Itekaf – The Last Ten Days of Ramadan
Abdullah ibn Umar, a learned companion of the Prophet, reports that “Allah’s messenger (Pbuh) used to stay in the Mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan.”(Related by Al Bukhari).
Commentary by Adil Salahi
The reward Allah gives for fasting in the month of Ramadan is greater than we can imagine, because fasting is an act of worship which admits of no hypocrisy. It is not possible for any person to fast in order to deceive others. This is due to the fact that boasting about fasting is forbidden. Hence, he cannot publicize the fact that he is fasting. If he does not mention it, then other people have no way of knowing it, because fasting is worship by abstention, rather than by a positive action. Moreover, the Prophet has taught us to spend part of the nights of Ramadan in worship, standing up in prayer to offer the special prayer known as “taraweeh.” This means that in Ramadan we fast during the day in fulfillment of an obligatory type of worship and we stand up in prayer as a recommended act of worship. Moreover, there is the night of power which falls in the last ten days of the month of Ramadan. It is a night which is worth more than one thousand months.
The night of power is the pinnacle of this season of worship. It takes place in the last ten days of the month when a Muslim’s devotion is brought to its climax. One way of doing this is to stay in a Mosque, following the sunnah of the Prophet. That sunnah is known as “Itikaf”, which means, linguistically speaking, to commit oneself to doing something to the exclusion of everything else. In a religious context, it means to stay in a Mosque for worship. Reference to it is made in the Qur’an in Verse 187 of Surah 2. All scholars agree that it is a sunnah, following the practice of the Prophet. Abdullah ibn Umar, a learned companion of the Prophet, reports that “Allah’s messenger (Pbuh) used to stay in the Mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan.” (Related by Al Bukhari).
Aisha the Prophet’s wife (may Allah be pleased with her) , also reports that “the Prophet (Pbuh) used to stay in the Mosque for the last ten days of Ramadan until he passed away, and his wives used to do the same afterward.”(Related by Al Bukhari). From these Hadiths, we deduce that the ‘Itikaf’, or staying in the Mosque for worship, is recommended to both men and women, especially during the last ten days of Ramadan. Most scholars agree that ‘Itikaf’ should be in a Mosque, although the Hanafi school of thought makes it possible for a woman to practise this sunnah in the place where she normally prays in her home.
A person who stays in a Mosque in order to follow the Prophet’s (Pbuh) example, may have some sleep before waking up to spend the rest of his night in worship, reciting the Qur’an or praying.
It is needless to say that ‘Itikaf is not easy for everyone to observe. People have to attend to their needs and continue their work. It is possible to limit one’s Itikaf to one night, or even a portion of one night. According to scholars, one may make his stay in a Mosque, a stay of ‘Itikaf’, at any time, if he dedicates his time to worship, and intends his stay for such dedication. It is needless to say that ‘Itikaf’ is highly rewarded by Allah, as every action therein involves dedication.