Retreat (Al-I’etikaaf)


Retreat (Al-I’etikaaf)

I’etikaaf is from the root word “Akafa” to adhere, cling, stick or keep. It means to engage and to devote something, to a thing,
be it good or bad. Allah (SWT) states in Al-Qu’ran:

“…What are these images to which ye are (so as-
siduously) devoted?”

(Al-Qu’ran 21:52)

In Shari’ah it means to engage in a #retreat in the #Masjid and stay there with the intention of seeking nearness to #Allah the Almighty, and His reward.

Its Legalization

The majority of #Muslim scholars agree that I’#etikaaf is permis-sible, for the Messenger of Allah (saas) observed I’etikaaf in the Month of Ramadan during the last ten days.

In his last #Ramadan he observed it 20 days, as is related by #Bukhari and others. Besides, his companions and wives observed it during his lifetime and after.

I’etikaaf can be either Sunnah or obligatory, wajib.

The Sunnah I’etikaaf is when a Muslim volunteers to seek nearness to Al-lah, and to imitate the #Messenger by observing this kind of ‘ebadah, and the Sunnah is meritorious in the last ten days of Ramadan.

The obligatory I’etikaaf is the one when a believer makes it obligatory on himself, by invoking a conditional vow, such as saying: I am vowing in the Name of Allah to engage in retreat; or if Allah cures my sick relative, I will engage in I’etikaaf In Bukhari, the Messenger of Allah (saas) said:

“Whoever vowed to obey Allah, should obey him.”

In the same hadith, Umar (ra) told the Messenger (saas),

“I vowed to engage in a night retreat in the Sacred Mas-jid, and the Messenger responded, “Fulfil your vow.”


Time of Retreat

The mandatory retreat can be observed according to the vow of the vower. If he vowed to retreat a day or more, it becomes necessary for him to fulfil it. But voluntary retreat has no time limit.

It may be done by staying in the masjid with the intention of I’etikaaf for short or long periods of time, and the person will be rewarded so far as he remains in the masjid. If he leaves the masjid and returns, he should restate his niyah (intention).

The one who is in retreat may cut off his I’etikaaf, when he feels like it, before the time that he had intended. ‘Aishah (ra), the Messenger’s wife, said:

“Whenever the Messenger intends to engage in retreat he will pray his Fajr, then he begins his I’etikaaf.”

She continued,

“One day the Messenger intended to engage in retreat the last ten days of Ramadan, and he ordered his pouch to be built.

When I saw that, I asked for my own tent to be built, and the rest of his wives asked for the same thing.

After Fajr prayer, he looked at the tents, ‘What do you intend with this righteousness?’ So he asked his tent and his wives to be removed, then he delayed his I’etikaaf to the first ten days of Shawwal.” (Bukhari)

This report is an indication that it is permissible to disengage from the retreat after starting.

The Prerequisites of Retreat

For a retreat to be valid, the observer must be Muslim, must have reached puberty, and must be pure from janabah, (major defilement, menstruation, and post-childbirth bleeding). People who are impure cannot engage in I’etikaaf.

The Pillars of Al I’etikaaf

There are two pillars for I’etikaaf: intention, and staying in the Masjid. Niyyah or intention has been discussed earlier, but re-garding staying in the masjid, Allah states:

“…But do not associate with your wives while you are in retreat in the masajid…”

(Al-Qu’ran 2:187)

This verse prohibits two things: marital relationships during I’etikaf because this contradicts the spirit of devotion, and ob-serving I’etikaf in any place but a masjid.

Thus, any believer man or woman who desires to observe I’etikaaf may do so only in a masjid as we see the Messenger’s wives were building their tents in the masjid.

Masjid In Which I’etikaaf Can Be Held.

Some scholars are of the opinion that any masjid in which the five daily prayers are observed can be used for retreat, but this opinion is based on a weak hadith.

Imams Malik and Shafi’e and others said I’etikaaf is permissible in any masjid because the verse is general, and did not single out or specify any par-ticular masjid.

The retreater can not leave the masjid, but he can leave his tent to join the congregational prayer, and clime the minaret for ad-han. But, if he steps out of the masjid the retreat is invalid.

The majority of scholars said if the masjid is in a house – such as a room in a house turned into a masjid, it cannot be used as a place for I’etikaaf ‘because it does not have the name “masjid,”

and it may be sold; whereas, you can not sell a masjid, (unless it is to be sold in order to build a new one on the same spot, or move it somewhere else).

Vowing I’etikaaf in a Special Masjid

Whoever vows to engage in I’etikaaf ‘in the Masjid Al-Haram, the Messenger’s Masjid, or Masjid Al-Aqsa, he should make it in the masjid that he intended.

But if he vows to engage in re-treat in any masjid, he can Fetikaaf in any masjid anywhere because no masjid, (except the three mentioned above), is bet-ter than another masjid.

If he vowed to engage in retreat in Masjid An-Nabawi he can do it in Masjid Al-Haram, because the latter is better in merit than the former.

Fasting In Retreat

If the retreater fasts, it is good, if not the retreat is still valid.

In a hadith reported earlier ‘Umar told the Messenger that he had vowed to observe retreat one night during the pre-Islamic (Ja-hiliyah) period the Masjid Al-Haraam.

The Messenger re-sponded “Fulfil your vow.” In the hadith, there is an indication that fasting is not necessary for I’etikaaf because ‘Umar (ra) vowed I’etikaaf at night and the Prophet told him to fulfil his vow and there is no fasting at night.

The Beginning And Ending Time Of I’etikaaf 

There is no specific time for beginning or ending Fetikaaf Whenever one enters into the masjid with niyyah, he begins his retreat.

If he intends to engage in Fetikaaf the last ten days of Ramadan, he should prepare his tent before sunset. In a hadith related by Abu Sa’ed, the

Messenger of Allah said:

“Whoever intends to retreat with me should retreat during the last ten nights (of Ramadan).” (Al-Bukhari)

The first night of the ten is the night of the 21 st of Ramadan because in Islam the days begin at sunset.

However, the reports that said the Messenger (saas) entered his Fetikaaf place after Fajr prayer do not mean he started after Fajr, they mean he re-turned to his place of Fetikaaf at that time.

If Fetikaaf is for the last ten days of Ramadan, the observer should leave after sunset the last day of the month, but it is pre-ferred that he remain in the masjid and should not leave it until the time of “Eid.

If a person intends to engage in Fetikaaf for a day, or several days, as voluntary Fetikaaf he will enter into his place of Fetikaaf before the break of dawn and will leave after sunset, whether it is in Ramadan or not.

If a person in-tends to engage in Fetikaaf for a night or two as a voluntary act, he should enter before sunset and leave after the break of

The reason is the night begins with the sunset and completes with the break of dawn, and the day begins with the break of dawn and completes with sunset.

If a believer intends to en-gage in Fetikaaf for a month he should enter the first night of the month before sunset and leave after sunset when the monthfinishes.

What A Retreater Should Engage In

It is recommended that the retreater should engage in supere-rogatory worship, and engage himself with prayer, recitation of Al-Qu’ran, Glorification of Allah, Praising Allah, frequent dec-laration of Kalimat, Fakbeer, seeking forgiveness from Allah,

invoking Allah’s blessing on the Messenger of Allah, and sup-plications, as well as any act of worship that will bring the ser-vant nearer to Allah.

Included in these acts of worship is study-ing the books of Tafseer, hadith, the life history of the Proph-ets, as well as any books on fiqh and religion.

He should build a retreat (store his provisions) in the corner of the masjid where he or she will not disturb the regular worshippers.

He should not concern himself with what does not concern him, which is the best way to seek nearness to Allah.

In a hadith reported by Ibn Abbas (raa), the Messenger of Allah (saas), was delivering a sermon, khutbah, and a man stood up but would not talk. A companion said,

“This is Abu Israel. He vowed to not stand, nor sit, nor seek shade, nor speak, but fast.

” The Messenger (saas) said, “Command him to speak and seek shade, to sit and complete his fast!’ (Bukhari, Ibn Majah and Abu Dawuud)

In a related report the Messenger of Allah (saas) stated:

“No person can be called orphan after puberty; and no person should remain silent all day and night.” (Abu Dawuud)

What ss Permitted of the Retreater

He may leave the retreat and go out to bid farewell to his fam-ily. Safiyah (raa) said:

“The Messenger of Allah (saas) was in his retreat, so I came to visit him at night.

I spoke to him, and when I was leaving he stood to bid me farewell.

When we reached the door to open it and they quietly passed and greeted the Messenger (saas) then the Messenger told them:

‘Slowly, you don’t need to run, she is Safiyah bint Huyayy, (my wife; don’t think I am walking with an-other sister)’ they said in surprise: ‘Glory be to Allah, O Messenger of Allah!’ (for they were baffled for what he said to them.)

The Messenger said ‘The Satan circulates in the human system the same way the blood circulates, so I was afraid that Satan might throw or whisper (ill thoughts) in your heart’ ” (Bukhari/Muslim)

The Prophet, (saas) left his retreat. Thus it is permissible to leave.

It is permitted to comb one’s hair, shave, trim the nails, clean the body, wear one’s best clothes and use perfume.

In a report by ‘Aishah (raa), she said:

“The Messenger used to be in I’eiikaaf and he would put his head through the window and I would wash it for him, while I was in my menstruation.” (Muslim/Bukhari)

It is permitted for him to leave the masjid to take care of es-sential things.

The scholars agreed that the retreater is permit-ted to leave to eat and drink and to use the toilet, also to leave the masjid to purify the body from janabah and to clean the clothes.

It is permitted to eat and drink and sleep in the masjid, but extreme care should be taken to safeguard the cleanliness of the Masjid.

The person may be a party to weddings and some legal contracts taking place in the masjid during the I’etikaaf.

Things That Invalidate Al-Tetikaaf

Exiting from the masjid without any good reason, even if it is for a moment, because that is one of its pillars.

Apostasy (riddah) for it contradicts ^ebadah. Allah (SWT),

“But it has already been revealed to thee as it was to those before thee,- if thou were to join gods with Allah, truly fruitless will be thy work (in life) and thou will surely be in the ranks of those who lose (all spiritual good)”

(Al-Qur an,39:65)

Insanity due to madness, drugs or intoxicants, for sanity is prerequisite in all forms of worship.

Menstruation (hayd) and post-childbirth bleeding (nifaas).

Martial relations. Allah states:

“…But do not associate with wives while you are in retreat in the masaajid.”

(Al-Qur’an, 2: 187)

Nothing is wrong with touching one’s spouse provided it is free from passion.

This does not include kissing. If one kisses or touches his spouse with passion, he or she has done wrong, for it contradicts the spirit of I’etikaaf, but the I’etikaaf is valid pro-vided he does not discharge semen. That is according to Imams Abu Hanifah and Ahmed.

Imam Malik, on the other hand, said in this instance, the I’etikaaf becomes invalid because this is illegal association, even without discharge of semen.

The reason for the difference of opinion is the interpretation of the word “association” (mubasharah).

Originally baashara means to touch, scrape off; or to have sexual intercourse.

The point here is an usuulul Fiqh, Islamic legal theory, question.

That is, does the word that implies both 

actual and metaphorical have a general implication, aam, or not? Those who say it has a general implication, aam, say mubasharah in the above verse means actual marital inter-course and any association that is less than intercourse.

who say it does not have a general implication say mubasharah here means only sexual relations. Allahu ‘Alam.

Redemption of I’etikaaf

Whoever starts I’etikaaf voluntarily and then breaks it is rec-ommended to redeem it.

But if he vows a day, or two, then starts and then invalidates it, he must redeem it whenever he is able, according to the majority of the scholars.

If he died before
making it up redemption is not necessary, however, Imam Ah-med said: “His next of kin should redeem it for him.”

Essentials of Ramadan The Month of Fasting