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I’tikaf meaning, rulings and its 3 major types

by | Jun 19, 2015

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I’tikaf during Ramadan is a form of worship in which a man surrenders all of his activities, deserts his connections, affiliations, and schedules, and enters the masjid for a particular period.

What is the meaning of i’tikaf?

Itikaf in the Arabic language means to adhere or commit oneself to something. The Shari’ah marks a particular person taking up residence in the mosque specifically for a specified time.  Itikaf means to be in isolation in a Masjid or at home to solely dedicate your time to the worship of Allah (SWT). Narrated by Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
“The Prophet (SAW) used to practice Itikaf  in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died, and then his wives used to practise Itikaf after him.”

What are the three types of Itikaf?

  1. Sunnah-The Itikaf that is performed during the last ten days of Ramadan is considered the Sunnah because Prophet Muhammad (SAW) practised Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan. As narrated by Abu Huraira:
    “The Prophet used to perform Itikaf every year in the month of Ramadan for ten days, and when it was the year of his death, he stayed in Itikaf for twenty days.”
  2. Nafl-Itikaf can be performed on any day/night of the year. It is considered to be a nafl (voluntary) act.
  3. Wajib-If you have a plan to perform i’tikaf, then it is compulsory (wajib) that you do so. It could be making a vow to Allah, such as through niyyah (intention) to perform i’tikaf or a vow based on a condition. It means saying or thinking: “If this thing happens, I will make i’tikaf for a certain number of days.”

What are the i’tikaf rules that are to be followed?

The rules that should follow during the Itikaf include, 
  •  Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan is Sunnah ‘alal-kifayah. At least one person should sit in i’tikaf during Ramadan in each masjid. If he does so, it fulfils the requirement of Sunnah for the whole locality. However, if no person performs Itikaf during Ramadan, the whole locality is responsible for not observing the Sunnah. Therefore, the locality residents should ensure that some person performs i’tikaf in their masjid. If no such person is available, they should prepare someone to do so.
  • The time of this i’tikaf during Ramadan commences immediately after the sunset of the 20th day of Ramadan. Therefore, a person who wants to sit in Itikaf must enter the masjid before sunset on that day. So that sunset takes place while he is in the masjid.
  • It is advisable that a person performing Itikaf avoids all unnecessary activities and spends most of his time in the acts of worship, like salah, recitation of the Holy Qur’an, or making dhikr or tasbeeh. However, it is makruh to remain silent totally.

Things that do not terminate the Itikaf during Ramadan?

One can go out of the masjid in Itikaf during Ramadan only for the following needs:
  1. To answer the call of nature.
  2. To make obligatory ghusl. i.e., in the state of impurity (janabah). (It is not allowed during I’tikaf to go out of the masjid for having a non-obligatory bath, like the bath on Friday, etc.).
  3. To bring food where no other person is available to bring it. In this case, it is allowed to either bring food to the masjid or have food elsewhere outside the masjid.
  4. To offer the jum’ah prayer. He sits in Itikaf during Ramadan if no jum’ah prayer is offered in the same masjid.
  5. To move to another masjid in the event of danger to one’s life or property.

Things that terminate the I’tikaf during Ramadan?

  1. To leave the masjid even for a moment without the urgent needs.
  2. To remain outside the masjid after fulfilling the needs described above.
  3. Having sex and also, according to Ehtiyat, kissing or playing with one’s wife, which is prohibited in i’tikaf during Ramadan.
  4. Doing any act that breaks one’s fast, like eating, drinking, etc. (Since fasting is a pre-condition for a valid masnun i’tikaf during Ramadan, the I’tikaf is automatically terminated by breaking the fast).
  5. Smelling perfumes for enjoyment; it is not an offence if one cannot enjoy the perfume because of some defect in his smelling ability.

What Worships should we do in I’tikaf?

Ibadah (worship) can be done in I’tikaf. A few good deeds are enlisted below,
  • Recite Al Quran
  • Recite Darood
  • Read about Islam
  • Make Dua
  • Nafl Prayers
  • Taraweeh Prayer
  • Talk/think about the good and righteous things.
  • Do Taubah (repentance)
  • Doing nothing and considering it Ibadah does not count in Itikaf.

What are the virtues of Itikaf in Ramadan?

Ramadan itself is one of the blessings that Muslims receive. The rewards and good deeds will be multiplied by 70 times in Ramadan. And the last ten days are the blessed days of the year. It is mentioned as the days to seek refuge from Hell. And the primary blessing of these days is the Layaltul Qadr, in which good deeds will be rewarded to equivalent to eighty-three years of good deeds. The itikaf on these days has countless virtues and rewards, 
  • Ali Ibn Hussain (RA) narrates from his father that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said,
 “He who observes the ten days Itikaf during Ramadhan will obtain the reward of two Hajj & two Umrah.” 
  • Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said,
“Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one day i’tikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches.” 
  • Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said,
 ” He is secure from sin & he also gets that reward which everyone (outside of i’tikaf) gets for pious deeds.” 
  • Observing Itikaf is ideal for doing away with sins and receiving a reward from multiple sources.
  • It is the best time to renew your relationship with Allah. 

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