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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
Question:

What is the difference between the
“Khulwah ” (seclusion) and
“I‘tikaaf ” during Ramadan ?

Fatwa:
All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of
the Worlds. I testify that there is none
worthy of worship except Allah, and that
Muhammad is His Slave and
Messenger.
Scholars have defined the Sharee‘ah-
approved I‘tikaf as “Staying in the
mosque for the purpose of worshipping
Allah.” It is a valid act in Islam according
to the Quran, Sunnah and the scholars’
consensus.
Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {…
And do not have relations with them as
long as you are staying for worship in the
mosques…} [Quran 2:187]

With regard to the Sunnah , there are
many authentic Hadeeths narrated by Al-
Bukhari, Muslim and others proving that
the Prophet, performed this act of
worship, namely, I‘tikaf.
As for the scholarly consensus, Ibn
Qudamah mentioned in Al-Mughni:
“Ibn Al-Munthir said, ‘Scholars have
unanimously agreed that I‘tikaf is an act
of Sunnah and not obligatory, unless one
vows to perform it. In such a case, it will
be obligatory.’”
I‘tikaf, as unanimously stated by the
scholars, is an act of Sunnah during the
last ten days of Ramadan. I‘tikaf may
also be called Jiwar (neighborhood) as it
came in an authentic Hadeeth narrated
on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah.

The rationale behind the legislation of
I‘tikaf is to reform and refine one’s soul
as well as isolate oneself to be devoted
solely to worshipping Allah The Almighty
and to self-reckoning.

As for the term Khulwah (seclusion),
none of the senior scholars have used it
to refer to I‘tikaf. Hence, it is better to
use the Sharee‘ah-approved terminologies
that were used by the scholars as there is
no need for introducing new terms that
may be ambiguous.
Linguistically speaking, Khulwah may be
more specific than I‘tikaf, because the
person who performs I‘tikaf may or may
not be in seclusion.

However, Khulwah may also be more
general than I‘tikaf, because it may take
place inside or outside the mosque. As for
the ruling on Khulwah, if it is for
performing Thikr (mentioning and
remembrance of Allah) and acts of
worship away from religious innovations,
then it is recommended. Imam An-
Nawawi said about such type, “Khulwah
is the practice of the righteous and
devoted worshippers.”
Allah Knows best.

www.islamweb.net/en/article/154199/khulwah-seclusion-vs-itikaf-during-ramadan

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