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THE VIRTUES OF I’TIKAAF AND SEARCHING FOR LAYLATUL-QADR

IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL

BEING THE THIRD KHUTBAH FOR THE MONTH OF RAMADAN

16/RAMADAN /1444AH (7TH /APRIL/2023CE)

THE VIRTUES OF I’TIKAAF AND SEARCHING FOR LAYLATUL-QADR

FIRST KHUTBAH

All Praises belong to Allah, who favored the Ummah of Muhammad, (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) with the fast of Ramadhaan, over other ummahs before it. We praise Him, we thank Him, we believe in Him, and put our trust in Him. Whomever Allah guides is the one who is rightly guided, and he whom He lets go astray has no guide. I testify that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah alone. He has no partner. And I testify that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. O Allah! Bless and bestow peace on him, his family, his companions, and those who follow them in goodness until the Day of Judgment.

Thereafter… Servants of Allah! I enjoin you and myself with the fear of Allah Almighty, for it is the intent of all acts of worship. Indeed, Allah Ta’aalaa says: (يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ) “O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)” (Al-Baqarah: 21).

Brothers in Faith! This is the third meeting in the blessed month of Ramadhaan, and just before the last ten days of the month. Therefore, the theme of our sermon today revolves around the virtue of i’tikaaf and seeking Laylatal-Qadr.

Dear Muslims! I’tikaaf during Ramadhaan is one of the great acts of worship in which a muslim immerses himself in a combination of acts of worship: fasting, praying, remembrance of Allah, reciting the Qur’aan, while reducing the distractions and amusements of the world and things that harden the heart.

And the recommendation of i’tikaaf, and its virtue is established in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. This recommendation suffices as a proof of its excellence and status. The Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) remained upon it to the extent that when he did not do it in some years, he made up for it in Shawwaal.

I’tikaaf has lofty goals and objectives, and it is (like) a training school, and a place for worship, meditation and reflection. Some people who are busy with some responsibilities make the mistake of thinking that these important tasks and responsibilities are justifications for leaving i’tikaaf! However, the greater the responsibility of a person, the greater his need for i’tikaaf, and the more apparent its effect on him.

And the benefits of i’tikaaf is general to both the young and the old, the rich and the poor, male and female, for each one of them has a part and a share of the benefit of i’tikaaf, and whoever leaves it has been deprived of a great deal of good.

I’tikaaf is legitimate throughout the year, and it is not specific to Ramadan, but Ramadan is the best of its days, and the best of them are the last ten days of it, as the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, used to do in order to seek Laylat al-Qadr, and for other purposes, including solitude for worship, and focusing the heart on acts of obedience, and for this reasons, it is legislated for other than Ramadan. That is why we say to those who went out after thinking that they had witnessed the honorable night! If it is destined that you really witnessed it, then you have realized a lot of good, but you neglected a lot of good as well.

The least time required to stay in i’tikaf is a night, and there is no limit for the maximum time, there is also no clear valid evidence for the requirement of fasting with it, that is, it is valid without fasting. And its place is the mosque, based on the evidence of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Among the jurists are those who are strict in its conditions and duties, which made it difficult and arduous, and only the specifically endowed can do it. They have no basis in many of the conditions and duties they mentioned. Others were loosely about them, that they even said that whoever sits in the mosque for a moment has performed i’tikaaf if he intended to do so. But these people did not take into account its purposes, goals, the essence of its legislation, and the rulings specific to it. The truth is a middle ground between the two parties, taking into account the evidences in that regard, and the goals for which it was legislated, as well as what the Prophet, peace be upon him observed and the salaf, without exaggeration or negligence, paying attention to the ease and tolerance of Sharia.

The wives of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and may Allah be pleased with them, were keen to revive the Sunnah of i’tikaaf and to continue it after the death of the Prophet, peace be upon him. It confirms the legitimacy of i’tikaf for women, and a mahram is not required for that purpose, but what is important is the safety from sedition, and getting the husband’s permission.

