July 18, 2014 by Verse By Verse Quran Study Circle
Q. Can women sit for i’tikaaf in a Mosque in the last ten days of Ramadan?
Praise be to Allah
Yes, it is permissible for a woman to observe i’tikaaf in the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan.
Indeed, i’tikaaf is Sunnah for both men and women, and the Mothers of the Believers [may Allah be pleased with them (i.e., the wives of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)] used to observe i’tikaaf with the Prophet during his lifetime, and after he passed away.
Al-Bukhaari (2026) and Muslim (1172) narrated from ‘Aa’ishah (radhiAllahu ‘anha) that the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to spend the last ten nights of Ramadan in i’tikaaf until he passed away, then his wives observed i’tikaaf after he died.
It says in ‘Awn al-Ma’bood:
This indicates that women are the same as men when it comes to i’tikaaf.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
I’tikaaf is Sunnah for both men and women, because it was proven that the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to observe i’tikaaf during Ramadan, and finally he settled on i’tikaaf during the last ten days, and some of his wives used to observe i’tikaaf with him, then they observed i’tikaaf after he died. The place for i’tikaaf is the mosque in which prayers in congregation are performed.
Can a woman observe i’tikaaf in her house?
If it were permissible for a woman to observe i’tikaaf in her house, the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would have told them to do that, because it is better for a woman to remain concealed in her house than to go out to the mosque.
Some of the scholars were of the view that it is valid for a woman to observe i’tikaaf in the “mosque” of her house, which is the place that she allocates for prayer in her house. But the majority of scholars said that this is not allowed and said that the place where she prays in her house is not called a masjid (mosque) except by way of metaphor, and it is not really a mosque, so it does not come under the rulings on mosques, hence it is permissible for people who are junub and menstruating women to enter it.
See al-Mughni, 4/464.
Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (6/505):
It is not valid for men or women to observe i’tikaaf anywhere but in the mosque; it is not valid in the mosque of a woman’s house or the mosque of a man’s house, which is a space that is set aside for prayer.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (20/264) about where a woman who wants to observe i’tikaaf should do so?
If a woman wants to observe i’tikaaf, she should observe i’tikaaf in the mosque so long as that does not involve anything that is forbidden according to sharee’ah. If that does involve anything that is forbidden then she should not do i’tikaaf.
In al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah (5/212) it says:
The scholars differed as to where women should observe i’tikaaf. The majority are of the view that women are like men, and their i’tikaaf is not valid unless observed in the mosque. Based on this it is not valid for a woman to observe i’tikaaf in the mosque of her house, because of the report narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) who asked about a woman who vowed to observe i’tikaaf in the mosque of her house. He said: “(This is) an innovation, and the most hateful of actions to Allah are innovations (bid’ah).” So there can be no i’tikaaf except in a mosque in which prayers are established. And the mosque of a house is not a mosque in the real sense of the word and does not come under the same rulings; it is permissible to change it, and for a person who is junub to sleep in it. Moreover if it were permissible (to observe i’tikaaf at home), the Prophet’s wives (may Allah be pleased with them) would have done that at least once to show that it is permissible.