Can one perform i‘tikaf during Ramadan without fasting?


Someone from Germany asked Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa, whether performing i‘tikaf during Ramadan without fasting is considered an innovation. Furthermore, he asked if there were any traditions or examples from the Companions of the Holy Prophetsa regarding performing i‘tikaf without fasting. Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 10 May 2022, provided the following answer to this question:

“From the sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa, it is evident that he performed i‘tikaf during Ramadan only while fasting. That is why Hazrat Aishara stated:

 لَا اعْتِكَافَ إِلَّا بِصَوْمٍ وَلَا اعْتِكَافَ إِلَّا فِي مَسْجِدٍ جَامِعٍ

“‘[…] There is no i‘tikaf without fasting, and there is no i‘tikaf except in a congregational mosque.’ (Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab as-sawm, Bab al-mu‘takifi ya‘udu l-marid).

“Hence, regarding the masnun i‘tikaf [i.e., one according to the general practice of the Holy Prophetsa], the Companions of the Holy Prophetsa and scholars of jurisprudence are in agreement that it necessitates fasting. The perpetually observed sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa was also to observe i‘tikaf in the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-i‘tikaf, Bab i‘tikafi l‘ashri l’awakhiri min ramadan).

“As for observing i‘tikaf outside of Ramadan or doing so due to a vowed commitment [nazr], such i‘tikaf can be undertaken without fasting. This i‘tikaf can last for a few days or just a few hours. Hence, it is narrated from Hazrat Umarra that he said to the Holy Prophetsa, ‘I had vowed during the days of Ignorance [al-jahiliyyah] that I would observe i‘tikaf for a night in the Sacred Mosque. When I mentioned this to the Holy Prophetsa, he instructed me to fulfil my vow.’ (Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitab an-nuzuri wa l-’ayman, Bab ma ja’a fi wafa’i n-nazr).

“In conclusion, the masnun i‘tikaf during Ramadan can only be observed with fasting during the last ten days of Ramadan in a mosque. However, i‘tikaf outside of Ramadan may be observed without fasting and for a variable duration.”

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