IíTIKAF - The Spiritual Retreat
Written by Saleem Bhimji for Al-Fath Al-Mubin Publications and the Islamic Publishing House
[www.al-mubin.org & www.iph.ca]

With information extracted from
http://www.hawzah.net/Per/K/Etekaf/ & http://www.etekaf.org/html/adab.htm

The large number of youth and others participating in this great event, something which has only taken form in the last twenty years since the victory of the Islamic revolution, may not be something as seen in other communities around the world Ė particularly the ďWestĒ. Insha-Allah, may Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) make our communities as large and prosperous as these and may our youth make maximum benefit from this very powerful spiritual retreat.

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The Messenger of Allah (blessings of Allah be upon him and his family) has said:

ďThe persons who secludes himself (in the Masjid in Iítikaf) in true faith and hope (for the reward of Allah), all of his previous sins shall be forgiven.Ē (Kanzul Ummal, Hadith 24007)

One of the greatest traditions of Islam, the spark of which has recently been reignited in the hearts of the youth, is that of Iítikaf. This is a tradition which has been in Islam from the first days of the revelation and is also something known and recognized in other Divine religions sent by Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) and practiced by them Ė more or less:

"And when We made the House a pilgrimage for mankind and a (place of) security, and said, ĎAppoint for yourselves a place of prayer on the standing-place of Ibrahim [Maqam-e-Ibrahim].í And We enjoined Ibrahim and Ismail saying: ĎPurify My House for those who visit (it) and those who abide (in it) for devotion, those who bow down (and) those who prostrate themselves.í (Suratul Baqarah (2), Verse 125)

The great Masajid of Islam located in cities such as Makkah, Madinah, Kerbala, Najaf, Samarrah, Kadhamain, Qum, Isfahan, Mashad and other major Muslim cities have hosted this spiritual retreat for over 1,400 years primarily in the ďWhite NightsĒ of Rajab Ė the 13th, 14th and 15th, and more specifically in the month of Ramadhan Ė that too primarily in the last 10 nights of the blessed month.

Since the life of the transient world keeps us busy for the whole year in studies, work, business, traveling and other such things and causes us to be negligent of the next life, we may sometimes think that these thing are the sole purpose in life and thus, we end up forgetting our true goal Ė Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him). Thus, it is for this reason that Iítikaf is referred to as ďThe spring of life in a world struck with the drought of negligence of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him).Ē

It is the negligence of ourselves and our Creator which is given a fresh breath of life in this short three day period of Iítikaf. In addition, we can once again find ourselves and our Lord and return back to Him now (spiritually return back to Him) before we are forced to return back to him by the separation of the soul from the body in a state of complete negligence of Him.

The period of Iítikaf is the best time to force oneís self to sit and think and reflect on the self and the world around; the period of the Iítikaf is the best time to forget the worries of the transient world and to return to the soul and the Creator of the soul; the period of the Iítikaf is the best time to return back to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) in true repentance for our sins committed through the year and to concentrate on the Words of Allah in the Quran, the prayers and supplications used to call upon Him and all of those things which are related to Him and His Sacred Essence.

Iítikaf is not a three day holiday from work or school; it is not a time to sit in the Masjid in complete ignorance of onesí self and his spiritual surroundings; it is not the venue to pass oneís time in idleness. Iítikaf is not the act of sleeping and snoring in the Masjid and killing timeÖ

Truly, Iítikaf is a three day spiritual retreat to build the self; it is the act of leaving oneís personal house to be in the service of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) and to recognize oneís self in Allahís house (the Masjid) while at the same time, being a guest in the House of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) Ė eating His food which He has sent and being around His servants which He has guided.

Definition of Iítikaf

The literal definition of the word Iítikaf is to stay in a particular place, however in the definition of the faith of Islam, this word means to stay in the Masjid for a particular time period in the worship of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) while maintaining certain conditions, which shall be covered later on in this article.

In the state of Iítikaf, a person can stand, sit, sleep, etcÖ and there is not one particular Ďformí that this retreat must be carried out in (unlike the salat which has a specific form to it). What is important in this period is to obey the commandments of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him), to refrain from the things which He has prohibited (both in life in general and in this three day sojourn) and to be in the service of Him.

Conditions of Iítikaf

There are a few conditions for the person who wishes to partake in the Divine blessing of Iítikaf:

1. Intelligence (Aql): Thus, the person must not be mentally unstable;

2. True Faith (Iman): Thus, although a Non-Muslim can perform the Iítikaf and it may be correct from the point of view of the outer actions, however to earn the Divine Reward, he or she must be a true believer;

3. Intention (Niyyat): Iítikaf must be performed for the purpose of seeking closeness to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) and not to show off or due to societal or family or peer pressure;

4. Fasting (Sawm) During Iítikaf: The person who is not able to fast, for whatever reason, is deprived from the Divine grace of being able to perform Iítikaf. He or she may still gain a reward from Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) for having the intention to perform this act of worship, however can not directly participate in this act as will be mentioned. Therefore, if a person is a traveler or one who is not able to fast due to some danger to his life, he can not partake in Iítikaf. However, if the traveler who wants to perform the Iítikaf makes an oath that he will fast for three days on a trip, then he can perform the Iítikaf even though his salat may be prayed as that of a traveler. In addition, if one needs to perform any sort of fasting whether it be obligatory, recommended, a penitence for a missed fast, on behalf of someone else, etcÖ then oneís Iítikaf will be correct with the performance of this type of fast.

