(1) I’tikaf means to stay in the Musjid with the niyyat of I’tikaf for the sake of Allah Ta’ala. The purpose of such stay in the Musjid is ibadat and to gain proximity to Allah Ta’ala.
THE TYPES OF I’TIKAF
There are three types of I’tikaf: Wajib, Sunnatul Muakkadah and Nafl.
An I’tikaf of Nathr(vow) and a Qadha I’tikaf are Wajib (compulsory) I’ltikaf.
(1) I’tikaf of Nathr is an I’tikaf undertaken as a result of a vow made to Allah Ta’ala.
(2) The validity of Nathr I’tikaf requires the verbal expression of the Niyyat or intention. It is, therefore, essential to verbally say, for example:
“I am undertaking (or making) I’tikaf for Allah Ta’ala for three days”,,
or any other similar statement in which it is declared that I’tikaf has been undertaken or is presently being undertaken. The expression of an intention should not relate to the future, e.g. “It is my intention to perform I’tikaf”, etc.
For the purpose of Nathr I’tikaf only a niyyat in the mind/heart is not sufficient.
(3) Saum (fasting) is a condition for the validity of Nathr I’tikaf. Nathr I’tikaf without fasting is not valid even if one vows to observe I’tikaf without fasting.
(4) The minimum period for a wajib I’tikaf is one day, i.e. from Subah Sadiq to sunset.
QADHA OF I’TIKAF
(1) Qadha will be made of Nathr(vow) and Masnoon I’tikaf. There is no qadha for Nafl I’tikaf.
(2) Qadha of Nathr Muayyan I’tikaf will be made if the I’tikaf was not observed on its specific days or if it was rendered void while observing it.
(3) Masnoon I’tikaf (i.e. the I’tikaf of the last ten days of Ramadhan) will be made qadha if it was rendered void after having commenced it. It is necessary to make qadha of only the day or days which were rendered void. .
SUNNATUL MUAK-KADAH ITIKAF
I’tikaf of the last ten days of Ramadhan is the only Masnoon I’tikaf. This Masnoon I’tikaf is Sunnatul Muak-kadah alal Kifayah. If a few or even just one person observes this I’tikaf in a particular area/neighbourhood, the duty will be discharged on behalf of the entire community of that locality. On the otherhand, if no one observes this I’tikaf, the whole community will be guilty of neglecting a Sunnatul Muakkadah obligation. Such neglect is sinful.
(1) The Mu’takif (the one who observes I’tikaf will enter the Musjid before sunset of the 20th day of Ramadhan.
(2) The Mu’takif will remain in the Musjid, until the sighting of the Eid hilal is confirmed.
(3) Niyyat (making intention) is a necessary condition for Masnoon I’tikaf as well.
(4) If the Masnoon I’tikaf is broken or nullified, qadha of it is obligatory.
THE VENUE FOR I’TIKAF
(1) For men, I’tikaf is valid in only a Musjid in which Athan and Iqamah are proclaimed for the five daily Salat. In otherwords it has to be a Musjid in which the five daily Salat are performed with Jama’t.
(2) Females can observe I’tikaf in a place in their homes, set aside for Salat or specially cordoned off for the purpose of I’tikaf.
(3) It is not permissible for women to come to the Musjid to observe I’tikaf or to perform Salat or to listen to lectures.
(4) The Musjid here refers to the Musjid proper and not to the annexures or adjacent buildings erected for the needs of the Musjid or Musallees.
The Musjid proper is that section of the building which was intended by the Waqif to be the Musjid.
(Waqif is the person or organization who erected the Musjid, and demarcated the Musjid boundaries).
(5) Most Musajid have a section at the back, which in most cases is under the same roof, but is excluded from the Musjid proper. Janazah Salat and sometimes a second Jama’t by late-comers are performed in this section. Since this section of the building is excluded from the Musjid proper, it is not permissible for the Mu’takif to venture unnecessarily into that area. If he does, his I’tikaf will be rendered void.
