A Sunnah Act – Keeping the Children Indoors at Maghrib Time
Jaabir (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Keep your children in (close to you) when night falls, for the devils spread out then (they come out at that time). After an hour you can let them free (go). Also, close the gates of your house (at night), and mention Allaah’s Name thereupon and extinguish your lamps and mention Allaah’s Name thereupon and tie up your water-skins and mention Allaah’s Name thereupon and cover your utensils and mention Allaah’s Name thereupon, (and if you don’t have something to cover your utensils) you may put something (e.g. a piece of wood, etc.) across it.” [Al-Bukhaari-the Book of the Beginning of Creation]
Muslim reported a similar Hadeeth on the authority of Jaabir (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Cover up the vessels (i.e. kitchen containers such as pots, pans, etc.), tie up the mouth of the water skins, lock up (close) the doors and extinguish the lamps, because Satan cannot untie the water-skin or open the door or uncover the containers. If one can cover the vessel, even by placing a piece of wood across it, and mention Allaah’s Name on it, let him do it. A mouse can sometimes cause a house to burn along with its dwellers.” [Muslim]
Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullaah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) also narrated that the Messenger of Allaah (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Cover the vessel, and tie the water- skin, for there is a night during the year in which a disease descends, and it does not leave an uncovered vessel or an untied water-skin but it will go into it.” [In a narration, Laith ibn Sa’d said: “Some non-Arabs fear that to be in December.”]
These narrations stress/emphasize the following facts:
First: It is prescribed to prevent the children as well as cattle, camels, sheep, etc. from being outdoors when night falls because in this hour the devils spread out in the land, and the children and animals are not safe from their harm. And this is done in the first hour of the night (after Maghrib).
The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do not let your animals (cattle) and children go out when the sun has set, until the first part of the night is over, for the devils come out when the sun sets, until the first part of the night is over.” [Muslim]
Ibn Hajar (Rahimahullaah) said in his book “Fat-h al-Baari” concerning the first Hadeeth: “Ibn al-Jawzi said: ‘There is a fear for children at that hour because the Najaasah (impurity) that the devils seek is usually present with them. Also, the Dhikr (remembrance of Allaah) that would protect them is usually absent from children, and when the devils spread out they hang on to whatever they can hang on to. Hence there is fear for children at that time.
The reason why they spread out at that time is because that they are more able to move about at night than during the day, because darkness is more conducive to devil forces coming together than at any other time.’” [Fat-h al-Baari 6/341]
Second: Covering vessels, tying up water-skins, locking doors, mentioning the Name of Allaah over them, and extinguishing fire.
1- Covering vessels and tying up water-skins:
An-Nawawi (Rahimahullaah) said: “This Hadeeth includes a number of types of goodness and etiquettes which combine the interests of both this world and the Hereafter. The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) enjoined (upon us), these etiquettes which are the means of safety from the harm of the Shaytaan (devil), and Allaah has made all of these means causes of being safe from his harm. He (Shaytaan) is not able to uncover vessels or untie water skins or open doors or harm children or others if these means are followed. This is similar to what is mentioned in an authentic narration: that if a person says, “Bismillaah” when entering his house, the Shaytaan (devil) says, “No place to stay,” i.e. we have no authority to stay overnight with these people. And if a man says, when having intercourse with his wife, “O Allaah, keep the Shaytaan away from us and keep the Shaytaan away from what you bestow upon us (of offspring),“ that will be a cause of the child being kept safe from the harm of the Shaytaan.
This Hadeeth encourages us to remember Allaah in these cases and other similar situations. Our companions said: ‘It is Mustahabb (recommended) to mention the Name of Allaah over everything that matters, and to praise Allaah at the beginning of everything that matters.’
