I'tikaaf

Ramadaan is one of the twelve Arabic months. It is a month which is venerated in the Islamic religion, and it is distinguished from the other months by a number of characteristics and virtues.
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Nisa
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I'tikaaf

Post by Nisa » Sat Aug 04, 2012 4:11 am

I'tikaaf


What is the ruling on i’tikaaf?

Praise be to Allaah.  

Firstly

I’tikaaf is prescribed according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah and scholarly consensus. 

In the Qur’aan, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“and We commanded Ibraaheem (Abraham) and Ismaa’eel (Ishmael) that they should purify My House (the Ka‘bah at Makkah) for those who are circumambulating it, or staying (I’tikaaf), or bowing or prostrating themselves (there, in prayer)”

[al-Baqarah 2:125] 

“And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in I‘tikaaf (i.e. confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques” 

[al-Baqarah 2:187] 

With regard to the Sunnah, there are many ahaadeeth, such as the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to observe i'tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadaan until Allaah took his soul, then his wives observed i’tikaaf after he was gone. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2026; Muslim, 1172. 

With regard to scholarly consensus, more than one of the scholars narrated that there was scholarly consensus that i’tikaaf is prescribed in sharee’ah, such as al-Nawawi, Ibn Qudaamah, Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, and others. 

See al-Majmoo’, 6/404; al-Mughni, 4/456; Sharh al-‘Umdah, 2/711. 

Shaykh Ibn Baaz said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 15/437: 

Undoubtedly i’tikaaf in the mosque is an act of worship, and (observing it) in Ramadaan is better than at other times. It is prescribed in Ramadaan and at other times.

Secondly: 

The ruling on i’tikaaf

The basic principle is that i’tikaaf is Sunnah, not obligatory, unless one made a vow to do it, in which case it becomes obligatory, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever vows to obey Allaah, let him obey Him, and whoever vows to disobey Him, let him not disobey Him.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6696.   

And ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “O Messenger of Allaah, during the Jaahiliyyah I vowed to observe i’tikaaf for one night in al-Masjid al-Haraam.” He said: “Fulfil your vow.” (6697). 

Ibn al-Mundhir said in his book al-Ijmaa’ (p. 53): 

They were unanimously agreed that i’tikaaf is Sunnah and is not obligatory unless a man obliges himself to do that by making a vow, in which case it becomes obligatory for him. 

See Fiqh al-I’tikaaf by Dr Khaalid al-Mushayqih, p. 31.

Islam Q&A


Why have the Muslims forsaken i’tikaaf?

Why have the Muslims forsaken i’tikaaf, even though it is the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)? What is the purpose of i’tikaaf?.

Praise be to Allaah.  
Firstly: 

I’tikaaf is one of the confirmed Sunnahs which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did regularly. 

See the evidence for its being prescribed in the answer to question no. 48999.(posted above).

This Sunnah has disappeared from the lives of the Muslims apart from those on whom Allaah has mercy. It is like many Sunnahs which the Muslims have virtually forsaken. 

There are several reasons for this, including the following: 

1- Weakness of faith in many hearts

2- Increased focus on worldly pleasures and desires, which leads to an inability to keep away from them even for a short time.

3- Lack on interest in Paradise on the part of many, and their inclination towards leisure and relaxation, so that they do not want to put up with the hardship of i’tikaaf even for the sake of earning Allaah’s pleasure.

Whoever understands the significance of Paradise and the greatness of its delights will sacrifice his life and that which is most precious to him in order to attain it. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The reward of Allaah is precious, the reward of Allaah is Paradise.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani, 2450.

4- Many people pay lip-service to the love of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), without acting upon it and implementing various aspects of the Sunnah, including i’tikaaf. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allaah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allaah and the Last Day, and remembers Allaah much” 

[al-Ahzaab 33:21]

Ibn Katheer said (3/756):

This verse represents a major principle: that we should follow the example of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in word and deed in all situations.  

Some of the salaf (early generations of Islam) found it odd that people did not observe i’tikaaf even the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) persisted in doing so. Ibn Shihaab al-Zuhri said: It is strange that the Muslims have given up i’tikaaf when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not give it up from the time he entered Madeenah until Allaah took him (in death).  

Secondly

The i’tikaaf which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) always observed at the end of his life is i’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadaan. These few days may indeed be regarded as an intensive course of spiritual education which brings immediate positive results in a person’s life during the days and nights of Ramadaan and in the coming days, until the next Ramadaan comes. 

