* Courtesy of Masjid al – Furqaan’s Youtube page
* Courtesy of Masjid al – Furqaan’s Youtube page
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”
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:
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.
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.
Stories many of us have heard before but re-told and unpacked in a way very few can. And Shaykh Muhammad Adiyenka Mendes sure can. If you missed the livestream of the two extraordinary short talks he gave, you can listen to them in full on the SeekersHub podcast on iTunes (please subscribe for automatic updates). In the meantime, we present you with #YourRamadanHub Xtra – the best of the day’s events in a nutshell.
Imagine spending years saving up for hajj. And then imagine, not being able to go because you gave all your money away, but Allah accepts your hajj anyway. This is the story of Ali, a humble cobbler from Damascus whose random act of sacrifice fulfilled the Muslim communal obligation – fard kifayah – of hundreds of thousands of others.
Imagine facing Allah on the Day of Judgement, while standing next to a man, woman or child from your community who suffered neglect, abuse, injustice hunger and deprivation. What will our excuse be? “I thought someone else would take care of it” might not cut it.
Imam Khalid Latif is a University Chaplain for New York University, Executive Director of the Islamic Center at NYU, and a Chaplain for the NYPD. He is also the co-founder of Honest Chops, the first-ever all-natural/organic halal butcher in NYC, the Muslim Wedding Service, an agency specializing in providing charismatic and inspirational marriage officiants for wedding ceremonies. Sincere thanks to ICNYU for the recording of his Friday prayer sermon on Muslim communal obligation, or fard kifayah.
Habib Ali al-Jifri answers a question about the importance of female scholarship in Islam at the SeekersHub in Toronto, Canada. He describes female scholarship as “fulfilling the divine balance”.
Translated by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin
In the name of Allah the Most Merciful, The Most Compassionate. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon Sayyiduna Muhammad and His Folk and Companions.
In any matter that faces the believers, individually and communally, they would not find a better recourse than to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Times of trial are reminders to hold fast to Allah and to find safety and solace in following the way of our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).
In the name of Allah, I trust in Allah; there is no might or power but in Allah. O Allah! I seek refuge in You lest I stray or be led astray, or slip or be made to slip, or cause injustice, or suffer injustice, or do wrong, or have wrong done to me.”
This supplication, as it appears here, is a combination of reports from the Sunnan of Abi Dawud, on the authority of Sayyida Umm Salama and Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be well-pleased with them all). Imam an-Nawwawi, in his Adhkar, collected similar narrations from at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasaa`i, and Ibn Maajah.
Ibn Allan, in his commentary on the Adhkar, entitled al-Futoohat ar-Rabbaniyya, explains that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught this supplication to his ummah to teach them how to seek refuge from all harm in their dealings with people, both outwardly and inwardly. This can only come about through humbly turning to Allah, Most High, and asking for steadfastness upon the straight path.
He quotes at-Teebi as saying, “One who exits from his home will engage with people, and so it is feared that he would swerve from the upright way; either
Ibn Allan explains that each one of these is a foundation in itself, not redundant.
TRUST IN ALLAH
“In the name of Allah, I trust in Allah; there is no might and no power but in Allah.”
Through reliance upon Allah, the believer seeks to rise above every difficulty. This is sought by invoking the name of Allah with the intention of seeking His Assistance, Gentle Care, and Facilitation and that His Power protects one’s acts from deficiency and inconsistency.
Muslims often become exasperated by the default state of suspicion placed upon them in the wake of terrorist attacks. While we must take every means to enjoin good and forbid evil and avert all forms of harm, it is not by our efforts that the truth prevails. Rather, above all of that is the duty to trust in Allah.
“O Allah! I seek refuge in You lest I stray or be led astray, or slip or be made to slip “
Guidance is to uphold the truth in belief and word and deed. Straying from guidance (dalaal) entails being distracted away from the high aims for which we were created.
Worldly events often cause a shift in this focus and lead to negligence in upholding Slavehood to Allah.
The verb “zalla” means to slip from an elevated place. In this context it means falling from the lofty heights of adherence to the Straight Path to the low strata of following one’s caprice (hawa), or turning away from the dictates of God-consciousness (taqwa), or being consumed by the pursuit of worldly gains (dunya). Misguidance is a willful turning from the truth, while slipping is an unintentional mistake resulting from weakness.
Even as Muslims feel threatened or unsafe, we must not lose our resolve to adhere to the obedience of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) in all circumstances. This is the means to overcoming difficulty and the manifestation of true reliance upon Allah.
Thus, it has been reported on the authority of Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (may Allah be well-pleased with him) that Allah immediately answers and an angel declares, “You have been guided.” [Sunan Ibn Maajah, Book of Supplications]
“I seek refuge in You lest I….cause injustice, or suffer injustice”
Dhulm means to place something in other than it’s rightful place or to take the right of another.
