And when We made the House a pilgrimage for mankind and a
(place of) security, and said, 'Appoint for yourselves a place of prayer on the
standing-place of Ibrahim [Maqam-e-Ibrahim].’ And We enjoined Ibrahim and
Ismail saying: 'Purify My House for those who visit (it) and those who abide
(in it) for devotion, those who bow down (and) those who prostrate themselves.'
(Surah Baqarah (2), Verse 125)
The Messenger of Allah (blessings of Allah be upon him and
his family) has said:
"The persons who secludes himself (in the Masjid in
Itikaf) in true faith and hope (for the reward of Allah); all of his previous
sins shall be forgiven."
(Kanzul Ummal, Hadith 24007)
Masajid all over the world have hosted Itikaf, the spiritual
retreat for over 1,400 years primarily in the "White Nights" of Rajab - the
13th, 14th and 15th, and more specifically in the month of Ramadan especially
in the last 10 nights of the blessed month.
Itikaf offers the best time to motivate one’s self to sit
and think and reflect on the self and the world. It is an exercise to build the self; and act of leaving
one's personal house to be in the service of Allah.
Itikaf means 'remaining' somewhere.
The technical usage of the term is:
a) for men: to remain in the mosque, with an intention,
b) for women: to remain in their designated prayer area (musalla) at home,
with intention, or at the mosque.
Itikaf is generally recommended at all times, for both men and women, as
defined above for each. It is especially recommended in Ramadan, and even more
so in the last ten nights, especially the odd ones.
It is a strongly recommended for at least some people in each community to
make Itikaf for the entire last 10 days of Ramadan. Its minimum is an entire
day (and night), and one must fast with it.
Two important conditions for Itikaf are:
a) that one intends it
b) that one not be in a state of major ritual impurity (i.e. anything
Everything normally permissible, except intimate relations, is permitted
during Itikaf, such as eating, drinking, and talk.
One should busy oneself with the beneficial as much as one meaningfully can,
1. Voluntary prayer,
2. Reciting the Book of Allah, with reflection, contemplation, and passion,
3. Remembrance of Allah, in all its forms,
4. Gaining beneficial knowledge, and listening to inspiring religious
discourses (which is why it is wise to make Itikaf in a mosque with people of
learning, and good company to inspire one towards the good).
When one leaves the mosque or (for women) place of prayer, one's Itikaf
During an extended Itikaf one may leave the mosque:
1. For a necessary ghusl.
2. To perform wudu (if such facilities are not found within the mosque),
3. To use the toilet.
It is recommended for women to do Itikaf in a specific place in their house,
a quiet room, for example, whenever they have the time and are able to do so
without neglecting their family duties and other responsibilities.
Even when in one's monthly period, it is recommended in the Hanafi school to
sit in a designated place of prayer (musalla) at home, after having made wudu,
and make dhikr for the time it takes to pray.
It is recommended for women to designate a place in their houses as their
'masjid'. They can do Itikaf there at any time, even for a brief period of
time, [Radd al-Muhtar].
The full communal sunna Itikaf is for the entire ten days (in the mosque,
for men). This is not expected of those working or housewives, for that
However, the fiqh principle is that, "If something cannot be done completely,
it should not be left completely."
The literal definition of the word Itikaf is to stay in a
particular place, however in the definition of the faith of Islam, this word
means to stay in the Masjid for a particular time period in the worship of
Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) while maintaining certain conditions,
which shall be covered later on in this article.
In the state of Itikaf, a person can stand, sit, sleep,
etc… and there is not one particular 'form' that this retreat must be carried out
in (unlike the salat which has a specific form to it). What is important in
this period is to obey the commandments of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to
Him), to refrain from the things which He has prohibited (both in life in
general and in this three day sojourn) and to be in the service of Him.
It is not permissible to leave the Masjid during the state
of Itikaf except for a reason and necessity which would (a) be a logical and
reasonable excuse; (b) be deemed so according to the general population and (c)
the religious rules of Islam dictate. Thus, in the following examples, it would
be permitted to leave the Masjid while in the state of Itikaf: going to a
doctor in cases of emergency, going to the bathroom (as these are logical
reasons), visiting someone who is very sick and taking part in the burial rites
of a person IF the person who has passed away was a close relation to the
person performing Itikaf (which would be a necessity deemed so by the general
consensus and population), or to perform a Ghusl (if needed) or to do Wudu
(which are necessities which the religion dictates).