22 July 2013

Ramadan Series: Rules of I’tikaaf

The following are Rules of I’tikaaf – both in our masjid as well as applicable to any masjid that you may intend to make I’tikaaf in. Please read through carefully and ensure that you follow them to gain maximum benefit of this Ibaadah.

1.        Make your Niyyah and check it frequently to ensure that it remains purely for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) alone. Some people make I’tikaaf to make connections and network with others. This will corrupt your I’tikaaf as your Niyyah will no longer be for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) alone. Don’t waste your time and life.

2.        There is an Ameer of I’tikaaf. He has been appointed to overlook all matters related to your comfort, safety and to manage all matters during the period of I’tikaaf. He must be obeyed without argument. That is your training to prepare yourself for the Khilaafa that you are so fond of talking about. So don’t do anything without the permission of the Ameer. That doesn’t apply to your personal needs i.e. you don’t need to ask his permission to go to the toilet. But it applies to your desire to change the AC settings or other such unnecessary things that people seem to be compelled to do just because they are in I’tikaaf. Resist the urge. Make Tawba and stand in Salah instead.

3.        Set your goals for I’tikaaf. The main goal is to get close to Allah (SWT). The way to do that is through reading the Qur’an, making Dhikr, praying Nawaafil and reflecting in silence. So set your goals for your Ibadaat during I’tikaaf. How much Qur’an do you intend to read? Which Nawaafil do you intend to practice so that they become permanent practices in your life? What do you intend to learn with respect to your own Tarbiyya? Making Tawba and Shukr. Pay special attention to Dhikr which seems to have lost its importance in our lives. Especially to sending Salat was Salaam (Durood) on Rasoolullah (SAS). There is great benefit in this Dhikr and so engage in it profusely. Also ensure that you pray all Sunnah Salawaat and do all the Masnoon Adhkaar after Fardh. Always ensure that your tongue is busy in the Dhikr of Allah (SWT)

4.        You didn’t come to the masjid to browse the net so please don’t ask for the masjid internet password. If you ask for it, our IT Head Geek has been instructed to stare at you blankly in the face until you go away.

5.        Bring your own:
a.    Sleeping mat, sleeping bag, pillow, towel
b.    Toiletries, medicines and mosquito repellent
c.    Mushaf (Qur’an) with your name on it
d.    Don’t bring all that you possess just in case you need it. You are coming to the masjid for a few days. You are not shifting residence. I’tikaaf is also training in how to do without – so be minimalist in terms of creature comfort and maximize your Ibaadaat.

6.        Rights of the Masjid:
a.        Dress appropriately for the masjid. Tight clothes showing the outline of the body, T-shirts with slogans and pictures and trousers which display the underwear are all highly unsuitable at all times, especially in the masjid.

b.        Switch off all lights, fans, ACs when you leave the room. Don’t switch on all the lights when you enter the room. You don’t do that at home, so why do you do it in the masjid? The house of Allah (SWT) deserves more respect than your own home.

c.        Don’t interfere with any arrangements in the masjid. Ask the organizers for anything you need. Don’t ask for the AC temperature to be raised or lowered. It has been set for the general public. If you are feeling too cold, experiment with wearing a shawl. Usually it helps. Otherwise try a blanket. If you are feeling too hot, stand directly before the AC vent until you freeze, then try the blanket. Remember that we only have individual capsule climate control on the Day of Judgment and on that day you don’t want to be among those who are experiencing it.

d.        Don’t take any Mushaf or anything else that doesn’t belong to you. If you didn’t bring it, it doesn’t belong to you. If you want to read it, ask the owner or the Ameer of I’tikaaf.

e.        Neatly roll up your bedding and put it in the place designated for it as soon as you wake up. The masjid is not an extension of your bedroom. It is the house of Allah (SWT) and must be respected. Place your shoes in the racks, not all over the floor. How you treat your belongings shows how you respect yourself.

f.         Don’t leave any of your personal belongings lying around. The masjid is not your home. You are responsible for your belongings. The masjid will not be responsible for anything lost. Please take care of your valuables.

g.        Use bathrooms with care – leave them clean even if you didn’t find them that way.

h.        Use water frugally – that means as little as possible. The taps are not connected to the clouds.

i.          Making noise in the masjid, laughing loudly, talking about worldly matters are all prohibited.

j.          Smile, it is Sadaqa and it endears you to people. Practice good manners. Help others especially the elderly. Give Salaam first. If you are the younger, it demonstrates respect. If you are older, it is a dua to the youngsters. Demonstrate that you are a credit to your parents. You are Muslim. Show it.

k.        You came for I’tikaaf to worship Allah (SWT) – not to hang out with your friends or party or eat different kinds of food, or even to relax.

l.          While in I’tikaaf, worship Allah (SWT) or go to sleep. Sleep is also worship.

m.       Use of phones for essential calls is permissible but not for long social conversations, even if you are describing what an awesome time you are having in your I’tikaaf. Tell your friends about it when you go home. Not from the masjid.

n.        If there is any collective activity happening in the masjid, e.g. lectures, classes and so on, please participate if you wish or worship on your own in a corner. Don’t disturb the activity in any way.

