Nabi (S.A.W) and Itikhaaf

Question ID: 16054

Respected Mufti Sahib,

Assalamu-alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh.

With all due respect I have read your comments about the mass Itikaaf programmes taking place in the month of Ramadhaan. Whilst I acknowledge that some of the actions mentioned by you are not substantiated even by our pious elders, I think that you cannot paint all the Itikaaf programmes with the same brush. Hence, what will you say about the following :-

1. Have you not read the Hadeeth in which Rasulullah sallalahu alaihi wasallam stated that he sat for I’tikaaf for the 1st 10 days of Ramadhaan in search of Laylatul Qadr, then for the next 10 days until it was revealed to him that this night comes in the last 10 days; whereupon he stated something to this effect that : “he who wishes, should sit in I’tikaaf with me for the last 10 days.” Was this not approval for a group of Sahabah (radhiallahu anhum) gathering together for I’tikaaf with Rasulullah sallalahu alaihi? Would the Sahabah radhiallahu anhum have abstained from sitting in I’tikaaf with Rasulullah sallalahu alaihi wasallam after receiving an invitation like that? Yes of course, Masjid An-Nabawi was not so big in that era to accommodate large crowds.

2. Are you going to place spiritual luminaries such as Hazrat Shaikhul-Hadeeth Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya Saheb rahimahullah and Hazrat Mufti Mahmood Hasan Saheb Gangohi rahimahullah (who used to have thousands of people sitting with them in Itikaaf with meals provided of course) in the same egg basket as those whom you term as introducing bid’aat in their mass Itikaaf programmes? Someone mentioned to me that even your esteemed personality was blessed with the good fortune of sitting for Itikaaf in the khidmat of these great luminaries. If these Buzrug’s methods cannot be used as Shar’ie proofs then what will you say about #3, #4, #5 and #6 below?

3. Spiritual luminaries such as Hazrat Masihul – Ummat Moulana Masihullah Saheb rahimahullah established Khanqas for scores of people who would be housed in rooms to participate in Hazrat’s Majaalis at designated days and times. Was this system (of having special times for Majaalis and they staying in special rooms for this purpose and the Shaikh making special tawajjuh on his mureeds and granting them khilafat) established from Rasulullah sallalahu alaihi wasallam? If you consider this as a form of Bid’ate – Hasanah and a method or treatment for spiritual maladies could not the same be said for the mass Itikaaf programmes?

4. Did Hazrat Moulana Husain Ahmed Madani rahimahullah and subsequently his son Hazrat Moulana As’ad Madani rahimahullah not have mass Itikaaf programmes with Khanqas being established in the Masjid? Did they not have the system where a Qari recited that night’s parah of Taraweeh with others listening? Did they not have loud Zhikr and Nafl congregational Nafl Salaah during Tahajjud time? I know you will say that Buzrug’s actions do not constitute Shar’ie proof but would a Khalifa of Hazrat Moulana Rashid Ahmed Saheb rahimahullah (Hazrat Madani rahimahullah) do any action contrary to the Sunnah?

5. Mass Itikaaf gatherings also take place at the markaz in Nizamuddin every year. Is that a bid’ah?

6. Was the modern-day Darul Uloom system (where students board and lodge in the Madaaris and attend classes according to a predetermined curriculum) established during the Era of Rasulullah sallalahu alaihi wasallam and Sahabah radhiallahu anhum? Ulema term this as a Bid’ah FOR the upliftment of Deen, hence a Bid’ate-Hasanah. Could not the same be said about the elders’ Itikaaf gatherings?


Marked as spam
Asked on August 18, 2015 1:21 pm
Private answer


Respected Sister in Islam,

Your email dated 30th July 2015 pertaining to ‘Mass I`tikaaf’ refers.

