Itikaaf — A way to spirituality
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).