There can be no greater oppression than to take the words of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) out of their proper place to achieve the exact opposite of their aims. However, a believer is responsible for his or her own actions. Thus, one will not be asked about the oppression of others before he is first asked about his own.
One who has been protected by Allah from oppression will have what our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) promised, as the hadith continues to say:
“You have been sufficed.”, meaning, of every worldly and next-worldly concern by your reliance upon Allah.
“I seek refuge in You lest I…. do wrong, or have wrong done to me.”
This entails being ignorant of what is obligatory upon one or to act in a way that is contrary to the character of a believer or to be treated with like imprudence.
Incidents that provoke anger, fear and hatred are easily reciprocated with their like. In that is a victory for the true enemy.
Thus the angel responds, “You have been guarded.”, meaning from the harm of your enemies, of devils and jinn, by your sincere consigning of all affairs to the Creator.
Concern For Others & Praying for the Good for all Believers
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was granted the most succinctly eloquent and vastly comprehensive speech. In this short supplication, he teaches us to seek protection, both from these harms and from being the cause of leading others to them. There is no harm to recite it in English for one who finds difficulty memorizing it in Arabic.
In the narration of at-Tirmidhi, the same supplication has been narrated in the plural, intending all the believers. This is a general recommendation, as it is from wishing for one’s brother what one wishes for one’s self. [Sunan at Tirmidhi, Book of Supplications, on the authority of Sayyida Umm Salama from ash-Sha’bi]
Planting Prophetic Meanings
Most of the Sunnah is habitual guidance; a consistent way of approaching our dealings with our Creator and our dealings with the creation. Good habits are best established early. Through teaching this supplication to our children, explaining its meanings and reciting it with them consistently, every time we leave our homes, we pray that it’s beautiful meanings are imparted to them.
The reality of our modern world is that we now engage with people, to a great extent, through social media. Thus, the harms from which we seek protection through this supplication are no longer limited to leaving one’s home. As the aim of du’a` is sincere turning to Allah in neediness, it would be a good practice to recite this supplication or, at least, bring its meanings to mind in all human interactions.
And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.
Allah, Most High, says:
O you who have believed, upon you is [responsibility for] yourselves. Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided. To Allah is your return all together; then He will inform you of what you used to do. [Quran 5:105]
By Iman Badawi
Resources for seekers:
Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said on how heinous oppression is, and how we can never find success when we commit acts that inflict “dhulm”.
Shaykh Faid is a jewel in the crown of traditional Islamic scholarship in the United Kingdom and we at SeekersHub are ever grateful for his friendship, guidance and support. He was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree. In Madinah, his teachers included Shaykh Atia Salem, Shaykh Mohamed Ayub (ex-imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace be upon him), Professor AbdulRaheem, Professor Yaqub Turkestani, Shaykh Dr Awad Sahli, Dr Aa’edh Al Harthy and many other great scholars. Shaykh Faid has ijaza in a number of disciplines including hadith, and a British higher education teaching qualification. He is currently the scholar in residence and head of education at Harrow Central Mosque, United Kingdom.
Read his articles in the SeekersHub blog.
Resources for Seekers:
Collection of Duas for the Oppressed
The Problem of Evil and a Summarized Islamic Response
Supplications for the Oppressed and Distressed
Habib Zayn’s Counsel on Syria and Burma
Enjoining Good, Forbidding Wrong
Reflecting on Hadiths of Justice and Mercy
Justice and Its Relationship to Knowledge
Calls to Believers: Upholding Justice in Islam
Justice as Sadaqa (Charity)
Stand Steadfastly For Justice
Will Bad Muslims Get Away With Their Crimes?
Collection of Duas for the Oppressed
The following are duas that have been compiled and recommended to recite in moments of peril and great oppression amongst the Muslim masses. Please utilize, spread for the sake of God and continue to pray for our brothers and sister. May Allah grant our brothers and sisters protection and peace, inwardly and outwardly, ameen.
It is worth bookmarking this page for future access. Allah is sufficient for us and He is our Guardian.
Duas relating to alleviating oppression from the Quran and Hadith
Hizbun-Nasr of the Shadhili Tariqa
Hizb al-Itmaam of Shaykh Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani (courtesy of SIIASI):
See also: Nasiri Dua for the Middle East
The least we can do for our brothers and sisters caught in the turmoil of the Middle East and countless other places is pray for them.
This highly potent du’a by the renowned Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Nasir, was recited across Morocco and inspired resistance to the French occupation. So powerful was it that the French President had to issue an order banning its recitation from the mosques. Moroccans date the movement to return King Muhammad from that outlawing of the du’a. It is appropriate to the present state of the Muslim ummah today.
Nasiri dua text and audio from Abdassamad Clarke’s website
May Allah protect all our brothers and sisters, ameen.
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