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SECLUSION (I'TIKAAF)

MJ Mohammed Iqbal

 

I'tikaf a form of religious worship is observed in the last ten days of Ramadhan by the pious believers of Muslim world. What is I'tikaff? It means staying in the mosque for the purpose of worship of Almighty, thinking of His universe, creatures, more on reading Holy Qur'an towards achieving knowledge & wisdom.

 

Technically it signifies total seclusion from the duties of the materialistic world and staying in the mosque for the whole time towards Divine service during the last ten days of Ramadhan. A person who secludes himself for devotion and prayer, gives up his all comforts and recreations to seek the pleasure of Almighty.and  it is certainly an act of service with excellent rewards. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to retire into the Mosque for total seclusion during the last ten days of Ramadhan.

 

One of the companions  Ibn Abbas reported that regarding a person in seclusion,  Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "He who isolates himself from sins and good deeds, bring reward for him like those who perform all the good deeds".

 

Further he reported "Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most generous of men with regard to wealth and he was as generous as possible in Ramadhan. Gabriel used to meet him every night in Ramadhan and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would recite the Holy Qur'an to him. When Gabriel met him he was more generous than the wind which blows freely".

 

Just as fasting is a shield which protects the heart from the influences of physical distractions such as excessive indulgence in food, drink and sex, so I’tikaaf offers an immense hidden benefit, which is protection from the effects of excessive socializing. For people may take socializing to extremes, until it has a similar effect on a person to the effects of over-eating, as the poet said: “Your enemy was once your friend, so do not have too many companions" I’tikaaf also offers protection from the evil consequences of talking too much, because a person usually does I’tikaaf on his own, turning to Allaah by praying Qiyaam al-Layl (Night Prayers), reading Qur’aan, making Dhikr, reciting du’aa’, and so on.


It also offers protection from sleeping too much, because when a person makes I’tikaaf in the mosque, he devotes his time to drawing closer to Allaah by doing different kinds of acts of worship; he does not stay in the mosque to sleep.

 

OTHER BENEFITS

 

·        The person in I’tikaaf has committed himself to staying in the mosque for a specific time period. Human nature may not readily accept such restrictions at the beginning of the I’tikaaf, but usually this attitude quickly disappears because of the peace of mind that the soul develops from staying in the House of Almighty.

 

·        Keeping away from physical luxuries.

 

·        There is the kind of patience which is required for putting up with the conditions in the mosque, the crowds of people around him, the lack of peace and quiet such as he enjoys at home when he wants to sleep.

 

·        Prophet’s Teachings on simple life to His most  beloved Daughter FATHIMA  BINTH MUHAMMAD[PBUH] & Son-In-Law

 

Bukhari and Muslim gave an example of Prophet’s Education on simple life to his holy family. It was narrated by Ali, who said:

 

We had no servant in our house. Fatima did all the housework by herself. We lived in a house with just a small room. There, Fatima lit a fire and tried to cook. She often singed her clothes while trying to increase the fire by blowing. Moreover, she baked our bread and carried water. Her hands became covered in callouses from turning the millstone and her back also became so because of carrying water. Meanwhile some prisoners of war were brought to Madina. The Messenger gave them to those who applied. I suggested to Fatima to ask for a servant from her father.

 

Reluctantly, she went to the Prophet who said: "What has brought you here, my little ,beloved ,daughter?" "I came to give you greetings of peace," she said, for in awe of him she could not bring herself to ask what she had intended.

 

"What did you do?" asked Ali when she returned alone.

 

"I was ashamed to ask him," she said. So the two of them went together but the Prophet felt they were less in need than others.

 

"I will not give to you," he said, "and let the Ahl as-Suffah (poor Muslims who stayed in the mosque) be tormented with hunger. I have not enough for their keep..."

Ali and Fatimah returned home feeling somewhat dejected but that night, after they had gone to bed, they heard the voice of the Prophet asking permission to enter. Welcoming him, they both rose to their feet, but he told them:

 

"Stay where you are," and sat down beside them. "Shall I not tell you of something better than that which you asked of me?" he asked and when they said yes he said: "Words which Jibril taught me, that you should say "Subhaan Allah- Glory be to God" ten times after every Prayer, and ten times "AI hamdu lillah - Praise be to God," and ten times "Allahu Akbar - God is Great." And that when you go to bed you should say them thirty-three times each."

Ali used to say in later years: "I have never once failed to say them since the Messenger of God taught them to us."

Courtesy: Gulf Today