Al-I’tikaf: Seclusion for the Remembrance of Allah
The meaning of I’tikaf is to seclude oneself in the masjid with the express intention (niyyah) of I’tikaf, for the remembrance of Allah, even though for a few seconds only.
Objects and Advantages of I’tikaf
The reward of “Itikaf is great. The mere fact that the Messenger of Allah always performed it is sufficient to explain the virtues that are attached to it. The example of the one that resides in the, masjid in I’tikaf is like the person who, having gone to a high personage to appeal for his needs, remains there until it is granted, He thus says to Allah: “Ya Allah! I have placed my humble request before You and have faith in Your generosity; and I shall not move from here until my request is granted by You,” When someone comes begging at the door and then refuses to leave until his request is granted, it is certain that even the most selfish person will eventually accede to one’s request; and how much more Merciful is Allah.
In every moment of I’tikaf one remains in lbadah (worship), even when asleep, one is still in His service, striving for nearness to Him. Allah says, according to a hadith, “Whoever draws near to Me an arms length, then I draw nearer to him two arm lengths; and whoever draws nearer to Me by walking, I draw nearer to him by running.”
It is also deduced from the various narrations that one of the major objects of I’tikaf during Ramadan is to search for Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Power), What better manner can there be than to remain in ibadah at all times, whether one is awake or asleep, to obtain the reward of 1,000 months (over 83 years) of worship, Furthermore, in I’tikaf one is free from all daily tasks and thus has all the time to devote to dhikrullah (remembrance of Allah) and meditation.
Virtues of I’tikaf
Ibn ‘Abbas relates that the Messenger of Allah said: “The person performing I’tikaf remains free from sins and he is indeed given the same reward as all those who do righteous deeds (in spite of his not having done those deeds as a result of having been secluded in the masjid).”
In Kashful-Ghumma, Allamah Sha’rani relates a hadith wherein Rasulullah (PBUH) said: “Whoever performs I’tikaf for the final ten days of Ramadan, for him is the reward of two Hall and two ‘Umrah, and whoever performs I’tikaf from Maghrib until ‘Isha, doing nothing else except performing salah and reciting the Our’an, Allah will prepare a place for him in Jannah.”