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Seclusion for the
Remembrance of Allah

Waterval Islamic Institute, Publ. Number 87
PO Box 1, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2000.

What is Iítik‚f?

The meaning of Iítik‚f is to seclude oneself in the masjid with the express intention (niyyah) of Iítik‚f, for the remembrance of All‚h, even though for a few seconds only.

Objects and Advantages of Iítik‚f

The reward of Iítik‚f is great. The mere fact that the Messenger of All‚h () always performed it is sufficient to explain the virtues that are attached to it. The example of the one that resides in the masjid in Iítik‚f is like the person who, having gone to a high personage to appeal for his needs, remains there until it is granted. He thus says to All‚h: ďO All‚h! I have placed my humble request before You and have faith in Your generosity; and I shall not move from here until my request is granted by You.Ē

When someone comes begging at the door and then refuses to leave until his request is granted, it is certain that even the most selfish person will eventually accede to oneís request; and how much more Merciful is All‚h.

Allamah ibn Qayyim, on explaining the significance of Iítik‚f, writes that the actual aim of this seclusion is to free the heart from everything else except All‚h and to join it with Him alone, thereby forming a complete spiritual link with the Creator. All worldly connections are thus cut off for the sake of gaining All‚hís special attention and favor. All thoughts, desires, love and devotion become centered on All‚h alone. As a reward for this effort All‚hís love is attained; a love and friendship that will be the only companion in the loneliness of the grave. When a person has established this relationship, then who can possibly imagine the great ecstasy with which that time of the grave will be spent!

The author of Mar‚qi-ul-Fal‚h writes that Iítik‚f, when correctly and sincerely performed, is a most virtuous deed. One cannot enumerate all the great advantages and benefits in it. In actual fact, what takes place in Iítik‚f is that the heart is drawn away from everything else except All‚h, the Creator- while our whole life, in reality, is laid down at His doorstep. In every moment of Iítik‚f one remains in Ib‚dah (worship). Even when asleep, one is still in His service, striving for nearness to Him. All‚h says, according to a hadÓth, ďWhoever draws near to Me an arms length, then I draw nearer to him two arm lengths; and whoever draws nearer to Me by walking, I draw nearer to him by running.Ē

It is also deduced from the various narrations that one of the major objects of Iítik‚f during Ramad‚n is to search for Laylatul-Qadr (the Night of Power). What better manner can there be than to remain in ib‚dah at all times, whether one is awake or asleep, to obtain the reward of 1,000 months (over 83 years) of worship. Furthermore, in Iítik‚f one is free from all daily tasks and thus has all the time to devote to Zikrull‚h (remembrance of All‚h) and meditation.

Virtues of Iítik‚f

To quote all the virtues of Iítik‚f here will lengthen this chapter overmuch. A few ah‚dÓth should suffice:

Ibn ĎAbb‚s () relates that the Messenger of All‚h () said: ďThe person performing Iítik‚f remains free from sins and he is indeed given the same reward as all those who do righteous deeds (in spite of his not having done those deeds as a result of having been secluded in the masjid).Ē

By remaining secluded in the masjid during the last ten days of Ramad‚n, one completely avoids falling into unintentional evil acts, and by this seclusion if one does miss an opportunity for any good deeds such as attending Jan‚zah (funeral prayer), burials, visiting the sick, etc., one is rewarded for these deeds without even performing them.

Ibn ĎAbb‚s () relates in another lengthy hadÓth that RasŻlull‚h () said: ďWhoever sets forth in the way of settling a necessary affair on behalf of his brother, that service shall be better for him than to perform Iítik‚f for ten years, and whomsoever performs Iítik‚f for a day, thereby seeking the pleasure of All‚h, All‚h will open three trenches between him and the fire of hell, the width of each trench being the distance between heaven and earth.Ē [Tabr‚ni, Bayhaqi]

