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Islamic date in Europe

Saturday 26th of November 2022

01 Jumada al-Ula 1444


Allah's Messenger (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) would perform ie’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadhan until Allah Taala took him away [Agreed upon].

FAQ on I’tikāf (Seclusion) during Ramadhan

(Checked & Approved by) Qari Mohammad Shoyaib

Question: What is the meaning of I’tikāf?

Linguistically the word I’tikāf refers to being engaged with something with persistence and not paying attention to anything else. It can also refer to fixing something to a place such that it remains tied to that space.

Question: What is meant by Sunnah I’tikāf and when is it performed?

I’tikāf during the last ten days of Ramadan is sunnah e muakadah alal kifayah. Ie’tikaaf throughout the whole moth of Ramadhan in search of laylatul Qadar was also the practice of Rasulullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam). Even 20 days is an established sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam). It is not an innovation.

 عن عائشة رضى الله عنه ان النبى صلى الله عليه وسلم يعتكف العشر الاواخر من رمضان حتى توفاه الله ثم اعتكف ازواجه من بعده

Sayyida Aisha (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) would perform I’tikāf during the last ten days of Ramadhan until Allah Taala took him away, then his wives performed I’tikāf after him [Areed upon]

عن ابى هريرة رضى الله تعالى عنه قال كان يعرض على النبى صلى الله عليه و سلم القران كل عام مرة فعرض عليه مرتين فى العام الذى قبض و كان يعتكف كل عام عشرا فاعتكف عشرين فى العام الذى قبض

Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that the Quraan would be presented to Rasulullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) once every year. It was presented to him twice the year he passed away and he would perform perform I’tikāf for ten days every year and he performed I’tikāf for twenty days the year he passed away.[Bukhari]

Question: Is there a difference of opinion in I’tikāf being Sunnah?

No, Imam Nawawi (RA) has stated that this is consensus of opinion that I’tikāf during Ramadhan is Sunnah

قال الإمام النووي: الاعتكاف سنة بالإجماع

Question: What is the basic purpose of I’tikāf during Ramadhan?

The basic purpose is to seek Laylatul Qad'r (night of power) and to ensure that a person finds it and is engaged in worshipping Allah Ta'ala.

عن ابى سعيد الخدرى رضى الله عنه ان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم اعتكف العشر الاول من رمضان ثم اعتكف العشر الاوسط فى قبة تركية ثم اطلع راسه فقال انى اعتكف العشر الاول التمس هذه اليلة ثم اعتكف العشر الاوسط ثم اتيت فقيل لى انها فى العشر الاواخر

Sayyiduna Abu Saeed Khudri (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) would perform I’tikāf of the first ten days of Ramadhan, then he would perform I’tikāf of the second ten days in a Turkish tent, then he would take his head out and say “I performed I’tikāf of the first ten days loking for this night (night of power), then I performed I’tikāf of the second ten nights, then I was told that it is in the last ten nights.” [Areed upon]

Question: When does the 10 day I’tikāf during Ramadhan begin?

The person who is intending to perform must enter his place before sunset on the 20th of Ramadhan. This is a unanimous opinion and summarised by Imam Sha'fae (RA) as follows:

وَمَنْ أَرَادَ الِاقْتِدَاءَ بِالنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي الِاعْتِكَافِ فِي الْعَشْرِ الْأَوَاخِرِ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ فَيَنْبَغِي أَنْ يَدْخُلَ الْمَسْجِدَ قَبْلَ غُرُوبِ الشَّمْسِ لَيْلَةَ الْحَادِي وَالْعِشْرِينَ مِنْهُ

Whoever desires to follow the example of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, should seek seclusion in the mosque during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Let him enter the mosque before the setting of the sun on the twenty first night.

Question: Can women also perform I’tikāf during Ramadhan and is it Sunnah for them?

Yes and it is also Sunnah for women.

Question: What is meant by alal kifayah and is I’tikāf a Sunnah upon everyone? If I’tikāf is performed in only one masjid will it suffice the whole town or will it only be counted for that locality? Is it necessary that every locality should perform I’tikāf?

We couldn’t locate any specific reference on the subject. However, Shami has mentioned the I’tikāf being Sunnah to be similar to that of the performance of Taraweeh. Three opinions have been narrated in the chapter of taraweeh of which preference has been given to the opinion that at least one masjid in every locality should perform taraweeh in order to fulfil the sunnah e kifayah. From this we deduce that ie’tikaaf also has the same ruling.

