Hasten to Respond

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the twenty-third in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

If you got a message from somebody and did not respond to it thinking, “I’ll get to it.” It can go further down your inbox or your message list and you forget to respond. 

A key to staying in touch is responding without delay. If there is been a break in the relationship, be the one who hastens to initiate the communication as quickly as possible. Anything that can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately.

If you use technology, use it well. Make shortcuts for things. Say: As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah. 

Abu Madian says, “And seek forgiveness even without cause and stand on the feet of admission.”  Say “I am sorry.” Just as we plan out our work life, we plan out our religious life. Stay in touch with friends and family. 

It can be awkward to tell your siblings, for example, what you have been dealing with. It may not be suitable as a text message. Instead, send them an email, explaining the context. 

The Sunna of Asking Permission

Do not ring more than three times. We do not knock on the door more than three times. This is based on a hadith related by Imam al-Bukhari that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Seeking permission is three times. If they give you permission to enter, then enter. Otherwise, go back.”

Pause between each ringing sufficiently as they may be busy. Between each ringing, you give enough time for them to come. Do not knock aggressively, but make it audible. 

Do not annoy people. Like if you go to someone’s place and they are not available, do not keep ringing the door three times. Unless of course, it is an emergency. You cannot think ill of them. If you are invited then send them a text message for example. 

When you get to someone’s door, etiquette is that you do not stand facing the door. Face sideways, such that if they open the door, you can see the person who opens the door. You do not look directly inside. There may be family members who are not ready yet. People may have a little bit of a mess for example. So stand either sideways or just at a slight angle.

The Purpose of Asking Permission

It has come in a hadith of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that “The purpose of seeking permission is the gaze.” Another etiquette is that if someone rings the doorbell and asks, “Who is it?” Do not say, “It is me.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) strongly disliked that. Rather, one mentions one’s name in full. 

When calling another, if you just call once and then do not call back it is against the Sunnah. You give the other person the opportunity that if they are busy with something, such as prayer they could be in the washroom. Give them some time to respond. 

Call back a couple of times, up to three. The same goes for texting. If you sent someone a text message and they did not respond, follow up. That is also expressive of care and concern.

Following up three times in a reasonable period. In relations, you always assume the best. Maybe the person got busy and did not see. Perhaps they forgot to respond. Make excuses for them. 

Sometimes there may be some challenges in a relationship. Do not have ill opinion, but have concern. Think of a more effective approach. Do not inconvenience people.

Excess Is against the Sunna

One of the neglected manners of seeking permission is that if you ask permission and they do not grant it, you have no right to have any ill feelings about the other person. Also, thinking that it is strange to show up at someone’s house without telling them in advance is an innovation. Not all custom is recognized.

Excess is against the Sunna. If someone thinks. “I was not able to pick up a gift,” and then they do not show up, that is not from the Sunna. Go at a suitable time. 

There is a balance there. Some people are excessive by knocking aggressively and others could be short of knocking who may ring once and then they are gone. 

With text messages and calls, unless it is an immediate friend or family member, do not assume that they know who you are. A beautiful Sunna, that is not just a Sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), but of past Prophets (peace be upon them) and it is mentioned in the Quran, when you initiate correspondence, you mention your name, not at the end of the correspondence, but at the beginning. Allah says:

إِنَّهُۥ مِن سُلَیۡمَـٰنَ وَإِنَّهُۥ بِسۡمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِیمِ

“‘Verily it is from Solomon, and it is: In the Name of Allah Most Merciful and Compassionate” [Quran, 27:30; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

It is clear from the get-go. People’s phones change, this and that.

Intend Peace

With busy people, it is important right from the get-go to mention why you are reaching out to them. It is best in correspondence to follow the Sunna which is to mention your name and in the beginning to mention the purpose of the correspondence.

Even in writing it is best to put As-Salamu Alaikum, because that is the Sunna greeting. If you want to add to that, say As-Salamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah, that is better. Use shortcuts for things like that, if you find it. 

Intend the meaning of the greeting of peace. It is a blessed greeting. Intend it as a prayer. As-salamu alaykum, meaning Allah’s peace be upon you. You are making dua for them and expressing a commitment to your relationship with them as well.