Sep 11, 2007

Right to Privacy in Islam


In the Name of Allah the most Merciful the Compassionate.

What is right to privacy? It is the ability of an individual or group to keep their lives and personal affairs out of public view (Wikipedia). So the question is what does Islam say about privacy? People think that Islam does not allow people to have privacy, in other words they say that why does Islam interrupt between one's private life? They actually have a misconception that Islam does not allow them to enjoy in their private life. The main misconception is that they do not make any difference between "Islam" and "Islamic Political System". Islam as an ideology stops one self from doing any wrong thing even in the privacy. Though you are alone you cannot commit any sin. But if you do any wrong thing in the privacy the Islamic System cannot punish you unless their are any eye witness evidences.
Now let us see what Islam talks about one's privacy.
(Qur'an 24:27) O Believers, do not enter other houses than your own until you have the approval of the inmates and have wished them peace; this is the best way for you: it is expected that you will observe it.
The Commandments being given above are meant to prevent the very birth of evil, to reform society and root out the causes responsible for the creation and spread of evil. To understand the commandments let us see what was the condition of Arabs during that time.
According to the Arab custom of the pre-Islamic days, people would enter each other's house freely without permission just by pronouncing 'good morning' or 'good evening'. This unannounced entry sometimes violated the privacy of the people and their women folk. Allah enjoined the principle that everybody has a right to privacy in his own house and no one is entitled to force his entry unannounced and without permission of the inmates.
The rules and regulations enforced by the Holy Prophet in society on receipt of the above Commandment are given below serially:
(1) The 'right of privacy' was not merely confined to the question of entry in the houses, but it was declared as a common right according to which it is forbidden to peep into a house, glance from outside, or even read the other person's letter without his permission.
Hadrat Huzail bin Shurahbil has reported that a man came to see the Holy Prophet and sought permission for entry while standing just in front of the door. The Holy Prophet said to him: "Stand aside: the object of the Commandment for seeking permission is to prevent casting of looks inside the house." (Abu Da'ud - Book 41, Number 5155).
The practice of the Holy Prophet was that whenever he went to see somebody, he would stand aside, to the right or the left of the door, and seek permission as it was not then usual to hang curtains on the doors. (Abu Da'ud - Book 41, Number 5167).
According to Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas, the Holy Prophet said: "Whoever glances through the letter of his brother without his permission, glances into fire." (Abu Da'ud, Book 8, Number 1480).
According to Muslim and Bukhari;, the Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "If someone peeps into your house, it will be no sin if you injure his eye with a piece of stone."
In another Tradition, he has said: "The inmates of a house, who injure the eye of the man peeping into their house; are not liable to any punishment." (Abu Da'ud, Book 41, Number 5153)
(2) The jurists have included 'hearing' also under 'glancing'. For instance, if a blind man enters a house without permission, he will not be able to see anybody, but he will certainly be able to hear whatever is going on in the house. This also amounts to violation of the other person's right of privacy.

(3) The Command to seek permission is not only applicable in cases where a person wants to enter the other people's houses, but it also applies to entry in the house of one's own mother or sister.
A man asked the Holy Prophet: "Sir, should I seek permission to enter my mother's house also?" The Holy Prophet replied that he should. The man stated that "there was nobody beside him to look after her", and asked "whether it was necessary to get permission every time he wanted to go in". The Holy Prophet replied: "Yes; would you like that you should see your mother in a naked state" (Ibn Jarir quoting from 'Ata bin Yasar).
(4) The only exception to the general rule is that no permission is needed in case of an emergency or a calamity like theft, fire, etc. One can go for help without permission in such cases.

(5) The system of seeking permission is to say Assalamu-Alaikum and then disclose one's identity and then ask for permission.
It is related that whenever Hadrat `Umar went to see the Holy Prophet, he would say: "Assalam-o- alaikum ya Rasul-Allah, I am `Umar: May I enter!" (Abu Da'ud).
The Holy Prophet enjoined that permission should be asked thrice at the most. If there is no reply even at the third call, one should come back. (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu D'ud)
Once he went to the house of Hadrat Sa'd bin `Ubadah and sought permission twice after greeting with: Assalam-o-`alaikum wa Rahmatullah (peace be upon you and mercy of Allah), but there was no response. After calling for the third time when he received no response, he turned back. Sa'd came out running from the house, and said, "O Messenger of Allah, I was hearing you all right, but I desired to have Allah's peace and mercy invoked upon me through your sacred tongue as often as possible; therefore, I was replying to you in a low voice. " (Abu D'ud - Book 41, Number 5166a, Ahmad).
The three calls as enjoined above should not be made in quick succession, but at suitable intervals so as to allow sufficient time to the inmates to make the response in case they are not free to do so.

(6) The permission for entry should come from the master of the house himself or from some other reliable inmate like a servant or a responsible person, who gives permission on behalf of the master. One should not enter the house on the word of a mere child.

(7) Undue insistence for permission to enter or to keep standing at the door obstinately even after refusal, is not permissible. If no entry is permitted even after three calls, or the master refuses to see, one should go back.

(24:28) Then, if you do not find anyone therein, do not enter until you have been given permission, and if you are told to go back, you should go back. This is a purer way for you; and Allah has full knowledge of what you do.
That is nobody should mind if entry is refused, for everybody has a right to refuse to meet another person, or offer a plea if otherwise busy. The Command "Go back", according to the jurists, means going back in the literal sense and moving away from the door. Nobody has any right to compel the other person for a meeting or to embarrass him by standing obstinately at his door.

Apart from that the next verse gives some more details....
(24:29) There is, however, no harm if you enter houses which are not dwelling places, but contain something useful for you ; Allah knows what you disclose and what you conceal.
"Houses which are not dwelling place" are the hotels, inns, guest houses, shops, staging bungalows, banks, etc. which are generally open to all people. And you need not take any permission to enter.

So the privacy system in Islam does not allow any one to interrupt in the private life of other person. in fact one cannot enter or look into the window of other person without permission or without the willingness of other person. So the unbelievers have the complete freedom to enjoy (to have illegal sex) in their private life and do whatever they want. The only thing they should see to it that it should not be done in public or affect the society by doing so. If they are caught in that act by 4 eye witnesses then they have to face the punishment, which is 100 lashes if s/he is unmarried and stoning to death if s/he is married. And then should not complain that Islamic punishments are harsh and inhuman.
It is better for you to be on the safer side and follow the teachings of Islam by believing in it. Islam calls to peace and salvation in this world and the world hereafter. I pray the you and I get success in this world and the world hereafter. Aameen.

Share This
Digg Delicious StumbleUpon squidoo live netscape tailrank spurl
Follow Me:
The Ubuntu Counter Project - user number # 28605


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. well written article.....n u oda suckers....u dun hve respect 4 ur own religion n ur own self n u try 2 humiliate odaz az sum respect 2 da religion!!!!u myt gt sum respct 2!!!

  3. thankyou for this information. may Allah bless u for ur efforts.


Search This Blog