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What to do in the last ten days of Ramadan

Virtues of the glorious month of Ramadan have been relayed over the years especially of the last ten days which is considered the most blessed.…

Virtues of the glorious month of Ramadan have been relayed over the years especially of the last ten days which is considered the most blessed. Today being the 21st day of Ramadan signifies that Muslims must have commenced observing the moment.
Daily Trust on Sunday highlights some of the things expected of Muslims…
 The last ten days of Ramadan are very special days in the life of every Muslim. These days are the most blessed. Although, the Prophet Muhammad was promised Paradise, he used to exert himself even more in worship during these last ten days, hoping to draw closer to Allah.
A wife of Prophet Muhammadu, Aisha, reported: “With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (Peace of Allah be upon him) used to tighten his waist belt (that is work harder) used to pray the whole night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers.”
 According to scholars there are multiple reasons why the last ten days of Ramadan are given more importance than the earlier days.
The primary reason being that the end of Ramadan comes near and people are more conscious that the special blessing of the month is ending and they don’t know whether they will live another year to see another Ramadan or not.
Therefore, they start saying more prayers and carrying out as many good deeds as possible to ensure greater reward.
Some of the activities of the last ten days of Ramadan as taught and practiced by the Prophet Muhammad are highlighted below.
Itikaf (seclusion in the mosque)
Itikaf is the renowned Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which is popular among Muslims. Itikaf refers to the last ten days of Ramadan in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) lived in seclusion and avoided worldly interaction till the last night when the moon of Shawwal (10th months of Islamic calendar) was sighted.
Aisha narrates: “Prophet Muhammad used to perform Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty and Majestic took Him.”
From this hadith, it becomes clear that itikaf was one of his consistent Sunnahs which he used to perform on regular bases on every Ramadan and throughout His life. Therefore, a Muslim should find encouragement from this fact and should pursue Itikaf.
In another narration Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever makes itikaf with me is to make itikaf during the last ten (nights).”
In the year he died, he reportedly performed it for 20 days according to another narration.
Itikaf has no specific time limit. It can be fulfilled by staying in the mosque with the intention of observing it for a long or short time. The reward will be according to how long one stays in the mosque.
The objective of itikaf is for the heart to become fully preoccupied with Allah, concentrated upon Him alone, and cut-off from being preoccupied with the mundane.
 Itikaf is only done in the mosque. There are differences of opinion among the scholars concerning what mosques are acceptable for Itikaf.
While some say that it is acceptable in any mosque, others hold that it is valid in any mosque in which the five daily prayers are held and which has a Jumat congregation (Friday congregation). Also, others hold that it can only be done in one of the three sacred mosques: Ka’abah in Makkah, the Prophet’s mosque in Madeena, and the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
Majority of the scholars hold that itikaf can be observed in one of the three sacred mosques, but it is permissible in any mosque in which Friday congregation is observed.
 It is most ideal for one, who is observing the itikaf to perform many supererogatory acts of worship, that is to occupy himself with voluntary prayers, reciting the Qur’an, glorifying and praising Allah, extolling His oneness and greatness, asking His forgiveness, beseeching blessings on the Prophet and any other act that brings one closer to Allah.
Recite Qur’an abundantly:
During Ramadan, Muslims make special preparations to recite Qur’an. Some Muslims recite the whole Quran once, while there are others who recite the whole Qur’an several times. Each and every word of the Qur’an brings great reward for a Muslim when recited. Besides the conventional reading of Qur’an from the start till its end, a Muslim must also learn different hadiths of Prophet Muhammad in which he emphasized different Surahs of Qur’an in terms of their greater reward.
A hadith in this regard states: “Whoever recited Surah Zilzilah (ch 99) would get the reward of reciting half the Qur’an. Whoever recited Surah al Kaafirun (ch 109) would get the reward as if reading a quarter of the Quran. Whoever recited Surah al Ikhlas (ch 112) would get a reward as if reading one third of the Quran.”
 Other permissible acts are studying and reading books of Tawheed (belief), Tafseer (meaning of Qur’an) and Hadeeth (prophetic narrations), books on the lives of the Prophets, books of Fiqh (religious understanding), among others. It is also preferred to set up a small tent in the courtyard of the mosque as the Prophet did.
