“Khulwah” (seclusion) vs. “I‘tikaf” – during Ramadan {Islam}

Posted on June 10, 2018 · Posted in Blog, General, Personal


What is the difference between the “Khulwah” (seclusion) and “I‘tikaaf” ?during Ramadan?
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  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) 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.

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