In Kashful-Ghumma, Allamah Sha`r‚ni relates a hadÓth wherein RasŻlull‚h () said: ďWhoever performs Iítik‚f for the final ten days of Ramad‚n, for him is the reward of two Hajj and two ĎUmrah, and whoever performs Iítik‚f from Maghrib until ĎIsh‚, doing nothing else except performing sal‚h and reciting the Qurí‚n, All‚h will prepare a place for him in Jannah

Conditions of Iítik‚f

The following are conditions for performance of Iítik‚f:

  1. To be a Muslim.

  2. To be sane.

  3. To be pure and clean from hadath akbar (major impurity), haidh (monthly menses) and nif‚s (bleeding of child-birth).

  4. To perform Iítik‚f in a masjid (for males only).

  5. To form the niyyah (intention) for Iítik‚f.

  6. To fast for w‚jib and sunnah Iítik‚f (discussed below).

Note: Women may observe Iítik‚f in the home. It is also not necessary to have reached the age of puberty to observe Iítik‚f; therefore an intelligent child (male or female) may observe Iítik‚f.


Types of Iítik‚f

There are three types of Iítik‚f: 1. W‚jib, 2. Sunnah, 3. Nafl.

1. W‚jib Iítik‚f

Iítik‚f becomes compulsory (w‚jib) when a person makes it obligatory upon himself. For instance, when a person makes a vow of thanks-giving to All‚h that if All‚h fulfills a certain wish of his, he will perform so many days of Iítik‚f. In this case, the moment his wish is fulfilled, Iítik‚f becomes compulsory. Or, a person may merely make an unconditional vow whereby he makes Iítik‚f compulsory upon himself for a certain number of days. This becomes a duty on him from that moment onwards.

A w‚jib Iítik‚f cannot be for less than one day and one night and has to be performed while fasting, irrespective of whether the fast is specifically for this purpose or not.

If the niyyah is for several days then the same number of nights will also have to be spent in Iítik‚f. The Iítik‚f will thus begin before sunset and terminate at sunset after the avowed number of days have been completed. The night precedes the day in Islamic reckoning.

ē Niyyah: The intention for this type of Iítik‚f must be pronounced, mere mental niyyah is not sufficient.

ē Qad (Make-up): If this w‚jib Iítik‚f was begun for a particular number of days and is nullified for some reason during the course of performing the rite, then the make-up for the remaining number of days only must be observed.

In the case where the vowed number of days are not specified, then make-up of the full number of days must be repeated.

2. Sunnah Iítik‚f

This Iítik‚f was observed by RasŻlull‚h () in every year of his stay at MadÓnah Munawwarah. This Iítik‚f means to seclude oneself inside the masjid for the last ten days of Ramad‚n. This Iítik‚f is Sunnatul-muíakkadah Ďalal-kif‚yah: that is, if a few persons from the locality observe it, the rest will be exempted. If no one observes it then all the Muslims of that area will be sinful in neglecting this sunnah.

ē Niyyah: The niyyah for sunnah Iítik‚f is that a firm intention should be made for this purpose before the sun sets on the 20th of Ramad‚n, in the masjid that is chosen for the Iítik‚f. It terminates at sunset if the crescent is sighted on the 29th or on the 30th of Ramad‚n.

There is no prescribed sal‚h to be performed for this purpose. It is noteworthy that generally no nafl sal‚h should be performed after ĎAsr sal‚h until Maghrib.

ē Qad: According to some Ďulam‚ (scholars), there is no make-up for this Iítik‚f if it is interrupted for any reason. Others are of the opinion that the qad should be observed. Therefore, to be cautious, make-up of the remaining days should be observed if the Iítik‚f is broken for some reason.

3. Nafl Iítik‚f

There is no special time or specific number of days for nafl Iítik‚f. A person may form the niyyah for any number of days at any time of the year, even for his whole life. While Im‚m AbŻ HanÓfah (rahmatull‚h Ďalayhi) states that it cannot be for less than a full day, Im‚m Muhammad (rahmatull‚h Ďalayhi) states that there is no limit as to the minimum period of time. It could even be for just a few seconds. The fatw‚ is on this latter view. There is no fast associated with this type of Iítik‚f.

