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But He Grew Up in Front of Me!


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Growing up, as young children aged six or seven, we had the run of the home. Since we were still small, we felt that the laws of purdah between strange males and females did not pertain to us, and hence if there were visitors at home, we could enter both the men’s and women’s section of the house. In fact, this was quite convenient as we could then help to serve the visitors, assist with clearing up, etc.
However, as time passed, we grew up and eventually crossed the threshold of puberty and maturity. Now, we were no longer small children, but were regarded as adults in regard to the laws of the Sharee‘ah.
The problem though is that many of the old men and women before whom we grew up still claimed to view us as children. If we attempted to make purdah from them – as we rightfully should – they would protest and say, “But he/she grew up in front of me! I saw him/her when he/she was still in diapers!”
They themselves gave the answer to their objection but failed to see it - the child GREW UP and is no longer a child.
This situation, where an older person feels that there is no need to observe purdah as the child grew up in front of him (or her), is common with elder cousins, the wives of maternal or paternal uncles (from whom the uncle’s nephews should adopt purdah), and with the husbands of paternal and maternal aunts (from whom the nieces should adopt purdah), as well as with old family friends and acquaintances.
Unfortunately, even when the young boy or girl reaches the age of fifteen or sixteen, and their bodies are already well developed, they are still sometimes called to give the ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’ a hug – all in the name of ‘family ties’ and being ‘courteous’. Thereafter, if the boy or girl refuses or displays reluctance, then sadly, it is often their own parents who scold them and attempt to pressurise them into ‘making aunty or uncle happy’.
In an attempt to justify and condone this shameful behaviour, the ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle’ will claim that their hearts are clean, and they may even attempt to pin the blame on the youngster saying, “How can you suspect me of having evil intentions?”
The reality of the matter though, is that no matter how ‘clean’ the person claims his heart may be, it can never be cleaner and purer than the hearts of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) – yet they adopted this type of purdah in their lives, teaching the Ummah that the laws of purdah apply equally to one and all, and a person feeling that he has a ‘clean heart’ does not exempt him from the laws of purdah.
At the time when Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) performed Hijrah and arrived in Madeenah Munawwarah, Sayyiduna Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was a young boy, approximately eight years of age. His respected mother, Sayyidah Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha), brought him to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and said, “O Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! There is no man or woman of the Ansaar who has not presented you with a gift. However, I do not have anything to present to you as a gift besides my son. Therefore, (please) accept him for your service.”
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) accepted him, and in this manner, Sayyiduna Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was blessed to remain in the close company of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) as his special attendant for ten years, until Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) departed from this world. (Majma‘uz Zawaaid #1494)
In the initial stages after the hijrah, the laws of purdah and hijaab had still not been revealed. Hence, while in the service of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) at that time, Sayyiduna Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), who was still young, would enter the home of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in order to serve him.
However, in the year 4 A.H. or 5 A.H., on the occasion of the waleemah of Sayyidah Zainab bintu Jahsh (radhiyallahu ‘anha), the verses containing the command of purdah were revealed. Sayyiduna Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), who would have been approximately 13 or 14 years old at that time, mentions that as soon as these verses were revealed, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) lowered the curtain at the doorway of his home and did not allow Sayyiduna Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) to enter the home. (Saheeh Muslim #3502)
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