In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah for granting us this time of the blessed month of Ramadan, and the blessed last ten nights of Ramadan which our hearts, our words and our limbs have awaited with much anticipation. Endless praises and gratitude are due to Almighty Allah for His abundant favours that continue to increase, and we hope to attain His reward on the Day of Recompense. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah alone, without any partner. He has granted immense reward to those who fast in every generation. I further bear witness that our Prophet Muhammad is Allah’s worshipping servant and Messenger. He was the best individual who fasted, prayed and did I’itikaf, and will be granted the loftiest rank in the hereafter, and those who follow his path will attain the greatest of rewards. O Allah, grant Your commendation, protection, and blessings to Your Messenger as well as to his outstanding family and children, his esteemed Companions, and all those who continue to follow their path until the Day of Recompense.
Dear brothers and sisters! Ramadan is the noble 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 I’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 introduction of I’itikaf and its virtues in the last ten days of Ramadan:
The mother of the believers Aisha (RA) reports about Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in the following way, she said:
“He used to perform I’itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty and Majestic, took him.” [Bukhari]
My people! From this Hadith it is clear that I’itikaf is not something which Prophet (Peace be upon him) observed or performed only once in His lifetime, rather it was one of the Ramadan Deeds of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) which He did on regular basis throughout his life in the last ten days of Ramadan. Therefore, if a Muslim can’t observe I’itikaf on regular basis throughout the year, then he or she must try observing it whenever the chance and time is available.
Respected brothers and sisters! Besides the fact that I’itikaf is in the last ten days of Ramadan in which Muslims go for excessive prayers, noble Qur’an recitation and Nawafil, the virtues of I’itikaf are many more. The lines below discuss the major virtues of I’itikaf which a Muslim must eye and intend to attain when fulfilling this tremendous Sunnah:
Perhaps the biggest virtue of I’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 I’itikaf, the blessings and reward increase exponentially. In one of His Hadiths, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“He who observes the ten days I’itikaf during Ramadan will obtain the reward of two Hajj and two Umrah.” [Baihaqi]
From this Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) it becomes clear that the reward of I’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 I’itikaf. This one simple act which one can perform in a Masjid (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 I’itikaf whenever the opportunity is available in Ramadan.
My people! 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. I’itikaf is one such acts that guarantees protection from the fire of Hell. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said in His Hadith:
“Whosoever for Allah’s sake did even one day I’itikaf, Allah would keep him away from Jahannam by trenches.” [Tabarani]
This Hadith makes the fire-protection benefits of I’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 I’itikaf, therefore, the benefit of performing I’itikaf throughout the last ten days of Ramadan are unimaginable. Hence more the reasons for a Muslim to perform I’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. The Sunnah of I’itikaf is a perfect act that provides the chance of gaining this dual benefit.
Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said (about him who engages in I’itikaf):
“That he is safe from sin and he also gets that reward which everyone (outside I’itikaf) gets for pious deeds.” [Ibn Majah]
From this Hadith it is clear, that although a person is in seclusion during I’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 I’itikaf is an excellent way of doing away with sins and receiving reward from multiple sources.
In a nutshell, brothers and sisters! 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 I’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.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
I ask Allah the Most High to strengthen us in this blessed month of Ramadan, accept our fasts, and reward us with His forgiveness and the highest place in Paradise. Ameen.
Written by your brother, Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761