What Is Itikaaf?
Literally Itikaaf means to apply oneself assiduously to something. Technically (in the terminology of the Shariah) it means to remain in a masjid (where the five times daily prayers are held) with the intention of worship.
What Is The Purpose Of Itikaaf?
Mankind has been created to worship Allah. Islam has designated many forms of worship for the fulfillment of this aim. Itikaaf enjoys superiority over other methods of worship because it encompasses many other forms of worship within itself.
Is Itikaaf Compulsory?
There are three types of Itikaaf.
1. Itikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadhan. This is sunnah.
2. Itikaaf on any other day is nafl (voluntary).
3. Itikaaf as a result of a vow (e.g. someone vowed that if a certain desire of his/her was fulfilled, he/she would perform Itikaaf for two days.). The performance of this Itikaaf is waajib (necessary).
Benefits Of Itikaaf
A person doing Itikaaf (mutakif) will be able to perform his salat on time with congregation hence acquiring the reward of salat with congregation, which is twenty-seven times more than performing it alone. On the other hand the layman outside will not attain this great reward with such consistency because of distractions and preoccupation especially in this modern age.
1. Itikaaf makes it easy to perform salat with full devotion because the mutakif breaks all ties with the outside world and is in a state of tranquillity, where he is free from everything that diverts him from Allah's remembrance. This leaves him to focus his mind solely towards Allah's obedience and happiness.
And seek help in patience and As-salat (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khaashi'un (I.e. the true believers in Allah – those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His punishment, and believe in His Promise and in His Warning). (They are those) who are certain that they are going to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are going to return. (Surah 2)
Abu Hurairah narrates that the Messenger of Allah said, "The bondsman is closest to his Lord while he is in prostration, so increase your supplications." (Muslim)
Ubaadah ibn Saamit narrates that he heard the Messenger of Allah saying, "Whenever a bondsman prostrates before Allah, He has a good deed written down for him and a sin wiped off and raises him a rank higher, so prostrate as much as you can." (Ibn Maaja)
3. Another benefit of Itikaaf is that the mutakif can perform his prayer in the first row. It is very easy for him to derive the full benefit of offering prayer in this row.
Abu Hurairah narrates that the Messenger of Allah said, "Had the people known the reward of azaan and the first row, they would most certainly draw lots (to decide who should give the azaan and stand in the first row). (Bukhari)
4. The mutakif gains the reward of waiting for salat. The Prophet said, "You will be regarded as performing salat while you are waiting for salat and the angels supplicate saying, 'O Allah forgive him and have mercy on him as long as he does not leave his prayer place or break wind." (Bukhari)
6. It becomes easy to perform the Tahajjud prayer. Normally, this is very difficult for a person because Satan tries hard to stop a person from offering this prayer and deprive him of its great reward.
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