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Keep Good Company In The Last Ten Nights Of Ramadan, by Imam Khalid Latif

*Originally Published on 25/06/2016

In these last nights of Ramadan, gatherings unlike any other time of the year are taking place. We should make sure we are a part of them, writes Imam Khalif Latif.

Gatherings are taking place in which no individual is turned away. The rich, the poor, the strong, the weak, young and old, male and female, skins of all color, complexions of every shade — gatherings that server as reminders of and truly encompass the presence of the Divine. No one is left out, and everyone is welcomed in.
Men and women from all walks of life remove from themselves the shackles of the material and for a moment seek to feed only their spirits. The pursuit of the world becomes a fleeting thought and in its place is the pursuit of a tranquility and contentment that could never be satisfied by the possession of anything worldly.
Titles and ranks and social class are left at the door. You simply stand as yourself. The worth of your standing is not assessed by anything other than the heart that you bring and how willing you are to let its presence define the moment instead of the tyrannical ego you have battled with for almost a month’s time prior to this moment.
Hearts will tremble. Tears will be shed. Bodies will feel a sense of strength unlike any other as they are relenting towards a soul that they no longer control yields them not weakness, but a power unlike anything experienced before.
Indeed, in His remembrance do hearts find rest.
Our Lord, ya Allah, bless our gatherings and all those who are in them. We stand for your sake, do not turn us away.
Answer our prayers and grant us the courage, wisdom, sincerity and compassion to be the answer to the prayers of others — You Are One Who Responds, Al-Mujeeb, The All-Hearing, As-Sami’.
Free our hearts of any anxiety, anguish, or unwarranted anger, from any bitterness, jealousy, or envy. Detach them from loving anything that causes us harm or gives us simple complacency and fill them instead with a lightness strengthened through gratitude, understanding, tranquility and contentment — You are The Source of Peace, As-Salaam, The One Who Enriches, Al-Mughni.
Envelop us in your Divine Love and help us to build a love for ourselves. We are weak and imperfect, but the perfection of Your Love stems from its embracing of us despite our being imperfect — You Are The Loving One, Al-Wadud, The Compassionate, Ar-Rahman.
Free from us oppression, including oppression by our own selves, and keep us from being oppressive, including oppression against our own selves. Grant justice and ease to all those who are held down, peace and stability to those in conflict. Make us satisfied with all that You have given to us, and make us not amongst those us who unjustly take from others — You Are the Most Just, Al-‘Adl, The All-Seeing, Al-Baseer.
Make us amongst the honest, the truthful, the kind, and the conscious. Help us to honor the rights of all those around us, our families, our neighbors, and the societies in which we live. Free us from arrogance, hatred, and racism and endow us with a sense of respect for the diversity of Your creation — You Are the Creator, Al-Khaliq, the Most Generous, Al-Karim.
Give us leaders who are actually leaders, and make us followers who are deserving of great leaders. Grant us knowledge, wisdom, patience, and sensibility as well as good intention and a strong sense of passion. For organized evil will always triumph over disorganized righteousness, and it is time for us to stand better for those who need to be stood up for. Let our serving be not for our own selves but simply because it is the right thing to do. And forgive us, oh Lord, for not doing everything that we are able to — You Are The Most-Wise, Al-Hakim, the Patron and Helper, Al-Wali.
Shower upon us Your Divine Mercy and make us amongst the merciful ones who are merciful to all people, all creation, and to the earth we walk upon — You Are the Most Merciful, Ya Raheem.
Help us to be gentle with each other. Forgive us for our harshness and the mistakes we have made, and let kindness be found in all of our deeds and decisions. Give us a character that is beautiful in its nature and make us amongst who remind the world that hope, mercy, and compassion do exist. You Are Ever-Gentle, Ya Latif.
Make not the pursuit of this world our goal, but let our goals be for the best in the next world. Help us to sustain the lessons learned in this blessed month and let us not turn back to being those who we were prior to its advent.
Give us confidence that helps us to see our strength as well our weaknesses and protect us from arrogance which lets us only see weakness in the world around us.
Give us the courage to reach our potential and protect us from the fear that keeps us from doing so. Let our growth be gradual and consistent and help us to strive every day, even if it is very little and enrich our lives with a richness of our souls.
Grant us companionship that helps us to reach our best and keep us from companions who hold us back. Grant us friends who encourage us towards all that is good, and keep us from friends who take us towards that which is not. Arrange our hearts with those hearts that are gentle and tender, and make us amongst those whose presence brings benefit and relief.
Accept from us our prayers and our fasting, our bowing, our kneeling, our standing, our prostrating. Grant us and our loved ones only the best in this world and the best in the next.
Forgive all those who love us and those whom we love, all those who have wronged us and all those whom we have wronged.
Protect us from hearts that are not humble, tongues that are not wise, and eyes that have forgotten how to cry.
Make the best of our deeds the last of our deeds and let us not leave this world other than in a state that is most pleasing to You.
Our Lord, ya Allah, accept from us, forgive us, and guide and bless us all. Ameen.