5. Permission: One must have the permission of the person whom he needs to gain permission from to carry out this act (guardian, husband, etcÖ) to ensure the correctness of the Iítikaf.

6. Place: One must stay inside the Masjid for the entire period for his Iítikaf to be correct (the rules of this will be explained in more detail laterÖ)

Time Period (Length) of the Iítikaf
The person performing Iítikaf must stay in this state for a minimum of three complete days from sunrise of the first day until the sunset of the third day (for example if he starts Iítikaf on Monday at Fajr time, he must complete it until Thursday at Maghrib time). The first two days of Iítikaf are recommended and if a person wishes, he may leave after this period and end his Iítikaf, however if he completes two full days of Iítikaf in the Masjid (until the Maghrib of the second day), then it becomes obligatory upon him to continue his fast on the third day and to stay in the Masjid for the remaining period of his Iítikaf Ė meaning till the time of Maghrib of the third day.

Similarly, if a person goes into Iítikaf for 5 days, the 6th day becomes obligatory; and if he goes into Iítikaf for 8 days then the 9th day becomes obligatory and so onÖ

Thus, Iítikaf is for 3 full days and 2 nights which are in between these days and this period must be maintained. In this ruling, just as that of the daily Salat, the meaning of three complete days means three periods of Fajr to Maghrib.
Time of Iítikaf

Anytime in which fasting is permissible is an opportune time for Iítikaf and the state of Iítikaf does not have a specific time related to it. Of course the ďWhite DaysĒ which are the 13th, 14th and 15th of the lunar month and the last ten days of the Month of Ramadhan are the best times for this spiritual exercise. Therefore, one can not make Iítikaf on the day of `Eid since it is forbidden to fast on that day and similarly, he can not start Iítikaf two days before `Eid.

It has been mentioned that the Prophet of Islam (blessings of Allah be upon him and his family) used to perform Iítikaf in the Month of Ramadhan in the first 10 days (three days), the second 10 days (three days) and then in the last ten days (three days) as well.

Permission of the Guardian

As mentioned previously in passing, Iítikaf performed without the permission of his guardian or any person whose rights would be taken away if the person was to go in a state of Iítikaf is not correct. Thus, it is for this reason that the wife must also take her husbandís permission if her Iítikaf would infringe on marital rights with his wife. Similarly, if oneís parents are not happy or are concerned for their son or daughter and do not permit him to make Iítikaf, then the child is not permitted to go forth for this (recommended) act of worship.

The Intention (Niyyah) for Iítikaf

The intention for Iítikaf is of three main types. The most common form is the recommended Iítikaf, however it can also become obligatory (wajib) if a person makes an oath or promise to Allah ( for the fulfillment of something (and in that oath he had promised Allah (that he would perform Iítikaf if his prayer is fulfilled). The third intention which can be made for Iítikaf is that it is being done on behalf of someone else Ė similar to how people perform Hajj for their deceased relatives or make up missed prayers of parents who have passed away or otheres. Therefore, it is necessary for the correctness of Iítikaf to specify the intention and the type that one wants to perform.

Time and Place of the Intention of the Iítikaf and the Place of Iítikaf

The intention must be made from the beginning of the time of Fajr on the first day and it is not permissible to delay it until the end of the time of Fajr (just before sunrise), however if just before the rising of the sun of Fajr, one makes his intention, this will still be sufficient. At the time of making intention for Iítikaf, the person must be inside the Masjid in which he/she wishes to perform Iítikaf, however if at the beginning time of Fajr he leaves to redo his Wu§h£ or for another important task, then he is still able to do his intention (upon returning).

The place of Iítikaf must be the Masjid and therefore, performing Iítikaf in any place other than a Masjid such as a room or hall used for salat a Musalla (specific building which is made only for Jam°`at Salat and other places like this (which are not proper Masajid) is not correct.

The preferential order of where Iítikaf should be performed is: Masjidul Haram, Masjid an-Nabi (blessings of Allah be upon him and his family), Masjid Kufa and then the Masjid of Basrah Ė after these, then any other ďCentralĒ and ďCongregationalĒ Masjid is permissible to perform the Iítikaf in.

By stating this, it clearly means that in places like the traditonal Hussainiyah or Imambargah and other places such as this, it is not correct to perform the Iítikaf Ė this act is limited to the four mentioned Masajid and then the Central Masjid of a city.

