What is the itikaf in islam? What is the importance of itikaf in islam? What is the rule of Itikaf in islam? What did the prophet say about itikaf? Which verses in the Quran are itikaf?
Iʿtikāf means staying in a place, waiting there, and self-imposed confinement. In Islamic legal terminology, it refers to retreating to seclusion for a while in a mosque or a place with the intention of iʿtikāf.
Iʿtikāf is divided into three types wājib, sunnah, and mustaḥab. If it is vowed, iʿtikāf becomes wājib; iʿtikāf performed in a mosque for a while with the intention of performing iʿtikāf in the last ten days of Ramadan is a kifāi sunnah, and iʿtikāf performed at other times in a mosque with the intention of worship is mustaḥab.
A) Evidence Of The Legality Of Iitikāf
Iʿtikāf is based on the evidence from the Qur’an, Sunnah, and the consensus of Muslim jurists.
The evidence from the Qur’an is the following verses,
“And do not have relations with them as long as you are staying for worship (iʿtikāf) in the mosques.” “And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, saying, ‘Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying there for worship and those who bow and prostrate in prayer.’”
In the first verse, iʿtikāf is attributed to the mosques where worship is done. On the other hand, abandoning permissible sexual intercourse during iʿtikāf shows that it is an act of worship.
Evidence from the Sunnah is the following hadith narrated by Ibn Umar, Anas, and Aisha, “After the Prophet migrated to Medina, he would perform iʿtikāf in the last ten days of Ramadan until his death.”
Purpose of iʿtikāf: Sincere iʿtikāf is an honorable act of worship. By this act, it is meant to turn to Allah, devote free time to worship, isolate oneself from the outside world for worship, and not leave the gate of Almighty Allah until being forgiven.
The shortest duration of an iʿtikāf is one day according to Abu Yusuf and one hour according to Imam Muhammad. What is meant by these is that the iʿtikāf can be a short time.
However, according to the view preferred by the Malikis, the shortest duration of iʿtikāf is one day and one night. According to the Shafiʿis, iʿtikāf is accomplished by standing still for as long as saying “subhānallah” whereas, according to the Ḥanbalis, the least amount of time is to stop for a moment.
B) Conditions of Itikāf
The validity of an iʿtikāf depends on the following conditions:
1) A person who retreats for iʿtikāf must be a Muslim, sane, and ritually pure.
Iʿtikāf is not permissible for a non-Muslim, mentally ill person, ritually impure, menstruating or a person who has not been cleansed from post-partum bleeding. This is because non-Muslims are not qualified to worship and the mentally ill are not qualified for intention. As for those who are not ritually clean, they are prohibited from entering the mosque.
If a person who enters iʿtikāf sees a wet dream while he is in the mosque, he goes out and performs ghusl, comes back, and continues the iʿtikāf. Puberty is not necessary for iʿtikāf. Therefore, the iʿtikāf of a child at the age of discernment is also valid.
2) One must intend for iʿtikāf. Iʿtikāf without an intention is not valid. In a vowed iʿtikāf, the intention must also be expressed with tongue.
3) Iʿtikāf must be carried out in a mosque or in a place like a mosque. Iʿtikāf can be done in any mosque where prayers are performed in the congregation. It is more virtuous to do it in larger mosques. Abdullah Ibn Masʿūd (r. anhuma) said, “Iʿtikāf can only be done in a place where congregational prayers are performed.”
Women, on the other hand, can perform iʿtikāf in a room of their own home where they can perform their worship. These places are considered mosques for them. Although it is permissible for women to perform iʿtikāf in the mosques, it is not free from reprehensibility. Praying at home for women is more virtuous than praying in mosques, and their iʿtikāf at home is considered more virtuous than iʿtikāf in the masjid.
According to Imam Shafiʿi, iʿtikāf can be done in a place suitable for the gratification of Allah, the most suitable place for this is the mosque. Places in homes where the prayers can be performed are not considered suitable for such gratification. This is because the place where the prayers can be performed at home can be changed, and one can be in that place in the state of janābah. On the other hand, the wives of the Prophet (saw) used to perform iʿtikāf in the mosque. If their houses were sufficient for iʿtikāf, it would have been better for them to do iʿtikāf at home.
4) In a wājib iʿtikāf, the person in iʿtikāf must fast. In this case, breaking the fast by error will not harm the iʿtikāf. This is because the sunnah iʿtikāf is performed in the last days of Ramadan, it coincides with the time of fasting. However, not fasting due to valid excuses such as travel or illness will not harm sunnah iʿtikāf, and fasting is not a must in mustaḥab iʿtikāf. On the other hand, there is no time limit for the sunnah or supererogatory iʿtikāf.
According to Shafiʿis, fasting is not obligatory in wājib iʿtikāf.
For a woman to enter iʿtikāf, she must get permission from her husband. Once the husband gives permission to his wife, she can no longer turn away from it.