It is acceptable for those performing itikaf to fast, but they are not under obligation to do so if it is not in the month of Ramadan. Some scholars however see fasting as a condition for its observance.
Also, it is permissible for one observing itikaf to leave his place of seclusion to bid farewell to his wife or any other person who visits him as the Prophet did to one of his wives, Safiyyah. The mutakif (someone observing itikaf) may also go out for some needs like going to the toilet (if there is none in the masjid), getting food, performing the Janaba ritual bath and other unavoidable needs.
The mutakif can eat, drink, and sleep in the mosque but the mosque should be kept clean while doing all that. He may also engage in marriage contract, buying and selling in the mosque.
Itikaf for women:
While some said women should observe itikaf at home, majority of scholars said it is permissible for Muslim women to observe itikaf with the consent of her husband or guardian after careful consideration of the mosque and other situations.
It is necessary for a woman to be free from menstruation and Nifas (post childbirth blood flow) to perform itikaf.
Consequently, a woman should, prior to the commencement of itikaf, determine whether the date of her menstruation will coincide with the period of itikaf. If the menstruation is expected to occur towards the end of the last ten days of Ramadan, then she must not perform itikaf. However she may perform itikaf for the period until the arrival of her menstruation.
Acts that nullify Itikaf:
Some of the acts that void itikaf include:
-Applying perfume and smelling fragrances with the intention of deriving pleasure.
-Discussions and arguments both in relation to the world and the faith. This means that a person argues with another to prove that he is better or smarter or that he knows more. However, if a person must argue or debate to uphold the truth and destroy falsehood, it is permissible.
-Buying and selling anything (according to some scholars).
-Deriving pleasure from the opposite sex in any way -holding hands, hugging, kissing is completely forbidden in the state of itikaf.
-Leaving the mosque without any acceptable reason, even if it is for a short time.
-When the person converts to another religion other than Islam, as this would nullify all acts of worship.
-Losing one’s reasoning due to insanity or drunkenness.
-Onset of menstruation or post child-birth bleeding,
Seeking the laylatul Qadr (night of majesty/decree):
The night of decree (laylatul Qadr) is the most virtuous night of the year.
“Verily! We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Decree (Lailatul-Qadr). And what will make you know what the Night of Decree is? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Rooh (Angel Jibreel [Gabriel]) by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees, Peace! Until the appearance of dawn.” (Surah Qadr, Qur’an 97:1-5).
Scholars hold different opinions as to which day the night usually occurs. This is due to different Hadiths reported from the Prophet. Some are of the opinion that it is the 21st, some say 23rd, some 25th, some 27th, and others say 29th. Another group says it varies from year to year but it is always among the last ten nights of Ramadan. Most scholars, however, insist that it is on the 27th.
It is recommended that one should spend the night in various forms of worship. A Muslim is advised to wake up his family to join him in the observance to earn the pleasure of Allah. The Prophet used to put in his best in seeking the night of Qadr and he used to wake up his family as reported by all hadith narrators.
The Prophet said: “Whoever prays during the night of Qadr with faith and hoping for reward will have all his previous sins forgiven.”
Prophet Muhammad reportedly told Aisha when asked for the best supplications to be made on the night of Qadr, he said: “You should continuously recite ‘Allahumma innaka afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fa’afu annee’; meaning, ‘O Allah You are the one that forgives greatly, and you love forgiveness, forgive me -all my sins’.
A mutakif can ask for anything lawful and should pray fervently for himself, family, the nation, Muslim communities and the world, with the staunch belief that Allah will accept each and every sincere prayer during these blessed ten nights, especially on Laylatul Qadr.

Zakat al-Fitr:
Zakat al-Fitr is obligatory on every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult as long as he/she has the means to do so. Parent are to pay for the newly born if they were delivered before going to the praying ground for the eid-il-fitri which marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the month of Shawwal.
It is now known that apart from the prescribed measures of edible grains, currency equivalent can be paid too but must be done before the eid prayer to avoid reducing its essence and reward.

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