The last ten days of Ramadhan gain more reverence due to the presence of Layla-tul-Qadr (discussed in my previous blog), and the observance of I'tikaf.
The literary meaning of I'tikaf is "to remain in a particular place". It is a ten days of self-imposed continuous penance we undertake, completely detaching ourself from the world, to appease the Almighty, have our heart-felt desires fulfilled and be blessed with innumerous rewards in our life and after it.
There are certain strict guidelines and conditions for I'tikaf but vital among them are to Fast during it, be completely detached from the world, confine ourself to a particular corner allotted only for this purpose and immerse ourself in piety and prayers. We are however allowed to spare ourselves in matters of great importance and urgency, with the condition to attend only to it and return immediately on its completion.
It becomes applicable from the eve of the 21st day of Fasting, and is binding till
the crescent of Eid(festival) is sighted. Though all those who Fast are free to do it, but for the sake of ease for the community, even if one person undertakes it, the entire neighbourhood is relieved from its binding.
This ritual imbibes in us traits of self restriction and harnesses tolerance, makes us understand the superficiality of the world by detaching us from it at length and helps us review our priorities.
Truly Allah provides guidance and understanding to all those who seek it. Verily, He is very understanding, most merciful.