And when the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw that his wives had come out for i’tikaaf from what had prescribed for him, and they were turning it to a field of competition over closeness to their husband, he disliked that, and said: ((‘Is it righteousness that you seek))? That is, this act of theirs is not the deed of someone who wants righteousness and strives for it, then he made his decisive decision; he did not perform the i’tikaf, he observed it in Shawwal.

And in this is an evidence that i’tikaf was legislated for some specific purposes and objectives, if the one performing I’tikaaf deviates from them, his I’tikaaf is not acceptable.  If they had believed God, it would have been better for them.

And the attitude of some of those who perform i’tikaaf  today, what the prophet, peace be upon him, said to the mothers of the believers, is truly fit them, so it is said to them: ‘Is it righteousness that you seek? If they are honest with Allah, it would have been better for them.

So it is befitting for us to follow the example of our Prophet, peace be upon him, and not to waste those blessed nights and days, and to be focused on the purposes of i’tikaaf, and whenever we see what could reduce or diminish it, we turn away from it.

THE SECOND SERMON

Blessed, Pure and abundant praises belong to Allah. I seek blessings and peace on the one who was sent as a mercy to the worlds, our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.

Thereafter,

Among the most important purposes of i’tikaaf is the seeking of the Night of Power, and its honour reached such a high status before Allah that the Qur’an was revealed in it. (“إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ (1) وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ (2) لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ) “Indeed, ˹it is˺ We ˹Who˺ sent this ˹Quran˺ down on the Night of Glory. And what will make you realize what the Night of Glory is? The Night of Glory is better than a thousand months.” (Suratul Qadr: 1-3) (إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنْذِرِينَ) “Indeed, We sent it down on a blessed night,1 for We always warn ˹against evil” (Surat ad-Dukhan: 3), and this indicates the honor of the revealed verse, and the status of the night in which it was revealed.

The virtue of this night and the generality of its goodness and the elevation of its status cannot be comprehended by the minds. Otherwise, how can one night, which does not exceed – sometimes – a few hours would be better than eighty-three years, even more, and we do not know the amount of this addition, no there is no room for the human mind in such facts brought by the definitive texts, except that it submits to them, and believes in them, without doubt or suspicion, and Allah’s supremacy comes all other things become irrelevant.

Despite the greatness of this bounty whose nature could not comprehended, nor its depth fathomed, there are those who still neglect it out of ignorance or procrastination (ومن يهن الله فما له من مكرم) “And whoever Allah disgraces, none can honour” (Al-Hajj: 18)

It is not a surprise; the grace of Allah, His generosity, and the vastness of His giving (قَالُوا أَتَعْجَبِينَ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ رَحْمَتُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ إِنَّهُ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ) “They responded, “Are you astonished by Allah’s decree? May Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you, O  people of this house. Indeed, He is Praiseworthy, All-Glorious.” (Hud: 73) The real surprise is the ignorance of the son of Adam, his negligence, his weak mind and understanding, and his wasting of those opportunities that he will regret when regret is of no use. So will those in their slumber wake up? And would the heedless pay attention? And would the excessive make a redress? As long as there is room in the term, and there is still remain in life. What is gone is lost, take advantage of what is left before it is said: Impossible, simply impossible.

​ Dear servants of Allah, our obligation is to turn to Allah- the Mighty and Majestic – sincerely, with prayer, recitation, dhikr, repenting to Him from our sins, asking Him – Glory be to Him – for wellness, hoping for His mercy, hoping for His bounty and great reward. On the authority of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Prophet, peace be upon him, who said: “Whosoever stands up for prayer during Laylatul Qadr, believing in and expecting his reward from Allah Almighty, his past sins will be forgiven.” [ Agreed upon.].

