Itikaf-A Voluntary Type of Worship
Allah’s Messenger Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) used to spend the 10 nights during the month of Ramadan in the mosque, devoting all his time to worship. Normally, these 10 nights were the last ten days of the month of Ramadan. This practice is called Itikaf, which means “to stay in the mosque, praying, glorifying God, praising Him, reading the Qur’an or pursuing Islamic knowledge and even just to stay and sleep there during a certain period of time”. A person who follows this practice does not leave the mosque except for an urgent business and he may not have sexual relations with his wife until he has finished his stay. Itikaf is a voluntary type of worship which the Prophet practised every year in Ramadan, but he did not order any one of his followers to do it. This is perhaps due to the fact that he did not wish to assign a difficult task to them. Itikaf has a highly beneficial effect as when a believer spends a few days in the mosque, his awareness of God’s presence is enhanced and refined.