How great is the Muslims’ need to revive this Sunnah and establish it in the proper manner, as the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions used to observe it. 

How great will be the success of those who adhere to the Sunnah after the ummah has neglected it and become corrupt.  

Thirdly

The basic goal of the Prophet’s i’tikaaf was to seek Laylat al-Qadr. 

Muslim (1167) narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) observed i’tikaaf during the first ten days of Ramadaan, then he observed i’tikaaf during the middle ten days in a small tent at the door of which was a reed mat. He took the mat in his hand and lifted it. Then he put his head out and spoke to the people, and they came close to him. He said: “I observed i’tikaaf during the first ten days seeking this night, then I observed i’tikaaf during the middle ten days. Then someone came and said to me that it is in the last ten days, so whoever among you wishes to observe i’tikaaf let him do so.” So the people observed i’tikaaf with him. 

This hadeeth teaches us a number of things: 

1- That the basic goal of the i’tikaaf of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was to seek Laylat al-Qadr and to prepare to spend that night in worship. That is because of the great virtue of that night of which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “The Night of Al‑Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allaah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months)” [al-Qadr 97:3].

2- The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) strove to seek that night before he was told when it is. So he started with the first ten days, then he observed it during the middle ten, then he continued to observe i'tikaaf during the last ten days, when he was told that it is in the last ten days. This is the utmost effort to seek Laylat al-Qadr.

3- The Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) followed the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), because they started i’tikaaf and continued with him until the end of the month, because they were so keen to follow his example.

4- The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was compassionate towards his companions and showed mercy to them, because he knew that i’tikaaf was difficult for them. So he gave them the choice between staying with him or of leaving, and said: “…so whoever among you wishes to observe i’tikaaf let him do so.” 

There are other aims of i’tikaaf as well, including the following: 

1- Being alone with Allaah and cutting oneself off from people if possible, so that one may focus completely on Allaah.

2- Renewing oneself spiritual by focusing totally on Allaah.

3- Cutting oneself off completely in order to worship Allaah with prayer, du’aa’, dhikr and reading Qur’aan.

4- Protecting one’s fast from everything that may affect it of whims and desires.

5- Reducing permissible worldly pleasures and refraining from many of them even though one is able to enjoy them. 

See al-I’tikaaf Nazrah Tarbawiyyah by Dr. ‘Abd al-Lateef Balto.

Islam Q&A


The Reward For I'tikaaf

What is the reward for i’tikaaf?.

Praise be to Allaah.  

I’tikaaf is prescribed in Islam and it is an act of worship that draws one closer to Allaah.  See Question no. (48999) (posted above).

Once this is established, there are many ahaadeeth which encourage us to draw closer to Allaah by doing naafil acts of worship. The general meaning of these ahaadeeth includes all kinds of worship, including i’tikaaf. 

For example, there is the hadeeth qudsi in which Allaah says: “My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6502. 

Secondly

There are several ahaadeeth which speak of the virtue of i’tikaaf and describe its reward, but they are all weak (da’eef) or fabricated (mawdoo’). 

Abu Dawood said: I said to Ahmad (i.e., Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal): Do you know anything about the virtue of i’tikaaf? He said: No, except something weak. Masaa’il Abi Dawood, p. 96. 

These ahaadeeth include the following: 

1 – Ibn Maajah (1781) narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said concerning the person who observes i’tikaaf: “He is refraining from sin and he will be given a reward like that of one who does all kinds of good deeds.”  This was classed as da’eef by al-Albaani in Da’eef Ibn Maajah. 

2 – al-Tabaraani, al-Haakim and al-Bayhaqi narrated the following from Ibn ‘Abbaas, which they classed as da’eef: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever observes i’tikaaf for one day seeking thereby the Face of Allaah, Allaah will place between him and the Fire three ditches wider than the distance between the east and the west.” This was classed as da’eef by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Da’eefah, 5345.  

3 – al-Daylami narrated from ‘Aa’ishah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever observes i’tikaaf out of faith and in the hope of reward will be forgiven his previous sins.” Classed as da’eef by al-Albaani in Da’eef al-Jaami’, 5442

4 – Al-Bayhaqi narrated the following report from al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him), which he classed as da’eef: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever observes i’tikaaf for ten days in Ramadaan, that will be equivalent to two Hajjs and two ‘Umrahs. This was mentioned by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Da’eefah (518) where he said: it is mawdoo’ (fabricated).

Islam Q&A


Minimum Length Of Time For I'tikaaf

What is the minimum length of time for i’tikaaf ? Is it possible to observe i’tikaaf for a short time or does it have to be for several days?. 

Praise be to Allaah.  

The scholars differed as to the minimum length of time for i’tikaaf. 

The majority of scholars are of the view that the minimum length of time is a moment. This is the view of Abu Haneefah and Ahmad. See al-Durr al-Mukhtaar (1/445); al-Majmoo’, 6/489; al-Insaaf, 7/566. 

Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’, 6/514: 

With regard to the minimum length of time for i’tikaaf, the majority stipulated that it must be observed in the mosque, and that it is permissible to do a lot or a little, even a hour or a moment.  

They quoted several reports as evidence for that: 

1 – That i’tikaaf in Arabic means staying, and the word may be applied to a long period of time or a short one; there is no report in sharee’ah that defines it as being a specific length of time. 

Ibn Hazm said: I’tikaaf in the language of the Arabs means staying… any stay in the mosque for the sake of Allaah with the intention of drawing closer to Him is i’tikaaf… whether that is for a short time or a long time, because the Qur’aan and Sunnah do not specify any number or length of time. Al-Muhalla, 5/179 

2 – Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated that Ya’la ibn Umayyah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I will stay in the mosque for an hour, and I am only staying to observe i’tikaaf. Ibn Hazm quoted this as evidence in al-Muhalla (5/179); it was quoted without comment by al-Haafiz in al-Fath. “Hour” here refers to a period of time but it does not mean an hour in the modern sense of sixty minutes. 

Some scholars are of the opinion that the minimum length of i’tikaaf is one day. This was narrated from Abu Haneefah and was the view of some of the Maalikis. Shaykh Ibn Baaz said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (15/441): 

I’tikaaf means staying in the mosque to worship Allaah, whether that is for a long time or a short time, because as far as I know there is no report to indicate a set time, whether one or two days or more. This is an act of worship which is prescribed in Islam unless one vows to do it, in which case it becomes obligatory. This applies equally to men and women.

Islam Q&A


The Guidance Of The Prophet(Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) With Regard To I'tikaaf 

I would like to know the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) with regard to i’tikaaf.

Praise be to Allaah.  

The guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) with regard to i’tikaaf was the most perfect and moderate of guidance. 

Once he observed i’tikaaf in the first ten days of Ramadaan, then in the middle ten days, seeking Laylat al-Qadr. Then he was told that it is in the last ten days, so then he always observed i’tikaaf during the last ten days, until he met his Lord. 

On one occasion he did not observe i’tikaaf during the last ten days, so he made it up in Shawwaal and observed i'tikaaf during the first ten days thereof. This was narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim. In the year in which he died, he observed i'tikaaf for twenty days. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2040. 

It was said that the reason for that is that he knew his life was drawing to a close, so he wanted to increase his good deeds, to show his ummah how to strive hard in doing good deeds when the opportunity for doing so drew to close, so that they could meet Allaah in the best way. And it was said that the reason was that Jibreel used to review the Qur’aan with him once each Ramadaan, but in the year in which he died, he reviewed it with him twice, which is why his i’tikaaf was twice as long as usual. 

A more likely reason is that he observed i’tikaaf for twenty days in that year because the year before he had been traveling. This is indicated by the report narrated by al-Nasaa’i and Abu Dawood, and classed as saheeh by Ibn Hibbaan and others, from Ubayy ibn Ka’b who said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to observe i’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadaan, but he travelled one year and did not observe i’tikaaf, so the following year he observed i’tikaaf for twenty days. Fath al-Baari. 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to order that a kind of tent be pitched for him in the mosque, and he would stay in it, keeping away from people and turning to his Lord, so he could be on his own with his Lord in a true sense of the word. 

On one occasion he observed i’tikaaf in a small tent, and put a reed mat over the door. Narrated by Muslim, 1167. 

Ibn al-Qayyim said in Zaad al-Ma’aad, 2/90: 

All of this to achieve the spirit and purpose of i'tikaaf, and is the opposite of what the ignorant do, whereby the place of i’tikaaf becomes a place of gathering and meeting with people and chatting to them. This is one thing, and i'tikaaf as observed by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is something else.  

