Ibn Abbas R.A. says that he heard our Nabi S.W. say, Verily Jannah becomes perfumed with the sweetest fragrance in Ramadhaan. From the beginning of the year till the end, it is being brightly decorated for the coming of this blessed month. And when the first night of Ramadhaan appears, a wind blows from beneath t he Ar-sh (Throne). It is called Mutheerah, and causes the leaves of the trees of Jannah to rustle and door handle to sound, where by setting forth such a melodious sound as had never been heard before. The dark eyed damsels of Jannah then step forth till they appear in the centre of the balconies of Jannah, exclaiming: is there anyone making duaa’ to Allah for us that Allah may join us in marriage to him?” Then these damsels call out: “O Ridhwaan, keeper of Jannah, what night is this?” He replies: “Labbaik, this is indeed the first night of Ramadhaan, when the doors of Jannah are opened to those who observe the fast from among the ummah of Muhammad S.W.. Rasulullah S.W. further sai, Allah says, “O Ridhwaan open the doors of Jannah, and O Maalik, (keeper of Jahannam) close the doors of Jahannam for those who fast from among the ummah of Ahmad “O Jibraeel proceed down to the earth and bind the rebellious shay’taans, put them in chains and cast them in the oceans so that they make nomischief, thereby spoiling the fast of the ummah of My beloved Muhammad S.W..
Ibn Abbas R.A. reports that while he was once performing I’itikaaf in the musjidun Nabwi (Rasulullah’s musjid), a certain man came to him, greated him and sat down. Ibn Abbas said to him: “I see that you seem sad and troubled”. The man replied: “Yes, O son of the uncle of Rasulullah S.W., I am indeed troubled in that I have an obligation to fulfill to someone. I swear by the holiness of the inmate of this honoured resting place (Rasulullah’s grave S.W.) that I am not able to fulfill this obligation”. Ibn Abbas R.A. inquired: “Shall I intercede with that person on your behalf?” the man replied: By all means if you so wish”. Ibn Abbas put on this shoes and proceeded from the Musjid. The man seeing this said: “Have you then forgotten that you are in I’itikaaf?” With tears filling his eyes Ibn Abbas R.A. replied: “No, the time is still fresh in my mind, I heard the esteemed master of this tomb Rasulullah S.W. say, “Whoever sets forth in the way and makes an effort of settling a necessary affair on behalf of his brother, that service shall be better for him than to perform I’itikaaf for ten years, and whomsoever performs I’itikaaf for a day, thereby seeking the pleasure of Allah, Allah will open three trenches between him and the fire of hell, the width of each being the distance between heaven and earth”.
Reported by ‘Tabraani in Al Awsa’t.
Ibn Abbas R.A. relates that Rasulullah S.W. said, “The person performing I’itikaaf remains free from sins, and he is indeed given the same reward as those who do righteous deeds (in spite of not having done those deeds as a result of having been secluded in the musjid)”. Reported in Mishkaat from Ibn Majah
(Note that one remaining secluded in the musjid is not allowed to depart from there for worldly needs. He may only set forth to the outside for the calls of nature, to perform ablution or ghusl or for attending Jumu-ah when that is not performed in the same musjid, after which he must return forthwith). Now this Hadith points to two great benefits of I’itikaaf.
“Abu Sa‘Iyd R.A. that Rasulullah S.W. once performed I’itikaaf for the first ten days of Ramadhaan. Thereafter he mad I’itikaaf in a Turkish tent (inside the musjid) for the middle ten days. Thereafter he raise his head out of the tent and said, “Verily in search of Laylatul Qadr did I perform I’itikaaf for the first ten days, then for the middle ten days. Then someone (an angel) came and told me. “It is in the last ten days whosoever has made I’itikaaf with me should continue for the last ten days”. I had indeed been shown that night and then made to forget, which it shall be. And verily did I see myself prostrating to Allah with my forehead on mud on the morning after the night. Seek Laylatul Qadr the last ten nights of Ramadhaan; seek it among uneven ones”.
The best of places for I’tikaaf is the Masjidul Haram in Makkah.
