I'tikaf in Ramadan

Al-Muwatta' of Imam Malik

by Imam Malik ibn Anas
Translated by: Ustadha Aisha Bewley

19.0 I'tikaf in Ramadan

 

19.1 Concerning I'tikaf (Retreat)

1 Yahya related to me from Malik from d to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from 'Urwa ibn az-Zubayr from 'Amra bint 'Abd ar-Rahman that 'A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did i'tikaf he would bring his head near to me and I would comb it. He would only go into the house to relieve himself."

[cf Bukhari 1925]

2 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from 'Amra bint 'Abd ar-Rahman that when 'A'isha was doing i'tikaf she would only ask after sick people if she was walking and not if she was standing still.

Malik said, "A person doing i'tikaf should not carry out his worldly obligations of his, nor leave the mosque for them, nor should he help anyone. He should only leave the mosque to relieve himself. If he were able to go out to do things for people, then visiting the sick, praying over the dead and following funeral processions would be the things with tor people, tvisiting the sick, praying over the dead and following funeral processions would be the things with the most claim on his coming out."

Malik said, "A person doing i'tikaf is not doing i'tikaf until he avoids what someone doing i'tikaf should avoid, namely, visiting the sick, praying over the dead, and going into houses, except to relieve himself."

3 Yahya related to me from Malik that he had asked Ibn Shihab whether someone doing i'tikaf could go into a house to relieve himself, and he said, "Yes, there is no harm in that."

Malik said, "The situation that we are all agreed upon here (in Madina) is that there is no disapproval of anyone doing i'tikaf in a mosque where Jumu'a is held. The only reason I see for disapproving of doing i'tikaf in a mosque where Jumu'a is not held is that the man doing i'tikaf would have to leave the mosque where he was doing i'tikaf in order to go to Jumu'a, or else not go there at all. If, however, he is doing i'tikaf in a mosque where Jumu'a is not held, and he does not have to go to Jumu'a in any other mosque, then I see no harm in him doing i'tikaf there, because Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, says, 'While you are doing i'tikaf in mosques,' (2:187) and refers to all mosques in general, without specifying any particular kind."

Malik continued, "Accordingly, it is permissible for a man to do i'tikaf in a mosque where Jumu'a is not held if he does not have to leave it to go to a mosque where Jumu'a is held."

Malik said, "A person doing i'tikaf should not spend the night anywhere except in the mosque where he is doing i'tikaf, except if his tent is in one of the courtyards of the mosque. I have never heard that someone doing i'tikaf can put up a shelter anywhere except in the mosque itself or in one of the courtyards of the mosque.

Part of what shows that the person doing i'tikaf must spend the night in the mosque is 'A'isha saying that when the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was doing i'tikaf, he would only go into the house to relieve himself. Nor should he do i'tikaf on the roof of the mosque or in the minaret."

Malik said, "The person who is going to do i'tikaf should enter the place where he wishes to do i'tikaf before the sun sets on the night when he wishes to begin his i'tikaf, so that he is ready to begin the i'tikaf at the beginning of the night when he is going to start his i'tikaf. A person doing i'tikaf should be occupied with his i'tikaf, and not turn his attention to other things which might occupy him, such as trading or whatever. There is no harm, however, if someone doing i'tikaf tells someone to do something for him regarding his estate, or the affairs of his family, or tells someone to sell some property of his, or something else that does not occupy him directly. There is no harm in him arranging for someone else to do that for him if it is a simple matter."

Malik said, "I have never heard any of the people of knowledge mentioning any modification as far as how to do i'tikaf is concerned. I'tikaf is an act of 'ibada like the prayer, fasting, the Hajj, and suchlike acts, whether they are obligatory or voluntary. Anyone who begins doing any of these acts should do them according to what has come down in the sunna. He should not start doing anything in them that the Muslims have not done, whether it is a modification that he imposes on others, or one that he begins doing himself. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, practised i'tikaf, and the Muslims know what the sunna of i'tikaf is."

Malik said, "I'tikaf and jiwar are the same, and i'tikaf is the same for the village-dweller as it is for the nomad."

 

19.2 Essentials of I'tikaf

4 Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that al-Qasim ibn Muhammad and Nafi', the mawla of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar said, "You cannot do i'tikaf unless you are fasting, because of what Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, says in His Book, 'And eat and drink until the white thread becomes clear to you from the black thread of dawn, then complete the fast until night-time, but do not have intercourse with them while you are doing i'tikaf in mosques.' (2:187). Allah only mentions i'tikaf together with fasting."

Malik said, "That is the practice with us in Madina. I'tikaf must be done while fasting."

 

19.3 Leaving I'tikaf for the 'Id

5 Yahya related to me that Ziyad ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman said, "Malik related to us from Sumayy, the mawla of Abu Bakr ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman, that Abu Bakr ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman was once doing i'tikaf and he would go out to relieve himself in a closed room under a roofed passage in Khalid ibn Walid's house. Otherwise he did not leave his place of i'tikaf until he went to pray the 'Id with the Muslims."

6 Yahya related to me from Ziyad from Malik that he saw some of the people of knowledge who, when they did i'tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan, would not go back to their families until they had attended the 'Id al-Fitr with everybody.

Ziyad said that Malik said, "I heard this from the people of excellence who have passed away, and it is what I like most out of what I have heard about the matter."

 

19.4 Making Up for the I'tikaf (Not Done)

7 Ziyad related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from 'Amra bint 'Abd ar-Rahman from 'A'isha that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, once wanted to do i'tikaf, and when he went off to the place where he wanted to do i'tikaf he found some tents there, which were 'A'isha's tent, Hafsa's tent, and Zaynab's tent. When he saw them he asked about them and someone told him that they were the tents of 'A'isha, Hafsa and Zaynab. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do you say they intended piety by them?" Then he left, and did not do i'tikaf until Shawwal, when he then did it for ten days.

[cf. Bukhari 1929]

Malik was asked whether someone who went into a mosque to to i'tikaf for the last ten days of Ramadan and stayed there for a day or two but then became ill and left the mosque, had to do i'tikaf for the number of days that were left from the ten, or not, and if he did have to do so, then what month should he do it in, and he replied, "He should make up whatever he has to do of the i'tikaf when he recovers, whether in Ramadan or otherwise. I have heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, once wanted to do i'tikaf in Ramadan, but then came back without having done so, and then when Ramadan had gone, he did i'tikaf for ten days in Shawwal.

"Someone who does i'tikaf voluntarily in Ramadan and someone who has to do i'tikaf are in the same position regarding what is halal for them and what is haram. I have not heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ever did i'tikaf other than voluntarily."

Malik said that if a woman went into i'tikaf and then menstruated during her i'tikaf, she should return to her house and when she was pure again then she should to the mosque at whatever time it was that she became pure. She then should continue her i'tikaf from where she left off. This was the same as a woman who had to fast two consecutive months, and who menstruated and then became pure. She too continues the fast from where she had left off and does not delay doing so.

8 Ziyad related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to go to relieve himself in houses.

Malik said, "Someone doing i'tikaf should not leave for his parents' funeral or for anything else."

 

19.5 Marriage in I'tikaf

Malik said, "There is no harm in someone who is in i'tikaf entering into a marriage contract as long as there is no physical relationship. A woman in i'tikaf may also be betrothed as long as there is no physical relationship. What is haram for someone in i'tikaf in relation to his womenfolk during the day is haram for him during the night."

Yahya said that Ziyad said that Malik said, "It is not halal for a man to have intercourse with his wife while he is in i'tikaf, nor for him to take pleasure in her by kissing her, or whatever. However, I have not heard anyone disapproving of a man or woman in i'tikaf getting married as long as there is no physical relationship. Marriage is not disapproved of for someone fasting. There is, however, a distinction between the marriage of someone in i'tikaf and that of someone who is muhrim, in that someone who is in ihram can eat, drink, visit the sick and attend funerals, but cannot put on perfume, whilst a man or woman in i'tikaf can put on oil and perfume and groom their hair, but cannot attend funerals or pray over the dead or visit the sick. Thus their situations with regard to marriage are different. This is the sunna as it has come down to us regarding marriage for those who are in ihram, doing i'tikaf, or fasting."

 

19.6 Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Power)

9 Yahya related to me from Malik from Yazid ibn 'Abdullah ibn al-Hadi from Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Harith at-Taymi from Abu Salama ibn 'Abd ar-Rahman that Abu Sa'id al-Khudri said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to do i'tikaf in the middle ten days of Ramadan. One year he was doing i'tikaf and then, when it came to the night of the twenty-first, which was the night before the morning when he would normally have finished his i'tikaf, he said, 'Those who have done i'tikaf with me should continue doing i'tikaf for the last ten days. I was shown this night in a dream and then I was made to forget it. I saw myself prostating the following morning in water and mud. Look for it during the last ten days, and look for it on the odd nights.' "

Abu Sa'id continued, "The sky poured with rain that night and the mosque, which had a roof (made of palm-fronds), was soaked. With my own eyes I saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, leave with traces of water and mud on his forehead and nose, in the morning after the night of the twenty-first."

[cf Bukhari 1923]

10 Ziyad related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn 'Urwa from his father that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Search for Laylat al-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadan."

[cf Bukhari 1916]

11 Ziyad related to me from Malik from 'Abdullah ibn Dinar from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Search for Laylat al-Qadr in the last seven days."

[In Muslim]

12 Ziyad related to me from Malik from Abu'n-Nadr, the mawla of 'Umar ibn 'Ubaydullah, that 'Abdullah ibn Unays al-Juhani said to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "Messenger of Allah, I am a man whose house is a long way off. Tell me one night so that I can stop my journey for it." The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Stop on the twenty-third night of Ramadan."

13 Ziyad related to me from Malik from Humayd at-Tawil that Anas ibn Malik said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out to us in Ramadan and said, 'I was shown a certain night in Ramadan and then two men quarrelled and it was taken away. Look for it on the twenty-seventh, twenty-ninth and twenty-fifth.'"

[cf Bukhari 1919]

14 Ziyad related to me from Malik from Nafi' from Ibn 'Umar that some of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, were shown in a dream that the Laylat al-Qadr is during the last seven days. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I think that your dreams agree about the last seven. Those who want to look for it, should look for it in the last seven."

[cf Bukhari 1911]

15 Ziyad related to me from Malik that he had heard a man he trusted of the people of knowledge say, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was shown the life-spans of the people (who had gone) before him, or what Allah willed of that, and it was as if the lives of the people of his community had become too short for them to be able to do as many good actions as others before them had been able to do with their long lives, so Allah gave him Laylat al-Qadr, which is better than a thousand months."

16 Ziyad related to me from Malik that he had heard that Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab used to say,"Whoever is present at 'Isha on Laylat al-Qadr has taken his portion from it."