I‘tikÁf is an act of worship. The shar‘Ðyy i‘tikÁf is comprised of a stay or residence in a mosque with the intention of attaining proximity (to Allah). The recommended precaution is that his stay should be coupled with intention of performing acts of worship, such as prayers. There is no particular time that has been prescribed for the i‘tikÁf, and it is valid during any period when fasting is also valid.
1759. The following conditions are valid in i‘tikÁf:
1. The one performing i‘tikÁf should be a sane person. The i‘tikÁf of a distinguishing child is also valid.
2. The intention of attaining proximity as it was detailed in the section on wuÃÙ.
3. Fasting. Therefore, a person whose fast is invalid, such as a traveler who does not intend to reside in a place for ten days, cannot perform i‘tikÁf.
4. It should be held in Masjid al-ÍarÁm, Masjid al-NabÐ, the Masjid of Kufa, the Masjid of Basra, or the central mosque of a city.
5. The permission of the one whose permission is legally valid. Therefore, the i‘tikÁf of a wife without the permission of her husband, in the event that it violates his right, is not valid.
6. The stay should be for a period of three days, and the two nights that occur between the three days, inside the mosque that he is performing i‘tikÁf. He may not leave the mosque, except for some necessary reasons. He may also leave the mosque to visit a sick person, to take part in a burial ceremony, or to perform the last rites for a deceased, such as the ghusl, prayer and burial.
In the cases where he is permitted to leave the mosque, he should not remain outside the mosque for a period that is more than the period required to perform that task. The obligatory precaution is that he should return to the mosque using the shortest possible route. He should also avoid sitting down outside the mosque, and in the event that he is compelled to do so, he should avoid sitting under a shade, if possible.
1760. Having started the i‘tikÁf, a person may decide to return from it and void it as long as two days have not elapsed, in the event that it is not a date-specific i‘tikÁf, such as one undertaken to fulfill a nadhr to perform i‘tikÁf on particular dates. However, if while forming his intention he stipulates that in the event that something comes up for him, he can choose to return from his i‘tikÁf, he may return from it even if two days have passed.
1761. A person who is engaged in i‘tikÁf must refrain from certain acts, committing which will void the i‘tikÁf. However, the obligation to refrain from them—other than intercourse—in an i‘tikÁf which is not a date-specific obligation, is based on obligatory precaution. These acts are:
1. Sexual intercourse, and obligatory precaution will dictate the same of masturbation, and coming in direct contact with a woman by touching or kissing her with desire.
2. Fragrant scents.
3. Buying or selling, which will invalidate the i‘tikÁf, but the transaction itself will not be invalidated. Obligatory precaution dictates that one should avoid all forms of transactions, even if it is in the form of a settlement, mudharabah or lease. Should a person be urgently compelled to buy or sell something, and be unable to appoint an agent, it will then be permissible.
4. Engaging in debates with the intention of overcoming the adversary and showing off one’s superiority, regardless of whether the debate pertains to a worldly matter, or a religious matter.
1762. If a person intentionally engages in sexual intercourse while performing i‘tikÁf, be it during the day or during the night, a kaffÁrah will become obligatory on him. The kaffÁrah in this case is that he either free a slave, or fast consecutively for two months, or feed sixty needy persons.
If a person commits any of the other acts that invalidate i‘tikÁf, other than intercourse, no kaffÁrah will be obligatory on him.
1763. If the person engaged in i‘tikÁf inadvertently commits one of the acts which invalidate i‘tikÁf, then to claim that it is still valid is problematic.
1764. If a person invalidates his i‘tikÁf by committing one of the aforementioned acts, in the event that it is an obligatory non-specific i‘tikÁf —such as a nadhr made to perform i‘tikÁf without specifying a particular time—then he will have to perform it again. In the event that it is an obligatory date-specific i‘tikÁf —such as a nadhr made to perform i‘tikÁf at a particular time—or a recommended i‘tikÁf, wherein the act is committed after the passage of two days, he will have to offer its qaÃÁ based on obligatory precaution. If he commits the act in a recommended i‘tikÁf prior to the passage of two days, he will not have to observe its qaÃÁ.
1765. Leaving one i‘tikÁf for another is not permissible, be they both obligatory—such as one obligated by a vow and another by swearing to perform it—or both recommended, or one obligatory and one recommended. It will also not matter if one is for oneself and the other is by proxy or being hired to perform i‘tikÁf, or both are being done by proxy.
1766. If a person engaged in i‘tikÁf sits on a usurped carpet, he will have committed a sin, but his i‘tikÁf will not be invalidated. However, if another person precedes him in acquiring the spot, and the one performing i‘tikÁf takes the spot without seeking the person’s consent, his i‘tikÁf in that spot will be invalid.
1767. If ghusl becomes obligatory on the person who is engaged in i‘tikÁf, he is not permitted to leave the mosque as long as he is not prohibited from performing ghusl in the mosque, such as the ghusl for touching a dead body. If he is, such as the ghusl of janÁbah which necessitates that a person remains inside the mosque in the state of janÁbah, he will have to leave the mosque. If he fails to do so, his i‘tikÁf will be rendered invalid.