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Secrets of seclusion in final nights of Ramadan

“He who observes the ten days of I’tikaf during Ramadan will obtain the rewards of two Haj and two Umrah.”

By Amal Al-Sibai / 5 Aug 2013

It is during the last ten days and nights of Ramadan that the Night of Power waits to descend upon Muslims with all of its beauty and enchantment. It is during this majestic night that those Muslims who were lucky enough to stand in prayer are promised rewards and bounties of good deeds and the granting of whatever they ask in humble supplication to Allah.

It is to be able to catch this night’s rewards and also a part of following the Sunnah that Muslims all over the world seclude themselves in the mosque during these special days and nights.

Thinking and meditating in seclusion was not new to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, nor was it limited to only Ramadan. Even before Islam, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to sit alone for hours at end in the cave of Hiraa and reflect upon creation and the Creator. That was also the habit of Prophets before him; Moses, Ibrahim, and others.      

The Arabic word ‘I’tikaf’ that is attributed to seclusion in the mosque can have several meanings. It has a number of implications: distancing oneself from worldly distractions, or preventing oneself from certain pleasures, or voluntarily trapping and restricting oneself in a confined space. It can also mean committing yourself to something, and in this case of course it means committing yourself to worship, deep thought, and rituals practiced by our teacher and Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, requested from his companions to set up a tent for him in the mosque where he spent the last days of Ramadan every year. However, a Muslim can choose any number of days, even one night to stay in the mosque with the intention of I’tikaf and to make the most of any time spent there, no matter how short it is.

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has said, “He who observes the ten days of I’tikaf during Ramadan will obtain the rewards of two Haj and two Umrah.”

In another Hadeeth, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one day of I’tikaf, Allah would keep him away from Hellfire by trenches.”

The goal of this seclusion is to obtain a clearer mind; to open up your heart and let your suppressed emotions and love for our religion flow. By leaving behind all distractions including television, mobile phone, laptop, Internet access, friends, family, shops, work, and household chores, we have the rare opportunity to dedicate ourselves solely to worship and to actually enjoy performing acts of worship, rather than doing them only as an obligation or duty.

I’tikaf is like a summer camp, only the scenery is a red carpeted mosque, lined with shelves of the Holy Quran, and illuminated by the facers of obedient believers inside its walls.

Sarya Fostok who is a mother of three and has a Master’s Degree in jurisprudence told Saudi Gazette, “Not only do Muslims during I’tikaf engage in physical acts of worship that are visible to others such as reading the Holy Quran, memorizing parts of it, studying the meanings of its verses, praying, and holding up one’s hands in supplication. An internal connection in the heart must also take place as the worshiper experiences a closeness to Allah and an increase in his/her faith and devotion.

It is as if I’tikaf brings in the light of faith and dispels the darkness of being mentally away from our faith.”

She goes on to recommend ways of maximizing even the short time that our jobs and families will allow us to spend in the mosque.

“There is no purpose of being in the mosque for I’tikaf and then wasting time excessively talking on your phone to follow the latest news going on outside the mosque. Refrain from arguing and participating in idle talk with others. Try not to leave the boundaries of the mosque unless you have an important reason.

Forgive the flaws of others and cooperate with your brothers in faith who are also in I’tikaf. Be sure to take advantage of the presence of scholars and learn from them and listen to their lectures if they offer any,”added Fostok.

A young man, Jihad Al-Ghali, remains in I’tikaf in a mosque in Jeddah during the last ten days of Ramadan every year.

“One of the best parts of being in I’tikaf is the good company. I have met scholars and Islamic education teachers who happily teach us a new hadeeth or a forgotten Sunnah. The friends that I have made in the I’tikaf help me to be a better person and we compete with one another on reading the most from the Holy Qur’an. Even if we talk, we speak only in remembrance of Allah or about ways to increase our faith. We help out in cleaning up after meals, if one brother is asleep during the call for a prayer, we wake him up so he does not miss out on the congregational prayer,” said Al-Ghali. 

In no other place as in the mosques in Saudi Arabia or time as the last ten days of Ramadan is the I’tikaf so superbly facilitated for all Muslims. The worshiper is served and treated with such care and respect in the mosque so that the Muslim can free himself for what he came for, renewal of faith and closeness to Allah. Most mosques offer exemplary services for the worshiper such as meals for iftar and suhoor, cold beverages and a light snack after taraweeh prayers, and laundry.

As for women, most mosques allow I’tikaf for women and serve them from the time of Ishaa prayer until the end of the night or Qiyam prayers. And some scholars say that a woman may gain equal rewards of I’tikaf for men in the mosque if she secludes herself in a quiet room in her home and spends several hours in reflection and worship.


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