Tahajjud, Lailatul Qadar and I’tikaf in Ramadan

mosque-prayerThe last stage of Ramadan covers the last ten days, which in essence, is the most crucial period of the month. Gratitude is due to Allah (SWT) whose mercy brought us, in spite of all economic odds, to the concluding stage of this year’s Ramadan. It is a period during which Allah (SWT) emancipates His righteous servants from Hell fire. We pray that Allah (SWT) puts us among those who are not only delivered from Hell fire but also forgiven of all sins. We also thank Allah (SWT) for the rains so far. As we ask for more blessed rain, we pray to Allah against storms and floods that will destroy farmlands, crops, houses, lives and property; a devastating occurrence experienced last year in many parts of the country.

Imam Bukhari and Muslim both relate on the authority of Aisha (RA) that the prophet (SAW) did not only keep awake at night in the worship of Allah (SWT) when Ramadan enters the last ten days but also woke up his family members for the same purpose. Although there is no compulsion in religion, it is desirable that we convince our wives and children to observe tahajjud by waking up at night to worship Allah, Lord of Mercy and Majesty. We would be doing them a disfavor rather than good if, as head of our families, we refuse (out of petty love and needless care) to sensitize and encourage our family members to benefit from the gains of tahajjud in the last ten days of Ramadan; the most valuable period of the Islamic calendar year.

We also read from the thirteenth hadith in the forty traditions of Annawawi’s collection as related by Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abi Hamza Annas bn Malik that the prophet (SAW) said, “No one is a true believer until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself”. If actually we truly, in the spirit of this hadith, love our family members, nothing therefore should stop us from observing midnight (tahajjud) prayers in company of our family members. Nafilat prayers are even more rewarding when observed at home in the company of one’s family members.

One exceptional virtue of Ramadan lies in the night called Lailat ul-Qadr, the “Night of Power”; a night equivalent to a thousand months that are without such a night. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 97:3 “The Night of Power is better than a thousand months”. Given this precious status, it is most desirable that Muslims re-organize themselves, re-direct and focus their attention on the search for this particular night which according to the Prophet (SAW) is concealed within one of the odd-number days in the last ten days of Ramadan.

Scholars are divided in their opinions as to the exact day on which Lailat ul-Qadr falls. While some scholars believe it falls on the 21st, 23rd or 25th day of Ramadan, majority opine that Lailat ul-Qadr is on the 27th day of Ramadan. In any case, we are encouraged by the sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) to engage in acts of devotion on the nights of the odd-number days of the last ten days of Ramadan. Muslims are encouraged to diversify their devotion on these nights. This may include recitation of the holy Qur’an, glorifying Allah (SWT) with appropriate words of remembrance (dhikr), giving gratitude to Him (SWT), and observing nafilat prayers or similar acts of worship. Imam Ahmad, Ibn Majah and Attirmidhi all relate on the authority of Aisha (RA) that she asked the Prophet (SAW) about what to say or rehearse on the Night of Power. The Prophet (SAW) replied that she should keep reciting the following supplication, “Allahumma innaka ‘afwun, tuhibb ul-afwa fa’afu anni” meaning “O Allah! You are indeed Most-Pardoning; You cherish pardon; so pardon me”.

Another important spiritual activity in the last ten days of Ramadan is the religious sojourn called seclusion (i’tikaf) which is traditionally observed in a mosque where Jum’ah congregational prayer holds every Friday so that the worshipper observing the i’tikaf would not be required to leave the premises of the mosque in which he is secluding in order to observe Jum’ah prayer in another mosque. While we cheer Muslims to observe i’tikaf, where possible along with their wives and children, the rules and regulations governing it must strictly be adhered to.

One of the basic rules of i’tikaf is that conjugal relationships must be avoided as long as the seclusion lasts. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 2:87 “Permitted to you on the night of the fasts is the approach to your wives… But do not associate with your wives while ye are in retreat in the mosques. Those are limits set by Allah: Approach not nigh thereto. Thus doth Allah make clear His signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint” We pray to Allah (SWT) to guide us against any deviating from the path of righteousness which act could make vulnerable the integrity of our Ramadan fast, amin.[]

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