C) Types of Itikāf
1) Iʿtikāf that is wājib: A vowed iʿtikāf becomes wājib. This should at least be one day and the day should be spent fasting. Umar (ra) said, “I told Allah’s Messenger (saw) that I vowed to perform iʿtikāf in al-Masjid-al-Ḥarām for one night.” The Prophet (saw) said, “Fulfill your vow.” So, he performed i`tikaf for one night.”
2) Iʿtikāf that is a Sunnah: It is a mu’akkad sunnah to perform iʿtikāf in the last ten days of Ramadan. If a person does this, it is hoped that Allah will give the reward of the person who performs iʿtikāf to all the Muslims in that town, as well as relieving other Muslims in a settlement from responsibility for performing that Sunnah. According to what is reported from Aisha, the Prophet (saw) practiced iʿtikāf in the last ten days of Ramadan; from the time that fasting was made obligatory until the end of his life.
3) Mustaḥab iʿtikāf: It is mustaḥab to retreat in iʿtikāf other than wājib and sunnah ones. There is no specific time or duration for this type of iʿtikāf. In fact, if a person who enters the mosque intends to do iʿtikāf until he leaves, he is considered to be in iʿtikāf as long as he stays there. Fasting is not required in this type of iʿtikāf.
D) The Manners of Itikāf
1) Iʿtikāf should be carried out in the last ten days of Ramadan and in the most virtuous mosque.
2) During iʿtikāf, one should not say bad and ugly words, but should speak only good. There is no harm in speaking words that do not necessitate sin.
3) During iʿtikāf, one should be busy with the Qur’an, hadith, remembrance of Allah, and acts of worship, wear clean clothes, and apply good fragrances.
E) Things That Break Itikāf
1) Having sexual intercourse: It is stated in the Qur’an, “And do not have relations with your wives as long as you are staying for worship in the mosques.”
2) Leaving the masjid without a valid excuse invalidates the iʿtikāf. If the person in iʿtikāf leaves the mosque by day or night without a valid excuse, knowingly or unknowingly, his iʿtikāf will be invalidated. According to Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, this period is more than half a day. According to one view, it is only one part of a day. If a woman in iʿtikāf goes out to other parts of her house without a valid excuse, her iʿtikāf will be invalidated.
Visiting the ill, going out for a funeral prayer, or providing testimony in a court are also acts that invalidate the iʿtikāf. Going out for an hour due to illness also invalidates the iʿtikāf. However, if it is stipulated in votive iʿtikāf to go out of the mosque for visiting the ill or for a funeral prayer, it does not invalidate the iʿtikāf.
3) If the person in iʿtikāf faints or becomes mentally ill for a few days during his iʿtikāf, his iʿtikāf will be invalidated. When he gets better, he starts iʿtikāf again.
However, a person in iʿtikāf can leave the mosque for his religious, compulsory, or natural needs.
If the Friday prayer is not performed in the mosque where the person who performs iʿtikāf is present, to go to another mosque to perform the Friday prayer and go out of the mosque to relieve oneself are among the religious and natural excuses.
Being forcibly removed from the mosque or moving to another mosque because of fear for one’s life or belongings is an excuse to leave the mosque for an essential need.
It is in the mosque that a person who is in iʿtikāf eats, drinks, sleeps, and buys the things that he needs. He can bring things that are not in the mosque. If there is a suitable place in the masjid, he can perform minor and major ablutions there. If there is no such place, he goes out and enters the mosque immediately after performing ablution. A person who is in iʿtikāf can go up to the minaret to call the adhān. The fact that the door of the minaret is outside the mosque does not invalidate iʿtikāf either.
 See Ibn al-Humām, ibid, II, 106; Ibn Abidīn, ibid, II, 176; al-Shurunbulālī, ibid, p. 118; al-Maydanī, ibid, I, 174.  Al-Baqara, 2: 187.  Al-Baqara, 2: 125.  Al-Bukhari, Iʿtikāf, 1, 6; Muslim, Iʿtikāf, 2; Abū Dawūd, Ṣawm, 77, 78; al-Tirmidhī, Ṣawm, 71; Ibn Maja, Ṣiyām, 58.  Al-Shurunbulālī, ibid, p. 119; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 695, 696.  Al-Zaylaī, Naṣb al-Rāya, II, 490.  Al-Shirbinī, Mughni al-Muḥtāj, I, p. 450 ff; Al-Shirazī, Muhadhdhab, I, p. 190 ff.  Al-Bukhari, Iʿtikāf, 16; Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, II, 10.  Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, Musnad, II, 67, 129.  Al-Baqara, 2: 187.  See Ibn Abidīn, ibid, Istanbul 1984. II, 440 ff.; al-Zabidī, Tecrid-i Sarih Tercemesi, VI, 323 ff.; Mehmed Zihni, Nimet-i İslam, Istanbul 1328, p. 98 ff.; al-Zuhaylī, ibid, II, 700 ff.; Bilmen, ibid, p. 323 ff.
Source: Basic Islamic Principles (ilmiḥal) According to the Four Sunni Schools With Evidence From The Sources of Islamic Law, Prof. Hamdi Döndüren, Erkam Publications