Among what we should take care of in this night, Laylat al-Qadr, is to be plentiful in supplication. In al-Tirmidhi, Aisha – may Allah be pleased with her – said: reported that she said to the Prophet : “O Prophet of Allah! If I am blessed to witness Laylatul Qadr, what should be my prayer?” The Prophet replied: “Say: (اللهم إنك عفو تحب العفو فاعف عني) ‘Allahumma innaka afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni’,”

meaning: O Allah Almighty! You are Oft-Forgiving and You love Forgiveness. Please forgive me. [Tirmidhi.]

Servants of Allah, the Prophet – peace be upon him – used to strive during these ten days in obedience, worship, and drawing closer to God with in a manner that he did not strive in other days. In Sahih Muslim, on the authority of Aisha – may Allah be pleased with her – she said: “The Messenger of Allah – peace be upon him – used to strive in these ten days as he did not strive in others. It was also proven in the Two Sahihs on her authority, may Allah be pleased with her, that she said: “When the last ten days (of Ramadan) would come, the Prophet ﷺ would exert himself and tighten his Izaar (waistcloth), spend his nights in worship and awaken his family (at night).” [Bukhari.]. Dear servants of Allah, these are times of diligence and striving, spending and giving, and an eagerness to worship Allah, recitation of His Book, remembrance of Him – may He be glorified and exalted -, performing prayers, and drawing closer to Him with all kinds of acts of worship and obedience.

Which nights are the Night of Power? On the authority of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Search for Laylatul Qadr on the odd nights of the last ten days of the month of Ramadan.” [ Agreed upon.] Some of the scholars, after studying several ahadith concerning Laylatul Qadr, said that it alternates among the odd nights.?

It is desirable to search for it in the odd days of the last ten days of Ramadan, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to strive to search for it during the last ten days of Ramadan. Scholars have opinions regarding specifying this night, some of them said that it is the twenty first (21st) night, some said it is the twenty-third (23rd), while some said that it is the twenty-fifth (25th), and some said that it is the twenty-ninth (29th) night, some said that it alternates among the odd nights of the last ten days. Most of them said that it is twenty-seventh (27th) night.

Finally, dear servants of Allah, do not forget your Palestinian brothers in your righteous supplications in these virtuous times. Ask Allah to set them free from the Zionists’ aggression who torment them day and night, especially in the blessed month of Ramadan, as they do every Ramadan. Where the Israeli occupation forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque at dawn on Wednesday and assaulted the worshipers inside there, they arrested more than 500 Palestinians, the Israeli police assaulted by beating those observing solat, those performing I’tikaf, and those reading the Quran, including women, at the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as binding the legs of those arrested, as they also destroyed the mosque’s properties, and desecrated the sanctity of the place and time!!! To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return!!! We call on all the free people of the world to advance the cause of Al-Aqsa and Palestine, for it is the cause of every free person, and there is no room for any lethargy, laziness, or doubts. Oh Allah, grant victory to our oppressed Palestinian brothers and all Muslims everywhere.

Supplication: May lead us and you to do righteous deeds, and maximize the times, and attain the highest ranks. We ask Him to make the month end for us in best manner. Praise be to Allah, the lord of the worlds. Oh Allah, we ask you for forgiveness and wellness, O Allah, we ask you for forgiveness and wellness in religion, this world and the hereafter, O Allah, you are the pardoner, you love forgiveness, so forgive us, O Allah, you are the pardoner, you love forgiveness, so forgive us, O Allah, you are the pardoner, you love forgiveness, so forgive us. O Allah, O Possessor of Majesty and Honor, O Living, O Subsistent, O lord of expanse in favour, O Great Giver, we ask You, O Living, O Subsistent, to make us reach the Night of Qadr, and to help us attain the greatest reward, and the most abundant reward, and not to make us among Your deprived servants, O Possessor of Majesty and Honor. And we ask you, O Living, O Sustainer, not to leave us to ourselves even for a blink of an eye, and to take our forelocks to goodness. You are the Hearer of supplication, and you are the possessor of hope, and you are sufficient for us, and the best disposer of affairs.

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