2.6 KNOCKING AND RINGING
Knock at the door, or ring the door’s bell in a pleasant way and not louder than is necessary to make your presence known. Do not knock loudly and violently or ring the bell continuously. Remember that you are a visitor and not a thug or an oppressor who is raiding the house and frightening its occupants. A woman came to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal seeking his opinion on a religious matter. She banged at his door loudly. He came out saying, ‘This is the banging of policemen.’ Al-Bukhari reported in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad that the companions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to knock on the door of the Prophet with the tips of their nails.
This nimble and gentle knocking, or ringing, is appropriate for those whose living quarters are close to the door. For those living farther from the door, it is appropriate to knock on their door, or ring the bell loud enough to enable them to hear it, without banging. In this regard the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, ‘Gentleness adorns every act, its absence will tarnish it.’ In addition, Muslim reported that the Prophet also said, ‘Whoever lacks kindness, lacks all good things.’
Leave an adequate time between two knocks, or rings. This will enable those performing ablution, praying, or eating, to finish without rushing. Some scholars estimate this interval to be that of the praying time of four rak’as. Keep in mind that a person may have just started the prayers just before you rang the door bell.
After three spaced knocks, or intermittent rings, you may feel that the person you came to see is busy, otherwise, he or she would have answered you. If this is the case, leave. Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘If you asked permission three times, and were not granted permission, then you must leave.’
While waiting for permission, do not stand in front of the door. Instead, stand to the right or to the left. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم), upon coming to someone’s door, avoided facing the door directly. Instead, he would stand to the right or to the left of the door.
2.7 ANSWERING ‘WHO IS IT’
If you knock on the door you may be asked, ‘Who is it?’ Identify yourself , using your most common name but do not respond with, ‘It is me,’ ‘Somebody,’ or, ‘Guess who?’ These words are useless in identifying who is at the door. You should not assume that your voice is known to the person or persons who live there, because your voice may resemble another person’s voice. Don’t forget that people differ in their ability to distinguish voices.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) discouraged people from saying ‘it’s me’ because it does not reveal your name. Bukhari and Muslim reported that Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: ‘I came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and knocked on his door, and he asked, ‘Who is it?’ I answered, ‘It is me,’ and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) disapprovingly said, ‘ Me is me, me is me!’ ‘ For this reason, the companions used to mention their names whenever they were asked, ‘Who is it?’
Bukhari and Muslim reported that Abu Zar said: ‘While walking out one night I saw the Messenger of Allah walking by himself. I opted to walk in the shade of the moon, but he turned around and saw me and said, ‘Who is there?’ I replied, ‘It’s Abu Zar.’ ‘ Bukhari and Muslim also reported that Umm Hani, a cousin of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and the sister of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, said: ‘I came to see the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). He was taking a bath and his daughter Fatima was sheltering him, and he asked ‘who is this?’ I replied, ‘I am Umm Hani.’ ‘
from the book ISLAMIC MANNERS
By Shaykh Abdul-Fattaah Abu Ghuddah (RA)