What is Itikaf in Islam?
Ramadan is around the corner, and Muslims have already started preparations to welcome the blissful month. Some people plan for the Ramadan umrah, which is a heavenly experience. There is a huge reward for performing Umrah in Ramadan. Suhoor, Iftar, tahajjud, zikr of Allah, and Itikaf are some bounties of Ramadan. What is itikaf, and why is it important to know itikaf rules?
Itikaf is a disconnection from the world to devote oneself to Allah. Muslims perform this spiritual retreat during the last ten days of Ramadan to search for the Night of Power and consequently, attain Allah’s pleasure.
Is Itikaf sunnah?
Itikaf is a sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We also know about the rules of itikaf from the collections of the ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Hazrat Aisha (RA) revealed: –
“The Prophet (PBUH) used to practice Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice Itikaf after him.” [Hadith No. 2026, Sahih Bukhari]
The following hadith sheds light on the virtues of Itikaf: –
“Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one day’s Itikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam (hellfire) by trenches.”
Types of Itikaf: –
There are three types of Itikaf: –
Sunnah Itikaf: –
Corresponding with the actions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), sunnah itikaf is a spiritual retreat in the last ten days of Ramadan.
Nafl Itikaf: –
Nafl itikaf is retreating from the world to attain Allah’s goodwill at any time of the year, be it day or night.
When a person makes an intention to perform itikaf, it becomes wajib upon him.
How to perform Itikaf?
Performing itikaf is very simple. However, there are some points that one must bear in mind about the rules of itikaf.
Firstly, the person must be a Muslim who makes a sincere intention to perform itikaf. This intention must be to submit oneself, rather than impress or show off to the people for some worldly gain.
The person performing itikaf must be of a sound mental state and can make reasonable decisions about oneself. He must not be under influence of any drugs.
One of the most important rules of itikaf is that the men must perform it in the mosque. They cannot stay at home to perform itikaf. Allah commands Muslim men to perform prayers in the mosque. Therefore, they cannot stay at home and seclude themselves to attain Allah’s pleasure.
Maintaining cleanliness during itikaf is very important. Our bodies must be clean so that Allah accepts our Ibadah. The ideal way to maintain this cleanliness is to be in a state of Wudhu at all times during itikaf.
Itikaf is a precious way to devote oneself to Allah. One should engage in Allah’s remembrance with sincere intention. Recitation of the Holy Quran with concentration and reflection on every word to change our lives for good is the essence of itikaf. It is a golden opportunity to purify oneself and walk on the Guided Path.
How to perform Itikaf for females?
Females also engage in this virtuous worship. However, Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. It does not enforce anything that is beyond one’s possibilities. Especially, when it comes to women, Islam highly regards ease for women. Itikaf rules for women are mostly the same as that for men, regarding maintaining the decorum and sanctity of the worship. However, the difference lies only in making worship easier for women.
Unlike men, women stay at home to perform itikaf. However, they must designate a secluded corner for itikaf where they peacefully engage in worship. Her prayer mat is equal to her mosque. Therefore she can make the intention to perform itikaf before she steps on her prayer mat.
If the woman is menstruating, she can still seclude herself in the designated area and perform zikr during her itikaf. This shows how merciful Allah is towards women by making exceptional rules for itikaf for them. He does not deprive them of the reward of worship even if they cannot pray.
Islam believes that women have very demanding jobs as homemakers. Therefore, it does not burden them with as strict itikaf rules as for men. For example, if they have to run some pressing errands regarding home chores, or attend to their children or sick parents, they can leave the place of itikaf, perform their duties and return to the designated place. For this reason, women can only sit for itikaf if they get permission from their husbands, or fathers, in the case of unmarried women.
Itikaf benefits: –
Itikaf has many virtues, the reason why Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stressed Muslims perform it. By removing all the distractions and concentrating completely on worship, one attains a surreal level of peace and contentment. It feels the heart with love for Allah. It removes worldly desires and temptations that drive one towards wrongful ways.
Abiding by itikaf rules and performing them with complete sincerity earns a person huge rewards. Allah blesses him immensely with abundance in this world. Moreover, such a person stays away from the Fire of Hell on the Day of Judgement.
When a person stays at the mosque for itikaf, he gets to interact with learned religious scholars. Being in the company of such people protects one from bad deeds.
Itikaf is such a rewarding worship that can change a person entirely. Therefore, one must try to perform it at least once in a lifetime.