The Beginning And Ending Time Of I`etikaaf

The Beginning And Ending Time Of I`etikaaf

There is no specific time for beginning or ending I'etikaaf. Whenever one enters into the masjid with niyyah, he begins his retreat. If he intends to engage in I`etikaaf the last ten days of Ramadan, he should prepare his tent before sunset.

In a hadith related by Abu Sa`ed, the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever intends to retreat with me should retreat during the last ten nights (of Ramadan).” (Al-Bukhari)

The first night of the ten is the night of the 21st of Ramadan because in Islam the days begin at sunset. However, the reports that said the Messenger (saas) entered his I'etikaaf place after Fajr prayer do not mean he started after Fajr, they mean he re­turned to his place of I'etikaaf at that time.

If I'etikaaf is for the last ten days of Ramadan, the observer should leave after sunset the last day of the month, but it is pre­ferred that he remain in the masjid and should not leave it until the time of `Eid. If a person intends to engage in I'etikaaf for a day, or several days, as voluntary I'etikaaf, he will enter into his place of I'etikaaf before the break of dawn and will leave after sunset, whether it is in Ramadan or not. If a person in­tends to engage in I'etikaaf for a night or two as a voluntary act, he should enter before sunset and leave after the break of dawn.

The reason is the night begins with the sunset and completes with the break of dawn, and the day begins with the break of dawn and completes with sunset. If a believer intends to en­gage in I'etikaaf for a month he should enter the first night of the month before sunset and leave after sunset when the month finishes.

What A Retreater Should Engage In

It is recommended that the retreater should engage in supere­rogatory worship, and engage himself with prayer, recitation of Al-Qu'ran, Glorification of Allah, Praising Allah, frequent dec­laration of Kalimat, Takbeer, seeking forgiveness from Allah, invoking Allah's blessing on the Messenger of Allah, and sup­plications, as well as any act of worship that will bring the ser­vant nearer to Allah. Included in these acts of worship is study­ing the books of Tafseer, hadith, the life history of the Proph­ets, as well as any books on fiqh and religion.

He should build a retreat (store his provisions) in the corner of the masjid where he or she will not disturb the regular worshippers.

He should not concern himself with what does not concern him, which is the best way to seek nearness to Allah. In a hadith reported by Ibn 'Abbas (raa), the Messenger of Allah (saas),
was delivering a sermon, khutbah, and a man stood up but would not talk. A companion said,
“This is Abu Israel. He vowed to not stand, nor sit, nor seek shade, nor speak, but fast.” The Messenger (saas) said, “Command him to speak and seek shade, to sit and complete his fast.” (Bukhari, Ibn Majah and Abu Dawuud)

In a related report the Messenger of Allah (saas) stated: “No person can be called orphan after puberty; and no person should remain silent all day and night.” (Abu Dawuud)

What i Permitted of the Retreater

He may leave the retreat and go out to bid farewell to his fam­ily. Safiyah (raa) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (saas) was in his retreat, so I came to visit him at night. I spoke to him, and when I was leaving he stood to bid me farewell. When we reached the door to open it and they quietly passed and greeted the Messenger (saas) then the Messenger told them: ‘Slowly, you don't need to run, she is Safiyah bint Huyayy, (my wife; don't think I am walking with an­other sister)’ they said in surprise: ‘Glory be to Allah, O Messenger of Allah!’ (for they were baffled for what he said to them.) The Messenger said ‘The Satan circulates in the human system the same way the blood circulates, so I was afraid that Satan might throw or whisper (ill thoughts) in your heart.’ ” (Bukhari/Muslim)

The Prophet, (saas) left his retreat. Thus it is permissible to leave. It is permitted to comb one's hair, shave, trim the nails, clean the body, wear one's best clothes and use perfume. In a report by 'Aishah (raa), she said: “The Messenger used to be in I'etikaaf and he would put his head through the window and I would wash it for him, while I was in my menstruation.” (Muslim/Bukhari)

It is permitted for him to leave the masjid to take care of es­sential things. The scholars agreed that the retreater is permit­ted to leave to eat and drink and to use the toilet, also to leave the masjid to purify the body from janabah and to clean the clothes.

It is permitted to eat and drink and sleep in the masjid, but extreme care should be taken to safeguard the cleanliness of the Masjid. The person may be a party to weddings and some legal contracts taking place in the masjid during the I'etikaaf.

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