I'itikaf - Is There Criterion for Sisters?
  • Question:

    Is there any age criterion for a female to do I'itikaaf? I want to do I'itikaaf but I was told, not to do before marriage. And what is the best time of the year to do I'itikaaf?

    Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

    Thank you for your question. May Allāh bless you for your eagerness to enhance your spirituality.

    Application of religious practices come into effect at the age of maturity. Generally between the ages of 11 to 15. I have not come across any reference prohibiting I‘itikāf before marriage, hence it will be permissible.

    I‘itikāf can be performed at any time of the year, however, the best time to perform I‘itikāf would be in blessed month of Ramadān. This was the practice of the Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him).

    Regarding the appropriate location for a sister to perform her I‘itikāf, please note that according to the Hanafi school, it is preferred for women to do I’itikāf in the masjid of their homes (at the designated prayer space or room in one’s home). It is permissible, however considered makrūh tanzīhī (mildly disliked) in the Hanafi school for women to perform I’itikāf in the masjid. (See Dur Al Mukhtār and Badā‘i Al Sana'i)

    The references for the Hanafi position are narrations similar to the following:

    Umm Salama (r) narrates that the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings upon him) said, “The best mosque for a woman is the inner part of her home.” (Musnad Ahmad & Tabrani)

    The masjid of her home takes the verdict of a masjid. (Bada'i Al Sana'i)

    The Mālikī, Shāfi‘e and Ḥanbalī schools deem I‘itikāf at home invalid. (See Al Sharh Al Saghir, Al Majm‘ū, Al Mughnī, Al Fiqh Al Islāmī Wa Adillatuhū & Fiqh ‘Alā Madāhib Al Arba‘ah)

    Ibn Masūd (may Allāh be pleased with him) said, “I‘itikāf is only valid in a masjid where congregation takes place” (Tabrani)

    “... while you are staying in mosques for I‘itikāf” (Qur’ān, 2:187)

    It should be noted that if women are performing I‘itikāf in the masjid, proper arrangements for curtains, seclusion and modesty are to be undertaken. (See Al Mughnī)

    And Allah knows best.

    Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Badat
    Hadith of the Day Imam
    Imam of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto and Director of Mathabah Institute
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