A Ramadan Reader: A Comprehensive Answers Guide to Getting the Most Out of Ramadan

 

Preparing for Ramadan

The Complete Guide to Fasting

Imam Tahir’s 5 Simple Steps to Prepare for Ramadan

Preparing For Ramadan Advice from Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Ramadan Detox‬‏ for a Healthy Ramadan

40 Hadiths on Ramadan

Tarawih

Can I Pray 8 Rakats for Tarawih?

Should We Stop Praying Tarawih Once the Qur’an is Completed?

Is it Necessary to Perform Tarawih Prayers in the Mosque?

Is it Obligatory to Complete the Entire Qur’an During Tarawih Prayers?

Performing Tarawih Prayers Again as an Imam

Is It Valid for a Child to Lead Tarawih?

The Ruling of the Tarawih Prayer: A Confirmed Sunna

Reciting From a Copy of the Qur’an (Mushaf) in Tarawih and Other Prayers

Expiatory Payment (Fidya) for Missed Ramadan Fasts

Brief Overview of Expiatory Payments (fidya) for Missed Ramadan Fasts

Feeding People to Expiate For a Corrupted Fast

Is Expiation (kaffara) Necessary For Not Fasting in Ramadan?

When Is Expiation Required For A Fast?

How Many Expiations Are Required For Multiple Broken Fasts?

Can My Sister Pay Expiatory Payments (fidya) For Missed Fasts Due To Her Diabetes?

Can I Pay Fidya for Missed Days of Fasting Due to Menses?

Can a Healthy Person Skip Prayer and Fasting and Pay Expiation?

The Expiation (Kaffara) for Having Sex While Fasting

Must I Fast 180 Days as Expiation for 3 Broken Fasts?

 

 

Things that Break the Fast

Principles on what invalidates the fast

Does Watching Pornography While Fasting Break One’s Fast

Using Creams, Powders, or Topical Medications While Fasting

Does Swallowing Phlegm Break Your Fast?

Vaseline On Lips While Fasting, and Hitting Kids

Applying Medicine to One’s Teeth: Does it Invalidate the Fast?

Ramadan: Injections, Eye Drops, And Doubts

Using Chapstick While Fasting

Accidental & Forgetful Breaking of the Fast: What Is the Difference?

What Corrupts a Fast: Questions About Water Entering the Body

Bleeding Gums While Fasting

The Effect of Smoking on Fasting, and the Effect of Sins on Faith

Using Asthma Medication: Is My Fast Invalidated?

Accidentally Inhaling Perfume While Fasting

Does breathing in Air break one’s Fast?

Passionate Kissing While Fasting

Fasting and Illness

Too Sick to Fast in Ramadan, Too Poor to Pay the Expiatory Payment (Fidya)

Long-Term Illness that Prevents Fasting

How Can I Benefit From Ramadan When I Can’t Fast Due to Being Ill?

Laylat al-Qadr

When is Laylat al-Qadr?

