Over zealous Enforcement of Khalwat laws Invasion of Personal Privacy

Sisters in Islam (SIS) is concerned with the possible over zealous enforcement of khalwat laws in this country, which might lead to the violation of personal dignity and privacy that is actually forbidden in the Qur’an and hadith.

Respect for the personal privacy of individuals and the immunity of private dwellings against intrusion of any kinds is provided for in the Qur’an. Surah an-Nur 24 : 27 &28 states that:

O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked for permission and saluted those in them: that is best for you, in order that you may take heed. If you find no one in the house, enter not until permission is given you: if you are asked to go back, go back: that makes for greater purity for yourselves: and God knows well all that you do.

Permission to enter a private house is to be solicited three times; if it is not granted, then the caller must leave (hadith reported in Mukhtasar Sahih Muslim, hadith 1421).

Spying is forbidden by the clear text of the Qur’an, and so is indulgence in suspicions that are degrading and offensive to the personal dignity of others. Surah al-Hujarat 49 : 12 states that:

O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin; and spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs ¦ But fear God, for God is Oft-returning, Most Merciful

The Qur’anic prohibition on spying occurs in absolutely general and unqualified terms, and is thus addressed to everyone, including government agencies and law enforcement officers. Law enforcement officers must only act on the basis of what is known through direct observation without recourse to spying, eavesdropping and other methods of searching for evidence (re: Hashim Kamali: The Dignity of Man: An Islamic Perspective, p. 62). During the time of the second Caliph, Umar al-Khattab, the Caliph one night came across a group of people drinking forbidden drinks at a private place. On the following morning he summoned the culprit and said “I saw you and your pals drinking last night. The man replied “Did God not forbid you to spy on people?” So Umar released him (reported in the History of al-Tabari).

Sisters in Islam
7 January 2003

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