O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded (ie. advised).
And if you do not find anyone therein, do not enter them until permission has been given to you. And if it is said to you, “go back” then go back; it is purer for you. And God is knowing of what you do.
Allah is very clear as to what we should do before entering another persons home yet today the majority of people today have forgotten these etiquettes. Where they are placed in Surah Nur shows us how important these etiquettes before these ayah are the ayah about slandering chaste women and after are the ayah about lowering your gaze. That alone should tell us that these etiquettes are related to guarding chastity and not spreading fitna. Then why is it today people take this so lightly? People will turn up to a persons house unannounced and the host will have no choice but to allow them in. Even within the home people do not feel it is important to knock before entering and fling doors open as they please. When we read these ayahs we learn that this is not acceptable to Allah. So it’s really important we learn, understand and implement these etiquettes in our lives.
The prophet (saw) said: If any one of you ask permission to enter thrice, and permission is not given, then he should return. (Bukhari)
This means that you should knock three times and if the person does not give you permission to come in then you should leave. Even the ayah states that if the person asks you not to come now then it should be respected and you should not insist that you have to come at that time. This is made even easier for us now as we have technology that enables us to ask even before we leave our home. So we should be mindful that the other person may be busy or not in a position to host guests at that time so we should ask politely and not insist if they ask us not to come at that time. If it is said to us that, this time is not appropriate then we should not get upset but this is what happens nowadays. People feel offended if they are told that this time is not appropriate for the other person feeling as though it is their right to come whenever they want. This attitude needs to stop. This type of behaviour is described in the Tafsir of ibn Kathir as the behaviour of the people in the time of jahilliyyah. So we need to ensure we are not imitating the behaviour done at the time of jahilliyyah.
The prophet (saw) said: If a person looks into your house without permission, and you throw a stone at him and it puts his eye out, there is no blame on you. (Muslim)
This Hadith should give us an indication of just how important it is not to invade someone’s privacy of their home. So if even looking into someone’s home is discouraged then how much more important must it be to seek permission before coming into someone’s home. Even husbands are encouraged by the prophet (saw) to announce before coming into their home. This means even within family we should knock before entering even within the house as chastity and privacy needs to be protected. It is also narrated in Muslim that it is not sufficient to say “I” or “me” when you are asked who it is when seeking permission. The prophet (saw) disliked this and taught us that you must be specific when answering.
When the etiquettes are so clear then why do we fail to follow them? We need to spend more time learning what Allah and the prophet (saw) has taught us and do our best to implement it. In doing this we will save ourselves from many social issues and guard our chastity and privacy and inshaAllah it will cause people to be closer to one another.