Ramadan is the Holy Month of countless blessings and mercy. From the day it starts, it aims at providing the Muslims with best chance and a great opportunity to seek forgiveness for their sins and move closer to Allah Almighty. Muslims devout to it and this devotion rises to its highest during the last ten days of Ramadan, as the month is about to end and no one knows if he or she be able to make it till next Ramadan.
The standout rituals of the last ten days of Ramadan is the Sunnah of Itikaf. It is a ritual in which Muslims spend the last ten days of Ramadan in seclusion and in this seclusion, all they do is pray to Allah Almighty seeking forgiveness and blessings. The lines below give a brief intro of Itikaf and its virtues in the last ten days of Ramadan.
Hazrat Aisha (RA) reports about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the following way:
“He used to perform Itikaf in the last ten days or Ramadan until Allah the Mighty & Majestic, took him.” (Bukhari)
From this hadith it is clear that Itikaf is not something which Prophet (PBUH) observed or performed only once in His lifetime, rather it was on of the Ramadan Deeds of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) which He did on regular basis throughout His life in the last ten days of Ramadan. Therefore, if a Muslim cant observe Itikaf on regular basis throughout the year, then he or she must try observing it whenever the chance and time is available.
Virtues of Itikaf:
Besides the fact that Itikaf is in the last ten days of Ramadan in which Muslims go for excessive prayers, Holy Quran recitation and nawafil, the virtues of Itikaf are many more. The lines below discuss the major virtues of Itikaf which a Muslim must eye and intend to attain when fulfilling this tremendous Sunnah.
The Increased Reward:
Perhaps the biggest virtue of Itikaf in the month of Ramadan is the great reward it comes with. There is no denying the fact that any act of piety and virtue receives multiple times greater reward in Ramadan compared to ordinary days, however, if the last ten days are spent in Itikaf, the blessings and reward increase exponentially. In one of His hadiths, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“He who observes the ten days Itikaf during Ramadan will obtain the reward of two Hajj and two Umrah.” (Bayhaqi)
From this hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) it becomes clear that the reward of Itikaf is equivalent to the reward which a person attains from two Hajj and two Umrahs. Both Hajj and Umrah are the two of most sacred of acts which a Muslim can perform and their reward also is unmatchable by any other deed. Moreover, another thing about both these acts is that these are to be performed by people who can arrange the means of performing them; therefore, performing them once in a lifetime is a great achievement for a Muslim.
Therefore, from this a Muslim can guess and try to understand the importance of Itikaf. This one simple act which one can perform in home or a mosque nearby gives a Muslim a reward equivalent to two Hajj and two Umrah, for a single one of which people work all their life. Hence, for a Muslim it is imperative to try observing Itikaf whenever the opportunity is available in Ramadan.
Protection From Hell:
Another reason why Muslims feel lucky for the month of Ramadan is the fact that it provides them a chance to seek forgiveness from Allah Almighty. This seeking of forgiveness and its consequent provision from Allah Almighty actually protects a Muslim from the fire of Hell, which he or she is deserving because of the sins they commit. Therefore it is imperative that Muslims perform those very acts that guarantee them protection from the fire of Hell. Itikaf is one such acts that guarantees protection from the fire of Hell. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in His hadith:
“Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one days Itikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches.” (Tabarani)
This hadith makes the fire-protection benefits of Itikaf clear to a Muslim. Moreover, the thing to notice from this hadith is that this protection from Hell is the reward a Muslim gets from a single day of Itikaf, therefore, the benefit of performing Itikaf throughout the last ten days of Ramadan are unimaginable. Hence more the reasons for a Muslim to perform Itikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan.
All the prayers and virtuous deeds in Ramadan are committed with the objective of seeking forgiveness from the previous sins and gaining reward for the good deeds. Therefore, the dual benefits are the target of a Muslim. T he Sunnah of Itikaf is a perfect act that provides the chance of gaining this dual benefit.
Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, (about him who engages in i’tikaf), “that he is safe from sin & he also gets that reward which everyone (outside i’tikaf) gets for pious deeds.” (Ibn Majah)
From this hadith it is clear, that although a person is in seclusion during Itikaf, however, the reward gain is not isolated rather a person keeps on getting the reward of the good deeds of others as well. Therefore, observing Itikaf is an excellent way of doing away with sins and receiving reward from multiple sources.
In a nutshell, the month of Ramadan in itself is one of the greatest blessings that a Muslim receives in an Islamic calendar. Within this month of blessings, the virtues of Itikaf are also another great advantage and a source of mercy and blessings from Allah Almighty that can help a Muslim seek forgiveness from what has forgone and attain reward for the present moment and the months to come till the next Ramadan.