A home is a place where one finds peace. Allah Ta‘ala Himself declares in the Holy Quraan that He has created homes for us to acquire peace and comfort. One can only enjoy this peace and comfort if one is safe from unnecessary interferences and disturbances. Islam has taught us a very important etiquette in this regard which is called “isti’zaan” (to seek permission before entering a home). This will ensure that the privacy of the inmates of the home is not violated.
The following are some important points regarding seeking permission:
1. It is obligatory on every person to seek permission before entering another person’s home. This is applicable even when visiting one’s mahram.
2. If a husband and wife are living alone, even then it is preferable to make some sort of sound before entering to make one’s arrival known.
3. When seeking permission to enter, one should clearly mention one’s name in such a manner that the inmates would understand who he/she is without any difficulty. If need be, he/she should also mention his/her surname and the place where he/she comes from. This is to help the host recognise who the visitor is and respond immediately.
4. When knocking at the door or ringing the bell, one should not knock so hard or ring so much that the inmates of the home get upset. It should be done mildly with the sole purpose of letting the inmates know that there is someone at the door. If after knocking or ringing there is no answer then one should knock or ring a second and a third time. If after the third time there is no answer, one should leave.
5. Whilst standing at someone’s door, waiting for permission to enter, one should not peep into the home. The hadeeth very strongly prohibits one from peeping into the homes of others.
Some issues relating to the telephone:
The scholars have written that some of the laws of “isti’zaan” (seeking permission) also apply when one person phones another, since one is encroaching on his/her privacy. Therefore the following points need to be adhered to:
1. Do not phone someone at a time when he/she is resting or busy with some work.
2. If a person needs to speak for a lengthy period, he/she should first make this known and request a convenient time when he/she could be contacted, without any disturbances and imposing on the other person.