Praise be to Allah, and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and his companions. Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. As to what follows: In response to your question, we say: Allah the Exalted indicated the place for i’tikaf in His statement “And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in I'tikaf “ [al-Baqarah 2: 187]. This is why the scholars of Islam defined i’tikaf as, “staying in the mosque for the obedience of Allah”. Thus, the mosque is the place where i’tikaf occurs. A person staying in a house cannot be considered to have performed i’tikaf in the manner which was described in the Sunnah , and what was revealed in the Qur’an regarding the fact that i’tikaf is preferable , and the praise for the people who engage in i’tikaf. This ruling applies even if the house has places for prayer and worship. Therefore, i’tikaf in the praying areas of houses is not valid. This is the opinion that is held by most of the scholars in the ummah. Some Hanafi scholars were of the opinion that a woman’s i’tikaf in her house is valid. However, this is contrary to what is evident from the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) made i’tikaf and his wives performed i’tikaf after his death. Rather, they performed i’tikaf during his lifetime and on one occasion he came out and saw tents in the mosque, and he said, “What is this?” They said, “This is the tent of ‘Aishah, the tent for Zaynab, and the tent for Hafsah.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, “Did you intend to do an act of virtue?” [Sahih Muslim (1173)]. This means that what the Prophet (peace be upon him) disproved was their competing in an issue whose intention may not have been seeking reward, rather it could have been caused by the jealousy that exists between co-wives. Thus i’tikaf for men and women occurs in the mosque, and there is no difference in that between men and women, and the principle is that men and women are similar in acts of worship. At this point I would like to advise people that a woman’s i’tikaf must not be in a place where people who are not permitted to look at her can see her, like if she is an exposed place with no tent or screen and you will find her lying down and sleeping between people. In reality this is contrary to the goal of the Sharee’ah in preserving a woman and keeping her far from places of temptation where she may tempt people or be tempted. Thus this should be considered and if there is no place which is specifically prepared for the i’tikaf of women where they can do what they want without being seen by people who are not permitted to see them, then my opinion is that a woman should not make i’tikaf in such circumstances and Allah will reward her for her intention even if she does not perform i’tikaf.