Discussion of Questions and Comments raised from Surah An-Nur (Verses 27-28)

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

اللهم صلي على سيدنا محمد وعلى اله وصحبه وسلم

Allahumma salli ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa ala alihi wa sahbihi wasallim

O Allah, send your peace and blessings upon our Master Muhammad and upon his family and companions

This article is a summary of takeaways from Ustaz Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram’s Tafsir Online Lecture on 14th February 2021. This lecture is the last of a series of lectures on the stories behind Surah An-Nur verses. Translations of the previous lecture on 7th February 2021 can be found here. Summaries of previous lectures on Surah Maryam, Surah Taha, Surah Al-Anbiya’, Surah Al-Hajj and Surah Al-Mu’minun can be found here.

Discussion of Questions and Comments raised from Surah An-Nur (Verses 27-28)

In last week’s lecture, we looked into the tafsir of verses 27 and 28 of Surah An-Nur, where Allah SWT teaches us about the adab of entering someone else’s personal space (their home or room). Even though I have addressed quite a number of questions and comments during the lecture itself, I noticed upon returning home after the lecture that there were many comments, questions, and statements unaddressed. So, I will take some time to address them.

Questions from the Audience

Q: If someone visits my home, and they give Salaam while I am in the middle of Salah, how should I respond?

A: First, do not nullify your Salah. Continue with your Salah until you have completed it. Next, look at your situation. If your house is located along the corridor (and not at the end of it), and you are praying in an area of the house near to the main door, or in a room whose window is adjacent to the corridor, then you need to make a decision.

If you are male, and you know that by reciting the takbir or by reciting the surahs during Salah aloud, the person standing outside will be alerted that you are in prayer, then do that as a means of answering your salaam. That should suffice as answering the Salaam for now. After you have completed your Salah, then head to the door to respond the person’s Salaam directly.

This is based on a hadith of Rasulullah SAW that says that if a Muslim were to be praying, and someone comes to him and gives Salaam even though he sees that the first person is in Salah, then the response is to give a hand signal.

Just lift your arm horizontally up to your waist level, to signal to them that you are in prayer. You do not raise your hand and wave it around, that would invalidate your Salah.

You just need to indicate briefly that you are unable to respond to them yet. This first response is not Wajib. You can choose not to do it. The alternative is to wait until the end of your Salah to answer their Salaam (if they are still standing there).

So, from this hadith, we saw that it is permissible to answer with a sort of signal if someone were to give you Salaam while you are in Salah. Therefore, we can apply the same thing to the situation where you are praying at home and a visitor gives salaam.

Recite takbir aloud such that the visitor can hear it from the door. There is a condition though, you need to be located near the door. If you were to be praying in a room that is far from the main door, then it is not permissible for you to raise your voice in your prayer to scream the takbir just to be heard by them. This act of raising your voice above what is usually recommended in Salah, invalidates your Salah according to a portion of scholars.

For ladies, you are not to raise your voice in Salah. So even if you were praying next to the door, do not raise your voice to recite takbir to send a signal to the person outside that you are in Salah. For men, during their Salaah, they already recite the Takbirs audibly, as such there is no issue for them to recite audibly to signal to someone outside that they are praying.

Now as a visitor, if you were to come to someone’s house, and after giving the first Salaam, you hear the person inside reciting the Takbir, or you hear him reciting Al-Fatihah or any surah in Salah… then the proper adab is to not repeat your Salaam.

Do not say, “Assalamu’alaikum, I know you can hear me in your Salah!”. When you do that, your intentions are no longer sincere to give a greeting, but it becomes to disturb someone in their Salah. This is a sin and Haram in Islam.

Q: You mentioned that after giving Salaam thrice, and there is no response, we are to leave the house. How long should we wait between each Salaam?

A: The span between two Salaams should be that of the duration of a typical two-raka’at Salah. Perhaps it is a duration of about three to five minutes or so? After that, give Salaam again. Wait another two raka’at, perhaps they may still be in Salah.

After three more minutes, they should have ended their Salah already – there is no Salah that has more than four consecutive raka’at. If you give Salaam a third time and they still do not respond, even if you can tell there is someone inside, then take it that they are not accepting guests, so leave.