(6) The Mu’takif should ascertain from the Mutawallis (trustees) the exact boundaries of the Musjid.
(7) The wudhu Khanah, courtyard, store-rooms and any other adjacent buildings are all excluded from the Musjid.
(8) It is essential that the Mu’takif remains inside the Musjid, or inside the special place set aside at home (for women) throughout the duration of the I’tikaf. Leaving the place of I’tikaf unnecessarily for even a minute will render the I’tikaf null and void.
VALID REASONS FOR LEAVING THE MUSJID AND WHICH WILL NOT BREAK THE I’TIKAF
It is permissible to leave the Musjid for the following acts of need:
(1) To answer the call of nature – to go to the toilet.
(2) To pass wind.
(3) To take an obligatory bath.
(4) To make wudhu.
(5) Juma’h Salat, if Juma’h Salat is not performed in the Musjid where the I’tikaf is being observed. In this case the Mu’takif should leave the Musjid at such a time to enable him to reach the other Musjid in time to perform his Sunnat Salat. He should leave immediately after having completed the six raka’ts Sunnats after the Fardh Salat. He should not delay for Dua and Thikr.
(6) To proclaim the Athan, if he is the Muath-thin. This is permissible for even a Mu’takif who is not the permanent Muath-thin.
(7) To bring food if there is no one to tend to this need of his.
(8) If one is compelled to leave the Musjid either because of danger or forceful eviction, one may immediately proceed to another Musjid. to continue with the I’tikaf an unnecessary delay in the process of changing Musjids is not permissible and will break the I’tikaf. When leaving the Musjid for the above mentioned reasons, the Mu’takif must return to the Musjid immediately after having fulfilled the need. An unnecessary delay of even a minute will break the l’tikaf.
THE MUFSIDAT OR THE THINGS WHICH INVALIDATE (BREAK) THE I’TIKAF
Only Wajib and Masnoon I’tikaf are rendered invalid. Nafl I’tikaf is not rendered void by any act. It is merely ended by engaging in an act which is not permitted for the Mu’takif.
Unnecessarily leaving the Musjid for even a minute whether intentionally, unintentionally or under compulsion, will invalidate the I’tikaf. All acts and reasons besides the valid reasons will be regarded as ‘unnecessary’ in the context of I’tikaf. Thus, leaving the Musjid due to illness, although permissible, will invalidate the I’tikaf. To leave the Musjid for Jannazah Salat, visiting the sick or for an other permissible activity besides the VALID REASONS (will render the I’tikaf null and void.
The I1ika-f will also become void (break – be invalid) if the Mu’takifs fast breaks.
THE MUBAHAT OR THE THINGS WHICH ARE PERMISSIBLE DURING I’TIKAF
During I’tikaf, the following acts are mubah (permissible):
(1) To eat and drink.
(2) To sleep.
(3) Necessary conversation.
(4) To change clothes and apply perfume and oil.
(5) To cut hair and nails. These should not be allowed to fall in the Musjid.
(6) To walk inside the Musjid.
(7) To sit anywhere inside the Musjid.
(8) To tend to a sick person inside the Musjid.
(9) If necessary, to buy and sell goods provided that the goods are not brought Into the Musjid nor is payment made inside the Musjid.
(10) To teach Deeni lessons.
(11) To sew clothing.
(12) To study Deeni books.
(13) To get married and to perform a Nikah.
(14) All such acts which are lawful and allowed in the Musjid are permissible for the Mu’takif.
THE MAKRUHAT OR THE THINGS WHICH ARE DETESTABLE AND NOT PERMISSIBLE FOR THE MU’TAKIF
The Makruhat during I’tikaf are as follows:
(1) To maintain total silence.
(2) To Indulge In idle talk.
(3) To sleep excessively merely to wile away the time.
(4) To unnecessarily pass wind inside the Musjid.
(5) To sew garments or engage in any occupation for a fee.
(6) To read books and magazines which are not of a Deeni nature.
