Time of I'etikaaf (Retreat)

Time of I'etikaaf ( Retreat)

The mandatory retreat can be observed according to the vow of the vower. If he vowed to retreat a day or more, it becomes necessary for him to fulfil it. But voluntary retreat has no time limit. It may be done by staying in the masjid with the intention of I'etikaaf for short or long periods of time, and the person will be rewarded so far as he remains in the masjid. If he leaves the masjid and returns, he should restate his niyah (intention).

The one who is in retreat may cut off his I'etikaaf, when he feels like it, before the time that he had intended. 'Aishah (ra), the Messenger's wife, said: “Whenever the Messenger intends to engage in retreat he will pray his Fajr, then he begins his I'etikaaf.”

She continued, “One day the Messenger intended to engage in retreat the last ten days of Ramadan, and he ordered his pouch to be built. When I saw that, I asked for my own tent to be built, and the rest of his wives asked for the same thing. After Fajr prayer, he looked at the tents, ‘What do you intend with this righteousness?’ So he asked his tent and his wives to be removed, then he delayed his I'etikaaf to the first ten days of Shawwal.” (Bukhari)

This report is an indication that it is permissible to disengage from the retreat after starting.

The Prerequisites of Retreat

For a retreat to be valid, the observer must be Muslim, must have reached puberty, and must be pure from janabah, (major defilement, menstruation, and post-childbirth bleeding).
People who are impure cannot engage in I'etikaaf.

The Pillars of Al-I`etikaaf

There are two pillars for I'etikaaf: intention, and staying in the Masjid. Niyyah or intention has been discussed earlier, but re­garding staying in the masjid, Allah states:
“...But do not associate with your wives while you are in retreat in the masajid...”
(Al-Qu'ran 2:187)

This verse prohibits two things: marital relationships during I'etikaf because this contradicts the spirit of devotion, and ob­serving I'etikaf in any place but a masjid. Thus, any believer man or woman who desires to observe I'etikaaf may do so only in a masjid as we see the Messenger's wives were building their tents in the masjid.

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