This is what I have learnt from my teachers of the past. Do not give the three Salaams immediately one after another. Do not get mad that someone does not accept you as a guest, they have every right not to take you in.

Q: What should be done if a mother stays with her daughter-in-law, and her own children do not respect the homeowner? They come as and when they wish to visit their mother, without giving prior notice to the homeowner.

A: First, last week we mentioned about how important it is to give advanced notice if we were planning to visit someone’s home. We took this lesson from the example shown by Rasulullah SAW himself. Whenever he returned from a long journey, he would first sit somewhere and send a messenger home, to notify his wife of his approaching arrival. This is to give her time to prepare for his return.

Now in the case of this question, informing the homeowner in advance of your visit is not compulsory. It is an adab. If possible, do let the homeowner know in advance so that they can prepare.

However, even Rasulullah SAW had moments in his life when he did not give advance notice before visiting his companions RA at home. He would come to their homes and give Salaam. So, giving advance notice is not obligatory.

What is obligatory is to seek permission before entering the home once you have arrived. What becomes an issue is to just arrive and take off your shoes, open the door, and walk right in uninvited. That is clearly wrong, this is not your home, so you do not treat it as though it is.

However, like I mentioned last week, not every issue should be resolved via rules and hakam. Issues like these emerge out of miscommunication between parties in the family. There could be miscommunication between siblings and in-laws. This issue should be resolved with proper communication between the various parties.

The husband should talk to his wife about it. The son should speak with his mother about this. He could say nicely, “Mum, I really love that my siblings come to visit you often. I enjoy having them here to keep you company. Sometimes though, I find it difficult and really rushed for us when they visit out of the blue and we are not ready to welcome guests.

Perhaps you could suggest to them to at the very least inform us when they are coming? That way we could get ready.”

Try to use this approach when it comes to domestic issues. Talk things out instead of always trying to find answers in what is your right, what must be done, or what cannot be done in Islam.

Some men find an issue when it comes to meeting both the demands of his wife and his mother. His mother might be asking him to go to the market at Geylang to purchase some ingredients for her. At the same time, his wife might be asking him to follow her to the clinic.

sIf he goes to the market, his wife would get upset, and if he goes to the clinic, his mother would get disappointed. In issues like these, what is most important is not necessarily what is written in the hadith.

There is however a hadith for this situation. The hadith states that “The person with the biggest right over a man is his mother.”. Not his wife. Not anyone else. So, one can say, ‘look at this hadith! It clearly states that my mother has the biggest right over me. If my wife wants to sulk because I did not do what she wants, then it’s her problem not mine.”.

My brothers and sisters, in life, we cannot merely use what is reflected in the Qur’an and Hadith to explain away our choices. The impacts of our actions are long-lasting. We cannot just live as a couple saying, “the hadith is black and white, if it says black, I follow. If it says white, I follow.”. Sometimes, there are issues of the heart, of feelings and emotions, of prioritising, of discussions, of sharing your concerns… all of these are important.

Talk things out. Going back to the question, the siblings concerned should also try to empathise with the homeowner. Do not say, “It’s a good thing I’m even coming to visit Mum! We came all the way to pay her a visit and then when we enter your home, you scold us and get mad at us for coming?”.

This is not a matter of whether it is wrong or right. The homeowners have a right over their own homes. They need time to get ready, to be available to welcome their guests. They too have domestic issues, such as we do. Give them the space to decide.

It does not take long to drop a message to say, “Hey, I would like to come tomorrow to visit Mum, what is a good time to come?”. Have compassion on the homeowners, this issue can be resolved.

Q: What if the children have the keys to the mother’s home? At times, the mother is asleep or resting. Can they just enter the home without seeking permission first?

A: Different families have different arrangements and different understandings. In my opinion, even if you have the keys to the house, permission needs to be granted first.

If the mother had said prior to handing a copy of the house keys over, “Feel free to just use the keys to come in whenever you visit. I may be resting inside, so don’t bother to wait for me to answer the door.”. If that permission had already been granted them, then it should remain so.

Even so, let us return to the intention behind the verses that we learnt last week. When Allah SWT asserted that before we entered a home that is not our own, we should give Salaam and seek consent.