Based on this ruling, although the scholars permit Iítikaf in these other buildings (which are not proper Mas°jid), however the specific rulings of Iítikaf would not hold in other such venues. If one was to perform Iítikaf in any place other than the ďCentral MasjidĒ then he would need to do so with the intention that this act would bring him closer to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) and that he is hoping for a reward in this act (of being done outside of a proper Masjid as per the Islamic legislations). Therefore, if there are three or four Masajid in one city, since they are not of the four Masajid in which Iítikaf can be performed in (with that special intention), the people may use all of them for the program of Iítikaf.

The meaning of the Central or Congregational Masjid is that which a majority of the people frequent (other than this Masjid would be those referred to with names such as the Masjid of the Bazar, the Masjid of a School, the Masjid inside a factory, etcÖ) and it is not permissible to perform the Iítikaf in these places.

The courtyards and entrances of the Masjid are not considered as a part of the Masjid except in the case that they are recognized and known (by others) to be an actual part of the Masjid. If a person doubts if the place in which he is, is actually a Masjid or not, then according to the rules, he is not permitted to perform Iítikaf there until he ascertains and has certainty that the place where he is truly is a part of the Masjid.

Prohibited Acts During Iítikaf

The prohibited accts during the state of Iítikaf include:

1. Applying perfume and smelling perfume with the intention of deriving pleasure. This act makes Iítikaf null and void and is also a sin.

2. Discussions and arguments both in relation to the world and the faith. This means that a person argues with another to prove that he is better or smarter or that he knows more, etcÖ However, if a person must argue or debate to uphold the truth and destroy falsehood, it is permissible - rather this is the best form of worship and servitude to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) during this noble state.

3. Buying and selling anything.

4. Deriving pleasure from the opposite sex in any way Ė holding hands, hugging, kissing, etcÖ is completely forbidden in the state of Iítikaf.

If any of these things are performed, oneís Iítikaf becomes void and in certain cases a Kaffarah or penitence must be paid out (which will be discussed below).

NOTE:

Seeing as how the person in Iítikaf is also in a state of fasting, all of those things which make the fast void must not be performed which include: eating, drinking, sexual intercourse, masturbation (which is a sin at all times), ascribing lies to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him), the Noble Prophet (blessings of Allah be upon him and his family) or the Aíimmah (prayers be upon all of them), swallowing thick dust (and smoking as an extension), immersing oneís head in water (such as in a swimming pool), remaining in a state of ritual impurity until the time of Fajr, and vomiting. If any of these are done, then one must make up the fast in those ways mentioned in the books of Legal Rulings.

In addition, the rights of others who are in the Msajid must also be observed. The respect and honor of the Masjid must be observed and one should try to stay in a state of Wudhu the entire period.

Also, the cleanliness of the Masjid must also be maintained.

Those in this state should also try and keep away from talking about issues of the transient world (talking about anything other than Allah) are some of the things which have been mentioned in the books which highlight the spiritual traits of this state.

Leaving the Masjid During the Period of Iítikaf

It is not permissible to leave the Masjid during the state of Iítikaf except for a reason and necessity which would (a) be a logical and reasonable excuse; (b) be deemed so according to the general population and (c) the religious rules of Islam dictate. Thus, in the following examples, it would be permitted to leave the Masjid while in the state of Iítikaf: going to a doctor in cases of emergency, going to the bathroom (as these are logical reasons), visiting someone who is very sick and taking part in the burial rites of a person IF the person who has passed away was a close relation to the person performing Iítikaf (which would be a necessity deemed so by the general consensus and population), or to perform a Ghusl (if needed) or to do Wudhu (which are necessities which the religion dictates).

Leaving the Masjid for classes (school) or for study sessions with a study partner or for TablĘgh and propagation of the faith and other things such as this is not permissible as they do not fall into any of the three categories mentioned above (since when a person makes the intention to perform Iítikaf he has also taken into consideration that he will not be attending school and has made the necessary arrangements before hand. Similarly, the one engaged in Iítikaf knows from before hand that if his Ďfield of workí is TablĘgh, that he would be disconnecting himself from that Ďjobí for this period).

If a person performs his Iítikaf in a place in which another person was already in Iítikaf (but had left for a brief moment) however he has left his prayer mat or other signs that he was coming back to that spot, then the second person must leave that area, otherwise he would be considered as a usurper of that piece of land where he is performing his Iítikaf. His Iítikaf would be correct if he continues to stay there however he would have committed a sin.

If a person in Iítikaf has a wet dream and needs to perform a Ghusl, however it is not possible to do this in the Masjid (or its compound), it is obviously obligatory upon him to leave the Masjid and his Iítikaf will be considered null and void. The same rule applies to sisters who are not able to stay inside the Masjid due to their monthly cycle since they are not permitted to stay inside a Masjid, they too must immediately leave the Masjid and for them too, their Iítikaf is null and void.

According to obligatory precaution, if a person leaves the Masjid for a necessity, he must choose the shortest and closest route to leave and return by and it is obligatory that he does not keep himself out of the Masjid for more than the needed time period. It is also obligatory that he does not sit underneath an area which shades him. Rather, according to precaution, it is not permitted for him to sit outside of the Masjid except for cases of necessity.

