Sunnah I'tikaf

About I’tikaf

Invitation to Sunnah I’tikaf

Each and every year, Allah ta’ālā invites his believing slaves to spend the last ten days of Ramaḍān in Sunnah I’tikāf to shower them with His Infinite Mercy and Grace.

This Ramaḍān 1437H/2016, the Honorable Shaykh Mufti Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) will be sitting for Sunnah I’tikāf in Jamia Masjid, Johar Town, Lahore for the last ten days inshaAllah. Following in the tradition of the luminous scholars, a structured programme has been arranged for the 10 days of I’tikaf. The programme will be conducted in English and includes training on drawing closer to Allah, following the Sunnah, learning dhikr and curing spiritual diseases of the heart.

The Sunnah I’tikaf programme is open to all men.

Venue:
Jamia Masjid, Johar Town, Lahore

Dates:*
Sunday 26th of June (Enter I’tikāf between ‘Asr and Maghrib salah)
Wednesday 6th of July (End I’tikāf after Maghrib – night of ‘Eid al-Fiṭr)

This is an extremely blessed occasion which we should try our utmost to avail.

To learn about Sunnah I’tikaf please click here.

To register, please click here.

*Note: I’tikaf end date is an estimated date and subject to change by a day.


The Desperate Need for I’tikaf

The Dunya (worldly pleasures) has distracted us and made us forgetful of Allah ta’ālā. Modern lifestyles make it difficult for us to disconnect from the Dunya and reconnect with Allah ta’ālā. The Sunnah I’tikāf addresses this desperate need to flee from heedlessness (ghaflah) and preserve our īmān – similar to the young men of the cave (aṣḥab al-kahf) who sought refuge from the trials and tribulations in society (fitnah).

Sunnah I’tikāf is our spiritual cave.

When the youths retreated to the cave and beseeched: Our Lord, bestow upon us from Yourself an unbounded Mercy, and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.

(Surah Kahf)


What Will You Gain from I’tikaf?

There are many short-term and long-term gains from performing the Sunnah I’tikāf. Some of these are as follows:

  • Intense feeling of love for Allah ta’ālā
  • Yearning to become a better, truer and more devout believer
  • The loving company and tender gaze of a spiritual guide (Shaykh)
  • Practical guidance on how to cure ourselves of spiritual diseases like lust, anger, greed, jealousy, pride etc.
  • Renewed vigour and passion to follow in the footsteps of our Beloved Messenger SAW
  • Training to maintain your spirituality long-term after Ramaḍān
  • Option to continue in spiritual training beyond Ramaḍān

What is I’tikaf?

I’tikāf means to go into retreat and seclusion. The Sunnah I’tikāf, for men, is to retreat and seclude oneself within the Masjid during the last ten days of Ramaḍān. Resolving to remain within the bounds of the Masjid is an ardent expression of love and yearning for Allah ta’ālā. Legally, I’tikāf is a Sunnah Mu`akkadah (an emphasised Sunnah).

Our Beloved Messenger (saw) would make I’tikāf with extraordinary earnestness and devotion. The Prophet (saw) first made I’tikāf to seek out Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Power) – that year he (saw) stayed in the Masjid for the full month of Ramaḍān. During one year, due to a specific reason, the Prophet (saw) did not perform I’tikāf – so he performed Nafal I’tikāf for ten days in the month of Shawwal. Upon another occasion, the Prophet (saw) missed the last ten days of I’tikāf because of traveling – the following year he performed I’tikāf for the last twenty days of Ramaḍān. Since entering Madīnah, the Prophet (saw) never missed I’tikāf.


Virtues of I’tikaf

There are many virtues (faḍā`il) of I’tikāf mentioned in the aḥādīth and works of the ‘Ulamā. A key benefit is to easily seek Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Power). Laylatul Qadr is so blessed, that to simply witness the night in a heightened state of faith (īmān), consciousness (taqwā) and certainty (yaqīn) causes our connection with Allah ta’ālā to grow as if we experienced these feelings for more than a thousand months.

Some of the further virtues of I’tikaf include:

  • A guaranteed environment in which one may maximise the last ten days of Ramaḍān.
  • The best and most certain method of obtaining Laylatul Qadr – I’tikāf is the Sunnah method of “seeking out” Laylatul Qadr.
  • Each and every moment and movement in I’tikāf is accounted as worship (‘ibādah) – including typically mundane acts of eating and sleeping.
  • One who performs I’tikāf for a single day seeking the Pleasure of Allah, Allah ta’ālā creates three trenches between them and the hell fire – each more expansive than the span between the heaven and the earth.
  • One who performs I’tikāf in the last ten days of Ramaḍān, it will be as if they have completed two ḥajj and two ‘umrah.
  • The one who performs I’tikāf, becomes protected from sins and he is rewarded for any good deeds he may have done outside of the Masjid.

