Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi 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:
The majority of scholars see that itikaf should begin before the sun sets on Ramadan 20. This way, both the day of Ramadan 21st and the night preceding it (which is counted as part of Ramadan 21st) will be included in the Itikaf.
Yet, other scholars see that it should begin with the beginning of the day, i.e. with the Fajr Prayer of Ramadan 21st.
Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Salih Al-`Uthaymeen said in Fatawa al-Siyam:
The majority of scholars are of the view that itikaf should begin on the night preceding Ramadan 21, not from the Fajr of the twenty-first. (Editor’s note: i.e. since the Maghrib on Ramadan 20th — In Islam, the night is part of the next day).
However, some of the scholars are of the view that itikaf should begin from the Fajr of the twenty-first, based on the hadith of Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that was narrated by Al-Bukhari: “When he had prayed Fajr, he entered his place of itikaf”.
But the majority of scholars responded by stating that the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) withdrew from people in the morning, but the intention to observe itikaf was formed at the beginning of the [previous] night, because the last ten nights start when the sun sets on the twentieth.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.