Avoiding Staying Out After Maghrib: Is There Any Religious Basis for This?
Answered by Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali
Question: I am an Indian Muslim and I grew up with my mother telling me that I shouldn’t be outside at Magrhrib time. Is there a religious basis for this? If so what are the rules i.e. how long before Magrhib should one go inside and how long after can one go back outside? What if one has a job or valid reason to be outside at this time? Should one close the windows and doors at this time too?
Answer: Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahimi
Yes, there is a religious basis for your mother’s instruction when you were a child.
‘Ata’ related that he heard Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (Allah be pleased with them both) say that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “When the darkness of the night envelops–or it becomes nightfall–withhold your children (from going outside). Verily, the jinn spread out at this time. Then, when part of the night has passed, let them go outside. And lock the doors whilst mentioning Allah’s name. Verily, the devil cannot open a locked door.” [Bukhari, Chapter of the Beginning of Creation] There are other hadiths with similar meanings included in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
‘Darkness of the night’ refers to when the sun has disappeared and blackness is outstretched in the first part of the night. [Mirqat al-Mafatih, Fayd al-Qadir] ‘Withholding one’s children’ means that one prevents them from leaving the house due to the fear of danger befalling upon them from the large number of jinn present at this time. [Sharh al-Nawawi ‘ala Muslim, Mirqat al-Mafatih] ‘Let them go outside’ means that one can give them permission to leave and enter the house after this time has elapsed. [Mirqat al-Mafatih, Fayd al-Qadir] Ibn Malik and other scholars comment that what is meant by ‘the devil’ is the devils of the people because locking doors cannot prevent the devils of the jinn as they can enter from any direction. And this is the reason why one should lock one’s doors ‘whilst mentioning Allah’s name’ because it is from the blessing of mentioning Allah’s name that protects one from the mischief of the jinn. [Mirqat al-Mafatih]
Scholars conclude that the matters mentioned in these hadiths are from the door of Prophetic guidance for our benefit and that they are recommended acts, not obligations. [Fath al-Bari, Sharh Sunnan ibn Majah, Sharh al-Nawawi ‘ala Muslim] The great Hanafi scholar, Imam Birgivi, specifically states in ‘Bariqa Muhammadiyya’ that the ruling of keeping one’s children inside the house is recommended and the author of ‘Fayd al-Qadir’ asserts the same position. Moreover, Imam Nawawi mentions that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) ordered us to uphold these mannerisms for the purpose of safety from the dangers of the devil. [Sharh al-Nawawi ‘ala Muslim]
And in fact, there is tremendous wisdom in the Prophet’s words (Allah bless him and give him peace). The advantages of preventing children from wandering around during the night and of instructing people to lock their doors in order to protect themselves is something to take heed of in our daily practices. These hadiths also remind us of the importance and pure goodness of pronouncing Allah’s name when we perform an action.
If there is need or benefit–such as returning from work or visiting family–then a woman may leave her house at night, but should strive to do so in the company of others and with proper caution.
Barak Allah fikum
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabban
Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. She was raised in Miami, Florida and obtained a double major degree in International Affairs and Sociology from Florida State University. In 2004, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she began her studies in Arabic and other shariah sciences. She currently lives in Damascus, Syria with her husband where she is further pursuing her studies in Islamic sciences with a focus on Islamic law and women’s issues.i