Enter or leave your house with your right foot first, as it was the tradition of the Prophet. Imaam Abul Ala Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Hamazani, a great scholar of Hadith of his time, was so keen on applying this Sunnah to the extent that if someone entered his house with their left foot first, he would ask them to go out and re-enter with their right foot first. He was so much respected that the Sultan of the day would visit him at school and sit in front of him as a student. At one occasion, he told the Sultan to exit with his right foot first and walk on the right side of the road.
When entering or leaving a house, do not push the door violently, or slam it shut, or leave it to close by itself wildly. Such actions stand in contrast to the gracefulness of Islam to which you are honoured to belong. Close the door quietly with your hand. You may have heard a Hadith reported by Imam Muslim whereby ‘Aisha (RA) quotes the Prophet: ‘Gentleness adorns every act. Its absence will tarnish it.’
2.2 ENTERING WHILE OTHERS ARE ASLEEP
If you enter a place where people are sleeping, whether during day or night, be quiet and gentle. Be considerate. Do not cause any undue noise when entering or exiting. You have heard the saying of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم): ‘Whoever is deprived of gentleness, is deprived of all sorts of goodness.’ Muslim and Al-Tirmidhi reported that the honourable companion Al-Miqdad bin Al-Aswad (RA) said: ‘We used to preserve the Prophet’s share of the milk, when he came back at night he would greet us with a voice loud enough for those awake to hear, without disturbing those who were asleep.’ In addition, whenever the Prophet used to pray at night, he would recite the Quran with a voice that pleased those that were awake, without disturbing those that were asleep.’
Princess Qatrul Nada (Dew point) was famous for her intelligence, manners and beauty. She was the daughter of Khimarwaih bin Ahmad bin Toulon, the King of Egypt. She married Al-Mu’taded Billah. Qatrul Nada said: ‘My father taught me an important manner – do not sleep among sitting people and do not sit among sleeping people.’
When entering or leaving your house, acknowledge those inside. Use the greeting of Muslims and the label of Islam: ‘Assalam ‘Alãikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakãtuh; Peace and mercy of Allah be with you.’ Do not forego this Islamic greeting by replacing it with something else, such as ‘Good Morning,’ or ‘Hello.’ This greeting is the sign of Islam and the phrase that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) recommended and practiced. The greeting of Muslims and Islam is: Assalam Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. Peace, mercy, and blessing of Allah be upon you. The Prophet, peace be upon him, taught his faithful servant Anas bin Malik to greet his family when entering or leaving his house. Imam Tirmizi reported that Anas said: ‘The Messenger of Allah said to me, ‘My son, greet your family when you enter [your home], for that is a blessing for you and your family.”
Qatada, a prominent follower (Tabi’y), said: ‘Greet your family when you enter your house. They are the most worthy of your greeting.’ Al- Tirmidhi reported another Hadith whereby Abu Huraira (RA) stated that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘If you join a gathering, greet them, and if you want to leave, dismiss yourself. The first is no less important than the second.’
Imam Al-Suyuti in his book ‘Praising the Abyssinians’ cited from Abo Taleb Al-Jumahi’s Al-Tahyat the following: ‘Every nation has a way of greeting. Arabs will say salams. Persians Emperors require prostrating and kissing the floor. The Persians touch their hand on the floor in front of the king. The Abyssinians quietly, gather their hands at their chest. The Romans uncover their head and bow. The Nubians would gesture as if kissing the guest and then putting both hands on their face.’ All these greetings, except Salam, are forbidden.
Imam Nawawi in Al-Majmu said ‘It is preferred to say ‘Bismillahi Arrahman Arrahim’ when you enter your house or others’ houses. You ought to say Salam if you enter it regardless whether it was empty or occupied. You say a prayer when you go out. Imam Tirmizi and Imam Abu Dawood narrated a Hadith by Anas that the Prophet said: ‘If you say in the name of Allah, I seek help from Allah, no strength or means but with Allah. Then he will be told: you are protected and saved. The Satan will leave him.
He cited another Hadith narrated by Muslim that Jaber bin Abdullah related that he heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying: ‘If you enter your house and pray to Allah when entering and before your meals, the Satan will say [to his group]: No sleep and no food. If you entered it without praying to Allah. Satan will say [to his group]: You secured your sleep and dinner.’
2.4 ANNOUNCING YOUR PRESENCE
When entering a house, make your presence known to those inside before you approach them. Avoid startling or frightening them. Do not descend upon them suddenly. Abu ‘Ubãida ‘Àmer bin ‘Abdullah bin Mas’wüd (RA) said: ‘My father ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’wüd used to announce his arrival by addressing his family in a cordial tone.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: ‘When a person enters his house, it is recommended that he/she creates noise by coughing or tapping his/her shoes.’ His son Abdullah said: ‘When returning home from the mosque, my father used to announce his arrival before entering, by tapping with his shoes or coughing.’
Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet denounced those who unexpectedly surprise their families at night, whether returning from travel or otherwise, because it makes them appear to be distrustful.