The word of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam): ‘Keep your children in,’ means prevent them from going out at that time, for the fear of being subjected to the harm of the devils because of there being so many of them at that time.” [End quote-Sharh Muslim (13/185)]
The Committee of Ifta was asked the following question:
“In a Saheeh Hadeeth reported by al-Bukhaari, it says: ‘When the wings of the night spread, or when the evening comes, keep your children in.’ Then it says: ‘And extinguish your lamps.’ Does this command mean that it is obligatory?” They replied: “The commands mentioned in this Hadeeth are to be understood as being recommended and as an advice according to most scholars, as was stated by a number of scholars, such as Ibn Muflih and Ibn Hajar (Rahimahumullaah).” [Fatawa al-Lajna ad-Daa’imah (26/317)]
2- Closing the doors and windows at night
The Hadeeth also indicates that one should close the doors of the houses as well as the rooms. One should also close the windows at night if there is no need for opening them; especially if one intends to sleep. They should be closed throughout the night until morning. In doing this, there is protection for the house and its people from the devils and any other harmful creatures that may enter therein.
Ibn Abd al-Barr (Rahimahullaah) said: “In this Hadeeth, there is a command to close the doors of the houses at night. This is a Sunnah which we are commanded with, as a kindness to the people from the devils among the Jinn and mankind.” [Al-Istithkaar]
He (Rahimahullaah) also added: “The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) informed us that the Shaytaan is unable to open a closed thing or untie a water-skin, and this is from Allaah’s blessings upon His creation among humans. The Shaytaan (devil) is not given the power to open a door or untie a water-skin or uncover a vessel. He is forbidden from that, although he is given more power than that in penetrating and entering (into places) which humans cannot enter.” [End quote]
Ibn Battaal (Rahimahullaah) said: “His (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) command to close the gates at night is out of fear of the devils spreading out and causing fear and harm to the believers.” [End quote – Explanation of Saheeh al-Bukhaari]
Al-Qurtubi (Rahimahullaah) said: “All the commands in this chapter are meant to be guidance for our best interest; and most probably, as a recommendation in case a person does them with the intention of acting upon the command.”
Ibn al-Arabi said: “Some people thought that the command to close the doors is general and is to be done at all times, but this is not the case. Closing the doors is restricted to the night because during the day one is awake, contrary to one’s state at night. Basically this is because of the Shaytaan; he is the one who drives the rat to burn the house.” [End-quote-Fat-h al-Baari]
Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (Rahimahullaah) said: “It is incumbent upon a man who intends to sleep, to close the doors, and he should cover the vessels, even if only by putting a stick over it, because in doing this there will be protection for him against the Shaytaan.” [Sharh Riyaadh us-Saliheen]
The Muslim should not bring hardship (be excessive) regarding this matter, such that as soon as the night starts, he will scold every member of the house who intends to open a window. However, he is advised with the following: every door in which there is no need to open it at night should be closed, as well as windows. In case one needs to open them it is permissible, but they should be closed as soon as one finishes fulfilling his need, especially at the time of sleep. This is because in that hour there is a protection for the house from the devils of Jinn and men. If one feels hot, because of intense heat, there is nothing wrong in opening it (door or window) and closing it afterwards.
3- Extinguishing the fire.
Ibn ‘Umar (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhuma) narrated that Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do not keep the fire burning in your home when you go to bed.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated: “One night, a house in al-Madinah was burnt with its inhabitants inside. When this was reported to Allaah’s Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) he said: “Fire is your enemy, so put it out before going to bed.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (Rahimahullaah) said: “The Ahaadeeth mentioned above stress the fact that one must put out the fire before going to bed. This is because the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) described the fire to be an enemy to man. If one keeps it on and sleeps, a mouse may come and cause a house to burn along with its dwellers. In the past, lamps were lit by fire, then later people used gasoline, and all these are liquid substances: if a mouse comes near it, the gasoline might spill on the ground and then a fire could be ignited. Nowadays however, people use electricity by which the lamps are lit. If one wants to sleep and the electric lamp is on, that is permissible, because the reason for this prohibition does not exist anymore. But if there is fire in the fireplace or a heater, undoubtedly this is a great risk (danger) for a person, especially if he brings it close to his bed. If he turns during his sleep, he might touch this fire. Therefore, it is forbidden to keep these heaters on except in a safe place away from the bed, in order to avoid fire.”
1- Fat-h al-Baari by Ibn Hajar (Rahimahullaah)
2- Explanation of Riyaadh us-Saliheen by Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaimeen
3- Riyaadh us-Saliheen by Darussalam