What is I'etikaaf - Retreat

Retreat (Al-I'etikaaf)

I'etikaaf is from the root word “Akafa” to adhere, cling, stick or keep. It means to engage and to devote something, to a thing, be it good or bad.
Allah (SWT) states in Al-Qu'ran: “...What are these images to which ye are (so as­siduously) devoted?” (Al-Qu'ran 21:52)

In Shari'ah it means to engage in a retreat in the Masjid and stay there with the intention of seeking nearness to Allah the Almighty, and His reward.

Its Legalization

The majority of Muslim scholars agree that I'etikaaf is permis­sible, for the Messenger of Allah (saas) observed I'etikaaf in the Month of Ramadan during the last ten days. In his last Ramadan he observed it 20 days, as is related by Bukhari and others. Besides, his companions and wives observed it during his lifetime and after.

I'etikaaf can be either Sunnah or obligatory, wajib. The Sunnah I'etikaaf is when a Muslim volunteers to seek nearness to Al­lah, and to imitate the Messenger by observing this kind of
'ebadah, and the Sunnah is meritorious in the last ten days of Ramadan.

The obligatory I'etikaaf is the one when a believer makes it obligatory on himself, by invoking a conditional vow, such as saying: I am vowing in the Name of Allah to engage in retreat; or if Allah cures my sick relative, I will engage in I'etikaaf.

In Bukhari, the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: “Whoever vowed to obey Allah, should obey him.”

In the same hadith, Umar (ra) told the Messenger (saas),
“I vowed to engage in a night retreat in the Sacred Mas­jid, and the Messenger responded, “Fulfil your vow.” (Bukhari)

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