Firstly, please forgive us as your question got lost in our system that crashed.
Your question rotates around the following points:-
1) Large numbers sit for Itikhaaf;
2) Congregational Zikr Masjlis held;
3) Whole pre-prepared schedules;
4) Substantiate by reference to Sheikh Zakariyya (A.R.);
5) Food provided;
6) Durood Sharif Majlis;
7) Is Itikhaaf seclusion?
8) Cannot comment.
Let us look at the above in the light of the Shariat.
1) It is very difficult to prove this large number sitting for Itikhaaf in the light of the pure divine Shariat. Imagine the size of the Masjid-e-Nabi (S.A.W) and how many where told to Re-sit. No commentary states any number. There is also no authentic and reliable quantity sitting during the Khulafa-e-Rashideen and the best of eras. And we are the followers of the Sunnat which include the actions and beliefs of the Noble Sahabah (R.A.), Tabieen and even the Tabe-Tabieen who possesed the quality of Ihsaan. No Mufassir, Muhadith, Mutakleem or Sufi of note instucted their Mureeds to engage in mass congregational Itikhaaf. Did they understand the Deen or we
Moreover the illustrious Fuqahaa (Juro-consultants) have classified Itikhaaf as Sunnat-e-Muakhiddah ala Kifayah, and that too for only the last 10 days.
These days 30 days Itikhaaf is been insisted upon which sooner or later will be deemed a Bidat. Thus we learn from the above ruling is that if even one person sits the entire locality will be absolved from the responsibility and if one person does not sit then the entire locality will be sinful. The definition itself is not calling for congregational sitting.
In fact It is written in Ahasanul Fatawa that should Itikhaaf be made in every Masjid of the locality or one will suffice. The reply by Mufti Abdur Rasheed Ludhanwi (A.R.), a Mufti of great repute, is that there is no clear text that Itikhaaf should be made in every Masjid but making Qiyaas (Shaari analogical reasoning) using Taraweeh as a precendent, itkhaaf should be made in every Masjid.
Note: Battle of Battle and conquest of Makkah and other expeditions took place in Ramadhaaan.
2) Congregational loud Zikr in unision in the Masjid is definitely not proven in the Shariat. (See attachments that will be sent to your Email) a. Cutomary Zikr; b. Audio The Shaari Status of Zikr
Also in these congregational Itikhaaf, Nafl Saaat with (in) Jamaat takes place which is Makrooh Tahrimi according to the Ahnaf see Fatawa Darul Uloom Deoband.
3) & 7) In the text and spirit of Shariat the purpose and object of Itikhaaf is seclusion, connection with Allaah via individual Ibadaat and contemplation and deliberation. Not to be forxed into a schedule. This cannot be proven in the Shariat. Not from any reliable authentic source of Shariat.
4) The actions of Hadhrat Sheikul Hadith Moulana Zakariyya (A.R) during the latter part of his life have been grossly mis-underestood.
He used to call the cream of the Ulema for Itikhaaf to deliver a particular and specific message. Because he was the sage of that age.
Moreover, the actions, speech, Kashf and ilhaam of a Saint, pious person or Righteous one is not a proof in Shariat.Kindly read on the above article (that will also be sent to you):-
Sadly these days under current competition takes place, resulting inMureeds saying, in our Khanqah (Masjid) so many sat whilst in other places so little sat. It has become Show-biz, instead of Ibadaat.
Furthurmore, this concept that the Masjid has turned into a Khanqah is not correct. This cannot be substantiated. In fact the first Khanqah was established by Sheikh Habib Halabi (A.R.), the Khalifa of Hadhrat Hassan Basri (A.R), outside the Masjid.
5) These days let alone food is provided, each Sheikh is advertising more and more amenties and faculties. And in most places,non-Muslims are posing as Muslims and sitting for Itikhaaf, whilst there is lavishness and total extravagance. Calculations prove that the money spent in some Masjids is so much that small Musallas(Jamaat Khanas) can be built in poor deserving areas.
Thus Itikhaaf in most places become a party.
Sadly Calling is now done via, Radio, T.V., leaflest, ghust, posters and other advertising methods which also cannot be proven for Itikhaaf in the Best of Eras.
6) To read Durood Sharief is substantiated, laudable and rewardable. For more details read our translation on the Best book concerning Durood i.e., Al Qaul al Badee. But as per Fatawa Mahmoodia of Hadhrat Mufti Mehmood Gungohi (A.R) that to fix and be extremely steadfast without break in the practices of one person reading the 40 Duroods and others listening will tantamount to it becoming an Bidat.
Think, that was the 40 Duroods compiled and read in the manner it is read these days in the best of Eras?
Please,do not mis-underestand or mis-quote that Mufti Elias is against Zikr or reading Durood.
8) Unfortunetely we are living in a world and enviroment that Forbiddig what is wrong has become difficult. Also certain groups and people have become above the Shaari law.
Moreover, it has become Taboo to raise ones voice against that which is not in conformity to Shariat.
But, one must always remember, truth definitely prevails and surfaces just like oil surfaces after little while on top of the water.
The truth is bitter but it has to be said othewise the Day will come when we will not be able to differentiate the wood from the trees, the grain from the chaff.
May Allaah guide us all.
(Mufti) A.H. Elias
(May Allaah be with him)
(Shabaan - June)