ē Niyyah: It is desirable for anyone entering a masjid to make the niyyah for Iítik‚f as long as he will remain in the masjid. So, while he is in Ďib‚dah (worship), he also gains the reward of Iítik‚f.

It is advisable for everyone who comes to join the congregational prayers to form an intention of Iítik‚f upon entering the masjid. This will mean that as long as he remains busy with sal‚h, dhikr, listening to religious lectures, etc., he also receives the reward for Iítik‚f.

ē Qad: There is no make-up for nafl Iítik‚f. Supposing the niyyah for an hourís nafl Iítik‚f is made and only fifteen minutes are spent in the masjid, the Iítik‚f will terminate at the time of leaving the masjid.


Where to Perform Iítik‚f

The place with the most reward for Iítik‚f is the Masjid-ul-Har‚m in Makkah. The next most remunerative is the Masjid-un-Nabi in MadÓnah Munawwarah and then follows Bait-ul-Muqaddas in Jerusalem. Thereafter comes the J‚mií masjid in oneís own town and last, but not least, the masjid nearest to oneís home.

Im‚m AbŻ HanÓfah (rahmatull‚h Ďalayhi) stipulates that the masjid should be one wherein the five daily prayers are performed, while Im‚m AbŻ YŻsuf and Im‚m Muhammad (rahmatull‚h Ďalayhima) are agreed that any masjid according to the SharÓ`ah can be entered for Iítik‚f.

Iítik‚f For Females

Females should perform Iítik‚f in the masjids (ie. the room set aside for prayer) inside their homes. Where, however, no such room exists, and the desire to observe Iítik‚f is present, the room where sal‚h is normally performed should be set aside for this seclusion. If sal‚h is performed in the bedroom, Iítik‚f could be performed there. The domestic duties should be carried out by the daughters or servants while the person in Iítik‚f remains constantly in Ďib‚dah in her room.

Iítik‚f is a much easier task for women, for in fact, she remains in the confines of her room at home and receives the same great rewards of Iítik‚f. It is very unfortunate that in spite of this ease, our womenfolk still remain deprived of the blessings of Iítik‚f. Generally this sunnah is neglected so much so that many have not even heard of it!

Additional Rules for Females in Iítik‚f

In addition to the general rules of Iítik‚f that apply to men, there are some rules that apply to women only:

  1. A woman may perform Iítik‚f in the room that is used for her daily sal‚h.

  2. A woman must have the permission of her husband for Iítik‚f. Once the husband has consented to his wifeís Iítik‚f, he then cannot withdraw his permission.

  3. If there is no person to serve her meals during Iítik‚f, the woman is allowed to go to the kitchen to prepare a quick simple meal.

  4. If, during the Iítik‚f, the woman has her haidh (monthly menses) or nif‚s (bleeding after child birth), the Iítik‚f is nullified. She has to observe make-up of the remaining days after she is pure again. This is if the Iítik‚f was a w‚jib or sunnah, in which the vowed number of days was fixed.
       In the case where the Iítik‚f was a w‚jib in which the days vowed for were not fixed in number, she will have to observe make-up of the full Iítik‚f

  5. For her Qad Iítik‚f she should begin before Maghrib; thus sit for the night first and then the succeeding day. In the reckoning of the SharÓíah the night precedes the day.

  6. A woman is allowed to sleep on her bed and use a chair while she is in Iítik‚f. She could also walk around in the room for a short while to relieve the stiffness in her limbs.

The Masjid

The defined ďMasjid areaĒ are all those places that have been intended as masjid when that structure was built, and also that area that was subsequently increased. This should be determined from the Mutawalli (custodian) of the masjid well in advance. This is of paramount importance as the very basis of Iítik‚f is to remain within the sacred masjid area. Where the Mutawalli is unable to identify this area, it is advisable that the Muítakif (person performing Iítik‚f) remain within the doors of the actual masjid chamber.

Women folk should regard the entire room as her place of Iítik‚f, the door to her room being the boundary.

