Permissibility of eating in the masjid during I'tikaaf

Question

salam just wanted to ask you in itikaf does a person have to do iftar in the masjid? Does he have to do it in the masjid hall or can he do it in a separate room in the masjid? Is it ok to eat in the masjid?

Answer

Wa alaykum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

I pray that you are well, and in the best of health and spirits. May Allah grant you all good in this life and the next.

 

Ramadhan is a month where the slaves of Allah turn to Allah wholeheartedly.  The pinnacle and climax of this blessed month comes in the last third, which features many virtues.

 

Ibn Khuzaymah reports in his sahih, that the Prophet( Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “The first ten days of Ramadhan are a mercy, the middle ten days are a means for forgiveness, and the final ten days are a means of emancipation from the fire of hell.” (Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah 3/192)

 

The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) also said, “Seek the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr) in the last ten days, on the odd nights.” (Sahih Muslim 8/58)

 

Hence, the most fitting and apt worship in such days is to bind oneself to the masjid in search of the mercy of Allah.

 

Ata al-Khurasaani (Allah have mercy on him) used to say: “The example of a mu’takif (one performing i’tikāf) is the example of a person laying humbly before Allah the Almighty saying: I shall not move away until He forgives me” (Badaa’i Al-Sanaa’i, 2/273)

 

The essence and cornerstone of i’tikaaf is derived from the word i’tikaaf itself; to attach one’s self.  In i’tikaaf, one attaches himself to the house of Allah, hence, any action which contravenes the integral of i’tikaf will be regarded as a nullifier of i’tikaaf.

 

Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) wouldn’t enter the house whilst in i’tikaf except to answer the call of nature.(Sahih Muslim 3/208)

 

Scholars have inferred from the above hadith that it will not be permissible for a mu’takif to exit the masjid, except for that necessity which cant be fulfilled in the masjid.  Such a necessity falls into one of three categories:

Legal (shar’i) necessity : For example, the Jumuah prayer or for the Eid salaah

Natural necessity: Such as relieving oneself, removal of impurity or a ritual bath due to nocturnal emission.

External necessity: such as the collapsing of the masjid or being driven out from the masjid by an oppressor.(Hashiya at-Tahtaawi p.702-703)

 

Consuming food isn’t a necessity for which one has to exit the masjid, as it can be carried out in the masjid.  Hence, a person in i’tikaaf will eat and drink in the masjid.  However, if there aren’t any facilities to eat in the masjid and nobody at all to arrange and serve food to the mu’takif, it will be permissible to leave the masjid for eating purposes.  This will then be regarded as a natural necessity. (Fatawa Mahmudiyyah 10/281)

 

It should be borne in mind that one who does departs the masjid with a valid reason, must return to the masjid once the need which he intended for has been executed.(Fatawa Mahmudiyyah 10/231)

 

As long as one eats inside the actual masjid (that portion which was intended upon construction to be exclusive for salaah) it will be permissible.  Hence, if there are rooms next to the prayer hall within the masjid complex and they were intended to be part of the masjid in the technical sense, it will be permissible to eat in there also.  (Imdaadul Fataawa 2/174)

 

However, if the adjacent rooms weren’t intended to be incorporated into the actual legal masjid, then it will be incorrect for a mu’takif to go there.  (Fatawa Mahmudiyyah 10/279)

 

Eating in the masjid:

With regards to the permissibility of eating in a masjid, Allah the Almighty said regarding Maryam (Allah be pleased with her),

Every time Zakariyya entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Maryam, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.”  (Surah Aal ‘Imraan  verse 37)

 

Imam Baghawi mentions that the prayer chamber of Maryam was inside the masjid.  Also, Maryam was in i’tikaf.  (Tafseer al-Baghawi 1/434)

 

By virtue of the alluded meaning (ishaaratun-nass), the permissibility of eating in the masjid can be derived from the above verse.

 

It is narrated that Abdullah ibn al-Harith said, “In the time of the messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) we used to eat bread and meat in the masjid.” (Ibn Majah p.555)

 

Imam Zayla`i said in his Tabyeen al-Haqaaiq Sharh Kanz al-Daqaiq , “Eating in the mosque is permitted, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to eat in the mosque even without any pressing need (darura) to do so.” (Tabyeen al-haqaaiq 1/315)

 

Although it is permissible to eat in the masjid, it must be kept clean at all times. (Fatawa Mahmudiyyah 15/207)

 

In conclusion, a mu’takif will eat in the masjid as this does not violate the sanctity of the masjid, nor is it a pressing need for which one has to abandon the i’tikaaf temporarily.  If however, no arrangements can be made and there isn’t anybody to deliver the food, it will be permissible to exit the masjid and fulfil the necessity of eating.  In the scenario of eating inside the masjid, one must abstain from dirtying the masjid and making it unpleasant.

 

And Allah knows best.

Please remember us in your duas.

 

Maulana Faraz ibn Adam

Student of the Darul iftaa

 

Checked and approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Darul iftaa Mahmudiyyah


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