I`tikaf means to enter the Masjid with the intention of remaining therein in worship. One who does this is a Mu`takif.
Types of I`tikaf: Wajib, Sunnah & Mustahabb.
Wajib: To vow or pledge to make I`tikaf (on a fixed day) for the sake of Allah upon the fulfilment of some wish or desire. The least duration of a wajib I`tikaf is one day while fasting and night.
Sunnah Mu’akkadah: To reside the last ten nights and days of Ramadhan in the masjid is sunnah mu’akkadah `alal-kifayah, i.e. if a person from the community performs I`tikaf, the entire community will be absolved of this duty. Otherwise all the residents will be accountable for neglecting this Sunnah.
Mustahabb or Nafl: This I`tikaf can be for any amount of time, even for a few minutes. No fast is conditional for mustahabb or nafl i`tikaf.
Conditions of I`tikaf:
- Sanity i.e. a person should not be mad.
- Taharah – to be free from hadath akbar (major impurity requiring a bath).
- Intention. So that the difference between a few moments inside the Masjid in the state of nafl I’tikaf and otherwise is the intention.
It is makruh to remain silent during I’tikaf intending it to be a form of worship.
A woman’s I`tikaf is in her area of prayer and `ibadah in her home. The middle of the house is better than the front part, and the back is better than the middle i.e. the more private the better.
A person in wajib or sunnah i’tikaf may leave the masjid only for one’s necessities such as using the toilet, arranging for one’s food (if no one can bring it in), taking a shower etc.
One may conduct business and work necessary for one’s livelihood in the masjid but is not allowed to bring a product in to the masjid.
Eating and sleeping in the masjid is permitted for the mu’takif.
By: Shaykh Shafi Choudhury