2.5 SEEKING PERMISSION TO ENTER
If family members are resting in their rooms, and you want to join them, it is appropriate to ask for permission and/or knock on the door. Otherwise, you may see them in a condition that you, or they for that matter, may not like. This applies to your entire household; your immediate family or otherwise. In the Muwata by ‘Ata ibn Yasãr,
Imam Malik narrated that a man asked the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) the following: ‘Should I seek permission to enter my mother’s room?’ The Prophet answered, ‘Yes.’ The man said, ‘We live together in the same house.’ The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, ‘Ask for permission to join her.’ The man argued, ‘But, I am her servant.’ The Prophet said, ‘Ask for permission. Would you like to see her naked?’ The man replied, ‘No!’ The Prophet said, ‘Then ask permission when entering.’
A man asked ‘Abdullah bin Mas’wüd: ‘Should I ask permission to enter my mother’s room?’ He answered him, ‘Yes. There are certain circumstances in which you would rather not see her. ‘ Zaynab, the wife of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’wüd said that upon reaching the door, ‘Abdullah used to make noise, fearing that he might surprise us and encounter an embarrassing situation. A man asked Huzaifa ibn Al-Yamãn, ‘Should I ask permission to enter my mother’s?’ Huzaifa replied, ‘Yes, if you do not ask for her permission, you may encounter an embarrassing situation.’
Müsa the son of the companion Talha ibn ‘Obaidillah said: ‘My father went to my mother’s room. I followed him as he entered, he turned toward me and pushed me down forcing me to sit. Then he reprimanded me: ‘How dare you to enter without permission?’
Nafi,’ the patron of ‘Abdullah bin Omar said: ‘When any of Ibn Omar’s children come of age, Ibn Omar would assign him/her another room. He would not allow any of them to enter his room without permission.’
‘Ata bin Abi Rabãh asked Ibn ‘Abbas: ‘Should I seek permission when calling on my two sisters?’ Ibn Abbas answered, ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘I am their guardian, supporter and provider of their needs.’ He said, ‘Would you rather see them naked?’ Then he read the Quranic verse, ‘And when the children among you come of age, let them ask for permission, as do those senior to them in age; thus does Allah make clear His signs. Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.’ Thus, Ibn ‘Abbas concluded that asking permission is obligatory for all people. Ibn Mas’wüd said: ‘A person should seek permission whenever entering the room of a father, mother, brother and sister.’ Jãber also said: ‘A person should seek permission whenever entering the room of a son, a daughter, a mother -even if she is old, a brother, a sister, or a father.’
Knock at the door, or ring the door’s bell in a pleasant way and not louder than is necessary to make your presence known. Do not knock loudly and violently or ring the bell continuously. Remember that you are a visitor and not a thug or an oppressor who is raiding the house and frightening its occupants. A woman came to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal seeking his opinion on a religious matter. She banged at his door loudly. He came out saying, ‘This is the banging of policemen.’ Al-Bukhari reported in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad that the companions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to knock on the door of the Prophet with the tips of their nails.
This nimble and gentle knocking, or ringing, is appropriate for those whose living quarters are close to the door. For those living farther from the door, it is appropriate to knock on their door, or ring the bell loud enough to enable them to hear it, without banging. In this regard the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, ‘Gentleness adorns every act, its absence will tarnish it.’ In addition, Muslim reported that the Prophet also said, ‘Whoever lacks kindness, lacks all good things.’
Leave an adequate time between two knocks, or rings. This will enable those performing ablution, praying, or eating, to finish without rushing. Some scholars estimate this interval to be that of the praying time of four rak’as. Keep in mind that a person may have just started the prayers just before you rang the door bell.
After three spaced knocks, or intermittent rings, you may feel that the person you came to see is busy, otherwise, he or she would have answered you. If this is the case, leave. Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘If you asked permission three times, and were not granted permission, then you must leave.’
While waiting for permission, do not stand in front of the door. Instead, stand to the right or to the left. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم), upon coming to someone’s door, avoided facing the door directly. Instead, he would stand to the right or to the left of the door.
2.7 ANSWERING ‘WHO IS IT’
If you knock on the door you may be asked, ‘Who is it?’ Identify yourself , using your most common name but do not respond with, ‘It is me,’ ‘Somebody,’ or, ‘Guess who?’ These words are useless in identifying who is at the door. You should not assume that your voice is known to the person or persons who live there, because your voice may resemble another person’s voice. Don’t forget that people differ in their ability to distinguish voices.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) discouraged people from saying ‘it’s me’ because it does not reveal your name. Bukhari and Muslim reported that Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: ‘I came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and knocked on his door, and he asked, ‘Who is it?’ I answered, ‘It is me,’ and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) disapprovingly said, ‘ Me is me, me is me!’ ‘ For this reason, the companions used to mention their names whenever they were asked, ‘Who is it?’
Bukhari and Muslim reported that Abu Zar said: ‘While walking out one night I saw the Messenger of Allah walking by himself. I opted to walk in the shade of the moon, but he turned around and saw me and said, ‘Who is there?’ I replied, ‘It’s Abu Zar.’ ‘ Bukhari and Muslim also reported that Umm Hani, a cousin of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and the sister of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, said: ‘I came to see the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). He was taking a bath and his daughter Fatima was sheltering him, and he asked ‘who is this?’ I replied, ‘I am Umm Hani.’ ‘ HaqIslam