o.        The masjid is the house of Allah (SWT). You are His guests. The food that comes before you is from Allah(SWT).  إن شاء اللهُ you will not be called to account for that food. It is a gift from Allah (SWT). So never complain about the food as that would amount to rejecting the Neyma of Allah (SWT). If you don’t like the food, don’t eat it or get something for yourself from your home. But do it silently without a single word of complaint. Even if someone asks you if you like the food, don’t say you don’t like it. Just say Alhamdulillah. And say it with a smile while being genuinely grateful to Allah (SWT). Remember that is someone eating from a garbage pile while you are complaining about the food. Thank Allah (SWT) that He didn’t switch places for you and thank Him for what He chooses to provide you in His house.

p.        I’tikaaf is not a time to indulge yourself but to deny yourself. Eat less, sleep less. Not eat more and sleep more.

q.        Don’t interfere in the management of the masjid, not even in the guise of, ‘Can I make a suggestion?’ Yes you can, but you may not. The people organizing things know what they are doing. It is their responsibility to ensure that everything is in order. They are doing their best and sometimes they will fail – just like you also fail sometimes. Some of them are also in I’tikaaf. They have enough to do without being bothered by individual likes and dislikes. So leave them alone. If you like what is happening, make Shukr. If you don’t, make Sabr. Both are good for you.

r.         Be ready and volunteer to serve others and do Khidmat of the masjid during I’tikaaf. This can include cleaning the toilets. Consider it a special privilege if this duty is given to you.

s.        The people who serve the masjid are the caretakers of the masjid. They are not your servants, so never ask anyone of them to do anything for you personally, even if it is to bring you a glass of water. Get up and get it yourself and get one for your companion also.

t.          If you don’t like what is happening in a particular masjid remember that there are many other masaajid in the city, country and world. Go somewhere else. Until you discover that they are all the same. Better still make I’tikaaf in the Haram one year. It will cure all your eating and sleeping urges.

7.        Rights of your fellow worshipers – Mo’takifeen
a.        That you avoid all controversial topics and discussions. You didn’t come into I’tikaaf to reform anyone, even if you are the Mufti-e-Azam of the Nation. So do your own stuff and leave other people alone. It is better for you to break your I’tikaaf than to be the source of Fitna for others.

b.        That you don’t disturb anyone else in their worship or sleep. Your talking, reading Qur’an loudly, listening to Qur’an recitation on your iPad or Whatnot without headphones are all a disturbance to others. Don’t do it.

c.        That you never use anything that belongs to others without their permission, even if they are your dearest friend. Also that you don’t ask permission for things which people may feel hesitant about refusing permission but dislike giving it – for example, personal toiletries, towels, iPads or other devises that they have brought to read Qur’an on or their Mushaf which they have marked for their own reading.

d.        That you offer to participate in any maintenance, cleaning activity or work that may be going on in the masjid including cleaning of bathrooms and toilets.

e.        That when you have eaten you make sure that you remove your plate and where necessary wash it and put it back. In other places, depending on the arrangement you may be required to help in cleaning up after Iftaar or Suhoor. Please volunteer for it and don’t wait to be asked.

f.         That you remain clean and pure, cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough, do not make subhuman noises from either end, do not create foul odors or do anything which is likely to be offensive to others, even if you don’t find it offensive yourself. Consideration for others is a part of what you came to learn in I’tikaaf – believe it or not.

8.        Make a lot of dua for yourself, your family and the Ummah of Rasoolullah (SAS). You are a guest in the house of Allah (SWT). You came because Allah (SWT) called you and permitted you into His House. Allah (SWT) calls to give, not to take. There is nobody who honors His guests more than Allah (SWT). So make the most of your status while it lasts and ask Allah (SWT) for His Pleasure, guidance, protection and help for the Ummah. Prepare for Salah in advance and ensure that you pray all Salawaat without fail right from the beginning. It makes no sense to come for I’tikaaf and join the Jamat later or worse still, miss the Jamat altogether. You came to worship Allah (SWT). So do it and do it as much and as well as you can. I’tikaaf is the time to practice.

9.        Remember that this may be your last I’tikaaf and so make the most of it. Don’t waste a single minute of your time. That you were given the chance to make I’tikaaf is a sign that Allah (SWT)’s mercy is on you. Show your gratitude to Allah (SWT) by observing the rules of I’tikaaf and using the time to gain His Forgiveness, Mercy and Bounty. Don’t show ingratitude by wasting your time.
وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ
Ibrahim 14: 7. And (remember) when your Rabb proclaimed: "If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah (SWT)), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless, verily! My Punishment is indeed severe."

This is a repost. Written by Shaykh Mirza Yawar Baig

Shaykh Mirza Yawar Baig is the Founder & President of Yawar Baig & Associates. He is an international speaker, coach, trainer and facilitator, specializing in leadership in family businesses. He works with prominent family businesses in the role of Life Coach and Mentor. He has successfully trained managers in business, government & academia on 3 continents for over 24 years and developed a reputation for teaching effectively across boundaries of culture, function and nationality, not to mention that he also speaks 5 languages! An ongoing project that Shaykh Yawar is engaged in at the moment is the Standard Bearers Academy – which operates with the vision to provide role models to the world. Shaykh Yawar is known for his love of adventure and rich life experiences.

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