Itikaaf — A way to spir­i­tu­al­ity

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - M Rashid Tabas­sum

ONE of the great­est wor­ship in the Ra­mazan is Itikaaf. It is an Ara­bic word which means to stay and at any place. Its gen­eral mean­ing is “keep­ing or con­tin­u­ing to do some­thing.” In Shari’ah, it means to stay in the Masjid, as an act of wor­ship, seek­ing to please Al­lah. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to prac­tice Itikaaf ev­ery year till he left this world. Once year the Holy Prophet (PBUH) could not sit for Itikaaf due to travel, so He sat Itikaaf of 20 days next year.

It is prac­tice (Sun­nah) of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It is not oblig­a­tory for ev­ery Mus­lim. Any­one who makes a vow to do it, in which case it be­comes oblig­a­tory. Umar bin Al-Khat­tab (RA) said, “O Al­lah’s Mes­sen­ger! I vowed in the Pre-lslamic pe­riod to per­form Itikaaf in Masjid-al-Haram for one night.” The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “Ful­fil your vow.” So, he per­formed Itikaaf for one night (Sahi Bukhaari). Holy Prophet (PBUH) en­tered his Itikaaf place after of­fer­ing the Fa­jar prayer. He stayed whole night in Masjid in wor­ship and en­tered his tent after Fa­jar prayer. He left after sun­set on the last day of Ra­mazan whether it is 29 or 30 days. Holy Prophet (PBUH) would stay awake at night, wake his fam­ily, strive hard in wor­ship and tighten his waist wrap. “The Prophet used to strive hard (in wor­ship) in the last ten nights of Ra­mazan as he never did at any other time (Su­nan Ibn e Ma­jah).

Some rul­ings about Itikaaf, ac­cord­ing to Qu­ran o Sun­nah, are given be­low. 1. Itikaaf is ob­served in Masjid only. As Al­lah says in the Holy Qu­ran: “and We com­manded Ibrahim (Abra­ham) and Isma’il (Ish­mael) that they should pu­rify My House (the Ka‘bah at Makkah) for those who are cir­cum­am­bu­lat­ing it, or stay­ing (Itikaaf), or bow­ing or pros­trat­ing them­selves (there, in prayer)” (al-Baqarah 2:125). 2. Hang­ing a tent in the Masjid for pri­vacy is Sun­nah. Holy Prophet or­dered his wife to set up tent in the Masjid. Hazrat Aisha (RA) said, “The Prophet (SAW) used to prac­tice Itikaaf in the last ten days of Ra­mazan and I used to pitch a tent for him, and after of­fer­ing the Morn­ing Prayer, he used to en­ter the tent.” (Bukhaari) 3. A per­son who is ob­serv­ing Itikaaf can go home to use toi­let if the Masjid has no toi­let. Like­wise is the need of tak­ing bath com­pul­sory.

Fol­low­ing things are not al­lowed dur­ing Itikaaf. The Sun­nah for one who is ob­serv­ing Itikaaf (in a mosque) is not to visit a pa­tient, or to at­tend a funeral, or touch or em­brace one’s wife, or go out for any­thing but nec­es­sary pur­poses. There is no Itikaaf without fast­ing, and there is no I’tikaaf ex­cept in a con­gre­ga­tional mosque. Al­lah says in Qu­ran: “And do not have sex­ual re­la­tions with them (your wives) while you are in Itikaaf (i.e. con­fin­ing one­self in a mosque for prayers and in­vo­ca­tions leav­ing the worldly ac­tiv­i­ties) in the mosques” [al-Baqarah 2:187]. We should ar­range wor­ship, of­fer prayers, and re­cite Holy Qu­ran. We should strive hard to at­tain Al­lah’s plea­sure and to be closer to him. May Al­lah ac­cept our wor­ship (Aameen).

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