Monday, July 7, 2014

Virtues & Spiritual benefits of Itikaf

I‘tikaf is a spiritual retreat in a mosque (masjid), usually performed during the last ten days of Ramadan. It is one of the important Sunnahs of the prophet (SAWS) and a special ibadah in Ramadhan. 
Some Hadiths on virtues of I‘tikaf:

It is related that Abu Hurayra (RA) said, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to do i'tikaf for ten days every Ramadan. The year in which he died he did i'tikaf for twenty days." (Sahih Bukhari)
Aishah (RA) reported that the Prophet (Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam): "Used to perform i'tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty & Majestic, took him." (Bukhari & Muslim)
Ali Ibn Hussain (RA) narrates from his father that Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “He who observes the ten days I’tikaf during Ramadhan will obtain the reward of two Hajj & two Umrah.” (Bayhaqi)
Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) reported that Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wasallam) said: “Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one day's i’tikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches.” (Tabarani)

Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, (about him who engages in i’tikaf), “that he is safe from sin & he also gets that reward which everyone (outside i’tikaf) gets for pious deeds.” (Ibn Majah)

The Purpose and Benefits of i`tikaf:

The idea behind i`tikaf is helping Muslims devote themselves exclusively to worship at least for a few days a year and be away from the affairs of this world, which can distract one's heart from the worship.

It is an amazing opportunity to gain immense & abundant rewards as well as closeness to Allah. We can also take this opportunity to strengthen & boost our imaan (faith) for the rest of the year.
It says in the Fatawa Hindiyya regarding the benefits of i`tikaf,
“The one who makes such a spiritual retreat:
- Has submitted his entire person to the worship of Allah Most High;
- seeks closeness (to Allah);
- distances himself from the worldly distractions that prevent one from proximity;
- drowning his 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 in 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] (Source:
The purpose and spirit of I‘tikaf is... "the reclusion of the heart to Allah, dissociating from creation and being preoccupied in Him alone, so his affinity with Allah substitutes his affinity with creation, and thus he becomes prepared thereby with his proximity to Him on the day of (his) loneliness in the grave." (Mukhtasar Zad al-Ma‘ad)
Imam Shah Waliullah remarks, “Since I’tikaf in the masjid is a means to the attainment of peace of the mind and purification of the heart, and it affords an excellent opportunity for forging an identity with the angels and having a share in the blissfulness of the 'Night of Power' (Shab-e-Qadr) and for devoting oneself to prayer and meditation, Allah has set apart the last ten days of the month of Ramadhân for it and made it a Sunnah for His pious and virtuous slaves.”

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the soul :

Sometimes due to a person's physical condition he is admitted into the intensive care unit allowing his body time to recover.

Likewise the soul also needs to recover from the hustle and bustle of the world, the spiritual pollution caused by evil elements of society, the rat race of wanting, desiring and acquiring more of this world and the distractions that has diverted our mind, heart and soul from the remembrance of Allah Ta'ala and His Beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the soul is the Masjid and I'tikaf is the facitilty within this ICU to allow the soul to not only recover but be spiritually rejuvenated! I'tikaf is indeed a Spiritual Retreat!

The spring of Spiritual life:

I'tikaf is referred to as "The spring of life in a world struck with the drought of negligence of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him)."

It is the negligence of ourselves and our Creator which is given a thorough treatment during I'tikaf. In addition, we can once again find ourselves and our Lord and spiritually return back to Him before we are forced to return back to him by the separation of the soul from the body in a state of complete negligence of Him.
The mu’takif (person performing I'tikaf) is the guest of Almighty Allah in His house.
The Adamant Beggar at the door of Allah:
The example of the one that resides in the masjid in I'tikaf is like the person who, having gone to a rich and powerful person to appeal for his needs, remains there until his request granted. He thus says to Allah: "O Allah! I have placed my humble request before You and have faith in Your generosity; and I shall not move from here until my request is granted by You." When someone comes begging at the door and then refuses to leave until his request is granted, it is certain that even the most selfish person will eventually accede to one's request; and how much more Merciful is Allah.
It's a communal sunnah:
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.
The great Tabai'e, Imam Zuhri [50 AH- 124 AH]  said: “How strange the Muslims are! They have given up I’tikaf, despite the fact that the Prophet, (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), never abandoned this practice from the time he came to Madinah until his death.”

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