One of the many
observances that are related exclusively to Ramadhan, particularly
to its last ten days, is Itikaf. The basic aim of Itikaf
is that the bondsman continued at the door of the Almighty, i.e.;
in the corner of a mosque, cutting himself aloof from the world
and devoting his time wholly to prayer and worship. It is the worship
of the favourite worship of the bondsman of the Lord. Evidently,
no time could be more appropriate for it than the month of Ramadhan,
especially its ten days.
urge that had seized the Prophet (saw) before the revelation of
the Quran to seek solitude and spend his time mostly in prayer
and meditation, and , in consequence of which, he used to pass several
months on end in the Cave of Hira - this, so to speak was the first
Itikaf of the Prophet (saw), and it was in that that his spirituality
had evolved to the stage that marked the beginning of the revelation
of the Quran. During the last ten days of this Itikaf,
Gabriel (as) came to him with the opening verse of the Surah of
Iqra. Beyond doubt and for certain it was the month of Ramadhan,
its last ten days, and the night was the Night of Power. The
last ten days of Ramadhan have, thus, been set apart for Itikaf.
The fasts of
Ramadhan have been prescribed for all Muslims for the development
of the soul and for enabling it to subdue the carnal appetites.
In other words, this much exertion and sacrifice of sensual desires
has been made obligatory for every Muslim that he neither ate nor
drank anything nor sought sexual satisfaction during the whole of
the blessed month, in compliance with the command of Allah (SWT)
and with the intention of paying divine honours to Him, and, along
with it avoided all sinful acts and worthless things. It is the
general, compulsory course of spiritual training and self-purification
for the month of Ramadhan. For higher upliftment and forging a closer
affinity with the Celestial World we have Itikaf.
the bondsman cuts himself away from everything and throws himself
at the threshold , or rather the feet oh his Lord and Creator. He
remembers Him, exalts His name and offers earnest repentance to
Him, cries over his sins and follies, entreats Him for mercy and
forgiveness and seeks His countenance and propinquity. His days
and nights are spent in that way. The holy Prophet (saw) used to
take special care to observe Itikaf during the Last ten days
of Ramadhan. Once when he could not carry it out due to some reason,
it observed it for twenty days in the following Ramadhan.
It is related
on the authority of Ayesha (RA) that "The Apostle of Allah
(saw) observed Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadhan, till
the end of his life. After his death his wives continued with it."
The Prophets wives observed Itikaf in their apartments,
and for women, in general, the place where they celebrate the prayer-services
at home is the right place for Itikaf. If there is no such
place in the house, arrangements should be made for it.
the "The Apostle of Allah (saw) observed Itikaf during
the last ten days of Ramadhan. One year he could not do the Itikaf,
and so in the next year he did it for twenty days."
It is not stated in the above narrative of Hazrat Anas (RA) why
the Prophet (saw) could not observe Itikaf in that year. But
in another tradition quoted in Nassai and Abu Dawood, on the authority
of Hazrat Ubbi bin Kaab, it is told that once the Prophet
(saw) had to go on a journey during the last ten days of Ramadhan,
and therefore he could not carry out the Itikaf that year,
but in the next year he did it for twenty days.
It is further
mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, on the authority of Hazrat Abu Hurairah
that the Prophet (saw) had also observed Itikaf for twenty
days in the month of Ramadhan of the year in which he died. Perhaps
the Prophet (saw) had received some indication that his hour of
departure from the world was near, and after it he naturally felt
more powerfully drawn to observances like Itikaf.
Ayesh (RA) related
to us that "The rules of Shariat for the Motakif (i.e.:
one who is in Itikaf) are that he should neither go out to
visit the sick nor attend a funeral nor have sexual intercourse
nor engage in (love play) like kissing and embracing nor even step
out of the Mosque for personal needs save those that are unavoidable
(such as, answering the call of nature), and Itikaf (should
be observed only with fasting) - there can no Itikaf without
fasting - and it must be carried out in the jamI masjid and
at no other place.
As we have explained earlier, when a Companion says about a thing
that it is the Sunnat it denotes that it is what is prescribed in
the Sharia and the inference is that he had learned it from the
sayings or doings of the Prophet. The rules of Itikaf delineated
in the above tradition, thus, fall within the category of the Prophets
commands and directives.
The term JamI
masjid occurring in it means the "mosque of congregation",
i.e., the mosque in which the five daily services are celebrated
It is related
by Abdullah bin Abbas that the Apostle of God said about the person
who is in Itikaf that "(owing to Itikaf and by
reason of keeping within the limits of the mosque) he is protected
from sin and the account of is virtues deeds goes on like that of
any other virtues bondsman and (they ) are put down in his Balance-sheet
When the bondsman confines himself in the mosque for Itikaf,
he makes a great addition to his virtuous deeds through prayer,
Zikr and Tilawat but, at the same time, he is prevented from performing
certain acts of high moral and religious worth, as for instance,
he cannot visit the sick or care for them which is a most meritorious
act in the sight of God or work for the welfare of the weak, the
indigent and the orphan and the widow or bathe the dead body which,
is done with sincerity and there is the desire to earn the divine
recompense, is a deed of much moral goodness. In the same way, he
cannot go out to participate in the funeral service nor accompany
the bier to the graveyard in doing which sin are forgiven at each
step and good deeds are written in the Scroll of Deeds.
The above traditions,
however gives, the glad tidings to the devotee observing Itikaf
that, by the command of God, all the good acts he used to perform
normally but is kept away from performing owing to Itikaf
are written down in his Register of Deeds
AND MESSAGES OF THE TRADITIONS
BY SHAYKH MOHAMMAD
MANZOOR NOMANI (RA).