Worship & Prayer on Laylat al-Qadr

Making Up Missed Fasts

Making Up Missed Fasts and Illness

Can I Combine My Intentions for a Missed Ramadan Fast and An Optional Sunnah Fast?

Do I Have To Make Up Missed Fasts Within A Year?

Making up Obligatory Fasts and Prayers

Making of Missed Fast

Years of Missed Fasts and Expiation (kaffara)

Breaking One’s Fast/Not Fasting Due to Hardship

Breaking One’s Fast Due to Weakness & Migraines

Can I Break My Fast If My Job Makes Fasting Too Difficult?

Fasting in Extreme Latitudes

Attending Juma, Praying and Fasting While Training to be a Firefighter

Can I Break My Fast If My Job Makes Fasting Too Difficult?

Fasting and Pregnancy

Pregnant Women & Fasting

Pregnancy & Making Up Fasts: Does She Really Have To?

The Spiritual Retreat (I`tikaf)

The Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf)

The Three Types of I’tikaf (Spiritual Retreat)

Ramadan Advice, Benefits and Inspiration

Worship in Ramadan For a Menstruating Woman

How Do I Make The Most Of Ramadan?

Fasting Its Principles and Virtues-Imam Ghazali from al-Arab’in

Inner Dimensions of Fasting-Imam Ghazali

The Spiritual Purpose of Fasting – Closeness to Allah

Practical Tips for Fasting During Ramadan

Work Ethics for Muslims Fasting During Ramadan

Prophetic Supplications for Fasting

Virtues of Fasting in the Summer

Health Benefits of Fasting, and the Maximum Recommended Fast

General Ramadan Answers

When and Where Do I Break My Fast on a 20 Hour Airline Flight?

Should I Feel Bad for Not Fasting When I Had to Travel?

At What Age Must One Start Fasting?

Eating After Dawn & Breaking The Fast For An Invitation

The Chaining of Shayateen (Devils) During Ramadan

Does Each Makeup Prayer During Ramadan Count as 70 Makeup Prayers?

Intercourse during the month of Ramadan

Is Your Ramadan Fast Still Valid If You Stop Eating and Make Your Intention to Fast Between Fajr and Islamic Midday?

Should I Feel Bad for Not Fasting When I Had to Travel?

Brief Miscellaneous Q & A Relating to Fasting

Newlyweds Having Intercourse While Fasting During Ramadan

What Should We Do During a Spiritual Retreat in the Mosque?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

What should we do during a spiritual retreat (i‘tikaf) in the mosque? Is there a minimal period of time for its validity?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

The minimum period of time for a recommended (mustahab) spiritual retreat (i‘tikaf) in the mosque is merely a moment. As such, it is generally praiseworthy to make an intention for the retreat whenever you enter.

As well as making an intention, it is also from the sunna to supplicate when entering mosques. Imam Nawawi writes in his Book of Remembrances (al-Adhkar) that a person can recite the following supplication, for example: “O Allah, open the doors of Your Mercy for me’ (Allahumma iftah li abwab rahmatik).”

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah (2.376); Nawawi, al-Adhkar]

Please also see: The Three Types of Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf) and: The Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf) and: Supplication upon Entering the Mosque

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

On the Etiquette of Seclusion: A Comprehensive SeekersHub Reader

The etiquette of seclusion form the 16th chapter of Imam Al-Ghazali’s seminal work, the Ihya, which is widely regarded as the greatest work on Islamic spirituality in the world.

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I’tikaf: When The Aching Bones of Your Wives May Testify Against You

[cwa id=’cta’]

I’tikaf is intended to be a blessed time for those who have the opportunity to engage in it so why is it causing so much marital discord between couples who Jazmin Begum-Kennedy is counselling?

Iʿtikāf (Arabic: اعتكاف‎‎, also i’tikaaf or e’tikaaf) is an Islamic practice consisting of a period of staying in a mosque for a certain number of days, devoting oneself to worship during these days and staying away from worldly affairs. The literal meaning of the word suggests sticking and adhering to, or being regular in, something, this ‘something’ often including performing supererogatory (nafl) prayers, reciting the Qur’an, and reading hadith.

