I'tikaf: Spiritual Retreat in Ramadan
I'tikaf spending the last ten days of Ramadan in the Masjid is a beautiful tradition of the Prophet. It is like a spiritual retreat. It is reported by Aisha may Allah be pleased with her that the Prophet peace be upon him used to observe i'tikaf during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and he continued this practice till his death. After him his wives carried on this practice of observing i'tikaf regularly. (Reported in Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).
It is recommended that every Muslim make at least one i'tikaf in his/her life. There must be at least few people in every community who should do it in every masjid every year to keep this tradition alive. Men should do I'tikaf in the masjid so that they can pray in jam'ah and also offer the Friday prayers.
Women can also do i'tikaf, but theirs must be at home for reasons of modesty and for their own convenience. There is a great blessing in I'tikaf and people who do it bring blessings upon themselves, upon their families and upon the Muslim Ummah at large.
When to start and finish
The sunnah of i'tikaf is that one make its intention and begin the i'tikaf on the evening of the 20th of Ramadan from sunset time and continue until the sighting of the moon for Eid-ul-Fitr. During I'tikaf men should stay in the masjid day and night and should not leave it except for the use of toilet or shower. They are allowed to eat also inside the masjid, but if it is not convenient they may go outside and come back as soon as they finish.
What to do during Itikaaf?
During i'tikaf one should spend most of one's time in prayer, reading of the Qur'an, zikr and reflection. Engaging in business and other worldly conversation and activities is not allowed during I'tikaf.
However, attending a janazah or visiting a sick person or leaving for any emergency is permissible.
Article Contributed by: itsIslam Staff