If the person performing Iítikaf leaves the Masjid in order to complete a necessity upon him, and the time period which he leaves the Masjid for is a very long one such as that people would doubt or not consider him being in a state of Iítikaf, then his Iítikaf would be null and void.

Penitence for Breaking the Rules of the Iítikaf
In some instances, if a person does one of the things which breaks his state of Iítikaf, he must offer a penitence. Some examples of this are mentioned as follows:

1. If a person has sexual relations during the period of Iítikaf and Iítikaf was wajib for him to perform (due to a promise, oath, etcÖ which he made), then he must make up the Iítikaf by performing it properly at a later date.

2. If a person performs one of the other things which makes Iítikaf void and his Iítikaf was obligatory (due to a promise, oath, etcÖ which he made), then he must finish the time remaining of Iítikaf and redo it later on.

3. If Iítikaf was not obligatory and if a person does something on the first day of Iítikaf then he must immediately come out of this state, however if it is on the third day then he must finish the period remaining.

4. If a person performs one of the other things which makes Iítikaf void and his Iítikaf was a recommended one and this happens after the second day, then he must redo the Iítikaf later on, however if it is before the end of the second day, then he has no responsibility on him to redo it.
Frequently Asked Questions on Iítikaf:

1. There is a close relationship to Iítikaf and the ihram for Hajj. As was seen, there are certain things forbidden while in the ihram of Hajj which are also forbidden for the one in the state of Iítikaf. This point should be kept in mind especially in the spiritual aspect of this great act of worship.

2. The intention for this act should be pronounced verbally just so one is focused on this act and whom he is doing it for. Some scholars have even stated that the intention should be renewed every day.

3. Although it is discouraged to sleep in a Masjid according to the verdict of the scholars, there are Ďexceptions to this ruleí Ė one being in the state of Iítikaf as this itself is an act of worship which has been legislated by Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) to be performed only in a Masjid. To sleep at other times is discouraged.

4. A person can change his clothes during the period of Iítikaf if the need arises (they become dirty, najis, etcÖ) and there is no problem in this, however to take a bath, especially with soap which may be perfumed (done with the intention of clinging to the transient world) must be avoided Ė except in the case of necessity where one must take a bath.

5. People can come and visit the Masjid during the period of Iítikaf and there is even no problem if friends or family come to bring the person in Iítikaf food, drink (to break his fast with) or things which they may need and are a dire necessity during this three day period.

6. Food is usually prepared by the community members or the leaders of the Masjid for those in the state of Iítikaf as the people in Iítikaf are not permitted to leave the Masjid (except for the conditions previously stated). The person who plans to enter this spiritual retreat can also bring things with him when he begins his three day sojourn if he so desires.

7. In regards to the breaking of the fast and eating before the fast starts, one can not leave the Masjid to procure this. Therefore, he should have either brought things with him or the Masjid organizers should be so kind so as to provide this to those in the state of worship for this three day period. If there is a kitchen in the Masjid, those in the worship of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) may use it to make their own food.

8. The three day period should be spent in contemplation of the faith of Islam, recitation of the Noble Quran and supplications and anything else which can draw a person closer to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him). If a person has missed prayers, he should try and make them up in this special period. If he has a clean slate of prayers, then he should try and recite the recommended prayers. Other than this, all other spiritual acts of nearness to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) should be maintained. However at the same time, one should not do things which keep him busy with the transient world that he has turned away from for these three days Ė meaning that reading things which would keep his mind busy with work, school, etcÖ should be refrained from. In addition, all other things which are commonly used to ďkill timeĒ should be completely left for this short three day period.

Öand all the praise belongs to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him)
for the help in the writing and translation of this work, only the mistakes are mine.

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Ruling 1719. Iítikāf is one of the recommended (mustahabb) ritual acts of worship (Ďibādāt) that becomes obligatory (wājib) by means of a vow (nadhr), covenant (Ďahd), oath (qasam), or suchlike. A valid iítikāf is when one stays in a mosque with the intention of attaining proximity to Allah (qasd al-qurbah); and the recommended precaution (al-ihtiyāt al-mustahabb) is that the stay should take place with the intention of performing ritual acts of worship, such as prayers (salāh), and supplications (duíāís).

Ruling 1720. There is no particular time for performing iítikāf; rather, whenever it is correct to keep a fast (sawm) during the year, performing iítikāf at that time is also correct. The best time for performing iítikāf is the blessed month of Ramadan, more so during the last ten nights of Ramadan.

Ruling 1721. The minimum length of time for iítikāf is two nights and three days; less than that is not correct (sahih). There is no maximum limit. There is no problem in including the first or the fourth night in the intention of iítikāf. If a person is a muítakif [the term given to someone who is performing iítikāf ] for five full days, he must also be a muítakif on the sixth day.

Ruling 1722. The starting time for iítikāf is the time of morning (subh) prayers on the first day, and, based on obligatory precaution (al-ihtiyāt al-wājib), the finishing time for iítikāf is the time of sunset (maghrib) prayers on the third day. For a valid iítikāf to take place, a period of time equivalent to three days will not suffice; i.e. one cannot be a muítakif after the time of subh prayers on the first day [and stay in the mosque until the same time on the fourth day] even if he compensates the time lost from the first day on the fourth day; for example, he stays in the mosque from the time of afternoon prayers (zuhr) of the first day until the time of afternoon prayers on the fourth day.

CONDITIONS FOR THE VALIDITY OF IíTIKĀF

Ruling 1723. The following are the conditions for a valid iítikāf.

i. The muítakif must be a Muslim.

ii. The muítakif must be sane (Ďāqil).

iii. Iítikāf must be performed with the intention of attaining proximity to Allah.

Ruling 1724. A muítakif must have the intention of attaining proximity to Allah in the same manner that was mentioned with regard to ablution (wudūí),1 and iítikāf must be performed from start to finish with a sincere intention to attain proximity to Allah.

iv. The duration of the iítikāf must be a minimum of three days.

Ruling 1725. The minimum duration of iítikāf is three days; less than three days is incorrect. However, there is no maximum limit, as mentioned in Ruling 1721.

v. A muítakif must fast during the days of iítikāf.

Ruling 1726. A muítakif must fast during the days of iítikāf. Therefore, iítikāf performed by someone who cannot [legally] fast [during those days] Ė such as a traveller who does not intend to stay for ten days, a sick person, a woman in menstruation (i.e. a hāíid) and a woman who is experiencing lochia (nifās) Ė is not correct. Furthermore, on the days of iítikāf, it is not necessary to fast especially for performing iítikāf; rather, it is acceptable for one to keep any fast during iítikāf, even a fast that one has been hired to keep (istījārī), or a recommended fast, or a lapsed (qadāí) fast.

Ruling 1727. While a muítakif is fasting Ė i.e. from the time of subh prayers until the time of maghrib prayers Ė everything that invalidates (i.e. makes bātil) a fast also invalidates iítikāf. Therefore, a muítakif must refrain from intentionally (Ďamdan) doing the things that invalidate a fast.2

vi. Iítikāf must be performed in one of Ďthe four mosquesí or in a jāmií mosque.

Ruling 1728. It is correct to perform iítikāf in Masjid al-Harām, Masjid al-Nabī (S), Masjid al-Kūfah, and Masjid al-Basrah. Similarly, it is correct to perform iítikāf in the jāmií mosque of every town, except when the religious leadership (imāmah) of that mosque is in the hands of a person who is not just (Ďādil), in which case, based on obligatory precaution, iítikāf is not correct. A jāmií mosque is one that is not particular to people of a specific locality or area, nor to a specific group; rather, it is a place where people of different areas and localities of the town gather and frequent. The legality (mashrūíiyyah) of iítikāf performed in any mosque other than a jāmií mosque is not established; however, there is no problem in performing iítikāf in other mosques with the intention of there being a probability of it being a desirable act. As for performing iítikāf in a place that is not a mosque Ė for example, in a place that is a husayniyyah3 or only a prayer room Ė it is not correct and has no legal basis.

vii. Iítikāf must take place in one mosque.

Ruling 1729. It is necessary that iítikāf be performed in one mosque. Therefore, one iítikāf cannot be performed in two mosques, whether they are separate from each other or joined together, unless they are joined together in a manner that they are commonly considered to be one mosque.

viii. Iítikāf must be performed with the permission of one whose permission is legally (sharían) required.

Ruling 1730. Iítikāf must be performed with the permission of one whose permission is legally required. Therefore, if a womanís staying in a mosque is unlawful (harām) Ė for example, because she has left her house without the permission of her husband Ė her iítikāf is invalid; and in case a womanís staying in a mosque is not unlawful but performing iítikāf conflicts with her husbandís rights, the validity of her iítikāf Ė if performed without her husbandís permission Ė is problematic (mahall al-ishkāl) [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, it is not valid].4 Similarly, if iítikāf disturbs and annoys oneís parents due to their compassion and sympathy for him, it is necessary for him to obtain their permission; and if it does not annoy them, the recommended precaution is that he should still obtain their permission.

ix. A muítakif must refrain from doing the unlawful acts of iítikāf.

Ruling 1731. Someone who is performing iítikāf must refrain from doing the unlawful acts of iítikāf, which are as follows:

1. using fragrance;

2. having sexual intercourse with oneís spouse;

3. masturbating, having sexual contact with oneís spouse by means of touching, and lustfully kissing (based on obligatory precaution);

4. altercating (mumārah) and disputing (mujādalah) with others;

5. conducting a transaction.

Doing these things invalidates oneís iítikāf. In the case of an iítikāf that is not an assigned obligation (i.e. it is not al-wājib al-muíayyan),5 the obligation to refrain from these things Ė apart from having sexual intercourse Ė is based on obligatory precaution.6

Ruling 1732. It is not permitted (jāíiz) for a muítakif to smell perfumes in any circumstance Ė whether he derives pleasure from smelling them or not Ė and neither is it permitted for him to smell fragrant plants and flowers if he derives pleasure from doing so; however, there is no problem if he does not derive pleasure from smelling them. Similarly, a muítakif can use perfumed personal cleansing products, such as liquid soap or a bar of soap, shampoo, and toothpaste that has a pleasant smell. It is not permitted, however, to smell the perfume that people who are not performing iítikāf usually apply when they come to mosques, but, apparently, merely having a sense of the fragrant smell is not a problem, nor is it necessary for one to hold his nose.

Ruling 1733. While one is performing iítikāf, it is not permitted for him to have sexual intercourse with his spouse Ė even if it does not result in ejaculation Ė and doing so intentionally invalidates iítikāf.

Ruling 1734. Based on an obligatory precaution, a muítakif must not intend to ejaculate (even by lawful means), and he must refrain from having sexual contact with his spouse by means of touching, and he must also refrain from lustfully kissing her. Looking lustfully at oneís spouse during iítikāf does not invalidate oneís iítikāf, but the recommended precaution is that one should refrain from doing so.

Ruling 1735. Disputing about worldly or religious matters while one is performing iítikāf is unlawful if it is done with the intention of defeating the other person or showing off oneís virtues and superiority. However, if it is done with the intention of making evident what is right, clarifying what is true, and resolving an error or mistake made by the other side, not only is it not unlawful but it is one of the best forms of worship. Therefore, the criterion [of whether such action is unlawful or not] is the intention of the muítakif.

Ruling 1736. Conducting transactions while one is performing iítikāf is unlawful; and based on obligatory precaution, any type of business transaction Ė such as hire (ijārah), silent partnership (mudārabah),7 exchange (muíāwadah) etc. is also unlawful, although the transaction that is conducted is valid.

Ruling 1737. Whenever a muítakif is compelled to conduct a transaction in order to procure food and drink or other necessary items, and he cannot find someone else who is not a muítakif to do this on his behalf by way of agency (wikālah), and it is not possible for him to procure the aforementioned items without conducting a transaction Ė for example, by way of receiving them as a gift or borrowing them Ė in such a case, there is no problem in him conducting a transaction.

Ruling 1738. If a muítakif intentionally commits an unlawful act of iítikāf despite knowing the religious law (al-hukm al-sharíī), his iítikāf becomes invalid.

Ruling 1739. If a muítakif inadvertently (sahwan) or forgetfully commits an unlawful act of iítikāf, it does not invalidate his iítikāf in any circumstance.

Ruling 1740. If a muítakif commits an unlawful act of iítikāf on account of not knowing the ruling about this, in the event that he was culpably ignorant (al-jāhil al-muqassir),8 his iítikāf becomes invalid; and if he was inculpably ignorant (al-jāhil al-qāsir), his iítikāf is valid and it will be ruled as inadvertence [which as mentioned in the previous ruling, does not invalidate oneís iítikāf in any circumstance].

Ruling 1741. If a muítakif invalidates his iítikāf by doing one of things that renders an iítikāf invalid Ė which were mentioned in the previous rulings (masāíil) Ė and if the iítikāf is an assigned obligation,9 then based on obligatory precaution, he must make up the iítikāf [i.e. he must perform it belatedly as qadāí]; and if the iítikāf is not an assigned obligation Ė for example, one makes a vow to perform iítikāf without assigning a time for it Ė it is obligatory that he starts the iítikāf all over again; and if it is a recommended iítikāf and one invalidates his iítikāf after the completion of the second day, then based on obligatory precaution, he must make up the iítikāf; and if one invalidates a recommended iítikāf before the completion of the second day, there is no obligation on him and he does not have to make it up.

x. A muítakif must remain in the place of iítikāf and must not leave it except in cases where leaving is legally permitted.

Ruling 1742. In cases where it is permitted for a muítakif to leave the mosque, he must not stay outside the mosque for longer than it is necessary for him to attend to the matter in question.

LEAVING THE PLACE OF IíTIKĀF

Ruling 1743. Leaving the place of iítikāf for necessary and unavoidable matters Ė such as going to the toilet Ė is permitted. Leaving the mosque in order to perform ritual bathing (ghusl) for ritual impurity (janābah) is also permitted; indeed, it is obligatory. Similarly, it is permitted for women to leave in order to perform the ghusl for irregular blood discharge (istihādah); and if a woman who is experiencing istihādah and who must perform ghusl does not do so, the validity of her iítikāf is not affected.

Ruling 1744. Leaving the place of iítikāf in order to perform ablution (wudūí) for an obligatory prayer within its prescribed time (adāí) is permitted, even if the time for the prayer has not yet set in; and leaving in order to perform wudūí for an obligatory qadāí prayer Ė in case there is ample time for performing it Ė is problematic [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, one must not leave in this case].

Ruling 1745. In the event that there are facilities for performing wudūí inside the mosque, a muítakif cannot leave the mosque in order to perform wudūí.

Ruling 1746. If it becomes obligatory on a muítakif to perform ghusl, in case the ghusl is one of the ghusls that is not permitted to be performed in a mosque Ė such as the ghusl for janābah, which would require staying in the mosque while in the state of janābah or would cause the mosque to become impure Ė he must leave; otherwise, his iítikāf becomes invalid; and in case there is no problem in performing ghusl in the mosque Ė such as the ghusl for touching a corpse (mass al-mayyit) Ė and it is possible to perform ghusl, then based on obligatory precaution, it is not permitted to leave the mosque.

Ruling 1747. Leaving the place of iítikāf in order to perform recommended ghusls Ė such as the Friday ghusl or the ghusl for performing the rituals (aímāl ) of Umm Dāwūd10 Ė and similarly, leaving in order to perform a recommended wudūí, is problematic [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, one must not leave in order to perform them]. Generally speaking, leaving a mosque for Ďsupererogatory mattersí (i.e. those that are religiously preferred to be done rather than not done) Ė excluding matters that are commonly considered to be necessary Ė is problematic, and precaution must be observed [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, one must not leave the mosque for Ďsupererogatory mattersí]. However, a muítakif can leave the place of iítikāf for the purposes of attending a funeral procession (tashyīí al-janāzah), preparing a corpse for ghusl, prayers, burial (dafn), and suchlike; [he can also leave for] visiting the sick and attending the Friday prayer (salāt al-jumuíah).

Ruling 1748. Based on obligatory precaution, it is not permitted for a muítakif to leave the mosque in order to attend congregational prayers (salāt al-jamāíah) that are being held outside the place of iítikāf unless one is a muítakif in the holy city of Mecca, in which case he can leave the mosque in order to perform congregational prayers or to perform prayers on his own ( furādā); furthermore, he can perform these prayers wherever in Mecca he wants.

Ruling 1749. A muítakif cannot leave the mosque in order to bring things that he needs if he can instruct someone who is not a muítakif to bring them for him.

Ruling 1750. A muítakif can leave the place of iítikāf in order to sit secondary school, university, or hawzah (Islamic seminary) examinations in the event that it is commonly considered to be necessary. However, he must not stay outside the mosque for a long time such that the form of the iítikāf is lost; up to two hours, for example, is no problem.

Ruling 1751. If a muítakif leaves the mosque in order to attend to some urgent matter but stays outside for a long time such that the form of his iítikāf is lost, his iítikāf is invalid even if he was compelled or forced to leave, or he left because of necessity or due to forgetfulness.

Ruling 1752. If a muítakif leaves the place of iítikāf Ė intentionally, of his own choice, and while knowing the religious law Ė for a matter that is not necessary, nor one for which a muítakif is permitted to leave, his iítikāf becomes invalid.

Ruling 1753. If a muítakif leaves the place of iítikāf Ė on account of not knowing the ruling (masíalah) and being ignorant of the religious law Ė for a matter that is not necessary, nor one for which a muítakif is permitted to leave, his iítikāf becomes invalid.

Ruling 1754. If a muítakif leaves the mosque due to forgetfulness, his iítikāf becomes invalid; and if a muítakif leaves the mosque because he was compelled or forced to leave, his iítikāf does not become invalid unless he stays outside for a long time such that the form of iítikāf is lost, in which case his iítikāf becomes invalid.

Ruling 1755. If it is obligatory for a muítakif to leave the place of iítikāf Ė for example, in order to pay a debt that is obligatory on him, and the time to repay it is due, and he has the ability to repay it, and the lender wants it to be repaid; or, in order to accomplish something else that is obligatory on him and which requires him to leave Ė in these cases, if he acts contrary to his duty and does not leave, he commits a sin but his iítikāf does not become invalid.

Ruling 1756. A muítakif must not stay outside the mosque for longer than is necessary; and while he is outside, if possible, he must not sit under a shade. However, there is no problem if he sits under a shade while he is outside in order to empty his bowels and/or bladder; and based on obligatory precaution, after he has emptied his bowels and/or bladder, he must not sit at all unless it is necessary for him to do so.

Ruling 1757. A muítakif can walk under a shade outside the mosque, although the recommended precaution is that he should avoid doing so.

Ruling 1758. Based on obligatory precaution, it is necessary for a muítakif to take the shortest route when he leaves the place of iítikāf or returns to it. However, if by using a longer route he would end up staying outside the mosque for a shorter time, he must choose that longer route [i.e. the route could be longer in distance but quicker to traverse due to it being, say, less busy].

MISCELLANEOUS RULINGS ON IíTIKĀF

Ruling 1759. When one makes the intention to perform an iítikāf that is not an assigned obligation,11 he can stipulate a condition from the outset that if a problem arises, he will leave the iítikāf.12 Therefore, by stipulating such a condition, one can leave the iítikāf if a problem arises, and there is no problem in doing so even on the third day. However, if a muítakif stipulates a condition that he will stop his iítikāf even if no particular reason arises, the validity of such a condition is problematic [i.e. based on obligatory precaution, it is not a valid condition]. It is worth mentioning that stipulating the aforementioned condition (i.e. the condition of leaving the iítikāf in the middle of it if a problem arises) before or after the iítikāf has started is not correct; rather, it must be stipulated at the time of making the intention to perform iítikāf.

Ruling 1760. A valid iítikāf is not conditional on one having reached the age of legal responsibility (bulūgh), and iítikāf performed by a child who is able to discern between right and wrong (mumayyiz) is also correct.

Ruling 1761. If a muítakif sits on a usurped (ghasbī) carpet and he is aware of the fact that it is usurped, he commits a sin but his iítikāf does not become invalid; and if someone gets to a place first and reserves it, and a muítakif takes his place without his consent, then although he commits a sin his iítikāf is valid.

Ruling 1762. If at the time of making the intention for an obligatory iítikāf one stipulates a condition of returning (i.e. a condition of leaving the iítikāf in the middle of it if a problem arises) Ė the details of which were mentioned in Ruling 1759 Ė in the event that he does something that is unlawful for one to do during iítikāf, it is not necessary for him to make up the iítikāf nor to start it all over again.

Ruling 1763. If a woman who is performing iítikāf becomes hāíid after the completion of the second day of iítikāf, it is obligatory on her to leave the mosque immediately; and based on obligatory precaution, it is necessary for her to make up the iítikāf, unless from the outset she had stipulated a condition of returning (i.e. a condition of leaving the iítikāf in the middle of it if a problem arises), the details of which were mentioned in Ruling 1759.

Ruling 1764. Performing an obligatory qadāí iítikāf is not an immediate obligation (al-wājib al-fawrī).13 However, making it up must not be delayed to such an extent that it would be regarded as being careless in accomplishing the obligation; and the recommended precaution is that it should be made up immediately.

Ruling 1765. If a muítakif dies in the middle of an iítikāf that has become obligatory on account of a vow, oath, covenant, or the passing of two days of iítikāf, it is not obligatory on his guardian (walī) (i.e. the eldest son) to make up the qadāí iítikāf, although the recommended precaution is that a qadāí iítikāf of a deceased person should be performed. Of course, in the event that a muítakif had stipulated in his will that, in such a case, someone must be hired from the one-third of his estate14 to perform iítikāf for him, then the deceased muítakif ís will must be followed.

Ruling 1766. If a muítakif intentionally invalidates his iítikāf by having sexual intercourse Ė be it during the day or at night Ė it is obligatory on him to give recompense (kaffārah). As for [intentionally invalidating oneís iítikāf by performing] other unlawful acts, there is no kaffārah, although the recommended precaution is that one should give kaffārah.

The kaffārah for invalidating an iítikāf is the same as the kaffārah for invalidating a fast of the month of Ramadan Ė i.e. one has the choice of either fasting for sixty days or feeding sixty poor people Ė although the recommended precaution is that one should observe the sequence in giving kaffārah, meaning that one should first fast for sixty days, and if he cannot, he should then feed sixty poor people.

Ruling 1767. It is not permitted to change from one iítikāf to another, whether both iítikāfs happen to be obligatory, like when a person has made one of them obligatory on account of a vow, and the other on account of an oath; or, both are recommended; or, one is obligatory and the other recommended; or, one is to be performed for himself and the other on behalf of someone else (niyābah) or he is being hired to perform it for someone else; or, both are to be performed on behalf of someone else.

 

See the sixth condition for the validity of wudūí and Ruling 281.

2 See Ruling 1551 for a list of the things that invalidate a fast.

3 A husayniyyah is a congregation hall for Shia ceremonies.

4 As mentioned in Ruling 6, the term Ďproblematicí (mahall al-ishkāl) amounts to saying the ruling is based on obligatory precaution.

5 An assigned obligation is an act of worship that must be performed at one distinct time. One way that an iítikāf could become an assigned obligation is by means of a vow.

6 This means that, with regard to an iítikāf that is not an assigned obligation, the obligation to refrain from having sexual intercourse is a fatwa, whereas the obligation to refrain from the other things is based on obligatory precaution (see Ruling 6 for the distinction between a fatwa and a ruling based on obligatory precaution). As for an iítikāf that is an assigned obligation, the obligation to refrain from those things is a fatwa, except for the third, which as stated in brackets in the ruling itself, is based on obligatory precaution.

7 This refers to a commercial association whereby an investor entrusts capital to an agent who trades with it and shares with the investor a pre-determined proportion of the profits.

8 The terms Ďculpably ignorantí and Ďinculpably ignorantí are explained in footnotes pertaining to Ruling 12.

9 See the first footnote pertaining to Ruling 1731 for an explanation of this term.

10 The rituals of Umm Dāwūd are a recommended set of acts of worship that are usually performed in the middle of the month of Rajab. See, for example, Shaykh ĎAbbās al-Qummīís Mafātīh al-Jinān, in the section on the recommended acts for Rajab.

11 See the first footnote pertaining to Ruling 1731 for an explanation of this term.

12 Such a condition is known as Ďa condition of returning (rujūí)í.

13 This is an obligation that must be performed as soon as it possible to do so, and delaying its performance is not permitted.

14 This refers to the maximum amount of oneís estate over which he has discretion in a will for it to be disposed of in accordance with his wishes after his death.