Should there be a group leader during i‘tikaaf (spiritual retreat), in other words, to appoint someone as a supervisor for those who are observing i‘tikaaf at the mosque?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and messenger.
I‘tikaaf is an act of the Sunnah that is established by the texts of the Quran and the Prophetic tradition. We have not found anything to indicate that the appointment of a person as a leader on those observing i‘tikaaf is recommended or required. However, ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab was reported to have said, “If you are three, then appoint one of you as your leader.” [Al-Bayhaqi] This tradition is narrated by Al-A‘mash and pertains to the etiquette of travelling.
Ath-Thahabi cited this tradition in Al-Mizaan from ‘Umar in the following wording, “If you are three on a journey, then appoint one of you as your leader. Such is a leader that is appointed by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” Ath-Thahabi said that a group of narrators narrated this tradition from Al-A‘mash but did not attribute it to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. That being said, there is nothing wrong if a group of people who are observing i‘tikaaf appoint one of them as their supervisor in order to make the arrangements for food and the like, if needed.
Allaah Knows best.
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