It is permissible for women to do I’tikaf in the mosque —provided they have special arrangements for them to do so. Most of the mosques in the city, however, do not have adequate facilities for women. Sadly enough we find women often being relegated to a dark room or crowded corner, which is indeed a disgrace to womanhood. It is undoubtedly against the teachings of our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him, as he always ordered us to treat them with respect and dignity.
So until proper arrangements are made for women to observe the Sunnah of itikaf in the mosque, it is best that they do it in their own homes. For as scholars and jurists such as Imam Abu Hanifah have ruled women may perform the Sunnah of itikaf in their own musalla (Prayer-place) at home.
Women, however, need not despair; they may do well to recall an important point raised by Imam Shah Waliullah in his study of the philosophy of Shari’ah. He says,
“The Shari`ah is based on a fine principle of compensation which allows a person who cannot do a certain act of worship to reap the same rewards by doing what he or she can possibly do according to his/her circumstances or means. This is because of the fact that the Shari`ah is based on the infinite mercy of Allah who dispenses His graces freely to all of His servants.”
Almighty Allah knows best.
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