I just came back from 5 days of Itikaf (voluntary retreat for the purpose of worship)

The masjid that I was at, Masjid Al-Farooq was just recently opened (it used to be like a small house, now its a two million dollar facility (partially finished) just in time for Ramadan. The old masjid is 18 years old so far.

It was a beautiful experience. I urge all of you who have the opportunity to go, to go!
First of all, you will meet wonderful people, insha’Allah, who are more practising than yourself. You will have the opportunity to sit with them and to see them waking up for prayers and constantly reading Quran and making personal sacrifice for the sake of Allah.

You will also meet those who are not so fortunate that they can take time off for itikaf, yet they still are willing to sacrifice their sleep and come to pray at night. It is amazing and heart warming to see those who come and stay for the entire taraweeh prayer, leaving around 11pm, and then returning the next day between 3 to 5am to worship Allah, AND THEN to go to work between 8 to 10am.

Now, I was also amazed at the sheer number of people that come for Qiyam and Suhoor and Fajr during this week. It was outstanding. There was literally at least 60-100 people every night. It makes you realize that if you don’t wake up to pray, then tons of others are going to do it and replace you. There were also kind souls who brought us Somali tea everyday at taraweeh and qiyam 🙂

I also learned something I didn’t know about being in the masjid – namely one that worldly talk is not allowed.

I was also sad about a few things…

I also felt that itikaf is not really the time to be listening to the Quran, say, on your MP3 player, or iPod, but rather, it’s the time to be in active worship of Allah.

That also, Allahu Alem, it is better for you to stand up and pray at night rather than sitting at the back and reading Quran along with the imam.

Even reading the Quran in prayer is not recommended, and Ibn Uthaymeen even said it is contrary to the sunnah to hold the mushaf during prayer because it means you are fiddling and making more movements, and also because you will not be concentrating on the place of sujood (prostration).