The aim of this is to guard our eyes. Even within our own homes, we are asked to seek permission before entering someone else’s room. A child should ask his parent’s permission, a brother should ask his sister’s permission.

So even if you have been given the house keys, if you look at the aim behind the verse, it is to guard our gaze. We ourselves would not be comfortable if we were to be resting at home wearing shorts and a torn and tattered singlet, and suddenly someone just opens the door wide open and walks in to see us in that state. “But Ustaz, why would I need to guard my gaze even with my own mother?”, you say. Well, even with your own mother there are Aurah rulings.

There is of course a difference between what is Aurah for those who are Mahram (those whom we cannot marry) and those who are not (those whom we can marry). Even with those who are Mahram to us, there are still Aurah boundaries to respect – even if the person is your mother or father or sister or brother.

The Aurah of a mother to her son is between her belly button and her knees – but this is the bare minimum. A mother is still a human being. Even if it is not a must to cover anything else, why would she not cover her chest in front of her son? Even if she had once breastfed him as a child, there is still a certain feeling shame in uncovering her private areas.

This is why, I advise you, regardless of what your arrangement with your family members may be, seek their permission before entering their personal space. The key that you have in your hand, regard it as something given to facilitate you in case something happens to your mother, to be used in the case of emergencies only.

Q: There are times when a visitor comes at the last minute so as to ensure that the homeowner does not overly busy themselves with preparing to welcome the guests. Is this ok?

A: To the homeowner, I say, it is good that your guests tells you in advance that she is coming, even if that notice is given rather late. To the visitor, I say, your intentions come from a good place. You do not want to burden the homeowner too much by giving them such an early warning.

You fear that if you told them in the morning that you would be coming in the evening, they would go out of their way to get to the market and buy ingredients to prepare a feast for you. You do not want them to tire themselves out sprucing up the house for your arrival.

However, do note that your intentions may be misplaced. Your late notice may in fact burden them even more than if you had warned them in advance.

There is a portion of people who, regardless of what the circumstances may be, they take it as their responsibility to give their guests the ultimate best. I have some relatives who are like that. Whether I inform them a week in advance, or an hour in advance, or I just emerge at the door unannounced… they will ensure I receive the ultimate best.

This was how they were brought up, taught since young by their parents to honour their guests. So have a look. In these situations, if your good intention of not giving advance notice is to relieve them of some burden of preparation, your arrival unannounced may in fact cause more burden as they make hasty preparation to still give you the best.

I have a relative who has a practice of giving gifts to whosoever visits. Any child, or visitor, or person asking for donations, will not leave her without first receiving a gift from her. This is despite her being incredibly old already; she has no energy to leave the house, and no income of her own.

The only money left on her is that which is given to her by her children when they visit. The allowance she receives from them is meant for her own household expenses. Since she has this habit of giving ingrained in her, she would give that money away.

Her own children get frustrated because of this, that the money they give to her is given away, even to people who do not expect to receive anything from her. When it comes to people like these, it is best to tell them in advance of your arrival. We want to ensure that they do not rush to prepare and welcome you.

C: There are people who do not come last minute, they cancel at the last minute!

A: Now this is another undesirable situation that we want to avoid. If we have given advance notice that we will be coming, and we know that our friend will be making preparations to welcome us, then do not cancel at the last minute!

We arranged to arrive at 6pm, and then at 5.50pm we call them up to apologise for not coming. This is not something that suits the character of a believer.

C: This is the first time I’m learning that the homeowner has the right to turn away guests they do not want to host.

A: Yes, we learnt this last week. It is the right of every person to not accept guests at certain points of time. If the homeowner wants you to leave, as a visitor, you leave. However, try to be wary of how you turn your guests away.

Use words that are full of adab and do it in such a way that does not breed animosity or feelings of hatred. The Malay community has ways to deal with these matters in a way that is polite and gentle. If possible, do not order them to leave, rather make a polite request that they come another time.

Sometimes, I myself do this. If someone came to visit, and my home is a mess, my wife tells me, “Please do not let them in! Not now… the house is in a mess!”. What I do is that I neaten my clothes up, I open the door, and I step outside to talk to them, “Wa’alaikumsalam Cik Man, It’s you! Thank you for coming. I am so sorry I cannot let you in, there’s a bit of a problem inside, but let’s talk here. What brings you here?”.

So, the visitor does not stay for too long; he leaves immediately once he has finished saying what he has to say. There is no need to criticise the homeowner for not letting him in, the house is just not ready to welcome a guest. There are other methods to do this. What is most important is that the right of the homeowner is not infringed upon by anyone – not even the closest relatives. Have mutual respect.

Q: Do we need to receive an invitation from the homeowner prior to visiting them?

A: As mentioned previously, seeking permission to visit is not Wajib, but seeking permission to enter is Wajib. Giving advance notice of our arrival is not Wajib.

You can come to someone’s home without them first inviting you to come for a visit. However, if someone has already explicitly said to you that they do not want you in their home, then do not come.

Q: If we cannot accept guests, how do we respond to their Salaam if they give Salaam to us?

A: If they give Salaam to me, and I answer their Salaam, then they know I am home and will expect me to welcome them in. But I do not want this. However, as a Muslim, I know that if I do not respond to their Salaam it is a sin.

Allah knows best, but this is my advice. Just be straight and honest with them. I would say, respond to their Salaam and frankly say, “Wa’alaikumsalam wr wb, thank you for coming. I am so sorry, but right now, I am not in a position to welcome guests, let’s arrange for another time for you to visit.”.

I know that this is not the practice that we have in our community. I hope that someday it might become the norm, for people to just say clearly what the situation is, in a polite manner. I am not encouraging you to not be polite and respectful. Keep up the politeness.

It is just that at times, in our community, we are too polite, we add too many layers of sugar-coating to what we are saying to the extent that it becomes incomprehensible. We are too afraid of offending people, of not hurting others, that we end up hurting ourselves. Try to find an alternative that is both respectful and allows you to maintain your rights.

The second option would be based on a hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad, Abu Daud and An-Nasa’i. There was a time when Rasulullah SAW went to visit the home of a companion called Sa’ad bin Ubadah, a man from the Ansar.

Rasulullah SAW gave his Salaam while Sayidina Sa’ad was at home. Sayidina Sa’ad responded, but not out loud. He responded quietly. His son saw this and asked him why he did that. He brushed his son off. Rasulullah SAW, after a while of waiting, gave Salaam again.

Sa’ad RA once again responded with a Salaam softly, inaudible to Rasulullah SAW outside. After a while, Rasulullah SAW gave the third Salaam, and Sa’ad responded in the same way as before. After waiting a while, Rasulullah SAW left. We can say that he SAW was the prophet and had every right to come in, but he did not. He waited after three Salaams were given and then left.

At this moment, Sa’ad came running after Rasulullah SAW. He said, “O Rasulullah, I heard your Salaams just now and I answered them audibly, but not in a volume loud enough for you to hear me.

The reason is because I wanted you, O Rasulullah, to give me and my family a lot of Salaam.”. Salaams are du’as, he wanted Rasulullah SAW to be making du’a for him and his household.

Last week I mentioned: “When we say “Assalamu’alaikum”, we are praying for peace and comfort for (the people of the household). When we say “wa rahmatullah”, we are asking for Allah’s Rahmah and Love upon them. When we say “wa barakatuh”, we are hoping they are showered with an abundance of goodness.”

Sa’ad heard Rasulullah and answered him quietly (not silently). After that, he welcomes Rasulullah SAW into his home, we served him food, and Rasulullah SAW made du’a for him. Perhaps Rasulullah SAW’s home had been quite a distance form Sa’ad’s home. After the meal, Sa’ad invited Rasulullah SAW to rest and shower first, after that then Rasulullah SAW returned home.

From this story, what we can take away is that the answering of the Salaam is Wajib, but it does not have to be at the volume that it is audible to the person giving Salaam. If we are not ready to welcome a guest, then answer the Salaam but in a voice that is not loud enough to be heard from someone outside.

C: Guests should not stay at a host’s house for so long that the homeowner feels uncomfortable about them being there.

A: This is true and in line with what is taught in the religion. When you are in a person’s home and you have done what you intended to achieve, then leave instead of hanging around for too long.

Rasulullah SAW mentioned in a hadith that when you visit someone’s home and you have completed that which you wanted to do, then relieve the homeowner and leave. Do not expect them to keep entertaining you.

Rasulullah SAW himself experienced this once, when he had served food to some companions upon his marriage to Zainab bte Jahsy. Rasulullah SAW had watched as they all finished their food and left, except for three companions who hung around, chitchatting in the house of the Prophet SAW.

They probably did not intend to be a burden to the Prophet SAW, but were unaware of the inconvenience they were causing. What Rasulullah SAW did was that he tried to give indication to them that it was time to leave. He was shy to tell them off directly.

Instead, Rasulullah SAW went to Aisyah’s home to ask her how she was. He then went from home to home to visit all of his wives. When he was done, he noticed that the companions did not get the hint. They were still hanging around having their conversations.

Rasulullah sat around to wait for a while, and then he started another round of visits to his wives, starting with Aisyah RA. When he finished, the three companions were still seated there. It was then that the revelation in Surah Al-Ahzab came down.

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تَدْخُلُوا۟ بُيُوتَ ٱلنَّبِىِّ إِلَّآ أَن يُؤْذَنَ لَكُمْ إِلَىٰ طَعَامٍ غَيْرَ نَـٰظِرِينَ إِنَىٰهُ وَلَـٰكِنْ إِذَا دُعِيتُمْ فَٱدْخُلُوا۟ فَإِذَا طَعِمْتُمْ فَٱنتَشِرُوا۟ وَلَا مُسْتَـْٔنِسِينَ لِحَدِيثٍ ۚ

O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal, without awaiting its readiness. But when you are invited, then enter; and when you have eaten, disperse without lingering around in conversation… [33:53]

So these companions could not get the hint until Allah SWT Himself told them off to ask them to leave. As a guest, you want to be mindful of your hosts and not linger around, making conversation one topic after another, late into the night.

Closing Words

Now, there are many more questions, however I will not be able to answer all of them. Time is not on our side and I want to be fair to the working crew here. I love that there are unanswered questions, let this be an impetus for us to seek answers elsewhere and continue learning outside of this class.

Perhaps there could be other teachers from whom you can learn. What is important is for us to not be overly satisfied with whatever knowledge we have, such that we stop ourselves from seeking more knowledge.

In another lecture, I spoke about Greed and Zuhud. When it comes to knowledge, there is neither Zuhud not Greed. Those are things we want to stay away from when it comes to wealth, asking for more than what has been prescribed for you. When it comes to knowledge, keep seeking more.

May Allah SWT grant us humility and realisation of what is important. What is most important is Adab. From before, we covered the story of Al-Ifk. Guard your tongue, watch whatever comes out of it. Guard your ears, filter that which comes to it. And now, we learnt, guard your eyes, be careful what you let them see.

Please continue to support Masjid Darul Makmur. I would like to take this opportunity to seek forgiveness. There are certain matters that I have to prioritise and give my fullest focus for… these cannot be avoided.

As such, I would need to discontinue the Tafsir Lectures for Masjid Darul Makmur every Sunday evening. Until when, I am not sure. It is likely that we will take a break from now until Syawal. Please await any updates from Masjid Darul Makmur.

We pray that Allah SWT continues to preserve us even though we are no longer meeting every week. May Allah SWT keep our hearts close together, may He make our friendship even stronger than before.

By Allah, I would like to declare, just as I have said in previous lectures – and what I am about to say comes from the sincerity in my heart – I really really really love all of you as those who have been chosen as my brothers and sisters.

May Allah SWT unite us once more, not just in these lectures but more importantly, that Allah SWT preserves our companionship to the extent that He unites us with His beloved Rasulullah SAW in Paradise someday. Ameen ya Rabbal ‘Alameen

 

Summary by: Arina Adom

Arina Adom is a lover of learning who takes on the world with an open mind. Resourceful and adaptable, always ready to take on new challenges. Comfortable working with diverse groups of people, yet able to work independently. Thrives under pressure. Currently seeking a meaningful career that enables her to impact lives directly and bring about positive changes in the lives of others in the community.

Arina graduated with a degree in Science ( Hons ), Life Science from NUS. She is currently taking a diploma in Quran and Sunnah Studies from Al Zuhri.

Arina Adom – Linkedin Profile


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