Ahadith on I’tikaf

Abū Sa‘īd Khudri (ra) narrates that the Prophet (saw) once performed I’tikāf for the first ten days of Ramaḍān. Thereafter he made I’tikāf in a Turkish tent (inside the Masjid) for the middle ten days. Thereafter he peaked his blessed head (out of the tent) and announced,“Verily in search of Laylatul Qadr did I perform I’tikāf for the first ten days, and similarly for the middle ten days. Then I was told (by an angel) that it is in the last ten days, so whosoever has made I’tikāf with me should continue for the last ten days. I had indeed been shown that night and then made to forget which it shall be. And verily did I see myself prostrating to Allah with my forehead on mud on the morning after the night. Seek Laylatul Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramaḍān; seek it among uneven ones.”

(Bukhārī, Muslim)

Ibn ‘Abbās (ra) relates that the Prophet (saw) said, “The person performing I’tikāf remains free from sins, and he is indeed given the same reward as those who do righteous deeds (in spite of not having done those deeds as a result of having been secluded in the Masjid)”.

(Ibn Mājah)

‘Alī Ibn Husayn (ra) narrates from his father that the Prophet (saw) said: “He who observes the ten days I’tikāf during Ramaḍān will obtain the reward of two ḥajj and two ‘umrah.”

(Bayhaqī)

Abdullah bin Abbas (ra) reported that the Prophet (saw) said: “Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one days I’tikāf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches.”

(Ṭabarāni)

Allah’s Messenger (saw) used to exert himself in devotion during the last ten nights to a greater extent than at any other time.

(Muslim)

Aisha (ra) reported: With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (saw) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work harder) and used to pray all the night and used to keep his family awake for the prayers.

(Bukhāri)


I’tikaf and Islamic Spirituality (Tazkiyah)

Tazkiyah is that discipline in the Deen which teaches us to develop our soul (rūh) and purify our lower self (nafs). This discipline of Tazkiyah was one of the core missions of the Blessed Messenger (saw) and subsequently that of the illustrious Mashayikh (spiritual masters) who inherited this responsibility. Sunnah I’tikāf takes the form of a spiritual training centre which is “built-in” to the Deen.

I’tikāf is the perfect environment within which to progress and develop spiritually. This occurs by the blessings of:

  • Leaving sin
  • Following the Sunnah
  • Abundantly remembering Allah ta’ālā
  • Keeping the company of the pious, especially the Mashayikh

The Sunnah I’tikāf conducted by a Shaykh (spiritual guide) can help us take steps towards coming closer to Allah ta’ālā by learning how to make sincere repentance (tawbah) and adopt piety (taqwa) through abundant dhikr (remembrance of Allah ta’ālā) and following of the Blessed Sunnah. It will assist us in treating spiritual diseases such as lust, anger, greed, envy and pride whilst developing praiseworthy attributes such as intense love for Allah, love for the Beloved Messenger SAW, humility, devotion, gratitude and patience.


Spiritual Etiquette (ādāb) of I’tikaf

Adab (Spiritual Etiquette) means to perform an action according to best, most proper, most noble, most beautiful and most excellent manner so that the results of this action may be similarly a most beautiful and excellent one. This is different to the ahkām (Legal Rulings), which describe what is absolutely necessary for an action to be acceptable in Shariah. Therefore, one must make intention (niyyah) and resolve to adopt all of the ādāb in addition to the ahkām, because we seek the best results.

Some ādāb are summarised below which shall also be learnt and reviewed during the I’tikāf program inshaAllah.

  • Intention: make intention that you are following the Sunnah
  • Dua: O Allah, give me the same feelings my The Prophet (saw) had during I’tikāf
  • Shukr: feel grateful that Allah ta’ala has accepted us for this opportunity
  • Disconnect heart and mind from all things outside the Masjid
  • Switch off cell phones: inform family “no news is good news”
  • Remain silent: ten days practising to be quiet – it is not a meet and greet event.
  • Do not talk about matters besides Deen and ‘Ibādah
  • Remain within the main hall of the Masjid as much as possible (only use the basement section of the Masjid if it will help you get more feeling in your Ibādah – be honest with yourself and stay focused)
  • Stick to the schedule – it has been designed this way for a reason.
  • Try to minimise your sleep hours in order to maximise your Ibādah (test your limits gradually).
  • Be aware of the etiquette of the Masjid. Always perform Wudhu before re-entering the Masjid if you had to relieve yourself.

Legal Rulings of I’tikaf

It is necessary to learn about the Legal Rulings (ahkām) of I’tikāf for anyone intending to perform it. This includes the actions which are permissible/impermissible during I’tikāf, the boundaries of the Masjid and the legitimate needs for which one may exit the Masjid.

These rulings are explained in the following book by Hazrat Mufti Taqi Usmani sahib (db).

Please click here to download the book.