Itikaf is a spiritual practice in Islam that involves secluding oneself in a mosque or designated area for a specific period of time. It is usually observed during the last ten days of Ramadan, but can also be done at other times of the year.
Itikaf provides a unique opportunity for Muslims to disconnect from the distractions of daily life and focus solely on their relationship with Allah. It is a time for prayer, reflection, and introspection, as well as an opportunity to increase one’s spirituality and devotion. In this article, we will explore what Itikaf is, its significance in Islam, and how it is practiced.
What is Itikaf?
Itikaf means to decide to stay for some days in isolation in a Masjid or at home with the intention to spend your time in acts of obedience and deeds of worship.
Itikaf is a Sunnah act of worship (not mandatory) It is to stay in a mosque and devote yourself to worship, during the night and daytime.
Itikaf duration can be an hour, a day, a night, or days and nights as Allah said:
“But do not approach them while you are in retreat at the mosques. These are the limits of God, so do not come near them.”Al Baqarah 187
What is the time to Perform Itikaf?
It is narrated that the Messenger of Allah had performed Itikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan. In some years, the Prophet (saw) did not perform itikaf in Ramadan for some reasons. It was also narrated that the Prophet (saw) performed Itikaf during the first ten days of Shawwal, the month which comes after Ramadan.
But scholars agree that Itikaf during Ramadan is better. And retreating during the last ten days of Ramadan is the best.
If the Itikaf is not in Ramadan, and it is in Shawwal, Dhu ‘Qaeda, Dhu Hajjah, Muharram, etc., it is ok and nothing wrong. If a Muslim will do Itikaf for a period of more than a week, then, it is preferable to be in a mosque where Friday congregational prayers (Salah al Jomah) are held, so that he does not need to go out.
When Does Itikaf Start 2023?
I’tikaf starts in 2023 on the 11th of April, Tuesday by the end of Maghrib Prayer. Itikaf here starts with the beginning of the last ten days of Ramadan, although you can do the i’tikaf before and after that time. The Itikaf will continue until the 20th of April 2023. Thursday after Maghrib prayer and iftar.
The Importance of Itikaf in Ramadan:
There are significant aspects of I’tikaf. Its importance lies for many reasons, here are some of them:
1. Devotion Exclusively to Allah
The Importance of Itikaf lies in teaching a Muslim how to devote his time and even himself for the sake of Allah. It teaches him that there is nothing more important than Allah in this worldly life.
Itikaf is one of the most important acts of worship that a Muslim can perform during Ramadan. Through Itikaf, Muslims can learn to detach from the material world and devote their time and effort to strengthening their relationship with Allah through Ramadan Activities And Events.
2. Spiritual Improvement and Soul Purification
During the days of Itikaf, the mutakif (a person who retreats) isolates himself from all affairs of the outside world and spends a few days during the year developing deep consciousness of His creator. This spiritual consciousness is the wellspring of a Muslim’s thoughts and true faith.
3. Following the Steps of Our Prophet
Why should we do I’tikaf during Ramadan? We do it to follow the sunnah of our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Allah said in the Holy Qur’an on the tongue of the Prophet,
“Say, “If you love God, then follow me, and God will love you, and will forgive you your sins.” God is Forgiving and Merciful.”Al- Imran verse,31
4. Itikaf is an Old Past Act
Some old past nations performed Itikaf. Allah said in the Holy Quran,
“And (remember) when We prepared for Abraham the place of the (holy) House, saying: Ascribe thou no thing as partner unto Me, and purify My House for those who make the round (thereof) and those who stand and those who bow and make prostration.”Surah Al-Hajj
5. Itikaf is a positive and Healthy act
If Itikaf is done in a perfect way, it will be a positive healthy worshiping act.
Staying in a Majid during the last ten days of Ramadan, reading the Quran, and thinking of Allah, fills our spirits with peace and empowerment. It also teaches us how to have self-control over our needs and desires.
Itikaf teaches us how to realize our life’s real meaning and value.
What are the Benefits And Virtues of Itikaf?
The benefits and Virtues of Itikaf are numerous, here are some benefits of Itikaf which is a holy act of worship:-
1. Itikaf Is A time for Soul Searching
The time spent in Itikaf in a mosque helps a Muslim to make contemplation and self-analysis. The Moitiqif realizes his faults, shortcomings, and bad personality traits. So, he can set plans on how to improve these shortcomings.
2. Itikaf is a Unique Relationship with Allah
Being alone in a mosque, no one with you except your Lord, no particular purpose to stay except for your Lord. This will definitely increase your bond and relationship with Allah.
3. Abstinence and Avoidance Gossip
Avoiding chit-chat and gossip is a way to avoid many sins, subsequently, a way to enter paradise. Gossiping, backbiting always push a Muslim to gain many sins in his or her sheet of sins. Itikaf teaches a Muslim how to keep his tongue clean. It also teaches him what time to talk in and what time to keep silent.
4. Shunning Materialism And staying away from his worldly desires
Itikaf assists a person to stay away from his worldly desires, such as sexual desire, food, fashion, and so on. This helps him to revamp his personality. Itikaf saves a person from these worldly desires and teaches him how to control them.
Qiyam al-Layl, also known as Tahajjud, is an optional night prayer that is recommended for Muslims to perform. It is a powerful form of worship that allows Muslims to connect with Allah on a deeper level and seek His forgiveness and guidance. The Kalimah Center provides a comprehensive guide on how to perform Qiyam al-Layl and Tahajud.