Fatawa >Section Four:Iítikaf (Retiring for Worship)
Section Four:Iítikaf (Retiring for Worship)
1. Literally, Iítikaf means
dwelling on something in a place. Technically, it means retiring to
the mosque with the aim of busy engagement in worship.
Such type of worship has been
sanctioned by the Holy Qurían, the Sunnah, and consensus.
It seems that, after
rejecting the idea of monasticism and shunning life, deeming it both
wrong and negative, Islam has put forward the enterprise of Iítikaf
as a temporary and limited experience. It is a unique way to
transporting the worshippers to the realm of spirituality with the aim
of strengthening the bond between them and their Creator. Such worship
would enable man to increase his provision in this world for the
Having had spiritual
nourishment, the worshippers could now go back to their daily routine
with an unwavering heart and a firm faith.
Basically, Iítikaf consists
of three days of seclusion in a mosque adopting a specific regime, on
top of which fast and sexual abstinence.
The requirements that should
be fulfilled are:
2. a. Reason (aql).
3. b. Faith (iman).
4 c. Niyyah of qurbah at the
outset, and throughout the period, of Iítikaf.
As we may know that niyyah of
fast can be made overnight. Can this be the case in Iítikaf, i.e. by
retiring to the mosque the night before with the intention of starting
it at the start of the day?
A. Yes, it is, apparently, in
Most importantly, the
worshipper should aim at making the niyyah of qurbah, not to covet
more of supplication and prayer, although this is more superior.
5. d. Fasting the entire
period of Iítikaf, i.e. three days, in that whomsoever is not fit
for fast should not be fit for Iítikaf; for example, just as the
fast by a sick or a travelling person cannot be sanctioned, Iítikaf
by them cannot. However, there is a case for sanctioning the Iítikaf
of the traveler who makes a nadhr to fast in their travel, as has
already been discussed within the context of voluntary fast in the
Chapter dedicated to Fasting the month of Ramadhan.
A worshipper observing
Iítikaf can make niyyah for fasting any type of lawful during the
period of Iítikaf That is, he can embark on compensatory fast, of
the month of Ramadhan, kaffarah fast, and voluntary fast, provided
that they fulfill the requirements of the latter; among these is that
he must not have any liability of any obligatory type of fast, as has
already been discussed. Therefore, whoever intends to take to
Iítikaf outside the month of Ramadhan should first address such a
liability, if any.
Just as it is obligatory that
the fast of the person taking to Iítikaf be valid, so is it
obligatory that the days meant for Iítikaf be valid, in that
Iítikaf cannot be sanctioned on either Eidul Fitr or Eidul Adhha,
Whatever detracts from fast
should equally detract from Iítikaf and therefore renders it batil.
6. e. The period. The minimum
is three days, i.e. with two nights in between. It could be more, e.g.
three days and four nights, or even more than that; for example, the
worshipper could make niyyah to start Iítikaf from Friday night till
the sunset of Monday.
7. f. Iítikaf should be in
a main mosque, for it is not known that Iítikaf in a small one can
Such main mosque must be
identifiable, in that it is not permissible to hold Iítikaf in two
mosques, albeit they may be adjacent to one another, i.e. by spreading
the period of Iítikaf on both mosques. Accordingly, if it becomes
untenable to stay in one mosque to complete oneís Iítikaf, such
Iítikaf will be batil.
The entire building of the
mosque is treated as the place for practising Iítikaf. Even if the
worshipper makes a niyyah to observe Iítikaf in a particular place
within the building, this should not have any importance, in that he
is free to move around the mosqueís building.
8. g. The worshipper should
not venture out, unless for either lawful pursuit or any other
business that the generality deem acceptable. An example of the first
type, i.e. lawful pursuit, is going out to perform ghusl of janabah,
for they are not allowed to stay in the mosque and perform ghusl
there, even though this may be feasible. An example of the second type
of business is going out to seek medical treatment in the event of
Among the instances of going
out for performing ghusl, other than that for janabah, is any of the
other obligatory ghusls, e.g. that of touching the body of a dead
person, regardless of whether or not it may be possible to perform
such ghusls within the setting of the mosque itself.
Should the worshipper venture
out without good/lawful reason, their Iítikaf cannot be taken
seriously, and thus be rendered batil; the exception being the
a. Going out to visit/treat a
b. Going out to take part in
c. Going out not of oneís
Venturing out without valid
reason either through ignorance of the rules or inadvertently, the
worshipper must, as a matter of ihtiyat, deem their Iítikaf null and
Whenever the worshipper is
allowed to leave the mosque to attend a lawful business outside it, he
should confine his travel to the shortest distance possible within the
vicinity of the mosque. While en route, he should do his best to avoid
sitting; should he find it necessary to sit, he must avoid sitting in
a shaded place.
