I’tikaf is when a person makes their heart devout in worship, secluding themselves from worldly desires. This takes place in the mosque, an ideal environment to gain inner peace and focus. I’tikaf is conventionally carried out in the last ten days of Ramadan, with the intention of seeking out Laylat ul Qadr and developing and strengthening one’s bond with Allah (swt).
Listed below are some virtues that come along with I’tikaf, benefiting the believer in terms of faith and self-development.
1. Seeking Laylat ul Qadr
Performing I’tikaf is the perfect opportunity to immerse ourselves in worship, seeking Laylat ul Qadr. We can often find our minds swaying or being distracted from worship with other thoughts or responsibilities. Nevertheless, I’tikaf creates a platform, separating us from worldly desires and thoughts, and we find ourselves worshipping peacefully and unconditionally. This in turn, allows us to reap the fruits of the worship and therefore, making the most of the potential Laylat ul Qadr days.
Rewards in Ramadan are already multiplied by 70 or 100 and therefore, taking time out to perform I’tikaf can enable someone to get maximum benefits out of this blessed month. Being a recommended act from the Prophet (saw) means there’s already reward performing I’tikaf in itself. Also, the time spent away from our busy lives helps us to immerse ourselves in Qur’an recitation and performing plenty of nawwafil prayers. I’tikaf therefore encourages you to develop and prosper in your acts of worship, building up more and more rewards.
Being alone in solitude allows us to attain the goals mentioned by Ibn Qayyim (rh). The virtues of being in solitude is that you feel more of a closeness to Allah (swt), a tighter bond with no people, objects or unnecessary thoughts hindering your devotion to the Divine.
I’tikaf is a great opportunity to reflect. Reflection allows you to look back at your life, reviewing your strengths, weaknesses and how you can improve going forward. Reflecting also allows you to set goals and aspirations, looking at what you have already achieved and how you can escalate from that platform. Spiritually, this is uplifting. As believers, we are encouraged to have a vision so we are constantly motivated and focused in life with lofty aims.
Reflection also helps improve our mental health. It allows us to take a step out from our busy lives, calming our minds down. This soothes our minds and scaffolds the concentration given to worship at this time.
5. Protection from Hell
The month of Ramadan itself allows us to take up great opportunities of seeking forgiveness from Allah (swt). Performing I’tikaf is a bonus in this aspect. Not only did our Prophet (PBUH) mention about being protected from Hell if I’tikaf is carried out, but it allows you to self-reflect and ponder on your previous actions. Through this, you becomes alert of the necessity of seeking forgiveness. As humans, it is common to make mistakes even unintentionally. I’tikaf allows you to assess your actions and constantly seek protection from Hell.
May Allah allow us to observe these sacred acts of ibadah with ease and if we are unable may He facilitate a way for us to seek His pleasure and raise our stations in jannah and protect us from the Fire, ameen.