What is the minimum period necessary for a valid i‘tikaaf?
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that none is worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and messenger.
Muslim scholars held different opinions regarding the minimum period of i‘tikaaf. The majority of scholars are of the view that the minimum period of it is what is regarded as i‘tikaaf according to custom. Ibn ‘Aabideen, who is one of the Hanafi scholars, said in his Haashiyah:
According to Muhammad (Ibn Al-Hasan), the minimum length of time for (supererogatory) i‘tikaaf is an hour of the night or the day. It is the apparent meaning of the narration of Imaam Abu Haneefah. That is because supererogatory acts of worship are based on permissibility and this is also the opinion that he adopts in giving Fatwa.
The author of Kashshaaf Al-Qinaa', who is one of the Hanbali scholars, said:
The minimum length of time for observing i‘tikaaf is an hour. It is said in Al-Insaaf: "The minimum length of time for i‘tikaaf, if it is voluntary or due to an unspecific vow, is that based on which a person could be called a mu‘takif who stays in seclusion in the mosque for worship purposes."
The author of Nihaayat Al-Muhtaaj ila Sharh Al-Minhaaj, which are references on the Shaafi‘i school of Fiqh, said:
The most correct opinion is that it is stipulated in i‘tikaaf to remain in seclusion for a time that is commonly regarded as a stay, even without stillness, provided that it lasts for a period more than that of offering rukoo‘(bowing) in prayer with tranquility.
The opinion adopted by the Maliki scholars is that the minimum period for i‘tikaaf is a day and a night. ‘Ulaysh said in Minah Al-Jaleel Sharh Mukhtasar Khaleel:
Whoever vows to observe i‘tikaaf and started it without having specified a time for it is obliged to stay for the minimum period that is required for i‘tikaaf to be valid—a day and a night according to the opinion that we adopt; and a day according to the other opinion.
The first opinion, which is the opinion of the majority of the scholars, is more correct, for there is no textual evidence on defining a certain time for i‘tikaaf. Nevertheless, it is better, according to Shafi‘i and Hanbali scholars, that the duration of i‘tikaaf be no less than one day.
Allah Knows best.
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