Answering: ‘Who Is It?’

When you knock at the door of your brother and you are asked, “Who is it?” then identify yourself, by stating your known name. Do not say “me”, “someone” or “somebody” for these words do not inform him as to who is at the door. It is incorrect for you to expect your voice be known to the person whom you are visiting since voices and tones resemble each other and can be confusing. Also, not every person in the home you are visiting may be able to recognise your voice.

Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] discouraged the one knocking at the door from saying, “It’s me” since this does not give a full meaning.

Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim [Rahimahumullah] reported that Sayyiduná Jábir Ibn ‘Abdullah [Radiallahu anhu] said, “I came to Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] and knocked on his door. He asked, “Who is it?” I answered, “It’s me.” Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] disapprovingly said, “Is it me? Is it me?!” It is for this reason that Sahabah [Radiallahu anhum] used to mention their names whenever they are asked, “Who is it?”

Sayyiduná Abu Dhar [Radiallahu anhu] said, “While walking out one night, I saw Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] walking by himself. I opted to walk in the shade of the moon, but he turned around and saw me. He then asked, “Who is there?” I replied, “It’s Abu Dhar.”

Sayyidatuná Ummu Hani [Radiallahu anha], a cousin of Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] and the sister of Sayyiduná Ali ibn Abí Talib [Radiallahu anhu] said, “I came to see Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam]. He was taking a bath and his daughter Sayyidatuná Fathima [Radiallahu anha] was screening him. He asked, “Who is this?” I replied, “I am Ummu Hani.”  (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

When you visit a friend of yours with or without an appointment, and he appologises for not being able to receive you, accept his apology. His personal affairs and condition of his house is best known to him. It is possible that something may have come up or that his personal circumstances does not allow him to receive you at that moment. He has the right to ask to be excused.

The famous Tábi’í, Qatadah Ibn Di’ámah as Sadúsí [Rahimahullah] said, “Do not remain at the door of those who decline your visit. You do have other needs to attend to whilst they are already occupied, therefore they deserve to be excused.”

Imam Malik [Rahimahullah] used to say, “Not all people can disclose their reasons.”

In this light, when it came to visiting, our pious predecessors used to say to their hosts, “Perhaps you are pre-occupied and cannot attend to us,” thus making them feel at ease in case they wanted to be excused.

Due to the importance of this etiquette, Allah says, whilst mentioning the etiquette of visiting and seeking permission:

“If you are asked to go back, go back, that makes greater purity.” (Surah An-Nur: 28)

Many hosts become compelled and disturbed by the visit of someone whom they did not want to attend to under the circumstances, and may resort to lying. Not only do their children learn bad manners, but such behaviour may lead to ill feeling and hatred in the hearts.

The Quránic etiquette provides a better alternative to such unpleasantness and protects us from lying. It allows the host to kindly present a reason to visitors and asks that they accept it in good faith.

“If you are asked to go back, go back, that makes greater purity.”

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