The next best is the Masjidun-Nabawiy in Madinah, and the next best is Baytul Muqaddas. Thereafter, comes the Jaama Masjid in one’s own time, and last but not least, the Masjid nearest to one’s home. Imaam Abu Hanifa stipulates that the Masjid should be one wherein the five daily Salaatare regularly performed, while Imaam Abu Yusuf and Imaam Muhammad agree that any Masjid acceptable to the Shari’ah can be entered for I’tikaaf. I’itikaaf even if there is no regular ‘salaah with Jamaa-ah.
In view of the above, it is advisable that everyone entering the Masjid to join the congregational prayer should, on entering the Masjid, make the Niyyat for ‘I’tikaaf’, in thatcase it means that aslong as he remain busy with Salaat, Zikr, listening to lectures or sermons he also receive reward for the I’tikaaf. I always observed that my late father used to make ‘Niyyat’ for I’tikaaf whenever he entered the Masjid. Occasionally, by way of teaching and reminding his followers, he would raise his voice when reciting when reciting the words for ‘Niyyah’. The reward for I’tikaaf is great as indicated by the fact that the Holy Prophet (SAW) always used to perform I’tikaaf. The example of him who resides in the Masjid in I’tikaaf is that of a person who, having gone to a certain place to appeal for something, remains there until it is granted. When someone comes begging at our door and then refuses to leave until he has been granted his request. I am sure that even the person with the hardest heart amongst us will eventually give in to his request. How much more Merciful is Allah, and when someone persistently sits at His door, what doubt can there be in the fulfilment of his wishes. Allama ibn Qayyim, in explaining the significance of I’tikaaf writes that the actual aim is to divert the heart away from everything except Allah, and to make it come near to Allah, thereby forming a complete spiritual connection with the Creator. All wordly connections are thus cut off, for the sake of gaining Allah’s attention and all thoughts, desires, love and devotion become centred around Him. As a result, an attachment with Allah is attained – a love and friendship that will be the only support in loneliness of the grave. One can possibly imagine the great ecstacy with which that time in the grave will be spent.
The meaning of ‘I’tikaaf’ is to seclude oneself in the Mosque, with the express intention (Niyyat)of ‘I’tikaaf’. According to the Hanafi school of thought, this may be of three different types:
a) Waajib I’tikaaf (Obligatory I’tikaaf)
I’tikaaf becomes compulsory when a person makes it obligatory upon himself. For example, when a person makes a vow to Allah that if Allah fulfils a certain wish of his, he shall perform so many days ‘I’tikaaf’, in this case, the moment his wish is fulfilled, the I’tikaaf becomes compulsory. Or a person may just make an unconditional vow, whereby he makes I’tikaaf Waajib upon himself for a certain number of days; this becomes obligatory for him from that moment onwards.
Aaisha (RadhiAllaho anha) reports: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam), should I find myself the “Laylatul Qadr”, hat shall I pray. The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) replied: say, Allaahumma innaka afuwwun tohibbu al’afwa fa’fu anna “O Allah, Thou art the One who grants pardon for sins. Thou lovest to pardon, so O pardon me.”
Ubaadah bin Saamit (Radhiallaho anho) reports that he asked the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) about “Laylatul Qadr”. He replied: “It is in Ramadhan, during the last ten days, on the unevenly numbered nights, either the 21st 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th or the last night of Ramadhan. Whosoever stands in “Ibaadah” on this night, with sincere faith and with genuine hopes of gaining reward, his previous sins will be forgiven. Among the signs of this night is that it is a serene, quiet, shining night, neither hot, nor cold but temperate as if a moon is shining clear, and no meteors are shot at the “Shayateen” on that night; it lasts until the break of the dawn. Another sign is that at morn, the Sun rises without any radiant beams of light, appearing rather like the moon in it’s fullness. On that day, Allah prohibits the “Shayateen” from rising up with the Sun.”
‘Ubaadah bin ‘Saamit R.A. said, ‘Once Rasulullah S.W. S.W. came out to inform us the true date of Laylatul Qadr. (Unfortunately at that time) an argument took place between two muslim men, whereupon he said, “I came out in order to inform you as to when Laylatul Qadr was, but because two people argued (the fixing of the correct date) was taken away. Perhaps that is better for you. So seek it among the ninth, seventh and fifth nights”.
Reported in Mishkaat.