بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
By Moona Ali
In sha Allah, we are very soon approaching the magnificent last ten days of Ramadan. These days are more beloved to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) than any other days of the year, propelling us to action so that we can gain multiple rewards.
We humans are weak. We are constantly in need of peace, security, nafsan mutma’innah (a satisfied soul), and qalb saleem (a sound heart). We cannot miss this opportunity of finding Laylat-ul-Qadr, where all the affairs are decreed for the coming year, duas (requests to Allah) are accepted, and even the angels come into action, descending on the earth to carry out their duties.
Preparing for this one night of worshipping Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ), which is equivalent to life-long ibadah (worship), needs a headstart.
Most of the food we have prepared in advance, our groceries stacked, so we are free from all the routine activities as we prepare to cut ourselves off from worldly involvement and concentrate on making Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) the exclusive focus. It is a relationship we have to consciously build, just like Maryam (عليهِا سلام) did, through which she earned a special status, the miracle of motherhood to a prophet, the title of a lady of Jannah, and a surah named after her. Maryam (عليهِا سلام) is also called Batool. The root word of this word means the one who cuts herself off, or separates herself from, everything of this dunya, and connects to her Rabb. And this is what she did when she committed herself to the temple.
I’tikaf is the best ibadah that one can do during the last ten days of Ramadan. The Prophet(صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم)practiced it every year during his lifetime, in Ramadan. This is the sunnah i’tikaf which is done at the masjid. If one can’t afford to dedicate ten days, than they can do as many days or hours as they want, or even between two prayers like Zuhr to Asr or Asr to Maghrib, at their own home. This is a nafli (voluntary) i’tikaf.
What one can do in I’tikaf
– Taraweeh can be done while holding the Qur’an in the hand and reciting from it.
– In between, breaks can be taken to read the translation of what has just been recited.
– One can rest or take short naps to refresh oneself for tahajjud.
– Long sajdah and rukuh to humble oneself and make personal duas
– After suhoor and Fajr prayer, one can just concentrate on the recitation of the Qur’an.
– After 4 rak’at of praying Ishraq, one can sleep. Ishraq prayer is 15-20 minutes after sunrise.
– Sitting and remembering Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) after Fajr prayer, till the Ishraq prayer, has a reward like that of hajj and umrah.
In the day time, one can:
– Read lots of different tafsir books
– Listen to religious lectures
– Read different books on iman, taqwa, how to do da’wah, etc. There is a whole spectrum of that.
Many words are heavy on the scale, like:
– SubhanAllahi wa bi hamdihi, SubhanAllah-il-‘Azeem
– Allahu Akbar
– La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah.
These tasbeehs should be done in abundance.
Also, one must not forget Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى ) Names & Attributes. Takbeerat, His Hamd, His glorification – all should be distributed throughout the day.
Even kids of different ages can be trained to have this quiet time, so they can absorb everything early in their childhood. In sha Allah, years later, this will equip them to reflect on their lifestyles and habits and make the necessary changes on what needs to be removed from themselves and their lives.
When doing tasbeeh, teach the kids the meanings of the different Attributes of Allah(سبحانه وتعالى ). Like ‘Al-Haleem (The Forbearing)’ can be applied when the siblings are disputing and arguing. ‘Al-Karim (The Generous)’ can be applied when the kids are not sharing. ‘Al-Mu’eed’ (the One Who can restore you back from sicknesses to shifa) when they are unwell.
Instill in children these concepts, while they are re-enacting what their parents are doing in I’tikaf.
The subject of Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) is that which concerns all of us, as we want to purify ourselves from sins that may have angered Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ).
وَاللّهُ يُرِيدُ أَن يَتُوبَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَيُرِيدُ الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الشَّهَوَاتِ أَن تَمِيلُواْ مَيْلاً عَظِيمًا 27
28 يُرِيدُ اللّهُ أَن يُخَفِّفَ عَنكُمْ وَخُلِقَ الإِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
“Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation. And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.”
[Al-Qur’an: Surah An-Nisa (The Women) 4: 27-28]
How does Allah(سبحانه وتعالى ) lighten our difficulties, our burdens of sin? When we do taubah.
In another ayah, notice the importance given to Istighfar:
سَابِقُوا إِلَى مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا كَعَرْضِ السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضِ أُعِدَّتْ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ذَلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاء وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ
“Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His messengers. That is the bounty of Allah which He gives to whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty.”
[Al-Qur’an: Surah Al-Hadeed 57: 21]
A beautiful and motivating hadeeth one can easily implement is this:
“The Messenger of Allah(صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) said: ‘Whoever says morning and evening, Subhan Allaah wa bihamdih (Glory and praise be to Allah) one hundred times, no one will come on the Day of Resurrection with anything better than him, except for one who said the same as he said, or who said more.’”[Muslim]
One can also learn or read the ‘sayyid-ul-istighfar’, which is the most superior way of asking forgiveness.
Lastly,one should also read the beautiful dua,which we have been taught to read on laylat–ul -Qadr.