Every year, I read wonderful social media updates from brothers preparing to go to i’tikaf followed by others praising them and requesting them to make dua. This ought to be a beautiful thing but unfortunately for the wives left behind, it is often a nightmare.

Few men make enough fanfare or even mention who will

  • pack their things for them,
  • do grocery runs,
  • cook fresh food each day,
  • send the fresh food to the men in i’tikaf each day, twice a day – for iftar and suhoor,
  • take care of the children and the school runs,
  • serve their parents,
  • serve their in-laws
  • take care of her own health, while pregnant or otherwise

All this on often little to no resources.
For these women, engaging in more prayer, Qur’an reading and quiet reflection during the blessed 10 nights of Ramadhan are a remote possiblity.
Don’t get me wrong- I am all for i’tikaf but men need to make provisions for their womenfolk first before they set off. Every year I am left counselling mothers who have been left to take care of young children and demanding inlaws, as well as send freshly cooked food to their menfolk at the mosques. Often, they are not left with much money or resources to barely feed the children and elderly in their care, let alone send food to their men in i’tikaf.

“But My Wife Doesn’t Mind”

I don’t just listen to the women’s side of the story. I have spoken to many men about this. Last year, one brother messaged me saying how the companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  often left for months and years and no one complained. He insisted that his wife didn’t complain either. When I asked him if he had asked her, he did not reply.
We do not live in societies that allow for such privileges. When the companions of the Prophet ﷺ went away, they left their families in a community with extended families and friends. They had maids as well as wet nurses for support.
These days, women have to do school and mosque runs, shopping, take children to appointments, chores for in-laws etc. Everything is done by one person – the mother.
On top of the daily grind of life, there’s the added stress of arrange the delivery of fresh, pipping hot food because she doesn’t want to upset or anger her husband who has gone to get closer to Paradise.

Is This The Path To Paradise?

What blessing is there in striving for Paradise, off the back of another human being?
I acknowledge that being in service to those in worship is a form of worship itself, and may Allah reward all who engage in this to the best of their abilities. However, on the flip side, there is a disturbing element of injustice and oppression.
Just before I wrote this, I was consoling a mother who is experiencing a very difficult pregnancy and has a toddler to attend to. She can barely keep her head up due to the sickness and exhaustion. Her beloved husband set off for iti’kaf leaving her with strict instructions on making sure his two meals are delivered at the right temperature.
I try not to aggravate situations like this. I try to hold my tongue, for what it’s worth. I advised this woman to go to her parent’s home so she can get some much needed respite. She is drained. She is carrying life in her womb. It is her God-given right to be nurtured during this fragile time and her God-given right to request her husband stay home and make himself useful. I told her to print this profound hadith and hang it in her home so all can see what our beloved Prophet ﷺ had to say:

The best of you are those who are best to their wives.

SubhanAllah, it is time to reflect on why we do things and how our actions, even if it’s to do something good can be so damaging for our hereafter. I was reminded by a fellow mother, Sumayyah Omar on Muslim Mamas that the Prophet ﷺ said,

“The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people. The most beloved deed to Allah is to make a Muslim happy, or to remove one of his troubles, or to forgive his debt, or to feed his hunger. That I walk with a brother regarding a need is more beloved to me than that I seclude myself in this mosque in Medina for a month. Whoever swallows his anger, then Allah will conceal his faults. Whoever suppresses his rage, even though he could fulfill his anger if he wished, then Allah will secure his heart on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever walks with his brother regarding a need until he secures it for him, then Allah the Exalted will make his footing firm across the bridge on the day when the footings are shaken.”

Scholars and Imams, Insist On A Checklist

Wouldn’t it be great if the imams in all our mosques would read this hadith out during Friday sermons in Ramadan? And then advise the men to follow basic protocols before packing their bags? Moni Akhtar, another mother from Muslim Mamas made a great suggestion: the masjid should give out a form of prerequisites before men are accepted into i’tikaf:

  • Have you asked your wife if she can cope without you?
  • Have you left her with provisions?
  • Have you paid for a cleaner to come and help?

