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Concerning Fasting
  Concerning I`tikaaf
Author: Imaam al-Albaani
Source: Qiyaam Ramadaan (pg. 34-41) (trans. Masjid Ahl ul-Qur'an was-Sunnah Association of NY, USA)
Article ID : IBD090008  [34027]  
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It’s Prescription:

1. ‘Itikaaf (secluding oneself in the masjid) is a recommended act in Ramadaan as well as any other day in the year.  The source for that is found in Allaah’s saying: “…while you are making ‘Itikaaf in the masaajid.”  And there are also many authentic ahaadeeth concerning the Prophet’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) ‘Itikaaf and narrations from the Salaf concerning that also.  They are mentioned in the Musnnaf’s of Ibn Abee Shaibah and ‘Abdur-Razzaaq.

It is authentically established that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) made ‘Itikaaf in the last ten days of Shawaal,[1] and that ‘Umar RAA said to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam): “I made an oath (to Allaah) in the Days of Ignorance that I would make ‘Itikaaf for one night in the Masjid Al-Haraam?”  So the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Fulfill your oath.”  So he made ‘Itikaaf one night. [2]

2. Observing it in Ramadaan is established in the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah RAA: “Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would make ‘Itikaaf for ten days in every Ramadaan.  But when it was the year in which he died, he made ‘Itikaaf for twenty days.” [3]

3. The best time to do it is in the last part of Ramadaan because the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would make ‘Itikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadaan until Allaah took his soul (in death). [4]

It’s Conditions:

1. It’s observance is not legislated except in the masaajid, based on Allaah’s saying: “And do not have intercourse with them (your wives) while you are making ‘Itikaaf in the masaajid.” [5] And ‘Aa’ishah said: “The Sunnah for the one doing ‘Itikaaf is that he should not go out (of the masjid) except for some need that he must fulfill.  He should not witness a funeral, nor should he touch his wife, or have intercourse with her.  And there is no ‘Itikaaf except in a masjid that establishes the Jamaa’ah (congregational prayer).  And the Sunnah for the one doing ‘Itikaaf is that he should be fasting (on the day he makes ‘Itikaaf).” [6]

2. The masjid should also hold the Jumu’ah prayers so that he is not forced to leave the masjid to pray the Jumu’ah prayer.  This is because going out for it is an obligation, based on ‘Aa’ishah’s saying in one report from her of the previous hadeeth: “…and there is no ‘Itikaaf except in a masjid that holds the Jumu’ah prayer.” [7]

Furthermore, I came upon an authentic hadeeth that clearly specifies the “masaajid” mentioned in the previous ayah to mean the three masaajid: Masjid Al-Haraam, Masjid An-Nabawee and Masjid Al-Aqsaa.  The hadeeth is: “There is no ‘Itikaaf except in the three masaajid.” [8]

According to what I came across, those among the Salaf who held this opinion were Hudhaifah Ibn Al-Yamaan, Sa’eed Ibn Al-Musayyib and ‘Ataa.  However, he (‘Ataa) did not mention Masjid Al-Aqsaa.  Others held the opinion that it was any congregating masjid (in which the Jumu’ah prayer is held), without restriction.  And yet others disagreed saying it can even be done in the masjid of ones home.  And there is no doubt that adhering to what complies with the hadeeth about it is what deserves to be followed.  And Allaah, Glorified and Exalted, knows best.

3. It is from the Sunnah for the one making ‘Itikaaf to observe fasting, as has been stated by ‘Aa’ishah RAA. [9]

What is permissible for the person making ‘Itikaaf:

1.  It is permissible for him to leave the masjid in order to fulfill a need.  And it is permissible for him to stick his head out of the masjid to have it washed and combed.  ‘Aa’ishah RAA said: “And the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would enter his head in my presence while he was making ‘Itikaaf in the masjid, and I was in my apartment.  So I would comb his hair, [and in one narration: I would wash it, even though there was the threshold between me and him, and I would be menstruating].  And he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would not enter the house unless he had a [human] need, while making ‘Itikaaf.” [10]

2. It is permissible for the one making ‘Itikaaf and others to make wudoo (ablution) in the masjid, based on the saying of a man who would serve the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam): “The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would make a light wudoo (ablution) in the masjid.” [11]

3. He may set up a small tent in the back of the masjid in which to make ‘Itikaaf.  This is since ‘Aa’ishah RAA would set up a khibaa[12] (tent) for the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) when he would make ‘Itikaaf.  And this was from his (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) command. [13]

And one time he made ‘Itikaaf in a small tent that had a mat covering its doorway. [14]

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