(أي سنة كفاية) نظيرها إقامة التراويح بالجماعة فإذا قام بها البعض سقط الطلب عن الباقين فلم يأثموا بالمواظبة على الترك لا عذر ولو كان سنة عين لأثموا بترك السنة المؤكدة إثما دون إثم ترك الواجب (2-442)

أفاد أن أصل التراويح سنة عين فلو تركها واحد كره بخلاف صلاتها بالجماعة فإنها سنة كفاية فلو تركها الكل أساؤوا أما لو تخلف عنها رجل من أفراد الناس وصلى في بيته فقد ترك الفضيلة وإن صلى أحد في البيت بالجماعة لم ينالوا فضل جماعة المسجد وهكذا في المكتوبات كما في المنية وهل المراد أنها سنة كفاية لأهل كل مسجد من البلدة أو مسجد واحد منها أو من المحلة ظاهر كلام الشارح الأول واستظهر ط الثاني ويظهر لي الثالث لقول المنية حتى لو ترك أهل محلة كلهم الجماعة فقد تركوا السنة وأساؤوا ا(2-45)


It is also sunnah for women to sit in I’tikāf and if there is someone sitting for I’tikāf in the locality then, they won’t be sinful.

Question: Where should men perform their I’tikāf?

Men can only perform I’tikāf in the Masjid as indicated by Allah Ta'ala in the Qur'aan. This should be a Mosque where five (5) daily congregational prayers take place.

أُحِلَّ لَڪُمۡ لَيۡلَةَ ٱلصِّيَامِ ٱلرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَآٮِٕكُمۡ‌ۚ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ۬ لَّكُمۡ وَأَنتُمۡ لِبَاسٌ۬ لَّهُنَّ‌ۗ عَلِمَ ٱللَّهُ أَنَّڪُمۡ كُنتُمۡ تَخۡتَانُونَ أَنفُسَڪُمۡ فَتَابَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَعَفَا عَنكُمۡ‌ۖ فَٱلۡـَٔـٰنَ بَـٰشِرُوهُنَّ وَٱبۡتَغُواْ مَا ڪَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡ‌ۚ وَكُلُواْ وَٱشۡرَبُواْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ ٱلۡخَيۡطُ ٱلۡأَبۡيَضُ مِنَ ٱلۡخَيۡطِ ٱلۡأَسۡوَدِ مِنَ ٱلۡفَجۡرِ‌ۖ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّواْ ٱلصِّيَامَ إِلَى ٱلَّيۡلِ‌ۚ وَلَا تُبَـٰشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمۡ عَـٰكِفُونَ فِى ٱلۡمَسَـٰجِدِ‌ۗ تِلۡكَ حُدُودُ ٱللَّهِ فَلَا تَقۡرَبُوهَا‌ۗ كَذَٲلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَتَّقُونَ

[2:187] It is made lawful for you, in the nights of fasts, to have sex with your women. They are apparel for you, and you are apparel for them. Allah knows that you have been betraying yourselves, so He relented towards you and pardoned you. So now you can have sexual intimacy with them and seek what Allah has destined for you and eat and drink until the white thread of the dawn becomes distinct from the black thread; then complete the fast up to the night. But do not have sexual intimacy with them while you are staying in mosques for Itikaf. These are the limits set by Allah, so do not go near them. Thus Allah manifests His signs to the people, so that they may be God-fearing.

Question: Where should women perform their I’tikāf?

Women must perform their I’tikāf at home and we have explained the ruling in this article.

Question: Is it important to make the Intention of I’tikāf?

It is compulsory to make the Intention of I’tikāf. It doesn't have to be uttered verbally, you just affirm in your heart that you are intending to make I’tikāf for 10 days of Ramadhan to please Allah Ta'ala.

حدثنا ‏ ‏الحميدي عبد الله بن الزبير ‏ ‏قال حدثنا ‏ ‏سفيان ‏ ‏قال حدثنا ‏ ‏يحيى بن سعيد الأنصاري ‏ ‏قال أخبرني ‏ ‏محمد بن إبراهيم التيمي ‏ ‏أنه سمع ‏ ‏علقمة بن وقاص الليثي ‏ ‏يقول سمعت ‏ ‏عمر بن الخطاب ‏ ‏رضي الله عنه ‏ ‏على المنبر ‏ ‏قال سمعت رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏يقول ‏ ‏إنما الأعمال ‏ ‏بالنيات ‏ ‏وإنما لكل امرئ ما نوى فمن كانت هجرته إلى دنيا ‏ ‏يصيبها ‏ ‏أو إلى امرأة ينكحها فهجرته إلى ما هاجر إليه ‏

Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab (RA): Allah's Apostle (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said, "The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Apostle, then his emigration was for Allah and His Apostle. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for." [Bukhari]

Question: What should be done during I’tikāf?

The person performing I’tikāf should confine themselves to the area of I’tikāf. In the case of men it’s the prayer area of the Mosque (not the entire Mosque premises) and in case of women it is the area chosen for I’tikāf. They should then engage in any act of worship or good actions and even take rest (when needed). They should only move out of the designated I’tikāf area for fulfilling absolute necessities (toilet, shower etc) and even food should be taken inside the I’tikāf area. Once the need is fulfilled, the person should come back to the I’tikāf area. The person should even try to combine many needs in a single trip i.e. they can use the toilet facilities and take an (obligatory Ghus'l) bath in the same trip. They can exit on the basis of the need to perform Wudhu (even for recitation of the Qur'aan) so use this oppurtunity to fulfill multiple needs. If the person exits the designated I’tikāf area unnecessarily, his or her I’tikāf will be broken.

