A: Haamidaw wa Musalliyaa
Just as it is permitted to send a letter to one's family and enquire of their well-being during I'tikaf it is also permissible to send a text message or communicate with one's family using modern methods of communication. One should however avoid vain and futile matter and discussion whilst in I'tikaf. One should also keep in mind the etiquette of using a cell phone and the respect and sanctity of the masjid. Impermissible content should not be seen, heard or spoken on the mobile nor should one disturb others that are in the masjid.
One should preferably limit such communication to the extent of necessity. Further, if the necessity could be fulfilled by sending a message with someone rather than sending a text message, or writing a note and having it sent then it appears better that this method be adopted rather than using the cell phone in the masjid. One should try one's best to derive maximum benefits of I'tikaf by ensuring that one concentrates on one's objective of seclusion with Allah (SWT) in his home.
The reality of the matter is that though the cell phone is an extremely useful tool, one could easily be distracted by messages and phone calls and thereby fail to achieve the true benefits of I'tikaf.
And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best
Shafiq Jakhura (Mufti)