Mufti Abu Muhammad Ali Asghar Attari Madani
Spouses sleeping together in the home’s designated prayer area
Q: What do the honourable scholars say about the following matter: a woman designates a part of her bedroom as a prayer area (masjid-i-bayt) and observes ten days of sunnah Iʿtikāf there. During this time, is her husband allowed to sleep on the bed alongside her? Whilst in this designated prayer area, is she permitted to massage her husband’s head? Also, is there any prohibition in her staying with her husband during Iʿtikāf?
بِسْمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِیْمِ
اَلْجَوَابُ بِعَوْنِ الْمَلِکِ الْوَھَّابِ اَللّٰھُمَّ ھِدَایَۃَ الْحَقِّ وَالصَّوَابِ
During Iʿtikāf , whilst inside the designated prayer area , the wife is allowed to touch her husband to massage him, only if she does not feel any arousal. However, they should refrain from sleeping in the same bed.
Just as sexual intercourse and foreplay are haram in the state of Ihram, they are also haram for the wife during Iʿtikāf. “Foreplay” is any act which leads to sexual intercourse and includes intimate hugging, kissing, heavy petting, and sexual contact.
Therefore, if the husband is with the wife during her Iʿtikāf, whether it is day or night, they must avoid sexual intercourse and everything which may lead to it. Otherwise, the wife might commit a haram act and become sinful. If they do engage in sexual intercourse, her Iʿtikāf will be invalidated. If the woman experiences discharge during any act leading to sexual intercourse, this will also invalidate her Iʿtikāf, but if there is no discharge, her Iʿtikāf will remain valid.
Al-Baḥr al-Rāʾiq states:
(ویحرم الوط ء ودواعیه) لقوله تعالی وَ لَا تُبَاشِرُوْهُنَّ وَ اَنْتُمْ عٰكِفُوْنَ فِی الْمَسٰجِدِلان المباشرۃ تصدق علی الوطء ودواعیه فیفید تحریم کل فرد من افراد المباشرۃ جماع او غیرہ –
In the state of Iʿtikāf, sexual intercourse and foreplay are haram because Allah Almighty said, “Do not be intimate with your spouses while you are meditating in the mosques.” As the term “intimacy” applies to sexual intercourse and foreplay, every type of intimacy is proscribed, whether it is sexual intercourse or something else.
It is mentioned in al-Nahr al-Fāʾiq:
وحرم علیه ایضا )دواعیه( من المس والقبلة کما فی الحج والعمرۃ
“Acts that lead to sexual intercourse, such as touching and kissing, are haram for the one observing Iʿtikāf, just as they are haram during Hajj and Umrah.”
Moreover, Radd al-Muḥtār adds:
الزوجة معتکفة فی مسجد بیتھا فیاتیھافیه زوجھا فیبطل اعتکافھا
“If while sitting Iʿtikāf in the home’s designated prayer area the woman’s husband has sexual relations with her, then her I’tikaf will become invalid.”
Mufti Amjad Ali A’zami رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه states:
It is haram for the person sitting Iʿtikāf to kiss, hug, touch, or copulate with a woman. In any case, sexual intercourse will invalidate his Iʿtikāf, whether he has seminal discharge or not; whether he did it intentionally or forgetfully; whether it happened in the masjid or outside of it; and whether it was during the day or night. If there is seminal discharge because of any other sexual activity besides sexual intercourse, that will also invalidate the Iʿtikāf. However, if he experiences nocturnal emissions or seminal discharge because of simply looking or due to his thoughts, his Iʿtikāf will not be invalidated.
وَاللہُ اَعْلَمُ عَزَّوَجَلَّ وَ رَسُوْلُہٗ اَعْلَم صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم