Literally, Iítikaf means dwelling on something in a place. Technically, it means retiring to the mosque with the aim of engagement in worship.
It seems that, after rejecting the idea of monasticism and shunning life, deeming it both wrong and negative, Islam has put forward the issue of Iítikaf as a temporary experience. It is a unique way that transports 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 Hereafter.
Having had spiritual nourishment, the worshippers could 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.
Requirements of Iítikaf
The requirements that should be fulfilled are as following:
a. Reason (aql).
b. Faith (iman).
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. The same can be applied in the case in Iítikaf.
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.
Fasting the entire period of Iítikaf, i.e. three days, in that whosoever is not fit for fast should not be fit for Iítikaf.
Just as it is obligatory that the fast of the person during Iítikaf is valid, so is it obligatory that the days meant for Iítikaf be valid, in that Iítikaf cannot be sanctioned on either EidulFitr or EidulAdhha, for example.
Whatever detracts from fast should equally detract from Iítikaf and therefore renders it batil.
The period of Iítikaf is aminimum of 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.
Iítikaf should be in a main mosque, for it is not known that Iítikaf in a small one can be accepted.
The worshipper should not venture out, unless for either lawful pursuit or any other business that the generality deem acceptable.
What not to do during Iítikaf
Throughout the period of Iítikaf, the worshipper should avoid engaging in any of the following:
- The company of womenwhether through sexual intercourse or any other way that may lead to sexual pleasure
- Causing sexual ejaculation through masturbation of any kind
- Smelling perfume
- Enjoying the smell of flowers, such as jasmine and rose
- Engaging in trade, barring things like tailoring, cooking, and weaving... etc
Rules of Iítikaf
Once embarked upon, Iítikaf can be called off at any time, except in the following cases:
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.
| joe serhan|
| It is said above that must fast the entire period of I'tikaf, it means if 3 days, so no food or water for 3 days?, or as in Ramadan, only during day time?|
Fasting is only at day time, like any other fast.