|Before going to the essential part of this last section, let us stop by one of the great imam of ahl Assunnah wal jama`ah and one of the greatest revivers of the Da`wah and the methodology of the Salaf, Shaikhul-Islam Shamsuddeen Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, who will give us a brain storming admonition.
He says (rahimahu Allah) in Zaad al Ma`aad fi hadyi khairi al `ibaab :
|"Since the hearts' rectitude and firmness upon the path towards Allah
rests upon directing it solely upon Allah and causing it to turn and give all its attention to Allah
. Since the disorder of the heart cannot be rectified except by turning to Allah
and its disorder will be increased by eating and drinking too much, mixing with the people excessively, speaking profusely and sleeping too much. These will cause it to wander into every valley, and cut it off from its path to Allah, weaken it, divert it or put a halt to it.
"From the Mercy of the Mighty and Most Merciful is that He has prescribed for them fasting , which will cut off the excesses of eating and drinking, and empties the heart of its desires which divert it on its journey to Allah
. He prescribed it in due proportion as will be appropriate and will benefit the servant, with regard to this world and the Hereafter, and does not harm him, nor damage what is beneficial for him.
"He also prescribed i`tikaf for them, by which is intended that the heart is fully occupied with Allah
, concentrated upon Him alone, and cut off from preoccupation with the creation. Rather it is engrossed with Him alone, the One free of all defects, such that remembering Him, loving Him and turning to Him takes the place of all anxieties of the heart and its suggestions, such that he is able to overcome them. Thus all his concerns are for Him. His thoughts are all of remembrance of Him, and thinking of how to attain His pleasure and what will cause nearness to Him. This leads him to feel contented with Allah instead of the people, so that prepares him for being at peace with Him alone on the day of loneliness in the grave, when there is no one else to give comfort, nor anyone to grant solace except Him. So this is the greater goal of I'tikaf"
I`tikaf is the seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. This was the practice of the
during the last ten days of Ramadan especially. He would do it during other months as well.
reported that the Messenger of Allah
used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say,
| "Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan" [Bukhari]
Messenger used to perform i`tikaf for ten days every Ramadan, then when it was the year in which he was taken (died), he performed I`tikaf for twenty days." [Bukhari]
reported that the Prophet
used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice I`tikaf after him. [Bukhari]
also reported that the Prophet :
| "Used to perform i'tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah
, took him. [Bukhari and Muslim]
Al-Bukhari records from Abu Said that the Prophet (S) said:
| "Whoever makes I`tikaf with me is to make I'tikaf during the last ten (nights)."
This Sunnah of the
has been abandoned by many Muslims and it is worth reviving it in this era.
Sayyid Sabiq says in Fiqhus-Sunnah :
|The sunnah or preferred i`tikaf has no specific time limit. It can be fulfilled by staying in the mosque with the intention of making i`tikaf for a long or short time. The reward will be according to how long one stays in the mosque. If one leaves the mosque and then returns, he should renew his intention to perform i'tikaf.
Ya'la ibn Umayyah said:
| "I secluded myself in the mosque for some time for I`tikaf." 'Ata told him: "That is I`tikaf, as long as you secluded yourself there."
One who is performing Sunnah (like in Ramadan) i'tikaf (i.e. not the obligatory one that is made after a vow) may end his i`tikaf at any time, even if it is before the period he intended to stay.
related that if the Prophet intended to make i'tikaf, he would pray the morning prayer and begin it. One time he wanted to make i`tikaf during the last ten nights of Ramadan, and he ordered his tent to be set up. Aishah reported:
| "When I saw that, I ordered my tent to be set up, and some of the Prophet's wives followed suit. When he [the Prophet] prayed the morning prayer, he saw all of the tents, and said: "What is this?" They said: "We are seeking obedience (to Allah and His Messenger)." Then he ordered his tent and those of his wives to be taken down, and he delayed his i`tikaf to the first ten days (of Shawwal)."[Bukhari]
The fact that the Messenger of Allah ordered (his and) his wives' tents to be struck down and (he himself left
and) asked them to leave the i`tikaf after they have made the intention for it shows that they discarded the i`tikaf after they had begun it.
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, upon whom be peace, and supplicating Allah - that is, all actions that bring one closer to Allah. Included among these actions is studying and reading books of tafsir and hadith, books on the lives of the Prophets, upon whom be peace, books of fiqh, and so on. It is also preferred to set up a small tent in the courtyard of the mosque as the Prophet did.
Permissible Acts for the Mu`takif (the Person Performing I`tikaf)
The following acts are permissible for one who is making I'tikaf:
|(1) The Person may leave his place of I`tikaf to bid farewell to his wife and a woman can visit her husband who is in I`tikaf
Safiyyah, said : The prophet
was making i`tikaf (in the last ten nights of Ramadan), so I came to visit him at night [and his wives were with him and then departed]. I talked with him for a while, then I stood up to leave, [so he
said: "Do not hurry for I will accompany you",. He stood along with me to accompany me back -and her dwelling was in the house of Usaamah Ibn Zayd (until when he came to the door of the mosque near the door of Umm Salamah), two men of the Ansaar were passing by, when they saw the
Prophet they hastened by, so the
Prophet said : "Be at your ease for she is Safiyyah bintu Huyayy." So they said:" 'SubhanAllah, O Messenger of Allah! (we did not have any doubt about you).' He said: "Indeed Shaytan circulates in the son of Adam just as blood circulates, and I feared that he would insert an evil thought" -or he said : "something - into your hearts" [Bukhari and Muslim, additional narrations from Abu Dawud]
(2) Combing and cutting one's hair, clipping one's nails, cleaning one's body, wearing nice clothes or wearing perfume are all permissible. Aishah
reported: "The Prophet was performing i'tikaf and he would put his head out through the opening to my room and I would clean [or comb in one narration] his hair. I was menstruating at the time." [al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu Dawud].
(3) The person may go out for some need that he must perform. Aishah
reported: "When the Prophet performed i`tikaf, he brought his head close to me so I could comb his hair, and he would not enter the house except to fulfill the needs a person has." [al-Bukhari, and Muslim].
Ibn al-Mundhir says: "The scholars agree 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 needs to vomit, 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. Examples of these types of acts would include washing one's self from sexual defilement and cleaning his body or clothes from impurities."
(4) The person may eat, drink, and sleep in the mosque, and he should also keep it clean.
Actions that Nullify the I`tikaf.
If a person performs one of the following acts, his i`tikaf will be nullified:
|(1) Intentionally leaving the mosque without any need to do so, 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.
(2) Abandoning belief in Islam, as this would nullify all acts of worship. If you ascribe a partner to Allah, your work will fail and you will be among the losers.
(3) Losing one's reason due to insanity or drunkenness, or the onset of menstruation or post-childbirth bleeding, all of which disqualifies a person for i'tikaf.
(4) Sexual intercourse. Allah says (in meaning): "But do not associate with your wives while you are in seclusion (i`tikaf) in the mosques. Those are Limits (set by) Allah. Approach not nigh thereto. Thus does Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint. [al-Baqara; 2:187]
I`Tikaf Is Not Restricted To Men Only, Women Also Can Do It :
(the wife of the Prophet) reported that the
Prophet used to practice i`tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice i`tikaf after
Dear Sisters! when reading this do not forget the modesty and the hijab of the wife of the Prophet
that you should observe if you intend to perform i`tikaf.