Itikaf is a form of worship. It is formed by staying in a Mosque for a certain time. It is Ehtiyat that one should stay with the intention to worship Allah by praying formal or informal prayers although prayer is not a condition therein.
The time for this form of worship could be anytime when one is allowed to fast. The best time is the month of Ramadan, especially, the last ten days.
Conditions for I’tikaf during Ramadhan:
1. Intention as in the rest of the worship acts. It is necessary that the intention be made at the beginning of Itikaf so that the rule, requiring the worship act to be completed with intention, be followed thoroughly from the beginning to the end. The decision made at the beginning of the night to start Itikaf from the beginning of the following day will be open to objection. However, if one decides to start it from the beginning of the night it is not an offense to do so.
One is not allowed to change one’s mind from one Itikaf to another of the same qualities or different.
2. Belief in Islam.
3. Freedom from mental illness.
4. Fasting; thus the Itikaf of one who cannot fast for some reason is not valid.
5. Duration; which is three continuous days at least. It could be more but not less than three days.
If it is started from the beginning of a day the two nights in between will be part of the duration. Less than three days is not considered Itikaf.
Things to avoid during Itikaf:
1. Having sex and also according to Ehtiyat kissing or playing with one’s wife;
2. According to a necessary Ehtiyat causing a semen discharge,
3. And smelling perfumes for enjoyment; it is not an offense if one cannot enjoy the perfume because of some defect in his smelling ability.
4. Selling or buying in the form of a business deal, according to a necessary Ehtiyat; there is no offense to be occupied with allowable activities as sewing or writing etc., although it is a Mustahab Ehtiyat to avoid them too.
If one needs to buy something for food and there is no one to do the buying for him, it is not an offence for him to do it.
5. Expressing bitterness in talking about worldly or religious matters in order to prove one’s ability, not the truth which is one of the best worships.
The contracts of buying or selling during Itikaf invalidate Itikaf, but such contracts will be valid.
If Itikaf is invalidated because of having sex even, during the night, expiation will be due; if it is invalidated by other things, there will be no expiation, although it is a Mustahab Ehtiyat in this case too.
The expiation for invalidating an Itikaf is to set free a slave or if this is not possible, fast for two consecutive months or if this also is not possible, feed sixty poor people.