(7) To erect the mu’takaf in a way which inconveniences the Musallees. (Mu’takaf is the area which is enclosed for the sleeping and eating of the one who observes I’tikaf).
(8) To engage in any worldly activity unnecessarily.
WHAT TO DO DURING I’TIKAF
The Mu’takif should engage himself in lbadat to the best of his ability. Nafl Salat, Tilawat, Durood, Istighfar and permanent Thikr in general should be the Mu’takifs occupations throughout the duration of his I’tikaf.
When the Mu’takif speaks, he must speak only what is virtue or what is necessary.
The Mutakif should not do anything which conflicts with the spirit of I’tikaf. He should guard his heart, mind, ears, eyes and limbs against all evil, thus deriving maximum benefit from his seclusion in the Musjid.
The Mu’takif is the guest of Allah. He should, therefore, be careful of his behaviour in the House of Allah.
MASAAL (RULES) PERTAINING TO I’TIKAF
(1) The same rules which apply to a man observing I’tikaf in the Musjid, apply to a woman observing I’tikaf in her place of seclusion at home.
(2) When necessity, e.g. Juma’h Salat in another Musjid, compels the Mu’takif to leave his Musjid, it will be permissible for him to enquire about a sick person or generally engage in good conversation without departing from the road. He must not unnecessarily stop on the road.
(3) During I’tikaf it is not permissible to leave the Musjid for even a Sunnat ghusl.
(4) It is permissible for the Muath-thin who is in I’tikaf to enter the minaret for the Athan.
(5) Whilst standing inside the Musjid it is permissible for the Mu’takif to protrude his head out of the window.
(6) Emission of semen, e.g. in a wet dream, does not invalidate the I’tikaf.
(7) A woman’s I’tikaf is proper if she has the consent of her husband.
(8) The I’tikaf of a child who understands the meaning of I’tikaf, is valid. Buloogh (puberty) is not a condition for the validity of I’tikaf.
(9) It is permissible to sleep on a bed in the Mu’takaf (the place cordoned off for sleeping and eating).
(10) A person who is not in I’tikaf should not join the Mu’takif for iftar or eating unless he also makes a niyyat for I’tikaf. Such an I’tikaf will be Nafl and its duration can be even for a minute. The person should make niyyat of I’tikaf, then engage in some thikr and Salat. Thereafter lie may do as he pleases, e.g. join the Mu’takif in eating.
(11) The Mu’takif should remain at all times with wudhu. If his wudhu breaks, it will be permissible for him to leave the Musjid for the purpose of wudhu, even if it is not yet time for Salat. After making wudhu, lie should perform at least two raka’ts Tahiyyatal -wudhu. Similarly, it will be permissible for him to leave the Musjid to make wudhu at night to enable him to sleep with wudhu.
(12) If for some reason the I’tikaf of Ramadhan was rendered void (broken), it will not be necessary to leave the Musjid. The remaining days may still be observed and qadha of the day/s rendered void should be made.
THE THREE CLASSES OF FASTING
In his Kitaab, Tableeghud Deen, Imaam Ghazali (rahmatullah alayh) says:
“Fasting,.with regard to quality, are of three kinds:
(1) The Saum of the Awam (general public-the masses). Their fast consists of only abstention from the physical acts which nullify the fast. While they abstain from eating, etc., they involve their bodies in sin. Such saum is merely fasting in name. (Only the Fardh obligation is discharged thereby).
(2) In addition to abstaining from food, etc., the Sa-im (fasting person) restrains the body from acting in violation of the Shariah. He withholds his tongue from gheebat and eyes from casting gazes at ghair mahareem. This is the middle category of fasting.
(3) The third category of fasting is the Saum of the elite servants of Allah Ta’ala, viz. the Muttaqeen. In addition to their limbs abstaining from transgression, their hearts and minds arc perpetually engrossed in thikrullah. At all times, in their hearts there is nothing but the remembrance of Allah Ta’ala. This is fasting in the state of kamal (perfection)”.