Itikaf

Itikaf during Ramadan & its importance

MNA Feature Desk: Significance of Itikaf during Ramadan is enormous to the pious Muslims. Itikaf is a form of worship. It is formed by staying in a Mosque for a certain time. It is Ehtiyat that one should stay with the intention to worship Allah by praying formal or informal prayers although prayer is not a condition therein.

Itikaf refers to going into seclusion in the mosque for the sole purpose of worshipping Allah and attaching oneself and one’s heart to His worship. Itikaf provides an opportunity to the believer to get closer to Allah by temporarily freeing oneself and one’s mind from the activities and worries of this world. This provides an excellent opportunity to train oneself to disassociate temporarily from the worries of the world and to instead focus only on Allah alone.

The time for this form of worship could be anytime when one is allowed to fast. The best time is the month of Ramadan, especially, the last ten days.

Certain conditions for the person in Itikaf

Aaishah (Rw.) said, “The Sunnah for the mu’takif is not to visit any sick person, or attend any funeral, or touch or be intimate with any woman, or go out for any reason except those which cannot be avoided.”

Itikaf can be performed anytime during the year. However, the best one is that which is performed during the last ten days of Ramadan. Itikaf is Sunnah according to consensus, and it is not obligatory unless one vowed to do it – also according to consensus. It is mustahabb to do it a great deal and it is mustahabb especially in the last ten days of Ramadan. The best Itikaf is that which is accompanied by fasting, and the best of that is in Ramadan, and the best of that is the last ten days.

It is not valid for men or women to observe Itikaf anywhere but in the mosque; it is not valid in the mosque of a woman’s house or the mosque of a man’s house, which is a space that is set aside for prayer.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about where a woman who wants to observe Itikaf should do so? He replied: If a woman wants to observe Itikaf, she should observe Itikaf in the mosque so long as that does not involve anything that is forbidden according to sharee’ah. If that does involve anything that is forbidden then she should not do Itikaf.

The scholars differed as to where women should observe Itikaf. The majority is of the view that women are like men, and their Itikaf is not valid unless observed in the mosque. Based on this it is not valid for a woman to observe Itikaf in the mosque of her house, because of the report narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) who asked about a woman who vowed to observe I’tikaf in the mosque of her house.

He said, “(This is) an innovation, and the most hateful of actions to Allah are innovations (bid’ah).” So there can be no Itikaf except in a mosque in which prayers are established. And the mosque of a house is not a mosque in the real sense of the word and does not come under the same rulings; it is permissible to change it, and for a person who is junub to sleep in it.

Moreover if it were permissible (to observe at home), the Prophet’s wives (may Allah be pleased with them) would have done that at least once to show that it is permissible.

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said, Itikaf means staying in the mosque to worship Allah, whether that is for a longer or shorter period, because there is no report – as far as I know – to indicate a specific length of time, whether one day, two days or more.

What is meant by things that a person needs is to urinate and defecate, because every person needs to do that. Similarly, he also needs to eat and drink. If he does not have anyone who can bring him food and drink, then he may go out to get them if he needs to. For everything that he cannot do without and cannot do in the mosque, he may go out for that purpose, and that does not invalidate his Itikaf, so long as he does not take a long time doing it.

Things one should avoid during Itikaf

  • Having sex and also according to Ehtiyat kissing or playing with one’s wife;
  • According to a necessary Ehtiyat causing a semen discharge,
  • And smelling perfumes for enjoyment; it is not an offense if one cannot enjoy the perfume because of some defect in his smelling ability.
  • Selling or buying in the form of a business deal, according to a necessary Ehtiyat; there is no offense to be occupied with allowable activities as sewing or writing etc., although it is a Mustahab Ehtiyat to avoid them too. If one needs to buy something for food and there is no one to do the buying for him, it is not an offence for him to do it.
  • Expressing bitterness in talking about worldly or religious matters in order to prove one’s ability, not the truth which is one of the best worships. The contracts of buying or selling during Itikaf invalidate Itikaf, but such contracts will be valid.
  • If Itikaf is invalidated because of having sex even, during the night, expiation will be due; if it is invalidated by other things, there will be no expiation, although it is a Mustahab Ehtiyat in this case too.
  • The expiation for invalidating an Itikaf is to set free a slave or if this is not possible, fast for two consecutive months or if this also is not possible, feed sixty poor people.
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