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Ramadan the holy month is the perfect opportunity for the Muslims to get closer to Almighty Allah by asking for forgiveness and HIS (SWT) blessings through special prayers. The Muslims whereas keep themselves busy in worships throughout this sacred month increase this devotion even more in the last ten days. These special prayers also include the Sunnah of Itikaf.
Itikaf is one of a form of worship that bonds the Muslims only towards their Lord leaving all the worldly activities.
The nature of the Itikaf performed in the month of Ramadan is Sunnat-al-Muaqidah (Sunnah that is urged to be performed). Many Muslims sit in Itikaf in the last 10 days of Ramadan Al-Karim while a few sit for the whole month of Ramadan with the intention to fulfill the Sunnah by solely devoting yourself to Allah Almighty.
Hazrat Ayesha (R.A.) has reported about our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that: “He (SAW) used to perform Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty & Majestic, took him.” (Bukhari)
The Muslims men are bonded to perform Itikaf in a Masjid so that they can offer the five Fard prayers in the congregation while the Muslim women are preferred to fix a place for Itikaf at their homes where they can spend their time in peace worshiping without any hurdle.
The one who has set an intention to perform last 10 days’ Itikaf has to commence it after the sunset of 20th of Ramadan till the appearance of the moon of the next Holy month Shawwal which brings the good news of Eid-ul-Fitr for the Muslims. Depending on the sight of new moon Ramadan can be of 29 or 30 days so is with the duration of the Sunnah of i’tikaf.
Types of Itikaf
Itikaf is basically of three types:

  • Sunnah Itikaf: Sunnah I’tikaf was one of the general practices that our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) used to perform. Most often the Prophet (PBUH) has performed the Itikaf in the last ten days of the Ramadan but it could be of one day or three days. And it is also proven by the Sunnah of Muhammad (PBUH) to sit in Itikaf in the last 20 days of Ramadan or even for the whole month of Ramadan.
  • Wajib Itikaf: This is a type of Itikaf that a person intentionally makes obligatory upon himself for the fulfillment of a certain desire by Almighty Allah (Manat). When a person asks Allah Almighty for something and in return, he promises to perform I’tikaf when the wish is accomplished, it then becomes compulsory upon him to fulfill his words by performing this Wajib duty of Itikaf for the days that he intentioned for.
  • Nafil Itikaf: NAfil Itikaq doesn’t have any specific boundaries it could be performed for any number of days and at any time of the year. Even if a person enters a mosque for any purpose like Namaz or any other prayer and makes an intention of Itikaf, now whatever the time he spends in the mosque would be considered his Itikaf.

Rules for Itikaf
There are certain conditions to be considered while performing Itikaf:

  • Fasting is the basic condition the person performing Itikaf.
  • The person has to stay within the boundaries of the mosque he is performing Itikaf at for the specific duration and keep himself busy in different sorts of worships like the recitation of the Holy Quran, making different Zikrs & Dua, doing Astaghfar, & reciting Durood e Pak, etc and wonder the night of Qadr.
  • But he may be allowed to leave the place for the certain things like usage of restroom, bathing for purification (Ghusl) – if necessary, performing Jummah prayer, forgiving Azan if he is a Muazzin, to get something of need or other such necessities but even in such conditions he must not stay away for the time more than needed.
  • He can also leave his place if he doesn’t have anyone to buy food for him but again if stays out more than needed his Itikaf would go wrong.
  • He should avoid foolish talks, buying/selling in the mosque, quarrels/fights, bring the items more than needed, and disturbing other people in Itikaf.
  • The men have to perform Itikaf in a mosque and better for him is to sit in a mosque where Jummah prayer is offered to avoid the extra movement during Itikaf.
  • Whereas, women have to perform it at their homes in a specific corner but the place where they usually offer prayer would be more suitable.
  • For the married women, it is compulsory to ask permission from their husbands as this is not a Fard (Obligatory) prayer.
  • It is also necessary to complete the Itikaf in the same mosque where he started. Hence, going out of the Mosque without any acceptable reason will make his Itikaf invalid.

There are many benefits that a person is blessed with while sitting in Itikaf. It brings the person closer to Almighty Allah leaving all the other worries of the world. He becomes more conscious about the certain deeds which he is habitual of doing in his normal routine and keeps himself away from the sins which give him high ranks in returns.
And this Itikaf to be performed in the last 10 days of the Holy month of Ramadan is equivalent to the reward of two Hajj and Umrah as per a hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
It protects the Mutiqiff (the one who performs Itikaf) from the hellfire with a guarantee.
As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) mentioned in His hadith:
“Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one-day Itikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches.”(Tabarani)
May Allah give us the strength to utilize this Ramadan in a better way and help us to achieve the best in this world and the hereafter! Ameen