I`tikaaf, according to the Shariah, is to remain in a Musjid with the intention of I`tikaaf, engaged in the Ibaadat of Allaah Ta`ala. Everyone understands that I`tikaaf implies seclusion, hence the Mu`takif (person sitting in I`tikaaf) has a separate ‘tent’ and sleeping place on one side of a Musjid, where he will remain perpetually engaged in various forms of Ibaadat during his stay.
To remain in I`tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadhaan is Sunnat Muakaidah alal Kifaaya, which means that if even one person in a locality fulfils this duty, the entire congregation will be absolved.
The two most authentic sources of Ahaadith, namely, Bukhaari and Muslim, cite narrations where Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) sat for I`tikaaf during the month of Ramadhaan, more particularly, during the last ten days.
Allaah Ta`ala declares in the Qur`aan Majeed, “Indeed in the Rasool of Allaah, you have an excellent example to follow…”
We are being bombarded daily with innovations in our Deen, many of which, unfortunately, stem from the Ulama fraternity. Deviates will come and go, but our Deen will remain Pure and the Qur`aan Majeed and Ahaadith will remain untainted. The Qur`aan Majeed is The Guide for mankind and for every Mu`min, the life of Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), is the perfect example to follow. Allaah Ta`ala gives us that surety!
There are Bid`aat (innovations) which have crept into our communities that deviates, knowingly or unknowingly, initiate for various reasons, ranging from ignorance, misunderstanding and the common one of Hubbe Jah (name and fame). These are such Bid`aat which have never before been practiced through the annals of Islamic history. Through some corrupt brainstorming, some misguided Ulama try adding to our Deen, which Allaah Ta`ala declared centuries ago to be Complete.
And then there are such Shar`i practices, which have been practiced by Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) or his Sahaabah (radhiallaahu anhum), but the essence and practical aspect of such Ibaadaat are altered by the ‘enlightened Ulama’ of our time. In their deficient intellect, they deem the ‘Perfect Example’ outlined by the Best of all mankind (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), as being insufficient and imperfect (Nauthibillah!), so they ‘modernise’ the Sunnat practice to suit their bloated egos in an effort to muster support of the poor ignorant masses. A perfect example of ‘the blind leading the blind’.
ESSENCE OF I`TIKAAF
The essence and objective of I`tikaaf is to seclude oneself to one corner of a Musjid and engage in the Ibaadat of Allaah Ta`ala. The idea is to gain proximity to Allaah Rabbul Izzat, and also have the opportunity of finding the Night of Qadr.
Alas! Through some lopsided thinking, I`tikaaf has become an object and a medium of acquiring ‘Name and Fame’ by some ‘personalities’ and the poor Musaajid have become venues of feasting and gorging.
What Islamically valid reason can any of these Bid`atees who have initiated the Bid`ah of congregational I`tikaaf have to support their newly fangled idea?
Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) did sit in I`tikaaf and NEVER has it been reported in ANY hadith Kitaab, not even a weak or fabricated Hadith, that such festivities took place in Musjid-e-Nabawi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam).
The Sahaabah (radhiallaahu anhum) are the ‘Guiding Stars’ of this Ummat, according to the words of Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). They capitalised on every single opportunity to benefit from Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). The Kitaabs of Hadith are replete with examples attesting to this fact that the love and affection which the Sahaabah (radhiallaahu anhum) held for Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is unparalleled in human history. In fact, even the kuffaar have confirmed this.
Now, let us understand the scenario – Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) sat in I`tikaaf for a number of years. He would sit for at least ten days at a time in the Musjid. Is it difficult for us to fathom that not during any one of these occasions, did the Sahaabah (radhiallaahu anhum) flock to sit in I`tikaaf with him (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)?
Haafidh Ibn Hajar (rahmatullaahi alaiyh), a renowned commentator of Hadith, said, “It has been established that the majority of Sahaabah (radhiallaahu anhum) did not sit for I`tikaaf.” [Tafseer-e-Mazhari]
Ibn Naa`fi (rahmatullaahi alayh) said, “I`tikaaf was like Saum-e-Wisaal (perpetual fasting), where Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) practiced it himself but discouraged others.” [Tafseer Mazhari]
The respected author of Tafseer-e-Mazhari (rahmatullaahi alayh) comments: “My opinion is that the Sahaabah did not sit for I`tikaaf because it entails elements of difficulty and hardship.”
Now let us understand the following: Yes, there were Sahaabah (radhiallaahu anhum) who sat for I`tikaaf, but based on the above explanation, it is abundantly clear that the majority (including most of the senior Sahaabah – radhiallahu anhum) rarely sat for I`tikaaf, even when Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) sat.
Does the fact that the I`tikaaf programs of today which are so widely publicised and encouraged not reek of hubbe jah and pride on the part of the ‘personalities’ that advocate this? When the Sahaabah (radhiallaahu anhum) realised that I`tikaaf was to be practiced in isolation notwithstanding the presence of Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) in the Musjid, do the ‘Akaabireen’ of our belated era regard themselves to be of greater benefit than Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)? Neither did Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) nor the Sahaabah (radhiallaahu anhum) encourage one and all to join the I`tikaaf, how is it that the people of our era do so?
In fact, based on the above citation from Tafseer-e-Mazhari, the scenario today is the EXACT opposite of what Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) practiced.
And then we have the ugly defilement of the Musaajid which these Bid`ah I`tikaaf practices bring in their wake. Feasting is the order of the day….and night…..and late night. Food, food, and even more food. People are bussed in from different parts of the country to engage in the feasting. The sanctity of the Musjid is tarnished and the raucous festivities disturb the peace and quiet.
What has happened to the simple arrangements made by each Mu`takif for his meals? Once again, the simple act of Ibaadat – I`tikaaf – has been commercialised.
Do the brothers who are encouraged to spend time in I`tikaaf also advised on their Shar`i domestic duties? Has the crazy desire to increase the numbers in the Musjid, which becomes ‘a feather in the cap’ of the residing ‘sheikh’ clouded the minds and intellect of the organisers that they fail to advise their followers to ensure their domestic duties are catered for?
Shaitaan has truly triumphed and made us believe we are serving the Deen, when all we are doing is providing fuel for the Fire of Jahannam.
RIGHT OF HOME-MUSJID NEGLECTED
The basic need of I`tikaaf is to simply seclude oneself in one’s local Musjid and engage in Ibaadat. In this craze to ‘join’ some pompous ‘sheikh’ in I`tikaaf we neglect the cry of our local Musaajid and travel far and wide just to sit in I`tikaaf where the food is plenty. We will leave our local Musjid empty and travel to another Musjid merely because we need to show our faces to our ‘sheikh’.
Not merely satisfied with the local ‘shuyookh’ the latest fad and trend is to import ‘personalities’ to come from wherever they come (and where there is probably a paucity of food) to spend time in our South African Musaajid, where food, name and fame abound!
What a mockery of Deen!
Whilst it is a known fact that the kuffaar have completely commercialised their ‘holy’ days and events, the Muslims are, like loyal lapdogs, following suit. Almost every facet of our Deen nowadays has some aspect of merry-making, entertainment, publicity, fun, and frolic.
Deen is simple. It is the Muslims (with the misguided Ulama) that are obscuring issues and making the Deen difficult and complicated.
May Allaah Ta`ala guide us to distinguish Haqq from Baatil.