Ramadan 2019 – Day 5 : What is ‘Itikaf’? Significance of Itikaf during Ramadan

 In Islam, Mythology

Ramadan 2019 – Day 5 : What is ‘Itikaf’? Significance of Itikaf during Ramadan

The word itikaf is used in the Holy Quran in different forms such as “aakifun” or “al aakifeen”. Literally, it means confinement to a specific thing or place, or retreat and seclusion, while technically it means to confine oneself for some time to a mosque in order to stay there to worship or at least to withdraw oneself from worldly business. This practice of seclusion is present almost in each religion, and even the Meccans and the idolaters of the Arabian Peninsula used to perform the same practice for a few days annually or periodically.

History

It is said that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to perform itikaf even before receiving the message. He was in seclusion in the cave of Hira when he received the message for the first time. While coming back from the city of Ta’if, he again performed this practice as Messenger in that same cave. The Prophet (pbuh) used to fast in Mecca even before the fasting in Ramadan became mandatory. Upon his migration to Madina, and when fasting in Ramadan became mandatory, he used to perform Itikaf in the last 10 days of Ramadan in the mosque. In the last year of his life, he did it for 30 days and nights which was considered an indication that he would not live until the next Ramadan.

Spiritual significance of Itikaf

Itikaf is a type of solitude and meditation to reach a state of mental tranquil and spiritual peace and to clean, purify and sanctify one’s inner self. When one becomes secluded and withdrawn from worldly business in a place of worship, he will be thinking of his Creator and will also feel a connection with his Creator, which will result in mental peace.

Hence Itikaf is formed by staying in a Mosque for a certain time. It is Ehtiyat that one should stay with the intention to worship Allah by praying formal or informal prayers although prayer is not a condition therein. The time for this form of worship could be anytime when one is allowed to fast. The best time is the month of Ramadan, especially, the last ten days.

Types of Itikaf

According to the Quran there are three types of Itikaf  they are –

Sunnah  is the itikaf performed during the last ten days of Ramadan.

 Nafil  is the Itikaf can be performed on any day/night of the year. This is considered to be a nafl (voluntary) act.

 Wajib is that itikaf that one makes a vow to perform itikaf then it is compulsory (wajib) that you do so. This could be making a vow to Allah, such as through niyyat (intention) to perform itikaf or a vow based on a condition. This means saying or thinking, “if this thing happens, I will make itikaf for a certain number of days”.

Rules

While performing Itikaf there is certain that we all should know about. Below we will discuss them:

  • Belief in Islam.
  • A person should stay in a mosque for the duration of the Itikaf except for certain things as described in the prophetic sayings: Aisha (RA) reported that: When the Prophet (SAW) observed I’tikaf, He (SAW) did not enter the house except to relieve himself. (Muslim)
  • Fasting is the basic condition of Itikaf.
  • For men, Itikaf should be in a mosque but for women, the place where she normally prays Nimaz is acceptable to perform Itikaf.
  • It is better to perform Itikaf in Mosque where Juma prayer is offered. Besides, the same rules irrespective of gender are applied to perform Itikaf.
  • Women should get permission for Itikaf from her husband.
  • If one needs to buy something for food and there is no one to do the buying for him, it is not wrong for him to do it.
  • The alms for invalidating an Itikaf is to set free a slave or if this is not possible, fast for two consecutive months or if this also is not possible, feed sixty poor people.
  • Complete it in the Mosque where it was started. Hence, going out of the Mosque without an acceptable reason will invalidate the Itikaf.
  • Duration; which is three continuous days at least. It could be more but not less than three days.

Itikaf is originally an optional worship act but it may become obligatory because of a vow etc.

Things to avoid during Itikaf

  • Having sex and also according to Ehtiyat kissing or playing with one’s wife;
  • According to a necessary Ehtiyat causing a semen discharge,
  • And smelling perfumes for enjoyment; it is not an offence if one cannot enjoy the perfume because of some defect in his smelling ability.
  • Selling or buying in the form of a business deal, according to a necessary Ehtiyat; there is no offence to be occupied with allowable activities as sewing or writing etc., although it is a Mustahab Ehtiyat to avoid them too.
  • If one needs to buy something for food and there is no one to do the buying for him, it is not an offence for him to do it.
  • Expressing bitterness in talking about worldly or religious matters in order to prove one’s ability, not the truth which is one of the best worships.

Benefits of Itikaf

  • A Muslim is kept away from the desires of this world, during Itikaf in a mosque reciting the Holy Quran. He remains aloof from the evil practices of this world.
  • Itikaf is a time for self-reflection, helping him focus on how he can improve his character and revamp his image for the good.
  • Staying in a Mosque with no other purpose it helps a person to form a close bond with Allah.
  • Helps him in Understanding the Quran in a more profound way.
  • Itikaf causes one to remain away from his worldly matters, which aids him in reforming and revamping his character. Man often loses his essence and good deeds in running after the affairs of this world. Itikaf saves us from that defect.
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