by Maha Sultan in Lifestyle on 11th May, 2020
I’tikaf is an Islamic practice consisting of a period of staying in a Mosque, or at home, 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 being regular in something, this ‘something’ often including nafl prayers, reciting Qur’an and other forms of worship including those listed below. I’tikaf is frequently practised by Muslims across the world during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Muslims believe that the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) on one of the nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan. The exact night has not been revealed in the Qur’an. On this night (known as Laylat al-Qadr or the night of power) the blessings and mercy of Allah are abundant and whilst practising I’tikaf during the last ten nights of Ramadan, one hopes to obtain those blessings and mercy. Because Ramadan is of such a high status, acts of worship during this month are of great virtue and earn a multiplied reward.
Ask Allah to forgive your sins and mistakes and to help you remember Him, to worship him and to do these good deeds for his sake alone.
It may help before commencing I’tikaf, to prepare a list of duas (which you can, later on, cross-refer to) that you would like to make for yourself, your family and friends, and the ummah.
Ensure your heart is clear, forgive and ask others to forgive you for any wrongdoing.
Make the intention to practice I’tikaf in order to worship Allah alone and in order to please Him. In order to strive to become a better Muslim. In order to seek closeness to Allah. And in order to seek closeness to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Turn off your phone, tablet, laptop and any object that attaches you in any sense or form to worldly affairs. Only use if absolutely necessary. This may seem difficult at first, but in order to reconnect fully with the Creator of the world and all it contains, one must do all she can to disconnect from everything else during this period.
For those who live with family, Identify a room where you will practice the I’tikaf in seclusion and agree on which member of your family will enter your designated room with suhoor and iftar. Refrain from conversing about worldly matters during these brief periods, with your family member, unless absolutely necessary.
Aim to structure your time so that (broadly speaking) you know when you are likely to be praying obligatory and optional prayers; reciting Qur’an; performing dhikr; reading hadith and other books of knowledge and sleeping! Yes it is important to get some sleep in order to ensure you have the stamina required to carry out the intense period of ibadah.
Whilst it may sound obvious you can leave your designated place of worship for basic daily hygiene needs such as a shower etc. Cleanliness in itself is a form of worship.
Recitation of Qur’an; dhikr; nafl prayer; reading books of knowledge including Sahih hadith, tafsir and a chosen biography of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In terms of books of knowledge, for those wishing to start at a very basic level, whilst there are many, I would recommend Ghulam Sarwar’s ‘Islam beliefs and teachings’. Biography-wise I recommend Martin Lings ‘Muhammad’. ‘The Sealed Nectar’ by Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri and ‘Prophet Muhammad Sultan of Hearts’ by Resit Haylamaz / Fatih Harpci. These are all personal suggestions and are intended to provide a starting point. Last but not least of course, make a lot of dua throughout the day.
Make a sincere intention each night to seek the night of power; recite Qur’an including Surah Al – Qadr (Qur’an 97) in which Allah describes the virtues of the night of power. If you are not fluent in the Arabic language, read the translation of each Surah, over and over, so you can truly start to develop a relationship with the Qur’an and ultimately with the author of the Qur’an, the One, the Only, Allah.
Aim to recite Surah Ikhlas three times each night, according to Sahih hadith this Surah has great virtues and reciting it once brings a reward equivalent to reciting one-third of the Qur’an. Pray the nafl prayer; make dhikr and make plenty of dua. According to Sahih hadith, Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked what the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recited during the last ten days of Ramadan. She replied: ‘Allahumma Innaka ‘Afuwwun Karimun Tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni’. Translated as: ‘Oh Allah certainly you are most forgiving, you love to forgive, so forgive me’. Make this dua as much as you can. Call on Allah for there is no Helper but He. Last but not least, make arrangements for charity to be donated on your behalf on each of the last ten nights of Ramadan. Alternatively perhaps turn on your phone or tablet briefly, in order to give something in charity each night (however great or small) with the sole intention to please Allah.
Take it at a pace that suits you, devote as much time as you can to Allah the owner of time and prepare to feel spiritually uplifted when you finally (and very reluctantly) leave your I’tikaf space, in readiness for Eid In sha Allah.I sincerely pray you find these practical tips useful. May Allah make it easy for you and accept it from you all.
Wishing you all, the blessings of Ramadan. Please keep me in your duas.
Maha is a Barrister specialising in criminal law, she is passionate about human rights, and is a hardcore pilates fan. Her interests include psychology, health, beauty, and interior design.