Guidance and prompting from the ulema is sorely needed to raise greater awareness.
I would love to leave on a good note but instead I am forced to leave a warning. Your women and those in your care may not utter a word  now but their aching bones will testify against you on the Day of Judgement. May Allah have mercy upon us all, ameen.

Photo credit: Juliana Cunha

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Jazmin Begum Kennedy (JBK) is a ‘Qualified Housewife.’ By day she is a mother, wife and teacher; by night she wages war against oppressors and writes books. She is an experienced teacher of primary and secondary education, an acclaimed professional artist (JBK Arts) and published author of Mercy Like the Raindrops, Blessed Bees, No School Today and the upcoming novel, Fifteen. Jazmin is an online counsellor specialising in domestic abuse, rape and child abuse. She also physically helps victims of domestic violence flee their abusive marriages. She is the co-founder of the Nisa Foundation, working as a women’s aid worker for victims of domestic violence. JBK currently homeschools her three children, whilst managing a network for Home Educators in the Greater Manchester area of the United Kingdom.

What is the Start Time of the Ten Day Spiritual Reatreat(I’tikaf)?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalaamu alaikum. Could you please clarify the start time of I’tikaf for the last ten days of Ramadan. Does it start from the Maghrib of the 20th fast, Fajr of 21st fast or Maghrib of 21st fast?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
The complete, ten day spiritual retreat (i`tikaf) is a communal confirmed sunna in the Hanafi school as this was the inveterate practice of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
If one wishes to perform this sunna, they should be in the mosque before Maghrib on the 20th Ramadan. After Maghrib would therefore correspond to the 21st night of Ramadan and the first of the last ten days, bearing in mind that the night comes before the day.
Please also see: The Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf) and: The Three Types of Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf)
And Allah alone gives success.
Wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Can I`tikaf Be Performed in Other Than a Mosque?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: In our city, there aren’t any “formal” mosques. We have several rented prayer spaces (musalla). Is the spiritual retreat (i`tikaf) valid there? What can we do to attain the reward of the sunna of i`tikaf?

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits. May Allah reward you generously for your high intention and aspiration.

The spiritual retreat (i`tikaf) is a communal emphasized sunna, and it was from the regular habit of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk) to enter into i`tikaf for the last ten days of Ramadan. [Bukhari]

(1) There is scholarly consensus that i`tikaf is only valid in a “masjid.” [Ibn al-Mundhir, Kitab al-Ijma`, Ibn Qudama, Mughni]

(2) A musalla (prayer hall) isn’t valid to perform i`tikaf in.

(3) In the absence of a masjid to perform i`tikaf in, one can perform a retreat (khalwa) in a prayer hall (musalla). If one has the intention that (a) one would have performed i`tikaf in a mosque if available and (b) hopes that Allah accept this retreat in its place, then one should be hopeful of full reward and benefit of i`tikaf.

Reminder: It is recommended for the person in i`tikaf to busy themselves in prayer, recitation of Qur’an, remembrance, seeking forgiveness, and supplication.

Many scholars also considered seeking knowledge to be praiseworthy in i`tikaf, including Abu Hanifa and Shafi`i. Others considered it a time for devotion rather than study, including Malik and Ahmad. [Rahmat al-Umma] Some joined between the two positions, that it is praiseworthy to seek spiritually-inspiring and uplifting knowledge and reminders–rather than formal “seeking of knowledge.” And Allah knows best.

Related Answers:

The Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf)

The Three Types of Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf)

Can One Perform I`tikaf for a Portion of the Last 10 Days of Ramadan?