The answers to your queries are below:

1. Yes, we have read the Hadith, which we assume you are referring to that, appears in Bukhari Shareef.

The Hadith is as follows:

عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ يَعْتَكِفُ فِي الْعَشْرِ الأَوْسَطِ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ، فَاعْتَكَفَ عَامًا حَتَّى إِذَا كَانَ لَيْلَةَ إِحْدَى وَعِشْرِينَ، وَهِيَ اللَّيْلَةُ الَّتِي يَخْرُجُ مِنْ صَبِيحَتِهَا مِنِ اعْتِكَافِهِ قَالَ ‏ “‏ مَنْ كَانَ اعْتَكَفَ مَعِي فَلْيَعْتَكِفِ الْعَشْرَ الأَوَاخِرَ، وَقَدْ أُرِيتُ هَذِهِ اللَّيْلَةَ ثُمَّ أُنْسِيتُهَا، وَقَدْ رَأَيْتُنِي أَسْجُدُ فِي مَاءٍ وَطِينٍ مِنْ صَبِيحَتِهَا، فَالْتَمِسُوهَا فِي الْعَشْرِ الأَوَاخِرِ، وَالْتَمِسُوهَا فِي كُلِّ وِتْرٍ ‏”
Hadhrat Abu Saeed Khudri  reports that Rasulullaah  used to practice I`tikaf in the middle ten days of Ramadan and once he stayed in I`tikaf until the night of the twenty-first and it was the night in the morning of which he used to come out of his I`tikaf. Rasulullaah  said, “Whoever was in I`tikaf with me should stay in I`tikaf for the last ten days, for I was informed (of the date) of the Night (of Qadr) but I have been caused to forget it. (In the dream) I saw myself prostrating in mud and water in the morning of that night. So, look for it in the last ten nights and in the odd ones of them.”

Firstly, you have incorrectly claimed that Nabi  stated that he sat for I`tikaf. These Ahaadith were reported by the Sahaabah  and this one in particular is reported by Hadhrat Abu Saeed Khudri .

Also you have incorrectly stated that Nabi  sat for I`tikaf during the first 10 nights, whereas the Ahaadith mention the middle ten nights.

Finally, the hadith clearly states that Nabi  said, “Whoever WAS in I`tikaf with me, should stay for the last ten days…” Nabi  was not making a general announcement to the Sahaabah , but specifically to those who were already in I`tikaf.

The objective of I`tikaf is to find the Night of Qadr, so naturally since Nabi  was informed that it would come in the last 10 nights, he made this announcement to those who already were in I`tikaf that they continue until the end of Ramadhaan so that they may find the Night of Qadr.

Nowhere has it been mentioned in any hadith that Nabi  invited the Sahaabah  in general to join him in I`tikaf as is done nowadays. Also, it has never been reliably reported that any of the senior Sahaabah , like Hadhrat Abu Bakr or Umar  sat for I`tikaf. If the announcement was made as it is today, can we ever hope to envisage any Sahaabi  forgoing such an opportunity? I`tikaf is an individual Ibaadat.

Also, you will find in Bukhari Shareef, the hadith where Nabi  personally took down the I`tikaf tents of his wives, asking them if they deemed their sitting in I`tikaf with him a virtue. This hadith flies in the face of those who advocate mass I`tikaf. Keep in mind that this was after Nabi  consented to Hadhrat Aishah  sitting for I`tikaf. But when he saw the other wives sitting, he became upset.

To answer your question: NO! This act of Nabi  was not an approval for the general Sahaabah  to join him in I`tikaaf.

YES! As mentioned, it has not been reported that any senior Sahaabi  sat for I`tikaf (with or without) Nabi . So if the announcement of Nabi  was general as you claim, the senior Sahaabah  and countless others would definitely have sat with Nabi .

Another point to ponder – the Ahaadith clearly mention that Nabi  always sat for 10 days I`tikaaf and during one year he  sat for 20 days. Refer to hadith reported by Hadhrat Abu Hurairah  in Bukhaari Shareef:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَعْتَكِفُ فِي كُلِّ رَمَضَانَ عَشْرَةَ أَيَّامٍ، فَلَمَّا كَانَ الْعَامُ الَّذِي قُبِضَ فِيهِ اعْتَكَفَ عِشْرِينَ يَوْمًا‏

Hadhrat Abu Hurairah  reports that Nabi  used to perform I`tikaf every year in the month of Ramadhaan for ten days, and when it was the year of his death, he stayed in I`tikaf for twenty days.

