I’tikaaf and Its Virtues
Ramadan is the month of the Quran, fasting, giving in charity, and being good to one’s relatives. However, one of the greatest virtues of Ramadan is getting closer to Allah SWT through increasing our Taqwa (consciousness of Allah).
One of the best ways to come closer to Allah is through extra worship. I’tikaaf is not a mandatory act of worship, but it was a sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) and is considered a highly virtuous form of worship. I’tikaaf was also practiced by one of the most righteous women in history, Maryam (AS) the Mother of Isa (AS).
But why should we do I’tikaaf? What are the virtues of doing extra good deeds anyway? Here is a Hadith Qudsi to help answer those questions:
The Prophet SAW narrated that Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said: “My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him…” [Bukhari]
In this Hadith Qudsi, we learn how beloved we can become to Allah if we follow Fard (mandatory actions) with extra actions. Since I’tikaaf is such a virtuous act of worship, it is an amazing way to get closer to Allah this Ramadan.
I’tikaaf in the Sunnah
Aisha (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) "used to perform i'tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty & Majestic, took him." [Bukhari & Muslim]
In Another hadith, Abu Sa’īd al-Khudri narrated that the Prophet PBUH said:
“…I observed I’tikāf in the first ten days in order to seek that night (i.e., Laylat ul Qadr). I then observed i’tikāf in the middle ten days. Then (an angel) was sent to me and I was told that this night is among the last ten. Whoever amongst you desires to observe I’tikāf should do so; and the people observed it along with him.” [Sahih Muslim]
In this hadith, we learn that the Prophet (SAW) observed I’tikaaf in the last ten days of Ramadan, and he also sought Laylatul-Qadr during the last ten nights. The two fit together perfectly since we are supposed to increase our worship during the last ten nights anyway. What better way to spend the end of Ramadan except with Allah?
Reward of I’tikaaf
Ibn Abbas (ra) reported that the Prophet (saw) said: “(Whoever performs i’tikaf) He is safe from sin and he also gets that reward which everyone (outside i’tikaf) gets for pious deeds.” [Ibn Majah]
In Ramadan, the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet PBUH teaches us that guarding our tongues is just as important as guarding our stomachs. If we are in I’tikaaf, it protects us from all sins of the tongue since we are not supposed to speak to anyone. As for the rewards of Ramadan, they already multiplied by 70 or 100, and therefore, taking time out to perform I’tikaf allows you to get maximum benefits out of this blessed month. I’tikaf also encourages you to perform more acts of worship, building up more and more rewards.
Ali Ibn Hussain (RA) narrates from his father that Prophet (PBUH) said: “He who observes the ten days I’tikaf during Ramadhan will obtain the reward of two Hajj & two Umrah.” [Bayhaqi]
Protection from Distractions
“O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that - then those are the losers.” (Quran 63:9)
Ever since we have been working from home during quarantine, we have been surrounded by distractions. From to screaming toddler’s craziness household during Ramadan, the distractions never end. How will you ever finish your Qur’an reading? How will you get to reconnect with Allah?
Guess what? I’tikaaf is your sanctuary. When you are in I’tikaaf, everyone knows not to bother you. You will be able to concentrate on practicing your Tajweed, getting on top of your Qur’an memorization goals, and making that du’a list that you need ready by Laylatul-Qadr.
Longing for Allah
The last few months have been excruciatingly difficult, no doubt. But the solution to our problems does not lie in worrying more and focusing more on the problem. Rather, it lies in deepening our relationship with Allah by spending more time with Him in solitude. I’tikaaf is perfect for that.
Ibn al-Qayyim (rh) said, “Longing for Allah and the meeting with Him is like a breeze that blows through the heart and removes the blaze of this worldly life.”
All of us right now are feeling the blaze of this worldly life. The uncertainty, the grief, the loss, the anxiety—we may be finding it hard to cope with it all right now.
But there is a solution: When we spend time thinking about Allah, talking to Allah, and asking Him for help, it grows our dependence on Him. When we think about the Hereafter and our
meeting with Allah, our burdens become lighter. We realise that all of this is temporary. And we find relief in it, the way we find relief in a cool breeze on a hot day.
Cleansing of the Heart
“There are four things that will help you in cleansing your heart: frequent remembrance [of Allah], constant silence, seclusion, and eating and drinking little.”- Ibn Ata’illah Al-Sakandari, The Refinement of Souls
In Ramadan, it is easy to get lost in food and socialisation and neglect the state of our hearts. Even during quarantine, we may become busy with members with our own family even if we are not attending iftar parties as usual.
In the quote above, all four things that Ibn Ata’illah (rh) says, contribute to the cleaning of the heart are part of I'tikaf. In I’tikaaf we spend lots of time alone, without any distractions and we eat simply, without extravagance as we remember Allah SWT often.
All of these things combined are spiritual heart boosters that allow us to break away from ghaflah (heedlessness) and come into a state of true remembrance of Allah where our heart longs to be closer and closer to Him.
Protection from Hell
“Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one days I'tikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches.” [Tabarani]
The month of Ramadan as a whole is a month of seeking forgiveness from Allah (SWT). Performing I’tikaf is a booster in this regard. When we do I’tikaaf, we have a chance to protect ourselves from sin and heedlessness. We are protected from wasting time and making bad choices. We are protected from hurting others. All of these are sins that could have earned us time in the Hellfire. Simply by removing ourselves from heedlessness into the remembrance of Allah, we decrease our chances of disobeying Allah SWT.
May Allah protect us all from the Hellfire, and May He give us the Tawfiq to do I’tikaaf this Ramadan in the best way possible. May Allah cleanse our hearts and grant us the gifts of His Love and Remembrance. Ameen.