Itikaf at home for women
Is there any proof from the Prophet (s.a.w.) or Sahaba (r.a) for women doing itikaf at home? Answer: ﺑﺴﻢ اﷲ اﻟﺮﺣﻤﻦ اﻟﺮﺣﯿﻢ In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful The Hanafi position regarding a woman’s itikaf is that it is best for her to perform it in the masjid of her home (i.e. the area in her home which she has designated for prayer). This was also the position of Ibrahim Al- Nakha’i, a Tab’iee (someone who has met a Sahabi) and Sufyan Al-Thawri, a Tab’u-Tab’iee (someone who has met a Tab’iee). If she has not designated an area as of yet for prayer, and she intends to perform itikaf, she may designate it and thereafter perform itikaf. Furthermore, if she decides to perform itikaf in a masjid, it would be permissible, however it is disliked due to fear of fitna (e.g. mixing with strange men, harassment, and vulnerability of other men seeing her). (Al-Binayah: v. 4, p. 126 [DKI]; Al-Mabsooth li Al-Sarakhsi: v. 3, p. 119 [Darul M’arifah]; Raddul Muhtar: v. 2, p. 441 [Darul Fikr]) According to the Hanafi jurists, the place where a woman’s prayer is more virtuous will be the place of her itikaf similar to a man’s prayer being more virtuous in the Masjid, hence his place of itikaf is the Masjid. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “A woman’s prayer is more virtuous in her home than in her courtyard, and her prayer is more virtuous in her chamber than in her home.” (Abu Dawud: Hadith 570) The ilat (reason) for this is because it is better for a woman to remain concealed as much as possible for her own safety and not becoming a means of temptation for men. The same reason will apply to itikaf, i.e. just as it is better for a woman to conceal herself during prayer and avoid praying at the Masjid, it is better to perform itikaf at home rather than perform it at the Masjid. Just as the masjid of her home is treated like an actual masjid (which is outside the home, and people frequent) with respect to her prayer (i.e. she is not required to leave her home to perform Salah with congregation because the masjid in her home takes the ruling of a masjid), similarly her home will be treated as an actual masjid with respect to her itikaf (i.e. it will be valid therein). To say, “A woman’s itikaf in her home is invalid,” is incorrect. Her prayer is valid in the masjid of her home which has been designated for it, hence if her prayer is valid then it is more appropriate that her itikaf also be valid. (Bada’i Al-Sana’i: v. 2, p. 113 [DKI]; Tuhfatul Fuqaha: v. 1, 372-373 [DKI]) The Hanafi position on the women’s itikaf is corroborated with textual and logical proofs in addition to fatwas from the Salaf (predecessors). It is narrated in a Hadith of Sahih Muslim that the Prophet (s.a.w.) intended to perform itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan. One day when the Prophet (s.a.w.) prayed Fajr, he saw that his wives had erected tents in order to perform itikaf in the Masjid as well. The Prophet (s.a.w.) disapproved of their action by saying to them, “Do you intend to do good (i.e. by means of performing itikaf in the Masjid)?” Thus, he commanded that his own tent be taken down, and he abandoned performing itikaf during that Ramadan. (For complete hadith refer to Sahih Muslim: Hadith 1172) One reason, that has been mentioned, why the Prophet (s.a.w.) was displeased with them performing itikaf in the Masjid was because the Masjid was a place of assembly, thus the bedouins and hypocrites would also attend. If the wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.) performed itikaf in the Masjid, they would be in need of entering and exiting their tents which would make it less safe for them. On the basis thereof, if the Prophet (s.a.w.) disliked that the women of his time perform itikaf in the Masjid in spite of them attending congregational prayers, then it is more worthy for women in our era to be discouraged from performing itikaf in the Masjids on account of fitna increasing and irreligiosity. Ibrahim ibn Abala said in regards to the statement of the Prophet (s.a.w.) “do they intend good”: “This statement shows that women should not perform itikaf in the Masjids because we understand from the statement of the Prophet (s.a.w.) that it is not an act of virtue for a woman to perform itikaf in the Masjid. (Umdatul Qari: v. 11, p. 148-149 [Dar Ihya Al-Turath Al-Arabi]) It is mentioned in Sahih Muslim (Hadith 1172) and Abu Dawud (Hadith 2462) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Verily, the Prophet used to perform itikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah caused him to pass away. Then, his wives performed itikaf after him.” Bear in mind that the location of itikaf is not mentioned in this Hadith. Mullah Ali Qari and Shaykh Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri mentioned in their commentaries regarding the aforementioned Hadith that the wives of the Prophet (s.a.w.) performed itikaf in their homes after his demise, and Mullah Ali Qari said that this was because the Prophet (s.a.w.) was displeased with their action (Mirqatul Mafateeh: v. 4, p. 1446 [Darul Fikr Beirut]; Badhlul Majhood: v. 8, p. 691 [Sheikh Abul Hasan Nadwi Center for Research and Islamic Studies]).
There are two hadiths mentioned in Musannaf Abu Razzaq that clearly illustrate the validity of a woman performing itikaf in a place besides the Masjid. It is mentioned on the authority of Ibn Abi Mulaikah: “Aisha (r.a.) performed itikaf between Hira and Thabeer (a mountain). We would visit her there, and she had a slave that would lead her in prayer.” (Musannaf Abu Razzaq: Hadith 8021) In the second hadith it is mentioned on the authority of ‘Ataa that Aisha (r.a.) vowed to perform itikaf in the valley of Thabeer, in the area close to Mina. I said, “Did she perform the itikaf?” He said, “Yes.” (Ibid: 8022)
Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Mohammad Ahsan Osmani Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham