The Rulings of I`tikaf
[وَلاَ تُبَـشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمْ عَـكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَـجِدِ]
(And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in I`tikaf in the Masjids.)
`Ali bin Abu Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "This Ayah is about the man who stays in I`tikaf at the mosque during Ramadan or other months, Allah prohibited him from touching (having sexual intercourse with) women, during the night or day, until he finishes his I`tikaf.'' Ad-Dahhak said, "Formerly, the man who practiced I`tikaf would go out of the mosque and, if he wished, would have sexual intercourse (with his wife). Allah then said:
[وَلاَ تُبَـشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمْ عَـكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَـجِدِ]
(And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in I`tikaf in the Masjids.) meaning, `Do not touch your wives as long as you are in I`tikaf, whether you were in the mosque or outside of it'.'' It is also the opinion of Mujahid, Qatadah and several other scholars, that the Muslims used to have sexual intercourse with the wife while in I`tikaf if they departed the mosque until the Ayah was revealed. Ibn Abu Hatim commented, "It was reported that Ibn Mas`ud, Muhammad bin Ka`b, Mujahid, `Ata' Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Muqatil said that the Ayah means, `Do not touch the wife while in I`tikaf.'''
What Ibn Abu Hatim reported from these people is the agreed upon practice among the scholars. Those who are in I`tikaf are not allowed to have sexual intercourse as long as they are still in I`tikaf in the mosque. If one has to leave the mosque to attend to a need, such as to relieve the call of nature or to eat, he is not allowed to kiss or embrace his wife or to busy himself with other than his I`tikaf. He is not even allowed to visit ailing persons, but he can merely ask about their condition while passing by. I`tikaf has several other rulings that are explained in the books (of Fiqh), and we have mentioned several of these rulings at the end of our book on Siyam (Fasting), all praise is due to Allah. Furthermore, the scholars of Fiqh used to follow their explanation of the rules for fasting with the explanation of the rules for I`tikaf, as this is the way these acts of worship were mentioned in the Qur'an.
By mentioning I`tikaf after fasting, Allah draws attention to practicing I`tikaf during the month of the fast, especially the last part of the month. The Sunnah of Allah's Messenger is that he used to perform I`tikaf during the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan until he died. Afterwards, the Prophet's wives used to perform I`tikaf as the Two Sahihs recorded from `A'ishah the Mother of the believers. It is reported in the Two Sahihs that Safiyyah, the daughter of Huyai, went to Allah's Messenger to visit him in the mosque while he was in I`tikaf. She had a talk with him for a while, then she got up in order to return home. The Prophet accompanied her back home, as it was night. Her house was at Usamah bin Zayd's house on the edge of Al-Madinah. While they were walking, two Ansari men met them and passed by them in a hurry, for they were shy to bother the Prophet while he was walking with his wife. He told them:
«عَلى رِسْلِكُمَا، إِنَّهَا صَفِيَّةُ بِنْتُ حُيَي»
(Do not run away! She is (my wife) Safiyyah bint Huyai.) Both of them said, "All praise is due to Allah, (How dare we think of any evil) O Allah's Messenger!'' The Prophet said (to them):
«إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَجْرِي مِنِ ابْنِ آدَمَ مَجْرَى الدَّمِ، وَإِنِّي خَشِيتُ أَنْ يَقْذِفَ فِي قُلُوبِكُمَا شَيْئًا، أَوْ قَالَ: شَرًّا»
(Shaytan reaches everywhere in the human body, that the blood reaches. I was afraid lest Shaytan might suggest an evil thought in your minds.)
Imam Ash-Shafi`i commented, "Allah's Messenger sought to teach his Ummah to instantly eliminate any evil thought, so that they do not fall into the prohibited. They (the two Ansari men) had more fear of Allah than to think evil of the Prophet . Allah knows best.''
The Ayah (2:187) prohibits sexual intercourse and anything like kissing or embracing that might lead to it during I`tikaf. As for having the wife helping the husband, it is allowed. It is reported in the Two Sahihs that `A'ishah said, "Allah's Messenger would bring his head near me (in her room) and I would comb his hair, while I was on my menses. He would enter the room only to attend to what a man needs.''
[تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ]
(These are the limits (set) by Allah) means, `This is what We have explained, ordained, specified, allowed and prohibited for fasting. We also mentioned the fast's objectives, what is permitted during it, and what is required of it. These are the set limits that Allah has legislated and explained, so do not come near them or transgress them.' `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, "(Allah's set limits mentioned in the Ayah) mean these four limits (and he then recited):
[أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَى نِسَآئِكُمْ]
(It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of As-Siyam (fasting).) and he recited up to:
[ثُمَّ أَتِمُّواْ الصِّيَامَ إِلَى الَّيْلِ]
(then complete your Sawm (fast) till the nightfall.) My father and other's used to say similarly and recite the same Ayah to us.''
[كَذلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ]
(Thus does Allah make clear His Ayat to mankind) meaning, `Just as He explains the fast and its rulings, He also explains the other rulings by the words of His servant and Messenger, Muhammad .' Allah continues:
[لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ]
(to mankind that they may attain Taqwa.) meaning, `So that they know how to acquire the true guidance and how to worship (Allah).' Similarly, Allah said:
[هُوَ الَّذِى يُنَزِّلُ عَلَى عَبْدِهِ ءَايَـتٍ بَيِّنَـتٍ لِّيُخْرِجَكُمْ مِّنَ الظُّلُمَـتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُمْ لَرَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ ]
(It is He Who sends down manifest Ayat to His servant (Muhammad ) that He may bring you out from (types of) darkness into the light. And verily, Allah is to you full of kindness, Most Merciful.) (57:9)
[وَلاَ تَأْكُلُواْ أَمْوَلَكُمْ بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ وَتُدْلُواْ بِهَآ إِلَى الْحُكَّامِ لِتَأْكُلُواْ فَرِيقًا مِّنْ أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالإِثْمِ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ ]
(188. And eat up not one another's property unjustly (in any illegal way, e.g., stealing, robbing, deceiving), nor give bribery to the rulers (judges before presenting your cases) that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully.)