A Ramadan Reader: A Comprehensive Answers Guide to Getting the Most Out of Ramadan

And Allah knows best.

wassalam, Faraz Rabbani

Can One Perform I`tikaf for a Portion of the Last 10 Days of Ramadan?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalam alaikum warahmatullah wa’barakatahu. My sister intends to sit for it’ikaaf. But due to some family matters she can’t sit in the last 3 days of Ramadan. She can only sit the first 3 days of the last 10 days of Ramadan. Is that permissible according to the hanafi fiqh?

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

There are two types of i`tikaf:
(1) the emphasized communal sunna of the full last ten days of Ramadan and
(2) the recommended sunna of i`tikaf at any time–whether in or out of Ramadan.

The latter i`tikaf can be brief (even moments, with intention) or lengthy, and is also highly meritorious in Ramadan, particularly in the last ten days.

Thus, your sister can perform the i`tikaf for the time she is able, and there will be great virtue in it.

[ref: Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

See: The Spiritual Retreat (I’tikaf)

wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani
Executive Director, SeekersHub Global [Toronto | Sydney | Online]

Related Answers:

The I`tikaf (Spiritual Retreat) – Standing at Allah’s Door – @SeekersGuidance #Audio

The Three Types of Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf)

A Ramadan Reader: A Comprehensive Answers Guide to Getting the Most Out of Ramadan

The Three Types of Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf)

Answered by Ustadha Umm Ihsan

Question: I wanted to know  if one can make an intention to perform i’tikaf for less than ten days during the last ten days of Ramadan?

Answer: Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahimi

Assalamu alaykum.

The Three Types of I’tikaf

There are three types of spiritual retreats (I’tikaf) that a person may perform:

1. necessary,

2. emphasized sunna, and

3. recommended.

The necessary I’tikaf is an I’tikaf that one vowed to make.

The emphasized sunna I’tikaf is the I’tikaf performed during the last 10 days and nights of Ramadan. It is a communal sunna. If an entire community left the emphasized sunna I’tikaf, then they are sinful. However, if a few people perform the emphasized sunna I’tikaf, then they raise the sin from the community.

The recommended I’tikaf is any I’tikaf aside from the aforementioned. It has no minimum time length and fasting is not a stipulation for its validity. As such, it is recommended to intend to perform I’tikaf whenever one passes through the mosque during any time of the year in order to receive the reward.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Ala al-Din Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-Alaiyya; Shurunbulali Imdad al-Fattah]

Ruling on Performing An I’tikaf Of Less Than Ten Days in Ramadan

If one intends to perform I’tikaf for less than ten days during the last ten days of Ramadan then he receives the reward of the recommended I’tikaf but not the full reward of the emphasized sunna I’tikaf.

One should strive to perform whatever one can reasonably handle. Scholars say, “If one cannot do something completely, then one shouldn’t leave it completely.”

If one can only perform a few days of I’tikaf due to external reasons, then the last ten days of Ramadan are better than the rest of the month. Also, the odd nights are better than the even nights.

Please refer to the following links for more guidance on the fiqh of I’tikaf:

The Spiritual Retreat

The Complete Guide to Fasting

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Umm Ihsan is a female student of Islamic knowledge from the US. She studies with leading Hanafi scholars from Syria and elsewhere.

The Spiritual Retreat (i`tikaf)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Could you please give some details regarding the rulings of i`tikaf?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The Fiqh of I`tikaf (spiritual retreat)

Based on Shurunbulali’s Imdad al-Fattah, and other Hanafi texts

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate. May His abundant blessing and most perfect of peace be on His Beloved Prophet, the best of creation, and his family, companions and followers.

I`tikaf means ‘remaining’ somewhere.

The technical usage of the term is:

a) for men: to remain in the mosque, with an intention,

b) for women: to remain in their designated prayer area (musalla) at home, with intention, or at the mosque (though it is normally somewhat disliked for them to do so).

