The month of Ramadan is like the richest jewel in the crown of Islamic lunar calendar. The month is special compared to all other months primarily because of fasting and secondly because of the fact that it brings the Holy and auspicious occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr and Quran was also revealed in this month also. Therefore, all these elements make Ramadan the leader of the months.
As Ramadan is special compared to other months, so are the different days and activities undertaken in Ramadan. The month is known for the Taraweeh that is special to the month, the distribution of it into three Ashras, where every Ashra comes with its own unique significance. One other element that comes unique with Ramadan is the Sunnah of Itikaaf. The lines below discuss how important Itikaf is as a Sunnah and an act of worship and how can a Muslim optimally utilize the time spent in Itikaf.
Itikaf is the Sunnah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as per which He used to spend the last ten days of Ramadan in seclusion with minimal human contact and all that time was spent in worship and praise of Allah Almighty. There are numerous hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that show the observance of Itikaf by Him and the virtues it carries. Some of the renowned mentions in this regard are discussed below.
Hazrat Aisha (RA) narrated that:
“Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to perform Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty and Majestic , took Him.” (Bukhari)
From this narration of Hazrat Aisha (RA) it is clear that Itikaf was not just a onetime Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) deed of Prophet S.A.W in Ramadan, rather, as long as He lived He observed Itakaf in all the Ramadan months that came in His lifetime. Ergo, this shows the importance and status of Itakaf in Islam and there is nothing strange with thousands of Muslims observing it every year during Ramadan.
There are numerous virtues of Itikaf in Ramadan proven from different hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Some major virtues of Itakaf are discussed below.
Reward Of Hajj And Umrah:
It is narrated that Prophet (PBUH) said:
“He who observes the ten days Itikaf during ramdan will obtain the reward of two Hajj and two Umrah.” (Bayhaqi)
This hadith offers a cheap and cost free option to all those Muslims who cannot afford to go to Hajj or Umrah. Just by observing Itikaf a Muslim can earn reward equivalent to two Hajj and Two Umrahs. Therefore, every Muslim must intend to observe Itikaaf, at least once in life.
Protection From Hell:
In another hadith Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one days Itikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches.” (Tabarani)
From the hadith, it is clear that if a person observes Itikaf for even a single day, the reward received by him or her from Allah is protection from Jahanamm. One can only imagine the reward for all the ten nights for which a person observes Itikaf for Allah.
Optimal Utilization Of Itikaf:
Itikaf is one of the major and renowned Sunnah of Prophet (PBUH), moreover, as it is also Ramadan specific, therefore, it is more than imperative that one makes the best use of the time when performing this Sunnah. The lines below give some tips on how you can optimally utilize the time spent in Itikaf.
Keep A Daily Worship Chart:
During Itikaf, each and every moment is of importance, therefore, it is more than imperative that a Muslim makes use of each moment available. In this regard, the best way to make use of the time is to keep a daily worship chart in which you can jot down the kind and types of prayers and worship you are going to perform during the day. Allocate time to them and then try to spend your day in Itikaf in accordance with the chart. This way each and every moment of your Itikaf will be put to best use without any time waste.
Pray Excessively During Odd Nights:
In the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan is the Laylatul Qadr. It is a night that is better than a thousand months and the most blessed night in the year. When a Muslim is in Itikaf, he or she must make special arrangements for prayers in the odd nights as no one knows which of the odd nights is the Laylatul Qadr. Ergo, a Muslim must make sure that none of the odd nights goes without excessive prayers and Quran recitation, as these two are the major deeds that can help gain greater reward. Moreover, a Muslim must also emphasize on supplication during these nights as the chances of attaining forgiveness also increase exponentially during the Laylatul Qadr. Therefore, during Itikaf, in addition to regular prayer plan, a Muslim must make special plan for the odd nights.
Every Muslim is aware of the fact that Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the Laylatul Qadr, which is in the odd nights of the last Ashra of Ramadan. As Itikaf is also observed in the last Ashra of Ramadan, therefore, it is quite natural that a Muslim recites Quran in abundance during the last ten days in Itikaf. Besides the fact that the recitation of Quran brings greater reward in Ramadan, its recitation while observing Itikaf also provides a great chance to a Muslim to ponder over the meaning and teaching of the Quran which are pearls of wisdom and every verse carries meanings that can help a Muslim know about life, universe, Allah and the right path that leads to Him. Therefore, Quran recitation with its translation is another important deed that should be considered for optimal utilization of time between prayers during Itikaf days.
In a nutshell, Itikaf is one of the greatest Sunnahs of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Ramadan. Every Muslim who can make time to observe Itikaf for ten days of Ramadan should try observing it as the rewards and blessings that come with Itikaf are unmatchable and supreme.