Friday, August 19, 2011

I’tikaaf: A Spiritual Retreat

It is that time of the year again, when we find ourselves wondering what this spiritual retreat called i’tikaaf is. Here are the answers to some of those rumours you hear!

What is i’tikaaf?

It is devoting oneself in a mosque for a specific period of time for prayers, supplication, reading Qur’an and invocations, disconnecting from worldly occupations.
A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to observe i’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadan until his death, then his wives observed i’tikaaf after he was gone.” (Bukhari)
I’tikaaf is a Sunnah act, not obligatory, unless one made a vow to do it.

Conditions of i’tikaaf

1.Staying in the Masjid - So the Sunnah for the mu’takif (the one doing i’tikaaf) is to not engage in the usual worldly preoccupations outside the masjid.
2. Also a condition of i’tikaaf is not to have intimate relations with one’s wife.
3. While staying in one’s home to devote one’s self to worship is commendable, the concept and condition of actual I’tikaaf is in a masjid.
4. Purify your intention – we should be making i’tikaaf to worship and leave dunya matters out of our mind. Yet, I notice that a lot of those who are in i’tikaaf become busy with their cell phones and speaking about worldly affairs.

What is the basic goal of i’tikaaf?

The basic goal of the Prophet’s i’tikaaf was to seek Laylatul-Qadr and to prepare to spend its night in worshipping. That is because of the great virtues of that night of which Allah says what means: “The Night of Al‑Qadr is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months)” (97:3)

Are there other aims of i’tikaaf?:

1. Being alone with Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) and dedicating oneself to Him entirely, to focus completely on Allah and engage in His remembrance and worship (prayer, du’a, dhikr, fikr, reading Qur’an, renewing our eman and purifying our souls)
2. Protecting one’s fast from everything that may affect it of temptations, desires, etc.

What are the rewards for i’tikaaf?

Many ahadith encourage us to draw closer to Allah by doing Sunnah acts of worship, and of those acts is i’tikaaf.
• In the Hadith Qudsi in which Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) says what means: “My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his ears with which he hears, his eyes with which he sees, his hands with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.” (Bukhari)

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