A lady asked the following question about etikaf which is done during the month of Ramadan: “Is it allowed to perform [the Ramadan] etikaf at home and can its duration be three days?”
In his letter dated 9 August 2015, Huzooraa gave the following answer to this issue:
“As far as the masnun etikaf [according to the practice of the Prophetsa] is concerned, which is performed during Ramadan, it is proven from the Holy Quran and hadith that it cannot be performed at home for three days.
“It is evident from the practice of the Holy Prophetsa that he used to perform etikaf during Ramadan in the mosque for at least ten days. Hence, the following is mentioned in a hadith:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضِیَ اللّٰهُ عَنْهَا زَوْجِ النَّبِیِّ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّ النَّبِیَّ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ يَعْتَكُِفُ الْعَشْرَ الْأَوَاخِرَ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ حَتَّى تَوَفَّاهُ اللّٰهُ
“‘The Holy Prophetsa used to perform etikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he passed away.’ [Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Etikaf, Bab al-Etikafi fil-Ashril-Awakhiri wal-etikafi fil masajidi kullihaa]
“Likewise, in the Holy Quran, where Allah the Exalted has mentioned matters related to Ramadan, there He has also given commandments regarding etikaf. He says:
وَلَا تُبَاشِرُوْهُنَّ وَأَنْتُمْ عَاكِفُوْنَ فِی الْمَسَاجِدِ
“That is, firstly, any conjugal relationship between a husband and a wife is not permitted during etikaf in Ramadan and secondly, mosques are the places designated for etikaf. [Surah al-Baqrah, Ch.2: V.188]
“We also find further explanation of this issue in ahadith that the etikaf of Ramadan can only take place in a mosque. Hence, Hazrat Aishara narrates:
السُّنَّةُ عَلَى الْمُعْتَكِفِ أَنْ لَا يَعُوْدَ مَرِيْضًا وَلَا يَشْهَدَ جَنَازَةً وَلَا يَمَسَّ امْرَأَةً وَلَا يُبَاشِرَهَا وَلَا يَخْرُجَ لِحَاجَةٍ إِلَّا لِمَا لَا بُدَّ مِنْهُ وَلَا اعْتِكَافَ إِلَّا بِصَوْمٍ وَلَا اعْتِكَافَ إِلَّا فِیْ مَسْجِدٍ جَامِعٍ
“‘The sunnah for one who is observing etikaf is not to visit a patient, not to attend a funeral, not to touch his wife or have conjugal relationships with her, not to go out of the mosque for anything except for the most necessary reasons that cannot be avoided. There is no etikaf without fasting and there is no etikaf except in a congregational mosque.’ [Sunan Abi Daud, Kitab al-Siyam, Bab al-Mu‘takifi ya‘ood-ul-mareeda]
“Thus, according to the Holy Quran and ahadith of the Holy Prophetsa, the masnun etikaf of Ramadan, as practiced by the Holy Prophetsa, is the one that is observed for at least ten days in a mosque.