We continue our new Ramadan series by our Tarbiyah Editor Sh Ali Hammuda, called ‘Sacred Truths’.
This article and video series will take you on a journey of universal principles from the Qur’an relating to the the trials and circumstances we face in our everyday lives.
Stay tuned for the release of episodes throughout the month—sign up here to get them sent straight to your inbox!
This Qur’anic principle was revealed in the context of pilgrimage and a pre-Islamic custom; pilgrims would not enter their homes from their front doors, considering it an act of worship and righteousness. So, the Qur’an corrected this misconception by asserting that it has nothing to do with righteousness as Allah did not legislate it, saying:
وَلَيْسَ الْبِرُّ بِأَنْ تَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهَا وَلَكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنِ اتَّقَى وَأْتُوا الْبُيُوتَ مِنْ أَبْوابِهَا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“And it is not righteousness to enter houses from the back, but righteousness is in one who fears Allah. And enter houses from their doors. And fear Allah that you may succeed.”
Although this verse addresses a specific matter, nevertheless it has wider application, as Shaykh al-Sa’di said:
هي قاعدة من قواعد الشرع. ويستفاد من إشارة الآية أنه ينبغي في كل أمر من الأمور، أن يأتيه الإنسان من الطريق السهل القريب[..] وهكذا كل من حاول أمرا من الأمور وأتاه من أبوابه وثابر عليه، فلا بد أن يحصل له المقصود بعون الملك المعبود
Consider the following examples of this principle in action:
There is no room to invent acts of worships beyond that which the Prophet ﷺ came with, for houses are to be entered by their doors, and the home of Jannah can only be entered through the door of the prophetic way. He ﷺ said:
مَنْ أحْدَثَ في أمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدٌّ
“Whoever invents a matter which does not belong to Islam then it will be rejected.” 
The Prophet ﷺ also said,
ما بقي شيء يقرب من الجنة ويباعد من النار إلا وقد بُيِّن لكم
“There is nothing that will bring you closer to Paradise and distance you from the fire except that it has been explained to you.” 
The companion Jābir b. ʿAbdillāh narrates that ʿUmar b. al-Khattāb once came to the Prophet ﷺ carrying with him a copy of the Torah.
He said, ‘O messenger of Allah, this is a copy of the Torah.’
The Prophet ﷺ remained quiet. ʿUmar began to read from it whilst the colour of the face of the Prophet ﷺ started to change. Abū Bakr realised this and so he said,
ثَكِلَتْكَ الثَّوَاكِلُ، مَا تَرَى بِوَجْهِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ؟
‘O ʿUmar! Do you not see the change in the face of the Prophet ﷺ?!’
ʿUmar looked and said,
أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنْ غَضَبِ اللَّهِ وَغَضَبِ رَسُولِهِ رَضِينَا بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا وَبِالْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ نَبِيًّا
The Prophet ﷺ then said,
وَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ، لَوْ بَدَا لَكُمْ مُوسَى فَاتَّبَعْتُمُوهُ وَتَرَكْتُمُونِي، لَضَلَلْتُمْ عَنْ سَوَاءِ السَّبِيلِ، وَلَوْ كَانَ حَيًّا وَأَدْرَكَ نُبُوَّتِي، لَاتَّبَعَنِي
‘I swear by the One who possesses my soul, if Prophet Musa ﷺ was to appear and you were to follow him and abandon me, you would have gone astray from the straight path, and had he been alive and met me, he would have followed me.’ 
This was, therefore, a major lesson for both ʿUmar and the entire Muslim nation: the Prophet ﷺ sought to nurture a generation that was focused on one source of guidance—seeking its inspiration, growth and dignity from revelation. So, a person who “enters houses from their doors” recognises that there is no scope to invent new religious practices within Islam, just as Islam will remain eternally free from the need of human modifications and reformation.
One who puts himself forward as a reference point for Islamic matters must also ensure to “enter houses from their doors”; in other words, having undergone the requisite rigorous Islamic training. This includes: a strong command of the Arabic language—Nahu (grammar), Sarf (morphology), Balāgha (rhetoric); a strong command of Tafsīr (exegesis), particularly Āyāt al-Ahkām (verses containing rulings); understanding the areas of al-Nāsikh wal-Mansūkh (abrogating and abrogated texts); ‘Ām (the general) and Khās (specific); Mujmal (ambivalent) and Mubayyan (clarified); Muhkam(decisive) and Mutashābih (allegorical); a strong command of Hadīth, having memorised a substantial amount, able to recognise what is reliable; awareness of the matters of Ijmā’ (consenus) and Khilāf (difference) amidst the schools of thought; having a command of Usūl al-Fiqh (Islamic legal theory), Qawāʿid al-Fiqh (Fiqh maxims), and Maqāsid al-Sharīʿah (the higher objectives of the Sharīʿah); amidst other prerequisites.
Some assume, however, that all of the above can be bypassed simply in lieu of an online following, or a label of ‘Shaykh’ given by the laity. This ‘shortcut’ is nothing more than a shortcut to ruin, for Allah said “enter houses from their doors”.
3: Knowing the
When all seems to be going wrong, the principle of “enter houses from their doors” helps one trace the root cause correctly, which, in many cases, is due to a deficiency that has developed between one and his or her Lord.
Imam Ibn al-Jawzī said,
شكا لي رجل من بغضه لزوجته ثم قال: ما أقدر على فراقها لأمور: منها كثرة دينها علي، وصبري قليل، ولا أكاد أسلم من فلتات لساني في الشكوى، وفي كلمات تعلم بغضي لها
“A man complained to me of his hatred towards his wife, but said: ‘I am unable to divorce her due to my many debts towards her. My patience is so limited, and my constant slips of the tongue mean that I am always complaining and expressing my hatred of her.”
The Imam responded,
هذا لا ينفع وإنما تؤتى البيوت من أبوابها، فينبغي أن تخلو بنفسك، فتعلم أنها إنما سلطت عليك بذنوبك، فتبالغ في الاعتذار والتوبة
“Doing that will not help you, for houses are to be entered from their doors. Therefore you need to sit with yourself and realise that she has become this way towards you because of your sins, thus intensify your repentance and make amends with your Lord.”
The Imam then cited an example of a predecessor who, when he was insulted, fell to the ground, placed his face on the earth and said,
اللهم اغفر لي الذنب الذي سَلّطَتَ هذا به علي
“O Allah! Please forgive the sin of mine that resulted in this man’s insult.” 
This was their approach in dealing with their struggles; an immediate gaze into the mirror of introspection and addressing their blind spots at once.
Sufyān b. ʿUyayna said, 
كان العلماء فيما مضى يكتب بعضهم إلى بعض هؤلاء الكلمات : من أصلح سريرته أصلح الله علانيته ،
ومن أصلح ما بينه وبين الله أصلح الله ما بينه وبين الناس، ومن عمل لآخرته كفاه الله أمر دنياه
These are just a few examples from many which illustrate that, just how houses are to be entered from their doors, similarly every objective—Islamic or otherwise—should be approached from its correct entrance, therefore making the achievement of that goal easiest, quickest, and above all, most pleasing to Allah. So, the right people need to be tracked down, the correct questions needs to be asked, and—at a time when all doors are open—huge patience is required when searching for the correct ones.
 Al-Qur’an, 2:189
 Tafsīr al-Sa’di
 Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of ‘Aisha
 Al-Tabarāni, on the authority of Abu Dharr
 Sayd al-Khātir
 Ibn Abu al-Dunya, Al-Ikhlās