How long is the minimum for ei’tikaf? Can women do ei’tikaf at home?


One of the special features of Ramadan is ei’tikaf, which is going into seclusion to worship Allah Almighty.

It is the sunnah to go into seclusion in the last ten days of Ramadan, as the Prophet (peace be on him) used to do and his wives continued do ei’tikaf in the mosque and continued this practice in the mosque after he passed away (peace be upon him).

Where can one be in ei’tikaf?

Men can only perform ei’tikaf in the mosque. The majority opinion is that women have to do ei’tikaf in the mosque but the Hanafi opinion is that women can also go into ei’tikaf in a room in their home, where they can be undisturbed.

What does on do in ei’tikaf?

It is a time to shut down all distractions and focus fully on Allah Almighty. During ei’tikaf one can recite Quran, make dhikr, recite darood, reflect and repent. Men perform their salah in congregation.

How long does one need to stay in ei’tikaf?

Ei’tikaf, in Arabic, means ‘staying’, and can mean a long period of time or a short one, there is no set duration and so it can be short, with the intention of being in isolation with the intention of solely dedicating your time to the worship of Allah.

Some scholars are of the opinion that the minimum length of ei’tikaf is one night which was the view of Abu Hanifah and was some Malikis. However that Ya’la ibn Umayyah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

I will stay in the mosque for an hour, and I am only staying to observe ei’tikaf. [Ibn Abi Shaybah]

“Hour” here refers to a period of time but it does not mean an hour in the modern sense of sixty minutes. 

How do you prepare for ei’tikaf?

The Prophet (peace be on him) used to do ghusl (take a bath) before laylatul-qadr, preparing for the very special meeting with Allah Almighty during the night prayers, and conversing with Allah Almighty by reciting His book.

Prophetic ei’tikaf

The Prophet (peace be upon him) would seclude himself on the last 10 nights seeking laylatul-qadr. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) would erect a tent made from reed mats and bamboos for him. The Prophet (peace be on him) would remain in ei’tikaf until Eid.

Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated:

‘With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) used to tighten his belt and used to stay up all night, and he would also wake his family.’ (Bukhari)

The Prophet (peace be on him) would tighten his belt means that he stayed away from his home and his wives, as he was in e‘itikaf in the mosque.

During these ten days he would stay awake almost all night in worship.

Whoever stands in night prayers in laylatul-qadr out of iman of Allah Almighty and seeking reward from Allah will have his former sins forgiven.  (Bukhari and Muslim)

The reward of ei’tikaf and laylatul-qadr are enormous. According to authentic hadith the doors of supplication are open that night.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to urge (the people) to perform (optional Tarawih) prayer at night during the month of Ramadan. He did not order them or make it obligatory on them. He (ﷺ) said, “Whosoever stands up in night prayers during the month of Ramadan, with faith and in the hope of receiving Allah’s reward, will have his past sins forgiven.” [Muslim]

Whosoever performs e’tikaf with faith and in the hope of receiving Allah’s reward, will have his past sins forgiven.” [Daylami]

Can a woman on her period go into ei’tikaf?

If a woman is doing ei’tikaf in the mosque she cannot do this while she is on her period. If she is in the mosque and her period starts she would have to end her ei’tikaf.

If a woman is doing ei’tikaf at home the same restriction does not apply. She can do dhikr and recite the Quran and make dua.


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.