Many people perform I?tikaaf and a large portion of the Masjid is reserved for erecting cubicles, thus, the Salaat area becomes congested. Kindly explain to us whether erecting cubicles for I?tikaaf is in fact necessary.
The purpose of I?tikaaf is to be in isolation in order to maximize one’s time in the Ibaadat of Allah Ta’ala. Therefore, the I?tikaaf tent (cubicle) for a Mu?takif (person sitting in I?tikaaf) is conducive to the spirit of I?tikaaf.
Hadhrat Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anha) narrates that, ?When Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Akayhi Wasallam) intended to sit in I?tikaaf, he used to perform Fajr Salaat and thereafter enter his place of I?tikaaf.? (Mishkaat pg.183)
According to Mulla Ali Qari (Rahmatullaah Alayhi), the place of I?tikaaf is explained as follows: Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to be in the Masjid at a place away from the sight of the people. It has been stated that he made a room (cubicle) from straw mats.? (Mirqaat vol.4 pg.329)
Therefore, to erect I?tikaaf tents (cubicles) is desirable. However, should a situation arise that due to many people sitting in I?tikaaf and erecting cubicles for each person causes congestion then some means should be adopted to alleviate the problem of space. Should the authorities decide to cordon off a certain area for people to make I?tikaaf there without erecting cubicles, then it will be permissible to do so.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best.
Mufti Ebrahim Desai