‘Hazrat Aisha (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan” [Bukhari].
Imam Bukhri (RA) narrates another hadith quoting Hazrat Aisha (RA). ‘The most revered Prophet (SAW) used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice I`tikaf after him.[Bukhari]
I`tikaf (seclusion) is Sunnatul Muak-kadah alal Kifayah. It means that in each masjid, at least one person should sit in I’tikaf. If he does so, the requirement of Sunnah is fulfilled for the whole locality. However, if no person performs I’tikaf, the whole locality is responsible for not observing the Sunnah. Therefore, the residents of a locality should make sure that some person is performing I’tikaf in their masjid. If no such person is available, they should prepare someone to do so.
It is a unique form of worship in Ramadan in which a person gives up all his activities, abandons his attachments, associations and routines and enters the masjid for the last ten days of the holy month of RamadanWhat can be done during I`tikaf
1, Combing and cutting one’s hair, clipping one’s nails, cleaning one’s body, wearing nice clothes or wearing perfume are all permissible. ‘ Hazrat Aishah (RA) reported: “The Prophet (SAW) was Performing itikaf and he would put his head out through the opening to my room and I would clean [or comb in one narration] his hair. I was menstruating at the time.” [al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu Dawud].
2, The person may go out for some need that he must perform. ‘Aishah reported: “When the Prophet Performed I`tikaf, he brought his head close to me so I could comb his hair, and he would not enter the house except to fulfill the needs a person has.” [al-Bukhari, and Muslim].
Ibn al-Mundhir says: “The scholars agree that the one who performs I’tikaf may leave the mosque in order to answer the call of nature, for this is something that he personally must perform, and he cannot do it in the mosque. Also, if he needs to eat or drink and there is no one to bring him his food, he may leave to get it. If one needs to vomit, he may leave the mosque to do so. For anything that he must do but cannot do in the mosque, he can leave it, and such acts will not void his I’tikaf, even if they take a long time. Examples of these types of acts would include washing one’s self from sexual defilement and cleaning his body or clothes from impurities.”
Actions that Nullify the I`tikaf
If a person performs one of the following acts, his I`tikaf will be nullified:
(1) Intentionally leaving the mosque without any need to do so, even if it is for just a short time. In such a case, one would not be staying in the mosque, which is one of the principles of I`tikaf.
(2) Abandoning belief in Islam, as this would nullify all acts of worship. If you ascribe a partner to Allah, your work will fail and you will be among the losers.
(3) Losing one’s reason due to insanity or drunkenness, or the onset of menstruation or post-childbirth bleeding, all of which disqualifies a person for I’tikaf.
(4) Sexual intercourse. Allah says [in meaning]: “But do not associate with your wives while you are in seclusion (I`tikaf) in the mosques. Those are limits (set by) Allah. Approach not nigh thereto. Thus does Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint? [al-Baqara; 2:187]
The person desirous of undertaking I`tikaf has to enter the mosque on the 2oth Ramadan after Asar (afternoon prayer). The Mautakif (person in I`tikaf) comes out of the mosque after Eid prayers.