How to take full advantage and benefit from the last part of Ramadan?
Though all parts of Ramadan are full of blessings and rewards, its last ten days hold a special status reflected in the recommendations and practices of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, and his companions. we will focus here on three major practices of the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, and his companions during these days.
PRAYING IN THE LAST TEN NIGHTS OF RAMADAN:
Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from ‘Aishah (RadiyAllahu Anha) that during the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) would wake his wives up during the night and then remain apart from them (that is, being busy in acts of worship). A narration in Muslim states: “He would strive [to do acts of worship] during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time.”
Aisha (RadiyAllahu Anha) reported that With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers.
PERFORMING I’TIKAF IN THE MASJID (seclusion in the Mosque):
I`tikaf is the seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. This was the practise of the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, during the last ten days of Ramadan especially. He would do it during other months as well.
‘Aisha (RadiyAllahu Anha) reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan”
[Bukhari] Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu ‘anhu said: “Allah’s Messenger, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, used to perform i`tikaf for ten days every Ramadan, then when it was the year in which he was taken (died), he performed I`tikaf for twenty days.
[Bukhari] ‘Aisha (RadiyAllahu Anha) reported that the Prophet, Salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice I`tikaf after him.
[Bukhari] `Aishah radhiya Allahu `anha also reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, “Used to perform i’tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty and Majestic, took him.
[Bukhari and Muslim] Al-Bukhari records from Abu Said RadiyAllahu Anhu, that the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “Whoever makes I`tikaf with me is to make I’tikaf during the last ten [nights].”
This Sunnah of the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, has been abandoned by many Muslims and it is worth reviving it in this era.
Sayyid Sabiq says in Fiqhus-Sunnah :
The sunnah or preferred i`tikaf has no specific time limit. It can be fulfilled by staying in the mosque with the intention of making i`tikaf for a long or short time. The reward will be according to how long one stays in the mosque. If one leaves the mosque and then returns, he should renew his intention to perform itikaf.
Ya’la ibn Umayyah said: “I secluded myself in the mosque for some time for I`tikaf.” ‘Ata told him: “That is I`tikaf, as long as you secluded yourself there.”
One who is performing Sunnah (like in Ramadan) i’tikaf (i.e. not the obligatory one that is made after a vow) may end his i`tikaf at any time, even if it is before the period he intended to stay.
‘Aishah related that if the Prophet intended to make itikaf, he would pray the morning prayer and begin it. One time he wanted to make i`tikaf during the last ten nights of Ramadan, and he ordered his tent to be set up. Aishah reported: “When I saw that, I ordered my tent to be set up, and some of the Prophet’s wives followed suit. When he [the Prophet] prayed the morning prayer, he saw all of the tents, and said: “What is this?” They said: “We are seeking obedience [to Allah and His Messenger].” Then he ordered his tent and those of his wives to be taken down, and he delayed his i`tikaf to the first ten days [of Shawwal].”[Bukhari]
The fact that the Messenger of Allah ordered [his and] his wives’ tents to be struck down and [he himself left and] asked them to leave the i`tikaf after they have made the intention for it shows that they discarded the i`tikaf after they had begun it. ( in this small paragraph are some additional comments to clarify things).
It is preferred for the one who is making I`tikaf to perform many supererogatory acts of worship and to occupy himself with prayers, reciting the Qur’an, glorifying and praising Allah, extolling His oneness and His greatness, asking His forgiveness, sending salutations on the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and supplicating Allah – that is, all actions that bring one closer to Allah. Included among these actions is studying and reading books of tafsir and hadith, books on the lives of the Prophets, upon whom be peace, books of fiqh, and so on. It is also preferred to set up a small tent in the courtyard of the mosque as the Prophet did.
Permissible Acts for the Mu`takif (the person performing I`tikaf)
The following acts are permissible for one who is making I’tikaf
(1) The Person may leave his place of I`tikaf to bid farewell to his wife and a Woman can visit her husband who is in I`tikaf}
Safiyyah, radhiya Allahu `anha said : The prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, was making i`tikaf [in the last ten nights of Ramadan], so I came to visit him at night [and his wives were with him and then departed]. I talked with him for a while, then I stood up to leave, [so he said:”Do not hurry for I will accompany you”,. He stood along with me to accompany me back -and her dwelling was in the house of Usaamah Ibn Zayd [until when he came to the door of the mosque near the door of Umm Salamah], two men of the Ansaar were passing by, when they saw the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, they hastened by, so the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said : “Be at your ease for she is Safiyyah bintu Huyayy.” So they said:” ‘SubhanAllah, O Messenger of Allah! [we did not have any doubt about you].’ He said: “Indeed Shaytan circulates in the son of Adam just as blood circulates, and I feared that he would insert an evil thought” -or he said : “something – into your hearts” [Bukhari and Muslim, additional narrations from Abu Dawud]
(2) Combing and cutting one’s hair, clipping one’s nails, cleaning one’s body, wearing nice clothes or wearing perfume are all permissible. ‘Aishah (RadiyAllahu Anha) reported: “The Prophet was Performing itikaf and he would put his head out through the opening to my room and I would clean [or comb in one narration] his hair. I was menstruating at the time.” [al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu Dawud].
(3) The person may go out for some need that he must perform. ‘Aishah (RadiyAllahu Anha) reported: “When the Prophet Performed I`tikaf, he brought his head close to me so I could comb his hair, and he would not enter the house except to fulfill the needs a person has.” [al-Bukhari, and Muslim].
Ibn al-Mundhir says: “The scholars agree that the one who performs itikaf may leave the mosque in order to answer the call of nature, for this is something that he personally must perform, and he cannot do it in the mosque. Also, if he needs to eat or drink and there is no one to bring him his food, he may leave to get it. If one needs to vomit, he may leave the mosque to do so. For anything that he must do but cannot do in the mosque, he can leave it, and such acts will not void his itikaf, even if they take a long time. Examples of these types of acts would include washing one’s self from sexual defilement and cleaning his body or clothes from impurities.”
(4) The person may eat, drink, and sleep in the mosque, and he should also keep it clean.
Actions that Nullify the I`tikaf
If a person performs one of the following acts, his I`tikaf will be nullified:
(1) Intentionally leaving the mosque without any need to do so, even if it is for just a short time. In such a case, one would not be staying in the mosque, which is one of the principles of I`tikaf.
(2) Abandoning belief in Islam, as this would nullify all acts of worship. If you ascribe a partner to Allah, your work will fail and you will be among the losers.
(3) Losing one’s reason due to insanity or drunkenness, or the onset of menstruation or post-childbirth bleeding, all of which disqualifies a person for itikaf.
(4) Sexual intercourse. Allah says [in meaning]: “But do not associate with your wives while you are in seclusion (I`tikaf) in the mosques. Those are Limits (set by) Allah. Approach not nigh thereto. Thus does Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint. [al-Baqara; 2:187]
I’TIKAF IS NOT RESTRICTED TO MEN ONLY, WOMEN ALSO CAN DO IT:
‘Aisha (the wife of the Prophet) reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice I`tikaf after him.[Bukhari]
Dear Sister! when reading this do not forget the modesty and the Hijab of the wife of the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) that you should observe if you intend to perform I`tikaf.