9. h. One should refrain from
doing all the forbidden things mentioned in the forthcoming( paras. 10
to 15). Should he be in breach of any, his Iítikaf should be
It is recommended for the
worshipper, as a matter of ihtiyat and obligation, to treat their
Iítikaf batil, even if he commissioned any of these points either
inadvertently or through ignorance of the rules.
Should such a breach occur on
the third day of Iítikaf, it is desirable for the worshipper, as a
matter of ihtiyat and obligation, to finish his Iítikaf in the hope
that it might be accepted, although he should not take it for granted
that it would.
required from the worshipper taking to Iítikaf?
Throughout the period of
Iítikaf, the worshipper should avoid engaging in any of the
10. a. The company of women,
be it through sexual intercourse or any other way that may lead to
sexual enjoyment, such as petting.
11. b. Causing sexual
ejaculation through masturbation of any kind.
12. c. Smelling perfume, such
as rose oil.
13. d. Enjoying the smell of
flowers, such as jasmine and rose.
14. e. Engaging in trade,
barring things like tailoring, cooking, and weaving... etc.
Should the worshippers engage
in buying and selling, their Iítikaf should be deemed null and void.
Yet, any deal struck is sound and therefore enforceable.
15. f. Hypocritical
indulgence in vain talk aimed at scoring a victory over the others,
irrespective of whether or not the subject being debated was a valid
one, and no matter whether or not it was religious. If the argument
was an objective one aiming at proving a truth or putting right an
erroneous conclusion the others have reached, there is no harm in
engaging in such a showdown.
16. In itself, Iítikaf is
both a recommended and mustahab act of worship. It may become wajib as
an eventuality, e.g. becoming wajib in fulfilment to a nadhr, pledge,
17. Once embarked upon,
Iítikaf can be called off at any time, except in the following
a. When Iítikaf is embarked
on as part of nadhr to be taken up on particular days. Should
Iítikaf be embarked on without specifying the days, the worshipper
can call it off.
b. The lapse of two days on
the worshipperís Iítikaf should warrant the completion of the
period of Iítikaf, unless the worshipper has, at the outset, made a
covenant with his Creator that he could call Iítikaf off whenever he
wished on certain circumstances. If he even does so in the third day
of Iítikaf, he could take it up at another time.
18. Should the Iítikaf of a
worshipper be annulled for any reason, how should he go about making
A. There is a number of
a. Should the Iítikaf be a
mustahab one and is brought to a halt through a breach before the
lapse of two days, no repeat shall be required.
b. Should the Iítikaf be a
mustahab one and has been breached after the lapse of two days, a
repeat, though not immediate, shall be required.
Should Iítikaf be
undertaken in neither the right place nor the right time, such as not
in a mosque or starting Iítikaf on Eid day or one or two days before
that, it should be halted and no repeat is required.
c. If Iítikaf be embarked
on specific days in fulfilment of a nadhr, a repeat shall be required.
This is irrespective of whether the nadhr was confined to those days
where Iítikaf became null, such as specifying Thursday, Friday, and
Saturday within a ten-day period, or any other days within those ten
However, the repeat of
Iítikaf by way of a specified nadhr has to be qadhaí because it
would fall after the lapse of that specified period of time without
the need to do it immediately. As for the second case, the repeat has
to be undertaken before the end of the ten-day period, because it is
in compliance with, and fulfilment of, the nadhr within its specified
time, in that it is obligatory to discharge oneís responsibility in
accordance with the period stipulated in the nadhr.
19. Should the worshippers
flout the ban on sexual contact, they shall be liable to pay kaffarah,
regardless of whether the breach took place during the day or night.
However, no kaffarah shall be due if other banned things are
commissioned, yet the worshippers must ask forgiveness.
Should the worshipper
practicing Iítikaf have sexual contact with their wife during the
day while either fasting Ramadhan, whether adaí or qadhaí, he
shall be liable to pay two kaffarahs, one for falling foul of the
rules of Iítikaf and the other for breaching the sanctity of fast.
The nature of kaffarah for
breaking Iítikaf through sexual activity will be discussed in the
Chapter on Kaffarah.
Should the worshipper
concerned, who has fallen foul of the rules regulating Iítikaf - by
indulging in sexual activity, be carrying out Iítikaf on particular
days by way of nadhr, he shall be incurring a third kaffarah for
violating the terms of nadhr.