Alhamdulilah for granting us another opportunity to witness and experience this year’s Ramadan. May Almighty Allah grant us the blessings of this holy and beautiful month.
I’ve had to go through several experiences these past few years of learning and unlearning and for the most part growing and blossoming. While some of these experiences have been out of my comfort zone and I have in some way regretted, most have been nothing but blissful.
One of such was my i’tikaaf experience last year. This post was supposed to have been shared immediately after last year’s Ramadan, but I held on to it because I felt it might be a lot useful to share now that the last ten days is upon us.
To those that don’t know what it means, I’tikaaf is spiritual cleansing. It occurs in the last 10 days of Ramadan where individuals seclude themselves in a mosque in search of Laylatul Qadr (The Night of Majesty). It is a great practice where one can sit in the Masjid and focus on his/her worship – can make prayers, read Qur’an, make dhikrullah, and perform other acts of Ibadah .
Narrated by ‘Aisha (the wife of the Prophet and the mother of the believers): “The Prophet used to practice i’tikaaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died, and his wives used to practice i’tikaaf after him.” (AlBukhari).
During i’tikaaf, the worshipper becomes free from the concerns of the world and his focus and engagement is fully upon his worship and seeking the hereafter.
I’ve never given i’tikaaf much thought because I felt whatever I needed to do in the mosque, I could do in the comfort of my home. You see, like I said, I’m not really one to do things outside her comfort zone.
I had a conversation with a colleague who shared what performing i’tikaaf did for her. It wasn’t much of what she said because even though it was an added boost, it was more of there wasn’t much of an excuse not to undergo it at the time. I was at a point in my life where things weren’t necessarily going the way I had envisaged. And I really needed the cleansing and connection with Allah.
Alhamdulillah it was an experience that left a lasting impact, one I will always remember, one I will In sha Allah want to experience again and one I have deemed upon myself to implore others to undertake.
It’s imperative to share the routine during this period at this point to properly highlight this experience.
Our routine involved waking up at about 2:30 -3:00 am for Tahajjud (The Night Prayer) that also involved the recitation of between one to four pages of the Qur’an per raka’ah. This spanned on till about 4:30am, and then we go up for Suhur then back for Subhi.
On weekends, we had lectures after Subhi but during the week in consideration of those that had to go to work, we didn’t. Those of us that were on full i’tikaaf mode just went back to either read Quran or catch up on some sleep.
At about 10-11am, everyone is up preparing for the day, reading the Qur’an or a book or taking Arabic classes, doing Azkar till about the time for Zuhr. And then after Zuhr, the same thing till Asr. After Asr, we have lectures/tafseer till the time for Magrib and then Iftar. After iftar, we observe Isha’a and Taraweh that ends around 9:30-10pm and then to bed we go.
Highlights From This Experience
My experience can be described as the perfect way of fulfilling one’s purpose of serving Allah on earth. There was hardly any time for flimsies, and it helped build my connection with Allah. We were constantly doing something to improve our knowledge of the deen, doing adhkar or reading the Quran.
Compared to where I had been praying Taraweeh before the last ten days, the Quranic recitation felt like I was in Makkah. Four pages of the Qur’an per raka’ah might seem like a lot, but after a day or two, we got used to it, we held the Quran while the Imam recited so we could keep up with him, and we hardly felt tired. Allah makes things easy for those who rely on him right?
Another important highlight from this experience was the constant lectures and tafseers. They served as reminders as well as ways to increase our knowledge about the deen. We were also able to question and get answers to things we didn’t fully grasp about Islam.
Also, being around people that were firm in the deen, struggling Muslims like myself, those who wanted to improve their connection with Allah made it a lot easier.
I came out of this experience a completely different person, I had a more positive outlook to life and I was ready to take on the world, I genuinely wanted to be that person who did everything solely to please Allah because the peace that comes with doing just that cannot be described.
I’ll Implore anyone that can, to undergo i’tikaaf. However, let’s make sure we choose a place where we will gain something. A lot of mosques that undergo i’tikaaf don’t necessarily have the enabling environment or motivation to do the right thing; the individual is left to do that themselves.
For those that won’t be obliged to perform i’tikaaf in the mosque because of their busy schedule, I’ll also implore you to take advantage of these last ten days to increase your Ibadah(Worship)- more dhikr, more Qur’an recitation, etc.
May Almighty Allah continue to make the practice of the deen easy for us and may He continue to keep us on His path. (Ameen)