I’tikaaf (spiritual retirement)

Allah soub’haanahu-wa-ta’ala (glory to him) tells us in the holy Koran: « And don’t have any relation relation with them (your wives) whilst you are in spiritual retirement in the mosques. These are the limits of Allah, do not go beyond them. It is in this way that Allah explains his signs to mankind so that they fear ». [Sourah 2, Verse 187].

The I’tikaaf means, to perform a spiritual retirement with the intention to do ibaadats of Allah and think about him. Men do it in Masjids (Mosques) and ladies at home in a room or a corner reserved usually for ‘ibaadats.

Hadith: Hazrat ‘Aysha Siddeeqa (r.a) reports that the beloved prophet ( peace be upon him ) of Allah used to observe I’tikaaf during the last 10 (ten) days of the month of Ramadwaan. [Bukhaari – Muslim – Mishkaat).

Hazrat Imaam Husseyn (r.a) said that the one who accomplish 10 days of I’tikaaf during Ramadwaan, will gain thawaabs (rewards) of 2 hajj and 2 umrahs. (Bayhaqi).

There are three (3) kinds of I’tikaaf: Waajib, Sunnat-Mu’akadda-kifaayah and Mustahab.

I’tikaaf Waajib

This is when one makes a promise. If someone makes a “mannat” (a promise) for example to accomplish 3 days of I’tikaaf when his child would recover from a sickness. As soon as the child is cured, the person will have to accomplish this I’tikaaf in a Waajib way (compulsory).

For this I’tikaaf, the roza must also be observed, even if the person did not make the intention (niyyat) of roza in his promise (mannat). So, without roza, we have not the right to observe the Itikaaf-waajib.

I’tikaaf Sunnat-Mu’akadda-kifaayah

This is commonly the I’tikaaf of the majority of people who observe it during the 10 last days of the holy month of Ramadwaan. It is a sunnah (principle) of our beloved prophet ( peace be upon him ) Muhammad and Muakaddah means that he never neglect it (he did it regularly).

Kifaayah means that if in a place (locality or commune), there is no one to observe the I‘tikaaf in the last tend ays of Ramadwaan, all the inhabitants of that locality would become sinners (gunehgaars). So, if one person among them do it, all the other inhabitants of that place will be free from that responsibility. This I’tikaaf is performed in the last ten days of Ramadwaan, thai is in the last third.

On the 20th day of Ramadwaan, before sunset, the muttakif must already have “entered” in the masjid (mosque) with niyyat. Normally people take the precaution to be there for the namaz Assar and build up their “daera” (a corner reserved for the muttakif). In the case that the niyyat is done after the namaz Maghrib (of that 20th day of Ramadwaan) I’tikaaf will not be valid as Sunnat-Mu’akaddah-Kifaayah.

For that I’tikaaf also the roza is necessary (obligatory).

I’tikaaf Mustahab

Apart from the I’tikaaf waajib and l’itikaaf Sunnat-Mu’akaddah-Kifaayah, the other I’tikaaf is called Mustahab. We do it when we are in the mosque.

  • Masla 1: The I’tikaaf Mustahab is done at any time we enter any masid to spend some time, since each time we enter the masjid, our time in is considered as a spiritual moment. The roza is not obligatory for the I’tikaaf mustahab. As soon as we get out of the mosque, this I’tikaaf ends. Without any special step and simply while doing this niyyat, we obtain this thawaab when we enter the mosque. It is thus advised to write this niyyat at the entrance of the masjid for everybody to read it while entering the masjid, can take profit of these thawaabs of I’tikaaf Mustahab.

  • Masla 2: ladies can observe the i’tikaaf, not at the mosque but at home. In this case, the I’tikaaf must be done in a special room usually reserved for ‘ibaadats or in a corner of the house where we usually do namaz and other ‘ibaadats. We call this room or corner “Masjid-il-bayt” (the mosque of the house). The Masjid-il-bayt must be fixed in a clean and respected place of the house.

  • Masla 3: If a lady has no special place to do namaz regularly, she cannot accomplish the I’tikaaf. But if she decide to look and fix a permanent place for namaz, then she will be able to accomplish the I’tikaaf. That lady must indeed be paak (that is out of her period of hayzz or nifaass).

  • Masla 4: The roza is necessary for I’tikaaf Sunnat-Mu’akaddah. So if somebody is sick or if a traveller (musaafir) observes this I’tikaaf and is not roza, then his I’tikaaf will be considered not as Sunnat-Mu’akaddah-Kifaayah but as Mustahab.

  • Masla 5: It is forbidden (haraam) for the one who accomplish the I’tikaaf waajib or sunnat to step out of the masjid without any valid reason (according to shariat).

    In that case his i’tikaaf is cancelled, even he steps out by lapse of memory. Same thing for the ladies who leave their “place” any valid reason (according to shariat), even by lapse of memory.

  • Masla 6: There are two (2) valid occasions according to the shariah that the muttakif (man or woman) can get out of his “daera”.

    1. For his toilets need, the ghussal (if it becomes obligatory) and the wazou.

    2. For a necessity such as to give the azaan or accomplish the namaz in jama’at (for men).

Apart from these 2 reasons, whatever the reason for which a muttakif happen to get out, his I’tikaaf will be cancelled.

  • Masla 7: The muttakif who gets out for his toilets need must come back (to his daera) as soon as he finished.

  • Masla 8: If the ghusal or wazou of the muttakif is cancelled, he must do it immediately (to do the tayammum before leaving the daera) without waiting.

  • Masla 9: If a muttakif get out (of his daera) to go rescue an injured person, a burned person, a drown or even to go visit a sick person or to accomplish the namaz janaazah, his I’tikaaf is cancelled.

  • Masla 10: A muttakif must stay day and night in his daera. He eats, drinks and sleeps in it. He must keep it clean.

  • Masla 11: The muttakif must be permanently in ‘ibaadat. He must neither talk not keep silent. He must do ‘ibaadats, such as tilaawat (lecture) of the holy Koran, Darood shareef, wazifahs (recitations), study hadiths, study the life of our beloved prophet ( peace be upon him ) and the other pious (swaliheen), read on religion (deen) and perform namaz nafil. Many people do (or want to do) the namazs nafils without worrying about namaz faraz they missed since their age of puberty (baaligh). They must know that nafils are not accepted as long as missed faraz are not replaced (qazaa umri).

  • Masla 12: If someone cancels the i’tikaaf Mu’akaddah or waajib voluntarily or involuntarily (beginning of hayzz or nifaas, becomes mad or lose conciousness) he will have to do the qazaa to replace the number of missed days only. It is not necessary to do again the 10 days.

  • Masla 13: There is no qazaa (replacement) for the I’tikaaf mustahab.

  • Masla 14: Many muttakifs write messages on a piece of paper to give to people in order to ask what they need. This is a useless practice because a muttakif has the right to talk in case of necessity or emergency.