He used to stay in the mosque the whole time, and not leave it except to relieve himself. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said:“He would not enter his house for anything except for a need when he was observing i'tikaaf.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2029; Muslim, 297. According to a report narrated by Muslim: “Except for human needs.” Al-Zuhri interpreted this as referring to urination and defecation. 

He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made sure he remained clean. He would lean his head out of the mosque into ‘Aa’ishah’s apartment so that she should wash his head and comb his hair. 

Al-Bukhaari (2028) and Muslim (297) narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to lean his head towards me when he was observing i’tikaaf in the mosque, and I would comb his hair, when I was menstruating.” According to a report also narrated by al-Bukhaari: “And I would wash it.” 

Al-Haafiz said: 

This hadeeth indicates that it is permissible to clean oneself, put on perfume, wash oneself, comb one’s hair etc (when in i’tikaaf). The majority of scholars are of the view that nothing is makrooh except that which it is makrooh to do in the mosque. 

When he was in i’tikaaf, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not visit the sick or attend funerals. This was so that he could concentrate fully on conversing with Allaah and achieving the purpose of i’tikaaf, which is to cut oneself off from people and turn to Allaah. 

‘Aa’ishah said: The Sunnah is for the person in i'tikaaf not to visit the sick or attend funerals, or to be intimate with his wife. But there is nothing wrong with his going out for essential needs. Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2473; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood. 

“or to be intimate with his wife” means intercourse. This was stated by al-Shawkaani in Nayl al-Awtaar. 

Some of his wives used to visit him when he was in i’tikaaf. When she stood up to leave, he would take her home – that was at night. 

It was narrated from Safiyyah the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that she came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and visited him when he was in i’tikaaf in the mosque, during the last ten days of Ramadaan. She spoke with him for a while, then she stood up to leave. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood up with her to take her home. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2035; Muslim, 2175. 

In conclusion, his i’tikaaf was moderate and not harsh. He spent all his time remembering Allaah and turning to Him in worship, seeking Laylat al-Qadr. 

See: Zaad al-Ma’aad by Ibn al-Qayyim, 2/90; al-I’tikaaf Nazrah Tarbawiyyah by Dr ‘Abd al-Lateef Balto.

Islam Q&A


Women And I'tikaaf

Can women sit for I'tikaf in a mosque in the last ten days of Ramadan?.

Praise be to Allaah.  

Yes, it is permissible for a woman to observe i’tikaaf in the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadaan. 

Indeed, i'tikaaf is Sunnah for both men and women, and the Mothers of the Believers (may Allaah be pleased with them [i.e., the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] used to observe i’tikaaf with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) during his lifetime, and after he passed away.   

Al-Bukhaari (2026) and Muslim (1172) narrated from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to spend the last ten nights of Ramadaan in i'tikaaf until he passed away, then his wives observed i'tikaaf after he died. 

It says in ‘Awn al-Ma’bood: 

This indicates that women are the same as men when it comes to i'tikaaf. 

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: 

I’tikaaf is Sunnah for both men and women, because it was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to observe i'tikaaf during Ramadaan, and finally he settled on i'tikaaf during the last ten days, and some of his wives used to observe i'tikaaf with him, then they observed i’tikaaf after he died. The place for i’tikaaf is the mosque in which prayers in congregation are performed.  

From the internet website of Shaykh Ibn Baaz. 

And Allaah knows best.
Islam Q&A


Can a woman observe itikaf at home , what if she has to cook.

Praise be to Allaah.  

I’tikaaf is only valid if done in the mosque, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in I‘tikaaf (i.e. confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques” 

[al-Baqarah 2:187] 

Men and women are equal in this regard. 

Ibn Qudaamah said in al-Mughni: 

A woman has the right to observe i‘tikaaf in any mosque, and that is not subject to the condition that it be a mosque where prayers are performed in congregation, because that is not obligatory upon her. This was the view of al-Shaafa’i. 

She does not have the right to observe i'tikaaf in her house, because Allaah says “while you are in I‘tikaaf (i.e. confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques”, and because the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) asked him for permission to observe i’tikaaf in the mosque, and he gave them permission. 

Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (6/480): 

It is not correct for a man or a woman to observe i'tikaaf anywhere except in the mosque.  

This is the view favoured by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen in al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 6/513 

And Allaah knows best.

Islam Q&A
كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
"Jihad (holy fighting in Allah's Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know"
- Quran 2:216

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