It is reported by Hadrat ‘Ayeshah Siddiqah Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anha that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used to observe Itikaf in Last Ten Days of Ramadan in life and continued this Practice till he met allah Almighty.
Reference: [Sahih Bukhari, Vol 1, Page 271 – Sahih Muslim, Vol 1, Page 371]
Hadrat Anas Radi ALLAHu Ta’ala Anhu Reported that Prophet Muhammad S.A.W used to engage Itikaf every year in last days of Ramadan. One Year he could not perform Itikaf and the next Year he observed Itikaaf for twenty days in Ramazan.
It is recommended that every Muslim make at least one i’tikaf in his/her life. There must be at least few people in every community who should do it in every masjid every year to keep this tradition alive. Men should do I’tikaf in the masjid so that they can pray in jam’ah and also offer the Friday prayers.
The virtues of I’tikaf are not limited to men; women also can capitalize of it. However, women should not perform I’tikaf in the masjid. Their I’tikaf is only possible in the house. The procedure is as follows:
Women should sit for I’tikaf in that place in the house which has been set aside for Salah and ‘Ibadah. If no such place has been previously set aside, then a place must be so set aside anterior to the beginning of I’tikaf, and I’tikaf must consequently be performed therein.
If no specific place has been built or set aside in the house for Salah, and it is not possible for some reason to so build or set aside a place therein, then in such event a woman may at her discretion demarcate any place within the house and perform I’tikaf there. (Alamghiri)
It is necessary for a married woman to obtain the consent of her husband for the purpose of performing I’tikaf. It is not permissible for a woman to perform I’tikaf without the permission of her husband. (Shami) However, husbands should not without reason deprive their wives of performing I’tikaf by refusing consent. On the contrary, they should grant consent.
The sunnah of i’tikaf is that one make its intention and begin the i’tikaf on the evening of the 20th of Ramadanfrom sunset time and continue until the sighting of the moon for Eid-ul-Fitr. During I’tikaf men should stay in the masjid day and night and should not leave it except for the use of toilet or shower. They are allowed to eat also inside the masjid, but if it is not convenient they may go outside and come back as soon as they finish.
During i’tikaf one should spend most of one’s time in prayer, reading of the Qur’an, zikr and reflection. Engaging in business and other worldly conversation and activities is not allowed during I’tikaf.
However, attending a Funeral or visiting a sick person or leaving for any emergency is allowable.