DEFINITION : To retire to a mosque from a little before sun-set on the 20th of Ramadhaan up to the sun-set of 29th or 30th i.e. till the appearance of new moon is called I’TIKAAF. It has great merit. Women, if desirous of sitting in I’tikaaf, may retire to the place in the house which is fixed for usual offering of prayers. If one sits in I’tikaaf, then save for calls of nature or meals, he should not move from that place. If there is some one to bring meals, then, too, one should not move from there for the meals. He should remain there for all the time and should sleep there. It is better not to sit idle but should continue to recite the Holy Qur’aan or after Nafl prayers or remain engaged in other prayers. For a woman it is essential to give up I’tikaaf  in case of menses or after-birth discharge and it is also not permissible to embrace the husband or indulge in sexual intercourse during I’tikaaf.
Three things are essential in I’tikaaf :-

  1. To retire to a mosque (for men) in which congregational prayers are held.
  2. To resolve for I’tikaaf  as it will not be an I’tikaaf if one retires to a mosque without an intent, since for the intent to be in order it is essential that the person should be a Muslim and sane. Therefore the condition of being a sane Muslim also come under resolve.
  3. For a woman to be free from menses and after birth discharge and not be in need of bath.

The Supreme I’tikaaf  is one which is observed in Ka’bah and the next best is in the mosque of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam at Madeenah and then at Jerusalem and then Jumu’ah Masjid where congregational prayers are held daily and then the mosque of the locality in which congregational prayers are held mostly.

There are three kinds of I’tikaaf:

  1. Essential
  2. Mu’akk’adah (Emphasised) and
  3. Mustahab (appreciable).