And now look at the adverts of the I`tikaf programs held in our country. They advertise I`tikaf for 40 days, 30 days, 20 days and 10 days. Do these people regard themselves as more superior than Nabi ? Are they not adding to the Shariah??? The retort that Nabi  gave to his wives on the occasion of I`tikaf applies fully to these Bid`atees:

‏ آلْبِرُّ تُرَوْنَ بِهِنَّ
Do they regard this as a virtue???

2. It is an accepted fact that the actions of the Akaabireen are NOT Hujjat-e-Shariah. Our Akaabir did not announce their I`tikafs. People were not encouraged en masse to join the Hadhrat for I`tikaf. If you wish to claim that any of these personalities did in fact announce their I`tikaf and encouraged others to join them, then we would categorically state that it was not a proven act. Our understanding is that when people in the locality heard that the Hadhrat was sitting in I`tikaf they would also sit in the same Masjid for Barkat. The procedure was not as it is today. Besides, we are certain that if these pious personalities knew what their acts would result in, they would most certainly have discouraged it then even. Bid`ah gains impetus as time progresses. The Bid`ah acts of the Barelwis is also something that gradually worsened and many of their Bid`ahs also started with ‘good intention’ but as the years passed, it became hard-core. Look at the present scenarios – initially there would be one or two of these mass I`tikafs around our country, but this year Ramadhaan there were quite a few. They are increasing as the years go by. And then look at the severity to which this Bid`ah has sunk, in Zambia, women were allowed to sit near their Sheikh in I`tikaf!!! What next?

3. The difference between the Khanqahs and I`tikaf is like chalk and cheese. You are making Qiyaas ma`al faariq. Your analogy is lopsided. The establishment of Khanqahs are for spiritual reformation and are not regarded as integral parts of Deen. I`tikaf is an established act prescribed by the Shariah. When the Shariah specifies an act of Ibaadat, then it HAS to be carried out as the Shariah demands, and this means it has to be done as Nabi  and the Sahaabah  did. Besides, to the best of our knowledge, none of the Akabireen ever advertised for Murideen. They never announced that people must join their group and come to their Khanqahs. The Khanqahs were created because of the need and expediency. None of the Akabireen even encouraged their Khulafa to go back and establish Khanqahs of their own. There were no official so called Khanqahs of our elders. It was a natural system that was done as per need. Read our article carefully and you will see what the definition of a Bid`ah is.

4. Firstly understand that it is not us that say the actions of the Akaabireen do not constitute Shar`i proof, this is an established fact of our Shariah. You make it sound like we coined that usool. However, that does not change the FACT that making loud thikr in the Masjid in union is not proven. Having congregational Nafl Salaat in a Masjid is Makhrooh Taharmi – regardless of who carries it out. Whatever acts you describe in your email or wish to refer to that were carried out by any of the Akaabir, whilst we have the utmost respect for our Akaabir, we are compelled to rule in accordance to the Shariah. A non proven is non proven regardless of which camp it emanates. Whilst the Akaabir may have had their reasons and have possibly erred, we are guided by the Shariah and in acts of Ibaadat, we follow the established practices of Nabi , his Sahaabah  and the Khairul Quroon.

5. Nizaamuddeen is a Tablighi Markaz. The mass I’tikaaf will not be a Shaari proof.

6. This contention was answered above. See reply no. 3. Your arguments, analogies, and comparisons are not tenable in the Shariah.

And Allaah  knows best


(1) You have missed the point entirely. Since you have reacted
emotionally, you have not understood what has been criticized
regarding the mass I’tikaafs.

Do read and re-read the criticism of these mass I’tikaafs to
ascertain what exactly has been criticized.

Your citation of the Hadith pertaining to Rasulullah’s I’tikaaf
confirms that you are unaware of the mode of the I’tikaaf of
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah. Contrary to
what you have mentioned, the Sahaabah did not join Rasulullah
(sallallahu alayhi wasallam) en-masse for I’tikaaf. In fact, the vast
majority of the Sahaabah and the illustrious Aimmah of the Taabi-een
era did not observe I’tikaaf.

This fact is so conspicuous that it constrained the illustrious Imaam
Maalik (rahmatullah alayh) to comment: “I pondered about I’tikaaf and
the abstention of the Sahaabah from it despite the fact that they were
devoted followers of the Sunnah.” The Fuqaha confirm that the great
majority of the Sahaabah did not observe I’tikaaf.

