The last ten days is here and Ramadan is also drawing to a close. Itikaf is very relevant at this time and it is good to know the rules of seclusion so as to avoid what can invalidate. We have lots of our brothers and sisters observing Itikaff in various masjid while some are still willing to observe.
It is mustahab for a person to begin his Itikaft before sunset. Although some scholars say you can enter Itikaf at Fajr, but the popular opinion is after fajr and before sunset.
While in the masjid for the Itikaf, it is also recommended that the mutakiff keep himself busy with prayers, reading of the Holy Quran, zhikr and should avoid all kinds of worldly things.
He should refrain from talking too much or chating away time. You can be involved in brief discussion with people unless with regard to the Itikaf and worship of Allah.
In the course of your discussion with people, you have to avoid argument, disputes and speaking in hateful manners. Yes, you can see visitors but must be very careful in taking your time for ibadah, you should rather concentrate and devote your time to acts of worship.
It is also recommended for those who know the Holy Quran to teach it during their Itikaf. It is one of good deeds during seclusion. There are records of the Prophet doing that during Itikaf as well as his companions.
There is nothing wrong with groups of people doing Itikaf in the mosque, what is not permissible is chatting away time and involving in worldly affairs in the masjid in the name of Itikaf.
It is invalid for a person to leave the mosque during his period of Itikaf except for genuine reason.
Lustful desire and touching women invalidate Itikaf. Q2: 187. Women in menstrual period is also barred from observing Itikaf. Once situation like that occurs, she has to leave the mosque immediately.
A woman who lost her husband has to leave the Itikaf immediately too, she is required to observe the idah period in her house.
The purpose of these etiquette is to earn the pleasure of Allah by using our body, senses and time praying and worshipping Allah. This is how we can achieve nearness to Allah and gain alJanah. May Allah make it easy for us. Amin.