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Devoutions in Ramadan without I’itikaf

Devoutions in Ramadan without I’itikaf

We give thanks to Allah whose mercy brought us to the most virtuous part of Ramadan; the last ten days. It is the period during which unrighteous Muslims are liberated (‘itq in Arabic) from Hell fire. Within this concluding part of Ramadan is a night that is better than a thousand months called “Laylat ul-Qadr”; meaning “The Night of Power”. The holy Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) through Angel Jibril is on this night. The Prophet (SAW) exhorts Muslims to spend substantial part of this night in worship; seeking mercy and forgiveness of their sins from Allah (SWT).

Allah (SWT) in His wisdom has concealed the knowledge of the exact night of Laylat ul-Qadr (just as He hides other forms of knowledge mentioned in Qur’an 31:34) from us. Aisha (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Search for Laylat ul-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadan”. Imam Malik (RA) reports in his Muwatta that Ziyad related from Malik that he heard a man he trusted of the people of knowledge say, “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) was shown the lifespan of the people (who had gone) before him and it was as if the lifecycle of his ummah had comparatively become too short for them (to have enough time) to do as many good deeds as those before them did. So, Allah gave him Laylat ul-Qadr, which is better than a thousand months”.

The popular opinion among scholars is that Laylat ul-Qadr falls on the night of either 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th day of Ramadan. In practical terms, they are the nights preceding the odd number days in the last ten days of the month. Many scholars opine that Laylat ul-Qadr occurs on the 27th day of Ramadan. A School of Thought that shares this view further explains that the Arabic letters that make up the Arabic phrase ‘Laylat ul-Qadr’ are nine in number, and that the phrase occurs three times in the holy Qur’an. It gives a total of 27 when 9 is multiplied by 3; suggesting 27th of Ramadan as Laylat ul-Qadr.

The Prophet (SAW) recommends to Muslims to intensify their acts of devoution during the last ten days of Ramadan. No particular act of ibadah is preferred over the other. Nonetheless, it is rewarding to engage our body, mind and tongue in diverse acts of devoution. The tongue could be engaged in tilawah (recitation the holy Qur’an), glorifying Allah through Tasbih (saying “Suhana-llah”), or Takbir (saying “Allahu Akbar”), or Tahlil (saying “La ilaha ila-llah”), or Tahmid (saying “Alhamdu lillah”, or similar invocations of glorification of Allah (SWT). Aisha (RA) once asked the Prophet (SAW) about what to recite on the Laylat ul-Qadr night. The Prophet (SAW) replied, ‘Say: “Allahumma Anta Afwun, Tuhibb ul-Afwa, Fa’fu anni”. The translation of this Arabic version of the supplication is: “O Allah! You are Pardon; You like Pardon; Pardon me”. We could also deploy the tongue to engage in the glorification of Allah using His most beautiful names. Besides, this sacred night is a period for us to ask Allah for all our needs, ordinary as well as special.

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Let us use our body in this virtuous part of Ramadan to observe as many non-obligatory (Nawafil) prayers as possible especially during the wee hours of the night of Laylat ul-Qadr. Let us encourage our family members, wife/wives as well as children, to be part of the midnight prayers. There should be consensus among family members on the time to observe the midnight prayers so that everyone could profit from the exercise. The Imam (prayer leader) should be moderate in his recitation of chapters (Surahs) during prayers. He is not impressing anyone by reciting very long Surahs. Such would rather discourage his followers (family members) from observing the midnight prayers. Two different Surahs for the two Raka’ats in each prayer are enough for the Imam to recite in as many number of prayers they intend to observe. This would encourage and sustain their participation. Religion has been made simple, and therefore, we should not make it difficult for ourselves or for others.

While we advise that the hand, in these last ten days of the month, should also give more alms to the poor, the needy, widows, orphans, and all other vulnerable classes of people; we further encourage Muslims to keep the mind filled with remorse and repentance from their past acts of unrighteousness. Except for the observance of prayers, women in menstruation are permitted to engage in all other acts of worship including remembrance of Allah (SWT) with the tongue, giving charity with the hand, and sincerely repenting from sins. In the case of recitation, women who are impure are permitted to keep rehearsing all the chapters and verses they have memorized by heart.

Due to the social distancing rule that is yet in force over COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Ramadan shall be one without the usual spiritual activity called I’tikaf, which requires a Muslim to seclude in a mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan. I’tikaf is designed to exclusively isolate a worshipper’s heart from everything except Allah (SWT). While it is certain that many of us are going to miss this part of Ramadan, we should not allow ourselves to miss some of the spiritual activities that go along with I’tikaf. As we stay safe in our homes without spiritually isolating in a mosque, let us remember to pray for those under Coronavirus’ isolation in various treatment centers.

As the count down to the exit of Ramadan progresses, let us increase and intensify our spiritual efforts in our prayers against COVID-19. This disease is still ravaging us badly. Before these special days of this holy month elapse, let us take full advantage of the supposed spiritual status and closeness to Allah, which we have so far earned in the past three weeks, to zealously and intensely pray to the Omnipotence (SWT) to intervene between us and this deadly virus that originated from China. If we allow this period to lapse without divinely fighting COVID-19, we would require a thousand months to offer the same prayer we are being encouraged to offer now. In seeking this divine intervention, let us declare repentance from our sins; keeping our thoughts deeply focused on Allah (SWT) so that the Irresistible (SWT) will shower His mercy on humanity by kicking COVID-19 out the world. May Allah (SWT) bring us out of all our individual and collective predicaments and put us among those to attain this spiritual elevation during this Ramadan, amin. Ramadan Kareem!

Condolence:

Inna li-llahi wa inna ilayhi raj’un. It is with the greatest shock I received the news about the death of Prof Bello Mohammed Agaie of the Usmanu Danfodio Univeristy, Sokoto, whose demise occurred on Tuesday May 12, 2020. Prof Bello Agaie is the current National President of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA). May Allah (SWT) grant him eternal forgiveness and mercy; making Al-Jannah to be his final abode on the Final Day, amin.

 

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