Imaam Maalik (rahmatullah alayh) further said that it did not reach
him that Hadhrat Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthmaan (radhiyallahu anhum) nor
the senior Aimmah of the Salaf except Abu Bakr Ibn Abdur Rahmaan, had
observed I’tikaaf. Thus, there was no group of Sahaabah who had
joined Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in I’tikaaf.

Furthermore, Nabi-e-Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not give
bayaans during I’tikkaaf. There was no festival mood. There were no
wedding degs of food.

Another fact which you miss is that no one forbids anyone from
making ibaadat in the Masjid the whole night from the 1st Ramadhaan
until the end of Ramadhaan. What is criticized, is the festival which
takes place. The waste is haraam. People spending millions of rands
in air fares, coming from different countries to sit in a so-called
I’tikaaf with a luminary, are labouring in self-deception. If these
outsiders were really sincere, and if their ibaadat was truly for
Allah’s sake, they would have sat in I’tikaaf in their neighbourhood


But there is no fun and no merrymaking sitting in a small neighbourhood
Masjid in relative seclusion.

(2) The spiritual luminaries to whom you have made reference are not
our models nor our Imaams whom we make Taqleed of. We follow
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah and the
Aimmah Mujtahideen. If the deeds of the spiritual luminaries are in
conflict with the Sunnah, and if their deeds lead to bid’ah, as they
have, then we set these aside. We do not make taqleed of the errors or
peculiarities of spiritual luminaries regardless who they may me.

Allaamah Sha’raani (rahmatullah alayh) said:

“He who takes daleel from the obscurities (and errors) of the Ulama,
makes his exit from Islam.”

Do not cite spiritual luminaries to us, for we are aware of the
Qur’aan’s criticism of those who make taqleed of even the errors of
the spiritual luminaries. Allah Ta’ala criticizing those who follow
the spiritual luminaries even in error, says in the Qur’aan Majeed:

“They take their ahbaar (scholars) and ruhbaan (spiritual luminaries)
as arbaab (gods) besides Allah….”

Tell us on the basis of the Dalaa-il of the Shariah where we have
erred in our conclusions and fatwa. Do not make reference to
spiritual luminaries whose amal is not daleel in the Shariah. You
quote the spiritual luminaries of this belated age while we quote
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), the Sahaabah, the Taabieen
and the amal of the Ummah of fourteen centuries.

(3) The above discussion has dealt with ‘spiritual luminaries’. You
have again mentioned the same issue. You quote Hadhrat Masihullah
(rahmatullah alayh). For your edification, Hadhrat Masihullah
(rahmatullah alayh) never sat in I’tikaaf in his entire lifetime. We
are discussing mass I’tikaaf. Not khaanqas. Do not detract from the
issue with diversions. Do not confuse issues. Khaanqas are different
issues. Adhere to the topic. Hadhrat Masihullah never sat in I’tikaaf
with even one mureed.

(4) We do not follow Hadhrat Husain Ahmad Madani in his personal
practices. We do not follow him in his act of making Tahajjud Salaat
with Jamaat which is Makrooh Tahrimi in terms of the Hanafi Math-hab.
Whilst we have never criticized Hadhrat Madani (rahmatullah alayh) for
his act, we are not his muqallideen. Quote the Sunnah to us, not
luminaries, or better, do not cite the acts of luminaries as daleel.
We state with emphasis that the mass I’tikaaf programmes are not proven
regardless of who practised it.

(5) The Tabligh Jamaat markaz is not among the Dalaail-of the Shariah.
It is unnecessary to cite the markaz as daleel, for it is not among
the Dalaa-il of the Shariah.

(6) You have failed to understand the thrust of our
argument because you are blinded by emotional bias. The
establishment of Darul Ulooms has absolutely no relationship to the
wasteful mass I’tikaaf festivals. You are again confusing issues. The
permissibility of Darul Ulooms is not a basis for forging
permissibility for the waste and all the other evils attendant to mass
I’tikaafs. The evils have been pointed out in articles written by
other Ulama. Read their articles with an open mind.

Keep your mind focused on the evils and the haraam activities which
are taking place at the mass festivals called I’tikaaf, and fear
Allah Ta’ala.

May Allah Ta’ala guide us all.


1) Concerning Ahadith, the Fuqaha Mujtahideen understood even better than the compilers of Ahadith.

Thus Imaam-e- Azaam, Imaam Abu Hanifa (A.R.) classified Itekhaaf as Sunnat Muakkhidah alal Kifayaa. You fully understand the implication of this Fiqhi ruling.

2) Imam Abdullaah bin Dawood al-Khareebi (A.R.) passed away 213AH used to say:-

“It is Waajib for all Muslims that they make Duaa unto Allaah Ta’alaa for Imaam Abu Hanifa (A.R.) and that they say that he has (with the Fazl of Allaah Ta’alaa) safe guarded the Sunnat and Fiqh” [Taarikh Baghdad Pg. 342 Vol. 12 al Bidaaya wan Nihaaya Pg. 107 Vol. 1]

3) Imaam Tirmithi (A.R.) said:-

“He (Imaam Saheb) was a great Aalin in interpreting the Ahadith” [Tirmithi Pg. 118 Vol. 1]

Imaam Tirmithi (A.R.) states:-

“So have the Fuqaha stated and it is them who know more about the Ahadith” [Vol. 1 Pg. 118]

4) Our Ashaab (the Ahanaaf Fuqaha) said:-

“Verily, the majority of the Sahabah (R.A.) did not observe Itikhaaf.”

Imaam Maalik (A.R.) said:-

“It did not reach me that Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthmaan Ibnul Musayyib. Nor anyone else from the these Aimmah of the Salaf except Abu Bakr bin Abdur Rahman had observed Itikhaaf”

5) Imaam Maalik (A.R.) said:-

“I pondered in (the matter of) Itikhaaf and the abstention of the Sahabah (R.A.) from it despite the fast that Rasulullaah (S.A.W) had always observed it”

In Umdatul Qaari Allamah Aini (ar) responding to Imaam Zuhris surprise at the abstention from Itikfaaf by the vast majority of people he says Allamah Sha’raani (A.R.) said “He who takes proof from the exceptions (and error) of the Ulema makes his exit from Islaam” [Tambeelul Mughtaneen]

The ‘Tafroodaat’ (exceptions) of the elders and seniors does not constitute the Shariat, as Ulema of Deoband, we follow the main stream Hanafi Mazhab.

Mufti Abdul Wahid of Lahore has written concerning the actions of Hadhrat Sheikh Zakariyya (A.R.). [Read]

Sufficient literature and audio material can be found on our web site,

The activities in Nizaamuddeen are not Shaari proofs.

6) Kindly read the last chapter of our translation entitled “The Path of Sunnat” original by Moulana Sarfaraz Khan (A.R.).

The sad part is that you have not understood the definition of Bidaat that is why you are utterly confused. Read, “The Path of Sunnat” and “Differences in the Ummat” and “The Straight Path” by Moulana Yusuf Ludhanvi (A.R.)

Most Ulema following the guidance of Mujahid Alif Fi Thaani (ar) do not accept the concept of ‘Bidat Hasnah’

You must also know that in one mass Itikhaaf R800,000,00 was spent whilst in another R500,000,00.
It cost +- R400.00 to maintain one Mutakif for the last 10 days.

Most who sit do not even know the basic laws of Itikhaaf whilst in some setups shower facilities are temporarily installed for the Sheikh in charge.

The whole person of seeking Lailatul Qadr vice seclusion, eating less, talking less and sleeping is totally non-existent.

Did Rasulullaah (S.A.W.) conduct all those activities that are done these days.
Thus we are adding in Ibadaat.
Follow the advice of Nabi (S.A.W.): “Seek Fatawa from your heart.”

The difficulty arises when one does not want to accept. As a result 1000 excuses are tendered.
The heart is not ready to accept the proper, valid Shaari proofs but one clings to superficial benefits, follows ones whims and desires.

We must fear Allaah and adopt the Shariat in its true Divine proper manner.
There is very little hope for one who regards non-proven acts as Thawaab earning. This dashes the chances of reformation.

May Allaah guide us all
A.H. Elias (Mufti)
May Allaah be with him.

Marked as spam
Answered on August 18, 2015 9:06 pm