Tarawih, Tahajjud and I’itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan

In the name of Allah, most beneficent, most merciful

Assalaamu Alaikum!

This week’s talk focuses on the recommended observances during the last ten days of Ramadan. Allah showers His blessings on those that stand to perform voluntary prayers of Tarawih, Tahajjud or I’itikaf during the month of Ramadan, especially during the last ten days.

On account of these ibadat, one’s previous sins are absolved and forgiven, provided that in performing them one has complete and absolute faith in Allah’s reward. It is with these observances and other forms of Ibadat that the night of Lailatul Qadr is observed.


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Lailatul Qadr

Narrated Aisha (RA), as reported by Bukhari, Allah’s messenger (pbuh) said, “search for the night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan”. Odd nights mean the nights of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th. For example, when sunset on the 20th of Ramadan, the night is the night of 21st and it goes in that order.

Aisha (RA) asked the Prophet (SAW) on the supplication that a Muslim should recite in the night of Qadr, and the Prophet (pbuh) replied; “ALLAHUMMA INNAKA AFUWUN TUHIBBUL AFWA FA’A FU ANNI (Oh Allah you are forgiven, You love forgiveness; so forgive me.)


The Prophet (pbuh) is reported by Bukhari and Muslim in a hadith as saying: “He who prays during the night in Ramadan with faith and desire for his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Therefore, Qiyamul-lail (praying in the night) should not be done for the purpose of merely showing off, but with intention of seeking Allah’s blessings and rewards.”

Some Islamic scholars regard the above hadith as a conditional one that promises forgiveness only to those that have a sound Aqida (belief-creed) when they perform the voluntary prayers

Tarawih or Tahajjud

The supererogatory prayer or Ramadan Tarawih or Tahajjud is eleven raka’at. A’isha (wife of the Prophet, pbuh) was reported by Bukhari and Muslim as saying that Allah’s messenger (pbuh) never offered more than 11 (voluntary) raka’at during Ramadan or any other month. Some scholars have sought to provide reasons for considering 13 raka’at as the maximum.

According to Islamic scholars, supererogatory prayers offered in the night are called Tarawih when they are performed during the first part of the night, especially after Isha’i prayer. On the other hand, these voluntary prayers are referred to Tahajjud when they are performed during the wee hours of the night, especially after taking a nap.

Qur’an Recitation in Qiyamul-lail

The Surahs (chapters of the Holy Qur’an) to be recited in the Tarawih or Tahajjud depend on one’s ability to stand and one’s memorisation of the Holy Qur’an. But long recitation, especially in Tahajjud, is recommended for those who have the ability to do that. That according to the Prophet (pbuh) will increase one’s reward.

Long recitation is not all that matters in the supererogatory prayers of Tarawih and Tahajjud. Dhikr (glorifying Allah), with prescribed recitations, is also recommended especially in Sujud (prostration) and Ruku’u (bowing) and all intervals of the prayers where dhikr is stipulated as sunnah.

In voluntary prayers like Tarawih and Tahajjud one is allowed to look up the Qur’an while reciting especially for those who cannot memorise the Holy Qur’an.

A’isha (RA) said in a hadith reported by Bukhari and Muslim that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) preoccupied himself during the last ten days of Ramadan with the worship of Allah, stayed awake at night, and woke up his entire family.

A’isha (RA) is also reported in Bukhari and Muslim’s hadith as saying that it was the habitual practice of the Prophet (pbuh) to carry out a private devotion (Al-Itikaf) in the last ten days of Ramadan.

“The prophet used to engage in private devotion,” she said, “in the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah, the Great and Glorious, took his soul and his wives followed his practice after his death.”

The aforementioned two hadiths suggest that this act of worship is recommended to both male and female believers.

Some scholars have however said that the private devotion (Al-Itikaf), not Tahajjud, is only allowed in three mosques, namely, the holy Mosque of Mecca (Ka’aba), the Holy Mosque of the Prophet (pbuh) in Medina, and the Holy Mosque of Baitul-Muqaddas in Jerusalem. Tirmidhi reported that the Prophet (pbuh) only said Al-Itikaf (private devotion) is only performed in aforementioned three mosques.

How Al-itikaf is Performed

AL-ITIKAF simply means to stay seclusion in a mosque, in a certain specified manner with the intention of worshiping Allah and it is performed during the month of Ramadan especially in the last ten days of Ramadan.

Narrated Aisha (RA), the prophet (pbuh) used to practice I’Itikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan.”

A person should enter into a state of I’Itikaf after observing the Subh (morning) prayer as narrated by Aisha (RA). She said “After Allah’s messenger (pbuh) had observed the Subh prayer he will enter his place of I’Itikaf.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Prophet (pbuh) used to enter his place of I’itikaf at the dawn of the twentieth day of Ramadan after he prayed Subh prayer.

A person doing I’Itikaf should engage himself with the recitation of the Noble Qur’an, remembrance of Allah (swt), voluntary prayers, etcetera. A person should abstain from backbiting, and other bad acts, which are tantamount to nullify his Ibadat (worships).

A person must remain in the mosque except for an unavoidable necessity like going to toilet, taking bath, or to eat if there is no one to bring him food inside the mosque.

There is nothing wrong with visiting a person in I’Itikaf, especially visits by his relatives like members of his family. It is shown clearly in the tradition of the prophet (pbuh) that his wives used to visit him and used to escort them up to the door of the mosque.

It is desirable for a person to engage in supplications especially in the nights where the occurrence of Lailatul Qadr is expected. The major aim of a person doing I’Itikaf is to witness Lailatul Qadr (night of decree).

Those who are in state of I’Itikaf should always engage themselves in dhikr (glorifying Allah), prayers, and offering supplications among many other good deeds. It is against the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) how some worshippers, in the state of I’Itikaf, engage in wasteful discussions, storytelling, arguments and others vices.

I’Itikaf ends immediately when the new moon of Shawwal (eid-ul-fitr) is sighted. If the i’Itikaf person is involved in one of the following acts, his i’itikaf is nullified:

– Leaving the mosque without any acceptable reason, even if it is for a short time.

– When the person converts to another religion other than Islam, as this would nullify all acts of worship.

–  Losing one’s reasoning due to insanity or drunkenness.

– Onset of menstruation or post child-birth bleeding

– And sexual intercourse.

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