What are actions that invalidate an i’tikaf?

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  • Having spousal sexual intercourse.
  • A person loses consciousness for a prolonged period of time. This would not apply to fainting for a very brief time or sleeping.
  • Intoxication due to alcohol.
  • Leaving the masjid, even if it is for doing a good act, such as following a janaza, visiting a sick person in the hospital, or checking on one’s family. A person in i’tikaf can only leave the masjid due to an emergency. Narrated A’isha, Ummul Mu’minin: “The sunnah for one observing a private devotion in a mosque is not to visit an invalid, or attend a funeral, or touch or embrace one’s wife, or go out for anything but necessary purposes. There is no period of private devotion in a mosque without fasting, and it must be carried out in a congregational mosque.” [Abu Dawood]
  • When the intention changes. Once a person decides that he no longer wants to continue with the i’tikaf, even if he later changes his mind, the i’tikaf is at that point over.