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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ramadan: The last ten days

Though the entire month of Ramadhan are full of blessings and rewards, its last ten days hold a special status reflected in the recommendations and practices of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, and his companions. I will focus here on three major practices of the Prophet, Salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, and his companions during these days.

1. Praying in the last ten nights of Ramadhan.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from ‘Aishah that during the last ten days of Ramadhan, the Messenger of Allah would wake his wives up during the night and then remain apart from them (that is, being busy in acts of worship). A narration in Muslim states: “He would strive [to do acts of worship during the last ten days of Ramadhan more than he would at any other time.” Aisha reported that With the start of the last ten days of Ramadhan, the Prophet (Pbuh) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. [Bukhari]

2. Performing I‘tikaf in the Masjid (seclusion in the Mosque)
I‘tikaf is the seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. This was the practise of the Prophet, Salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, during the last ten days of Ramadhan especially. He would do it during other months as well.

‘Aisha reported that the Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, used to practise I`tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadhan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadhan” [Bukhari]

Sayyid Sabiq says in Fiqhus-Sunnah : The Sunnah or preferred I‘tikaf has no specific time limit. It can be fulfilled by staying in the mosque with the intention of making i‘tikaf for a long or short time. The reward will be according to how long one stays in the mosque. If one leaves the mosque and then returns, he should renew his intention to perform I’tikaf. Ya’la ibn Umayyah said: “I secluded myself in the mosque for some time for I‘tikaf.” ‘Ata told him: “That is I‘tikaf, as long as you secluded yourself there.”

One who is performing Sunnah (like in Ramadhan) i’tikaf (i.e. not the obligatory one that is made after a vow) may end his i‘tikaf at any time, even if it is before the period he intended to stay.

It is preferred for the one who is making I‘tikaf to perform many supererogatory acts of worship and to occupy himself with prayers, reciting the Qur’an, glorifying and praising Allah, extolling His oneness and His greatness, asking His forgiveness, sending salutations on the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and supplicating Allah - that is, all actions that bring one closer to Allah. Included among these actions is studying and reading books of tafsir and Hadith, books on the lives of the Prophets, upon whom be peace, books of fiqh, and so on. It is also preferred to set up a small tent in the courtyard of the mosque as the Prophet did. Permissible Acts for the Mu‘takif (the person performing I‘tikaf).

3. Seeking Lailatul-Qadr (the Night of Decree)
It is the greatest night of the year like the Day of ‘Arafah is the greatest day of the year. It is a night about which Allah revealed a full Surah, Suratul-Qadr [97:1-5] and the 3rd to the 6th verses of Surat ad-Dukhan [44:3-6]

It is the night when the Qur’an was revealed. It is the night when the Message (the Final and seal of all messages) sent to Muhammad, Salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, started It is the night when the light, that would illuminate mankind to the end of life, started. It is the night when every matter of ordainment is decreed. A person who misses Lailatul-Qadr is really a deprived person!

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