Step 1 Choose a place for isolation
Itikaaf refers to going into concealment for the solitary purpose of worshipping Allah Subhaana Hu Wa Ta'aala. Hence it provides the Mu'takif the opportunity to free his heart and mind from all the worries of the world, and to dedicate his thoughts and heart to the worship of Allah.
- For Men-It is Mandatory (Must) to perform Itikaaf in mosques so that they can pray five times a day in the congregation (Jamaat).
- For Women-If there is privacy and all the necessary facilities for the women in the mosque, they can also perform Itikaff in the mosques. Moreover, women can perform Itikaff at home as well, for this purpose they must choose a peaceful and quiet corner place in the house, away from all the unnecessary noise and interaction to stay devoted.
Step 2Gather All the Materials Needed
So you have known the great virtue of itikaaf and intend to perform this year. Basically, the question comes here of what to take along and what to leave behind? Take as little as you need only and try to live a full life of secrecy with Allah Subhaana Hu Wa Ta'aala to its fullest. Below is a list of things you must take along:
- The Holy Book of the Quran
- The Books of Hadiths
- Books of Tafseer
- A notebook
- A pen or pencil
- Clothes to change
- Oral hygiene care ie: toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
Always remember the purpose of Itikaaf is to spend time alone with Allah, worshipping Him and getting closer to Him. So, avoid taking such things along, which can divert your mind from the sole purpose of this ibadah.
Step 3 Taharat (Cleanliness)
Taharat refers to the state or quality of a person being clean inside out. Taharat includes keeping your surroundings and clothes clean, refraining from eating or drinking Haram, and saving your clothes from najasat. With an unclean body, one can not enter a mosque nor he can worship, and both of these conditions are mandatory for a Mu'takif to perform Itikaaf. That is why it is the utmost requirement for a Mu'takif to clean his body from any najasat. One must perform below mention tasks before making Niy'yah for Etikaff:
- Take a ghussal according to the Islamic Sharia
- Make Wudu
- Clip and file his nails
- Cut and comb his hair
- Wear nice clean clothes
Step 4 Niy'yah (Intention)
Among all the other basic requirements of worship, niy'yah is also a very important element. It is an Islamic concept in which the person makes an intention before doing an act for the sake of Allah Subhaana Hu Wa Ta'aala. Similarly, it is mandatory to make an intention for the Mu'takif before starting the Etikaaf. His heart must be pure and pious and he must say:
"بسم الله دخلت و عليه توكلت و نويت سنت الاعتكاف۔ اللهم افتح لي ابواب رحمتكك"
"With the Blessed Name of Allah have I entered (into the Masjid) and in Him have I placed my trust, and I have made the intention of the Sunnah of I’itikaf. O Allah open Your doors of Mercy upon me.”
This is how a Mu'takif is supposed to eventually begin his Etikaff and devote his mind and soul for the sake of Allah Subhaana Hu Ta'aala's worship.
Step 5 Reach the Mosque Before Maghrib Adhaan
If the Mu'takif is a male, he must reach the mosque before Maghrib Adhaan on the 20th of Ramadhan. But if the Mu'takif is a female she must settle down in the selected place at home to perform Itikaff before Iftaar. Because, after maghrib would therefore correspond to the 21st night of Ramadan, keeping in mind that the night comes before the day in the Islamic calendar. And, if you reach the mosque or settle down at home after Maghrib prayer it will be included as 21st Ramadhan, leaving only 9 days for Itikaaf.
Step 6 Worship
Worship is a blend of multiple ways to show and express, love and faith in Allah Subhaana Hu Wa Taa'la. Keeping this in mind, anything that is considered worship can be done during the 10 days of Etikaff. Worship for Etikaff basically includes:
- Obligatory Prayers Five Times a Day
- Recitation and Memorizing of Holy Quran
- Recitation of Durood
- Make Dua
- Read and Memorize Hadiths
- Offer Azkaar (Tasbeeh)
- Teaching and learning about Islam
- Reading of Tafseer
- Repentance (Ashtaghfar)
All these Azkaar will keep you committed to your purpose certainly. Moreover, this deed will be returned back to you on The Day of Judgment with a big reward if offered with adherence and faithfulness.
Step 7 Rise Up From Etikaff on Chand Raat
The Mu'takif should finally end his Etikaaf right after the confirmed moon sighting for The Month of Shawal (Chand Rat). Lastly, he must offer his Maghrib Prayer and leave the mosque.