I`tikaf is a means of great reward. It says in the Fatawa Hindiyya,

“Its excellence is obvious, for the one make such a spiritual retreat:

– Has submitted their entire person to the worship of Allah Most High;
– seeks closeness;
– distances themselves from the worldly distractions that prevent one from proximity;
– drowning their entire time in actual or effective worship, for the basis of its legislation is to wait from one prayer time to the next prayer in congregation;
– it also makes the one is retreat resemble the angels who do not disobey the command of Allah and do what they are commanded, while glorifying Allah by night and day without tiring…” [1.212]

Legal Status

1. Recommendation

I`tikaf is generally recommended at all times, for both men and women, as defined above for each. It is especially recommended in Ramadan, and even more so in the last ten nights, especially the odd ones.

2. Communal Sunna

It is a strongly emphasized communal sunna for at least some people in each community to make i`tikaf for the entire last 10 days of Ramadan, as this was from the communal guidance and practice of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). It is blameworthy upon the community as a whole not to arrange and implement this.

3. Necessary

This is when one vows to make i`tikaf. Its minimum is an entire day (and night), and one must fast with it.

Two Important Conditions

Two important conditions for i`tikaf are:

a) that one intend it (and one should intend the general i`tikaf [spiritual retreat] every time one enters a mosque);

b) that one not be in a state of major ritual impurity (i.e. anything necessitating ghusl).

Things permitted during I`tikaf

Everything normally permissible, besides sexual relations, is permitted during i`tikaf, such as eating, drinking, and talk.
What to do during i`tikaf

One should busy oneself with the beneficial as much as one meaningfully can, such as:

1. Voluntary prayer,

2. Reciting the Book of Allah, with reflection, contemplation, and passion,

3. Remembrance of Allah, in all its forms,

4. Gaining beneficial knowledge, and listening to inspiring religious discourses (which is why it is wise to make i`tikaf in a mosque with people of learning, and good company to inspire one towards the good).

One should avoid simply wasting time in things bereft of benefit, let alone the haram, though there is nothing wrong in taking ‘breaks’ in which one relaxes with others, as a means of being able to return to one’s worship with vigor and devotion.

How does one’s i`tikaf end?

When one leaves the mosque or (for women) place of prayer, one’s i`tikaf ends.

During an extended i`tikaf (such as the communal sunna one), one may leave the mosque:

1. For a necessary ghusl.

2. To perform wudu (if such facilities are not found within the mosque),

3. To use the toilet.

Leaving for other reasons will end the i`tikaf.

I`tikaf for Women at Home

It is recommended for women to do i`tikaf (spiritual retreat) in a specific place in their house, a quiet room, for example, whenever they have the time and are able to do so without neglecting their family duties and other responsibilities.

Even when in one’s monthly period, it is recommended in the Hanafi school to sit in a designated place of prayer (musalla) at home, after having made wudu, and make dhikr for the time it takes to pray.

It is recommended for women to designate a place in their houses as their ‘masjid’. They can do i`tikaf there at any time, even for a brief period of time, [Radd al-Muhtar] and attain the great rewards mentioned in the hadiths for i`tikaf (as long as they fulfill their other worldly and religious duties, as is the case for men).

The full communal sunna i`tikaf is for the entire ten days (in the mosque, for men). This is not expected of those working or housewives, for that matter. If one is able to arrange things, and one’s husband agrees, one may perform i`tikaf for the entire 10 days.

However, the fiqh principle is that, “If something cannot be done completely, it should not be left completely.”

Thus, whenever free of pressing responsibilities, women should go to their place of worship, intending i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), even if only for a short amount of time, and keep themselves busy as much as possible in worship.

When she has to do something important, such as go to the kitchen or go shopping or visit a sick neighbor, she can leave her i`tikaf and return when able.

Such an i`tikaf is valid (and recommended) even outside Ramadan for women. In fact, it is best for them to intend i`tikaf every time they enter their place of worship (musalla) even for their daily prayers.

It is not valid for men to do i`tikaf in other than a mosque. [Durr]

The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “Whoever stands the nights of Ramadan in prayer out of faith and seeking reward shall have their previous sins forgiven.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

May Allah give us success to follow the guidance of His Beloved (Allah bless him & give him peace).

Walaikum assalam,

Faraz Rabbani

MMVIII © Faraz Rabbani and SunniPath.