if landlord has not worn a proper clothing, or he is in a state that he does not like anyone to see, or sometimes room is messed up, or there are some secrets in the house that must not be discovered, he may have time to get ready. And if he does not give permission, we must leave him without getting upset.

Anyway, we must always withdraw anything that may violate modesty or reverence.

Thus in this noble verse, some of proprieties and social orders of Islam that have a very close relation with the issues of saving common chastity are stated, and that is how to enter people’s homes and how to ask permission for entrance.

The verse says:

“O you who believe! Do not enter houses other than your own houses until you have asked permission and saluted those in them. ...”

So, in this way the announcement of your decision to enter the house is expressed beforehand and the household’s agreement is always achieved.

It is interesting that,here, the Arabic phrase /tasta’nisu/ has been used, not the word ‘Tasta’oinu’, because the second word only refers to asking permission, but the first word which is derived from the Arabic word /’uns/, implies a permission that is along with kindness, familiarity, and truthfulness. It shows that even begging permission must be done politely, friendly and without any violation.

Thus if we split the sentence, many of customs that are related to this matter are summarized in it. It means not to cry, not to knock at the door hard, not to use harsh obscene words for begging permission, and also that when permission is given we must not enter the house without greeting, a salutation that is the sign of peace, tranquility, and messenger of kindness and friendship.

It is worth-studying that this ordinance,whose humane and sentimental aspect is clear, is accompanied with two sentences: /oalikum xayrun lakum/ (“That is better for you”), and /la‘allakum taoakkaran/ (“... so that you might be admonished”). This way of statement indicates that such ordinances are rooted in humane sentiments, ration, and intellect. If man contemplates them, he will get aware that they are good for him. The verse continues saying:

“... That is better for you, so that you might be admonished.”

Anyway, purification and self-edification are achieved through observing people’s rights and applying Islamic customs. When we want to enter common centers, we must remember Allah and we must know that Allah watches our thoughts and behaviour. The Qur’an says: “... and Allah knows what you proclaim reveal what you conceal.” 38

Notes:

34. Nur-uth-Thaqalyn, the Commentary

35. Nur-uth-Thaqalyn

36. Tafsir-i-KAbir by Fakhr-i-Razi

37. Tafsir-i-KAbir, and Fi Zilal

38. Sura Al-Ma'idah, No. 5, verse 99

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