It is not permissable for the person in I’tikāf to exit his or her designated I’tikāf area and go out for an optional bath. It is permissable for him or her to exit and bring the food (if no one else is available) but the food must be consumed inside the designated I’tikāf area.

If the person in in I’tikāf is dependent on benefits (he or she cannot live without it) then they may go to ‘sign on’ but must come straight back. To be on the safe side they should do qadha of that one day after Ramadhan. If they is not dependent on benefits (i.e. they hasve enough savings to fulfil their needs) then they cannot go, if they go they will be sinful and their in I’tikāf will break [Fataawa Rahimiya].

To go out specifically to smoke will render the I’tikāf invalid, however if he in difficulty and feels his health will suffer then it is permissible for him. One should see this as an ideal opportunity to give up this very bad habit viewed by some scholars as Haraam.

This article gives detailed explanation on how to plan your I’tikāf.

Question: What happens if the person exits the I’tikāf area in case of the Sunnah 10 day I’tikāf of Ramadhan?

Their I’tikāf will break if the person exits the I’tikāf area without a valid reason accepted in Islamic Shariah. The penalty is to make up that day of broken I’tikāf while fasting. This can be done in or outside of Ramadhan but the person must be fasting while making up the broken I’tikāf day. It is not necessary to make up all of other days, just the day on which the I’tikāf was broken [Ahsanul-Fatawa].

Question: Is there any other kind of I’tikāf and can it be shorter than 10 days?

A person can make a vow to perform I’tikāf. It will become Waajib (obligatory) for the vow to be then fulfilled and this will be classed as Waajib I’tikāf. The time period for this will be equal to the vow. This was the case with Sayyiduna Umar.

حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، عَنْ أَخِيهِ، عَنْ سُلَيْمَانَ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّهُ قَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ أَنْ أَعْتَكِفَ لَيْلَةً فِي الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ‏.‏ فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ أَوْفِ نَذْرَكَ ‏"‏‏.‏ فَاعْتَكَفَ لَيْلَةً‏

Sayyidina Umar bin Al-Khattab (RA) said, "O Rasulullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) I vowed in the Pre-Islamic period to perform I’tikāf in Al-Masjid-al-Haram for one night." Rasulullah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said, "Fulfill your vow." So, he performed I`tikaf for one night [Bukhari].

Question: This was an example of a vow which needed to be fulfilled but can a person perform I’tikāf as an optional act of worship?

Yes this Hadeeth also indicates that I’tikāf can be done optionally for less than 10 days, for any time period.

Question: Can I’tikāf be done for even a shorter period than a day?

In the Hanafi Madhab, Imam Muhammad (RA) permitted I’tikāf for even a shorter period.

( وأقله نفلا ساعة ) من ليل أو نهار عند محمد وهو ظاهر الرواية عن الإمام لبناء النفل على المسامحة وبه يفتى والساعة في عرف الفقهاء جزء من الزمان لا جزء من [ ص: 444 ] أربعة وعشرين كما يقوله المنجمون كذا في غرر الأذكار وغيره

Question: I have heard that intention of I’tikāf should be made when entering the Masjid at all times even when entering for a short period of time?

This is correct. It should be encouraged for the person to enter the Mosque with the right foot, recite the Dua and then make Intention for I’tikāf. This is encouraged by Imam Nawawi (RA) in his book Al-Adhkaar.

فإنه يصحّ عندنا ولو لم يمكث إلا لحظة، بل قال بعض أصحابنا‏:‏ يصحّ اعتكاف من دخل المسجد مارّاً ولم يمكث ‏(17) ، فينبغي للمارّ أيضاً أن ينوي الاعتكاف ليُحَصِّلَ فضيلتَه عند هذا القائل، والأفضل أن يقف لحظة ثم يمرّ، وينبغي للجالس فيه أن يأمر بما يراه من المعروف ويننهى عمّا يراه من المنكر، وهذا وإن كان الإِنسان مأموراً به في غير المسجد، إلا أنه يتأكد القولُ به في المسجد صيانةً له وإعظاماً وإجلالاً واحتراماً، قال بعض أصحابنا‏:‏ من دخل المسجد فلم يتمكن من صلاة تحية المسجد إما لحدث وإما لشغل أو نحوه، يستحبّ أن يقول أربع مرات‏:‏ سبحان اللّه، والحمد للّه، ولا إله إلا اللّه، واللَّه أكبر، فقد قال به بعض السلف، وهذا لا بأس به‏.‏


Question: What happens if the person exits the I’tikāf area in case of an optional I’tikāf?

Since it is an optional I’tikāf, it comes to an end. When a person enters the Mosque and makes intention for I’tikāf it comes to an end when the designated prayer area is exited. They should make a new Intention for I’tikāf when entering again.

Question: When does the Sunnah I’tikāf of Ramadhan start in UK this year in 2016?

Muslims in Britain need to be in their designated area of I’tikāf before sunset on Sunday, the 26th of June 2016.