By Imam Numaan Cheema (Boston, Massachusetts)
Alhamdulillah, as we approach the last ten days of Ramadan, it’s time to contemplate on our situation and priorities. It is a time to reaffirm our resolve in doing even more worship in this blessed month. All in hopes of obtaining and securing a ticket to jannah and most importantly, seeking the pleasure of our Creator.
As Muslims, Allah has presented us with a simple, yet amazing contract:
Indeed, Allah has purchased the lives and the properties of the believers so that they may have jannah. (9:111)
Imam Hasan Al Basri (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Look at the generosity of Allah—He created the souls and provided the wealth, then He granted it for them and He purchased it from them with this invaluable contract—and indeed, it is a profitable transaction.”
In an effort to fulfill this contract, we should be checking our worship repeatedly and always trying to tread those paths that lead us closer to Him. One of these ‘paths’ taught to us is following and reviving a sunnah.
The Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace) said, “Whoever revives an aspect of my sunnah that is forgotten after my death, he will have a reward equivalent to that of the people who follow him, without it detracting anything from their reward.” (Tirmidhi)
One of the sunnahs we hope to see muslim men and women revive is i’tikāf, which was a well-known practice of the Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace).
Ali Ibn Hussain (may Allah have mercy on him) narrates from his father that the Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace) said: “Whoever observes ten days of i’tikāf during Ramadan will obtain the reward of two Hajj and two Umrah.” (Bayhaqi)
Sayyidna Abdullah bin Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace) said: “Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one day’s i’tikāf, Allah will keep him away from jahannam with trenches.” (Tabarani)
Sayyidah A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace) “used to perform i’tikāf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah took him.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
I’tikāf is a sunnah mu’akkadah in the last ten days of Ramadan. This month is the most suitable time to carry out this worship. Moreover, the last ten days of Ramadan are the days in which Laylatul Qadr normally occurs. It may occur in any of the odd nights of these days. When one is in i’tikāf for the last ten days of Ramadan, he can surely benefit from its innumerable merits, because even if he is sleeping, it will be credited to his account as ‘worship’. Every second in i’tikāf is ‘ibādah, even if one is eating, drinking or sleeping. This extraordinary privilege cannot be attained in anything other than i’tikāf. This is why the Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace) used to perform i’tikāf every year in Ramadan.
I’tikāf can be attained by both men and women. Men are to perform this virtuous act in a masjid while women are to perform i’tikāf in their homes by designating a certain area/room as their place of stay.
I’tikāf is an opportune time to communicate with Allah; to beseech Him, to ask Him for forgiveness and to ask for all of one’s needs.