The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down,
a guidance for the people, and clear verses of guidance and criterion.
[Quran: Chapter 2:183]


Friday, September 19, 2008

Ramadan Message 2008 - Day 19 (Seclusion in the Mosque)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) use to do I’tikaf (seclusion in the mosque) in the last ten days of Ramadan. It became a regular practice of his, particularly in his last years.

Today, we are living in a densely populated world, with numerous ways of instant communication, yet we are ever more lonely, depressed and bereaved of any spirituality than ever. I’tikaf helps to enhance our spiritual growth. We are also able to strive hard in the worship of Allah better, as we have less distractions, and more focus on our noble pursuit.

I’tikaf can only be observed in the mosque, preferably a Jumah Mosque, so the observer does not leave the same mosque on the Jumah day. There are no specific hadith restricting the I'tikaf to some specific mosques.

I’tikaf can be Obligatory or Non-obligatory (Sunnah). The obligatory I'tikaf is that which the person makes obligatory upon himself. This may be done, for example, by an oath “By Allah! I must make I'tikaf” or by a conditional oath “If Allah cures me, I shall make I'tikaf...” In a hadith it is reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever makes an oath to obey Allah should be obedient to Him.” 'Umar (RA) said “O Messenger of Allah, I made an oath to perform I'tikaf one night in the mosque at Makkah.” The Prophet (peace be upon him), said: "Fulfil your oath." (Bukhari)

The Sunnah I’tikaf is that which the Muslim performs to get closer to Allah, especially during the last ten days of Ramadan.

The person who performs I'tikaf must be a matured Muslim, sane, free of sexual defilement, menstrual or childbirth bleeding. It is preferred for the one who is making I'tikaf to perform many supererogatory acts of worship and to occupy himself with prayers, reciting the Qur'an, glorifying and praising Allah, extolling His oneness and His greatness, asking His forgiveness, sending salutations on the Prophet (peace be upon him), and supplicating to Allah. Included among these actions is studying and reading books connected to the deen.

It is disliked for one to engage in affairs that do not concern him. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Part of a man's good observance of Islam is that he leave alone that which does not concern him.” At the same time, it is disliked for anyone to think that he can draw closer to Allah by not speaking to anyone. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was delivering a speech, he saw a man standing and asked about him. The people said, “He is Abu Israel. He has vowed to stand and not to sit, and not to speak, and to fast.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Order him to speak, go to the shade, to sit, and to complete his fast.”

Certain acts are not permitted when one is performing I'tikaf, and these acts if done would nullify the I'tikaf. Intentionally leaving the mosque without any need to do so nullifies the I’tikaf, even if it is for just a short time. In such a case, one would not be staying in the mosque, which is one of the principles of I'tikaf. Abandoning belief in Islam, as this would nullify all acts of worship. Whoever ascribes partners to Allah, his deeds are lost and he will be among the losers.

Losing one's reasoning due to insanity or drunkenness, or the onset of menstruation or post-childbirth bleeding, sexual intercourse, etc all disqualifies a person for I’tikaf. Allah says, “…But touch them not (that is, your wives) and be at your devotions in the mosque….” (Qur'an 2 Verse 187)

Also when in I’tikaf, it is recommended that the voice should not be raised such that it disturbs others, once the Prophet (peace be upon him) was in I’tikaf in the mosque and he heard the people reciting aloud. He removed the covering and said, “Verily, each of you is in a private conversation with his Lord so you should not disturb each other. And you are not to raise your voices against each other in the recitation.” (Bukhari)

Although it is agreed that the one who performs I’tikaf may leave the mosque in order to answer the call of nature, for this is something that he personally must perform, and he cannot do it in the mosque. Also, if he needs to eat or drink and there is no one to bring him his food, he may leave to get it. If one feels sick or the need to seek medical assistance, he may leave the mosque to do so. For anything that he must do but cannot do in the mosque, he can leave it, and such acts will not void his I’tikaf, even if they take a long time.


Special Ramadan Series

Dear Reader, Assalaamu’alaikum.

Ramadan Mubarak. We wish you a blessed and productive Ramadan! Make no mistake about it - keeping the fast and increasing our acts of worship during this blessed month is not an easy task. The physical demands of balancing work or school with fasting all day, feeling fatigued and less effective than you normally are, waking up for Suhoor, praying Teraweeh and Tahajjud prayers, dealing with sleep deficits.

But the last thing we would want is to let Ramadan pass us by without doing all that we aim and desire to. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty or regretful when Ramadan passes.

The Ramadan Series will send you emails with practical tips on how to gain and maintain the physical and spiritual energy necessary to embark on increased religious oligations so that you will reap the benefits from this blessed month. This includes special Ramadan duas to say during the month. Do sign-up today!

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