When a Muítakif could leave the Masjid or place of Iítik‚f

(Muítakif: A person in Iítik‚f).

The Muítakif could leave the defined masjid area for the following reasons only.  If he/she leaves for any reason other than the undermentioned then the Iítik‚f will terminate forthwith.

  1. To answer the call of nature when necessary.

  2. To perform wudŻí when the wudŻí terminates (breaks). It is not permissible to leave the masjid to perform wudŻí when one still has wudŻí. When out of the masjid for these necessities it is permissible for one to greet others and to reply to their sal‚m.

  3. To perform the w‚jib bath (due to a wet dream). If one leaves the masjid to have a shower to cool off on a hot day or a bath for Friday, the Iítik‚f will be nullified. When going out for wudŻí it is permissible to have a wash while performing wudŻí, provided it is done in the same time during which wudŻí is made. All soiled (n‚paak) garments should be removed from the masjid immediately and not taken back into the masjid after the w‚jib bath.

  4. To perform Jumíah sal‚h if it is not performed in that masjid. It is only permissible to leave for Jumíah just prior to the commencement of the khutbah. Sufficient time should be allowed to perform two rakí‚t of Tahiyyatul-Masjid sal‚h and four rakí‚t of sunnah before Jumíah. One must return immediately after performing the sunnah rakí‚t succeeding the Jumíah.

When going out for these necessities do not spend more time than is absolutely required. Return as soon as possible and do not talk to anyone. If someone greets you, it is w‚jib to only answer.

When a Muítakif cannot leave the Masjid or place of Iítik‚f

The Muítakif is not allowed to leave the defined masjid area for the under mentioned reasons. If he does leave, even though for a few seconds, either intentionally or unintentionally, his Iítik‚f will be nullified.

  1. Because of illness or fear.

  2. To visit the sick.

  3. To attend a Jan‚zah sal‚h.

  4. To extinguish a fire or save a drowning person outside of the masjid area.

  5. To wash hands, gargle, brush teeth or to expectorate (spit). (These should all be done while performing wudŻí).

  6. To fetch a glass of water.

  7. To assist the caretaker in his duties outside the masjid area.

[Note: in situations (a) and (d) it will be permissible to leave the masjid but the Iítik‚f will be nullified and, for example, if it is a w‚jib Iítik‚f, then qad will be necessary. (Editor)]

What is allowed during Iítik‚f

The following are allowed in the masjid during the Iítik‚f:

  1. To eat and sleep

  2. To change clothes.

  3. To clip the nails or trim the moustache.

  4. To recite the Qurí‚n aloud or recite tasbÓh or dhikr with a raised voice if it does not disturb others.

  5. To have religious discussions and lectures and to speak about lawful matters.

What is dis-allowed during Iítik‚f

The following are not allowed in the masjid during the Iítik‚f:

  1. To talk about worldly affairs, backbite or tell an untruth.

  2. To remain silent and regard it as Ďib‚dah.

  3. To shave the beard.

What to do during Iítik‚f

All the time spent in Iítik‚f should be beneficially used for Ďib‚dah. This is the opportunity when one is able to observe all those devotions that could not be normally carried out. The fard sal‚h should be performed with meticulous care and humbleness and without haste. It is meritorious to perform all the [congregational] sal‚h in the first saff (row). Besides this the most virtuous act is reciting the Qurí‚n, thereafter duí‚, istighf‚r, and nafl sal‚h. As these are not the subject of this booklet, it will not be appropriate to mention them here in detail. However, for the immediate quick reference of the Muítakif a brief description is given here:

Til‚wat of the Qurí‚n

There is undoubtedly a great link between the month of Ramad‚n and the Holy Qurí‚n. Almost all All‚hís Divine Scriptures were revealed in this month. Therefore for those in sunnah Iítik‚f the most virtuous act, after the fard sal‚h, is the recitation of All‚hís final Book to humanity Ė the Qurí‚n. An effort should be made to complete at least one khatam during the sunnah Iítik‚f.


Iítik‚f is the opportune time to communicate with All‚h, to beseech of Him, to ask Him for forgiveness and to ask Him for all oneís needs. In the hadÓth it is said: ďDuí‚ is the essence of Ďib‚dah.Ē For forgiveness of sins the Sayyidul-Istighf‚r should be recited as many times as possible. Shaddad bin Aws ()†reports that RasŻlull‚h () said: ďSayyidul-Istighf‚r is that you should say:

Then he said: ďWhosoever recites it during the day with true faith and sincerity, then passes away on that day before dusk, verily he will be from those whose abode is Jannah; and whosoever reads it at night with true faith and sincerity, then dies before the break of dawn, he will indeed be from those whose eternal place is Jannah (Paradise).Ē

For duí‚ of a general nature it is advisable to use any authentic duí‚ manual. The Al-Hizb-ul-Aízam and Dal‚il-ul-Khayr‚t are recommended. The two manuals mentioned are comprehensive collections of RasŻlull‚hís () duí‚s. If our needs are supplicated in RasŻlull‚hís () own selected words in Arabic, there is a greater hope of quick acceptance. Oneís personal need could be asked in any language.

Nafl Sal‚h

The under mentioned nafl sal‚hs could be performed during the prescribed times. Care should be taken that no sal‚h be performed during the makrŻh times (ie. when the sun rises, when it is at its zenith, and when it sets; after the fard rakí‚t of Fajr sal‚h until after sunrise and after the fard rakí‚t of ĎAsr sal‚h until after Maghrib).


Every time wudŻí is performed two rakí‚t with the niyyah of Tahiyyatul-wudŻí should be performed. It is related in the hadÓth: ďWhoever of you performs wudŻí and performs it with care and performs two rakí‚t with full attention and sincerity, Jannah become obligatory for him.Ē

 Ishr‚q Sal‚h

After Fajr sal‚h remain in the same place and recite Qurí‚n, durŻd, dhikr, etc., and do not indulge in any worldly talk until the sun has fully risen (about 15 to 20 minutes after sunrise), then perform 2 or 4 rakí‚t. For this the reward is equal to that of one Hajj and one ĎUmrah. This sal‚h could still be performed after being occupied in worldly affairs, but the reward will be less.

Duh‚ Sal‚h

After mid-morning, when there is warmth in the rays of the sun perform 2 to 12 rakí‚t. There is great reward for this sal‚h. It is also called Nam‚z-e-Ch‚sht. It could be performed up to mid-day.


After the fard and two sunnah rakí‚t of Maghrib, perform a minimum of 6 rakí‚t to a maximum of 20 rakí‚t. The time of this sal‚h extends up to the time of ĎIsh‚ sal‚h.


This sal‚h is performed from after mid-night up to the beginning of Fajr time. This sal‚h is the most rewarding of all nafl sal‚h and is the most acceptable by All‚h. If it is not possible to awaken at night for this sal‚h, it could be performed after ĎIsh‚, though the reward will not be the same. 4 to 12 rakí‚t should be performed in the Tahajjud sal‚h.


This sal‚h consists of 4 rakí‚t wherein the tasbÓh ďSubh‚nall‚hi wal-hamdu lill‚hi wa l‚ il‚ha illall‚hu wall‚hu akbarĒ is recited 300 times. This tasbÓh should be read 15 times after than‚, before SŻrah F‚tihah. Then SŻrah F‚tihah and an additional sŻrah have to be recited and then the tasbÓh 10 times; then one goes into rukŻí. After reciting ďSubh‚na rabbiyal-azeemĒ thrice, the tasbÓh is said 10 times; and after saying ďSamiíall‚hu liman hamidahĒ while standing upright in qawmah, read the tasbÓh 10 times. Then in each sajdah after reading ďSubh‚na rabbiyal-aíl‚Ē it has to be read 10 times and similarly it will be read 10 times in jalsah, between both sajdahs. The remaining rakí‚t are performed in the same way.




Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756