RE: I’tikaf: Spiritual Retreat for Women at Home?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In relation to the below – I am hearing from some brothers that women cannot even go into the kitchen (?!) but must solely remain in that specific room until the period of ‘itikaf is over. Please can you mention what can and cannot be done for a woman while she is in ‘itikaf in her own home.

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam,

The i`tikaf needs to be in a specific place (e.g. a quiet room), which the woman should designate as her place of worship (musalla) not in her house. [See article below.]

The full communal sunna i`tikaf is for the entire ten days (in the mosque, for men). This is not expected of those working or housewives, for that matter. Rather, the fiqh principle that, If something cannot be done completely, it should not be left completely.

Thus, whenever free of pressing responsibilities, women should go to their place of worship, intending i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), even if only for a short amount of time, and keep themselves busy as much as possible in worship.

When she has to do something important, such as go to the kitchen or go shopping or visit a sick neighbor, she can leave her i`tikaf and return when able.

Such an i`tikaf is valid (and recommended) even outside Ramadan for women. In fact, it is best for them to intend i`tikaf every time they enter their place of worship (musalla) even for their daily prayers.

It is not valid for men to do i`tikaf in other than a mosque. [Durr]

Walaikum assalam,

Faraz Rabbani.