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Offline Reader Questions

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« on: August 12, 2012, 06:50:46 AM »

Salam br. Joseph

What is the concept of Itikaaf in the last 10 days of Ramadan from the Quran?

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Itikaaf
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2012, 06:55:18 AM »
Salamun Alaikum,

As per a similar question I received on my Facebook page today, 'akifuna' is mentioned in verse 2:187 where it is clearly understood as a seclusion / a place of retreat / stay that believers made to the mosques in the month of Ramadan.

I would personally highly encourage as much devotion and reflection as possible in this month, even at mosques if it helps one to contemplate better. However, this has nothing to do with searching for a 'blessed night' or only committing such devotion in the last ten nights of Ramadan.

Such beliefs are based on secondary sources. There is no 'shortcut' to salvation. One must seek to consistently strive and Ramadan is no different.

Also on a side note, the role of a 'masjid' is often misunderstood from a classical / Quranic perspective. I share my humble views on this below, not as a cue for debate, but to part with my humble perspective.


When we study classical sources, it is best to think of these places as if one is present in 7th century Arabia in the middle of the desert and not to think in terms of modern day mosques. Ancient mosques were used for a multitude of societal purposes and not like many today that only open their doors for prayers.

First, we need to understand the role of a Mosque from the Quran. If one reads verse 2:125, it is clear what the purpose of the ancient house that Prophet Abraham built intended to provide:

  • A place of return (mathabatan) - a place of visitation, a resort
  • A place of security (aman) - where one finds refuge, protection, assistance.
  • A place of seclusion, stay, attachment, to give one self up to in purpose, to be devoted, to be resident (akifina). This is also supported by verse 2:187 (akifuna fil-masajid)
  • A place of worship - ruku (bow) and sujud (prostrate).

The verb 'akafa' in Arabic can clearly imply residency or to inhabit. This is quite appropriate if one considers 7th century Arabia where most things moved on land at the gait of a camel or at best, a horse. It is quite probable that people may have flocked to the Sacred Mosque from distant places during the month of Ramadan and stayed there as residents with their families for a while by pitching tents or whatever manner they established residency.

This is supported by the following verse:

As to those who have rejected (God), and would keep back (men) from the Way of God, and from the Sacred Mosque, which We have made (open) to (all) mankind - equal is the dweller there / inhabitant (Arabic: akifu) and the visitor from the country - and any whose purpose therein is profanity or wrong-doing - them will We cause to taste of a most Grievous Penalty.

Akifuna is simply a masculine plural term which in Arabic would include women too. But today, it is not unheard of to know of women being discouraged from mosques completely.

Verse 2:187 clearly establishes the permission of intimacy in the nights of the fasts BUT it prohibits it for those that are 'akif' at the mosques. (Staying at the mosques temporarily).

So the rights of intimacy granted do not apply to those that have residency at the mosques, whether it is for 'mathabatan', 'aman' or whether they have come to stay for sustained worship.

I hope that helps, God willing.
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell

Offline Reader Questions

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Re: Itikaaf
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2012, 10:43:41 PM »
The following comment was posted on Joseph Islam's Facebook Page by 'Wakas'.
The comment and alternative perspective has been allowed to be reproduced below at brother Joseph's request. However, this is NOT to be seen as Joseph Islam's SANCTION or ENDORSEMENT of any views in the article. Readers may discern for themselves the assumptions used by the author (Wakas) and whether the evidence cited to support the case has any merit.

Dear Joseph, salaam,

Verse 2:125 does not use the word "masjid".

Re: the apparent practice of "staying/devoting in the Mosque" is not explicitly mentioned elsewhere in Quran, but you have made an interesting deduction. I have decided to include it in my article: