Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Shedding more light on this issue, we’d like to cite for you the following fatwa issued by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America:
Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan in the Masjid (mosque) is a beautiful tradition of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). It is like a spiritual retreat. It is reported by `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to observe itikaf during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and he continued this practice until his death. After him, his wives carried on this practice of observing itikaf regularly. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
It is recommended that every Muslim make at least one itikaf in his/ her life. There must be at least few people in every community who should do it in every Masjid every year to keep this tradition alive. Men should do itikaf in the Masjid so that they can pray in jama`ah (congregation) and also offer the Friday prayers.
Women can make i`tikaf just as men can. It is reported that the Prophet’s wives (may Allah be pleased with them) performed i`tikaf even after the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had passed away (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
There is a great blessing in itikaf and people who do it bring blessings upon themselves, upon their families, and upon the Muslim community at large.
The Sunnah of itikaf is that one make the intention and begin itikaf on the evening of the 20th of Ramadan from sunset time and continue until the sighting of the moon for `Ed al-Fitr. During itikaf men should stay in the Masjid day and night and should not leave it except for the use of toilet or shower. They are allowed to eat also inside the Masjid, but if it is not convenient they may go outside and come back as soon as they finish.
During itikaf, one should spend most of one’s time in prayer, reading the Qur’an, dhikr, and reflection. Engaging in business and other worldly conversation and activities is not allowed during itikaf. However, attending a janazah (Funeral) or visiting a sick person or leaving for any emergency is permissible.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
Source: Excerpted, with slight modifications, from www.pakistanlink.com