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Utilizing the best part of Ramadan

By Allah’s special grace, we shall by sunset today have entered in to the most excellent part of Ramadan; the last ten days of the…

By Allah’s special grace, we shall by sunset today have entered in to the most excellent part of Ramadan; the last ten days of the month. It is also the third and last course of Ramadan fast, which according to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), is the period during which righteous servants of Allah are liberated from (being residents) the hell fire. Within this concluding part of Ramadan is a night that is better than a thousand months. This virtuous night is called ‘Laylat ul-Qadr’; meaning ‘The Night of Power’. It is on this night that the holy Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) through Angel Jibril. The Prophet (SAW) exhorts Muslims to spend substantial part of this night in worship; seeking mercy and forgiveness of their sins form Allah (SWT). 

However, Allah (SWT) in His wisdom has concealed the knowledge of the exact night of Laylat ul-Qadr (just as He hides other forms of knowledge mentioned in Qur’an 31:34) from us. Aisha (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Search for Laylat ul-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadan.” Many scholars share the view that Laylat ul-Qadr falls on either the night of 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th which are the odd days in the last ten days of Ramadan. 

In practical terms, Muslims are encouraged to search for Laylat ul-Qadr on the night preceding the odd days listed above. For example, today Saturday March 30, 2024 which is the 20th day of the current Ramadan is the night to begin the search for Laylat ul-Qadr; being the night preceding the 21st day of Ramadan. Many scholars opine that Laylat ul-Qadr occurs on the 27th day of Ramadan. A School of Thought that shares this view goes further to explain that the Arabic letters which make up the Arabic phrase ‘Laylat ul-Qadr’ are nine in number, and that the phrase occurs three times in the holy Qur’an. It gives a total of 27 when nine is multiplied by 3; buttressing 27th of Ramadan as Laylat ul-Qadr.

In the same wisdom in which Allah (SWT) distinguished Muhammad (SAW) among His prophets and messengers with a unique message to mankind and Jinn; classified the holy mosque of Ka’abah, the Prophet’s mosque and the Al-Aqsa mosque above other mosques in the universe; and honoured Friday with special virtues that are missing in other days of the week; He has also, in His mercy, ranked Laylat ul-Qadr higher than all other nights; making a believer’s worship during this night worth the devoution performed in a thousand other nights. 

Now, if Laylat ul-Qadr with its exclusive values is singled out for our own spiritual benefit, we should have no reason as believers not to take advantage of the blissful windfalls it offers. Aside of glorifying Allah and seeking for forgiveness, let us use the night to also ask Allah for all our needs including blessed wealth, healthy body, useful knowledge, saintly heart, righteous wife, respectful children, profitable employment, a comfortable house, a good car, protection against the evils of men and Jinn, and general prosperity in life. 

Muslims are generally exhorted by the Prophet (SAW) to intensify and diversify their acts of devoution during the last ten days of Ramadan. Such devoutions may include tilawah (recitation of the holy Qur’an), observing nafilah (superogatory) prayers, seeking for forgiveness, asking for favours, glorifying Allah through Tasbih (saying ‘Suhana-llah’), or Takbir (saying Allahu Akbar), or Tahlil (saying ‘La ilaha ila-llah’), or Tahmid (saying Alhamdu lillah’). Aisha (RA) once asked the Prophet (SAW) about what to recite on the Laylat ul-Qadr night. The Prophet (SAW) replied, ‘Say: “Allahumma Innaka Afwun, Tuhibb ul-Afwa, Fa’fu anni” meaning “O Allah! You are certainly (full of) Pardon; You like Pardon; Pardon me.”

Another virtuous act of devoution in the last ten days of Ramadan is I’tikaf, which refers to seclusion in a mosque. A Muslim who observes I’tikaf is called Mu’takif in Arabic. I’tikaf aims at isolating the heart of a Mu’takif from everything except Allah (SWT). In order to get closer to Allah (SWT), all worldly activities are deserted while in I’tikaf. All the thoughts and devotions of a Mu’takif are focused on Allah (SWT). And like the Prophet (SAW) mentioned in the thirty-eighth hadith of Annawawi’s collection of forty traditions, a Mu’takif would continue to get closer to Allah (SWT) with voluntary acts of worship so much so that “He (SWT) becomes the hearing with which His servant hears, the seeing with which he sees, the hand with which he takes (things), and the foot with which he walks.” 

Scholars are united in their opinion that I’tikaf must be observed only in a mosque where Friday (Jumu’ah) prayer is conducted. This is to avoid a situation where the Mu’takif would have to leave his mosque of seclusion for another in order to observe the Jumu’ah congregational prayer. However, a Mu’takif may wish to observe I’tikaf in any mosque if he intends to spend few days in seclusion that do not include Friday. Although it is most preferable that a believer spends ten days in I’tikaf, the least number of days a Mu’takif could remain in seclusion is a day and a night. 

The time to enter in to I’tikaf is usually before sunset of the day the Mu’takif desires to begin the seclusion. While in seclusion, the Mu’takif is prohibited from visiting the sick, attending funeral prayers, having conjugal relationships, and from buying and selling. Engaging in any of these acts vitiates the seclusion. A Mu’takif is not required to engage in extensive studies or writing. A worshipper in I’tikaf is encouraged to engage much in voluntary prayers, recitation of the holy Qur’an and the glorification of Allah’s most beautiful names. 

A Mu’takif should avoid entering in to his family house or intermingling with his family members. His interaction with the outside world should be reduced to the barest minimum except for reasons of answering the call of nature or attending to a very important matter. He must however return to his I’tikaf spot immediately after attending to such exigencies. A Mu’takif is required to, on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal (i.e. Eidul-Fitr day), proceed directly from the mosque in which he observed I’tikaf to the Eid praying ground and would return to his family only after he had offered the Eid prayers along with other worshippers. May Allah guide us to benefit from the virtues of Laylat ul-Qadr and I’tikaf, amin. Ramadan Kareem! 

 

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