Rafed English

Seek Permssion to Enter on Three Occasions

"O you who believe! Let those your "owned ones" and those of you who have not reached puberty ask your permission (before they came to your presence) at three times: before the ritual prayer of dawn and when you put off your outer garments at noon; and after the late night prayer; three times of undressing for you outside these times it is not wrong for you or for them to move about attending to each other; thus does God make clear the signs for you, for God is All-knowing, All-wise. But when your children reach puberty let them (also) ask for permission as do those senior to them (in age). Thus does God make clear His signs for you for God is All-Knowing, All-wise. Such women as are menopausic and have no hope of marriage, there is no blame on them if they lay aside their (outer) garments, provided they make not a wanton display of their beauty; but it is best for them to be modest; and God is All-hearing, All-knowing."1

These three verses mention two or three exceptions. One of the exception is in the first verse which we had previously related, "If you enter houses, say salam ...". No one has the right to enter the house of another without first announcing one's entrance and receiving permission; even a child has no right to enter the house of his mother or sister without permission. It is only the husband who does not need to announce his arrival. Home is a place where a woman considers to be her place of retreat and she is usually dressed in such a way that she does not want anyone but her husband to see her as such.

In the past the doors of homes were kept open and they were not considered to be places of retreat. The places of retreat were particular only to the rooms. It can be said that the ruling which previously related to rooms now rules for a house. It is customary now to have the door or the home closed and a woman may even consider her courtyard to be part of her place of retreat unless others have view into it.

We have previously mentioned this ruling. There is no exception to it, whether a son is going to his mother's house or a daughter is going to her father's hosue, they must receive permission to enter the part that is considered to be a retreat.

We had another issue in the next verse about people who are exceptions so that women do not need to cover before them. The amount of hijab that is required for people who are not mahram, their fathers ... or their women or "owned ones" or children ... and, then we discussed whether ti meant only male slaves or included female slaves as well. We pointed out that the external form of the verse reveals those who are the exceptions and traditions, in particular, Shi'ite traditions, have said that they are the male servants. But the other problem is that among the Islamic scholars, perhaps, there are very few people who have issued an edict saying that male slaves are mahram within the home. That is, the ruling is that it is not necessary for women to cover themselves before them because they are taken as mahram but the external meaning of the verse is clear and the traditions say the same.

In these verses there are other exceptions about what the right hand owns and children because we had the exception that in the place of retreat of women, every one, except her husband, must seek permission to enter. Here two other groups are mentioned as exceptions to this rule other than at the special times mentioned in the Holy Quran; first is "owned ones" and second are children before they reach puberty.

Now, as to "owned ones" let no one think that because there are no longer any slaves, there is no need to discuss this. No. We do not want to mention a duty of a slave here, but Islamic precepts in regard to slaves should be understood and if a person wants to reason from the verse itself, he can expand this ruling to include other than slaves.

As we pointed out, the verse said no one has the right to enter the home of another without first announcing it except those who are your slaves and children who have not yet reached puberty. These people are exception to seeking permission to enter a woman's retreat unless it occurs at the three speical times mentioned.

The three times mentioned are times when a woman is most often not wearing her normal clothes. One of the three times is before the dawn prayer when she has first woken up and has not yet fully dressed. They have no right to enter without announcing their entrance. Another time is the middle of the day when it is very hot, when you come home nd take off your clothes. They must seek permission to enter. The third is at night ater the night prayer which is the time for going to sleep.
In sum up, at times other than when a woman normally takes off her clothes, and is a time of rest, they can enter without permission. Then the verse itself analyzes this. If you recall, two weeks ago, we mentioned these exceptions other than the husband; perhaps a father can also be included who is mahram, a women's father-in-law and perhaps one's husband's son for which exceptions exist for covering various areas such as the face and hands. It is not the criterion that, at other times, are stimulating areas and a man whose eyes fall on the body of a woman or on her face presents a danger. But if we extend these criteria further, we will create difficulties. We have mentioned this.
Here, there is one sentence which shows why these are exceptions because it is their work to 'move about attending to each other's. A child who has not yet reached puberty, who is within the house, is continuously moving about. If the child has to continuously seek permission, it is very difficult. Thus, only at the special times should these exceptions seek permission.

And, now another issue. In the verse, "owned ones", are the female or male slaves? We said male slaves. In this area, again the tradition have said this. In Kafi it has been recorded from Imam Sadiq, "What is meant is male slaves who do not have to seek permission except at the three times." Not female slaves because women are mahram to women. They asked, "Do women need to seek permission at these three times?" He said, "No. It is not necessary."

There is another tradition in which it is questionable if female slaves are meant but male slaves are clearly indicated.

It can be said that men are meant and not women in this verese because here the pronoun is exclusive to the masculine. They are the slaves of these women and we could say, perhaps, only women are meant but the here the masculine plural appears. That is, those men who are your slaves do not need to get permission other than at those three times. Thus they are clearly mahram and does this abrogate the other? No. Whatever is said in the other verse that male slaves and children who have not reached puberty are mahram is the same here. These two, then, correspond and this also corresponds with was has appeared in the traditions, in particular, Shi'ite traditions. Of course, they do not conform with the religious edicts.

Let us move beyond this. Those who are "owned ones" must not seek permission and also sons who have reached puberty except at three times. The masculine plural is referred to and not women. Their work is to move about attending to each other; thus does God make clear the signs for you ...".

"When your children reach puberty' they must always seek permission to enter. Thus does God make clear His signs for you.

The two exceptions which we had, one was in relation to male slaves and the other in relation to children who have not attained puberty. The third exception is 'such women as are menopausic'.

1. Quran, 24 : 58-60.

Adopted from the book : "On the Islamic Hijab" by : "Murtaza Mutahhari"

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