Answer (by Mushafiq Sultan)

wa alaikumussalaam

The Qur’an has referred to the practice of ai`tikaaf with the words: “While you are in the mosques in a state of ai`tikaaf“, which clearly implies that the prescribed method for ai`tikaaf is by restricting oneself to the mosque. There is no distinction between men and women in this respect. Thus, it should be quite clear that the preference shall clearly be in favor of performing ai`tikaaf in a mosque, for men as well as women.

However, most of the present day mosques do not provide adequate facilities for women, in this respect. Under these circumstances, a woman may be left with no choice except to complete her ai`tikaaf at her residence. This allowance is based on the same principle as the allowance of tayammum under conditions where a person cannot perform wudhu due to the unavailability of water or due to any other reason. In the same way, if a woman – or even a man – cannot complete her ai`tikaaf in a mosque due to any reason, she may complete it at her residence by restricting herself to a particular room or a corner in the house.

Nevertheless, if a woman can find a mosque in which there is adequate arrangement for women’s ai`tikaaf, undertaking the ai`tikaaf in the mosque should be preferred.