Itikaaf is a ritual Muslims observe during the fasting month of Ramadan.
ITIKAAF - A PAGAN RITUAL
Dear Muslim brothers! While of most of us know what ITIKAAF is, but very few us know about its origin. Prior to Islam, ‘ITIKAAF’ was a practice among the Pagans of Mecca to retire for a stipulated period in the Kaaba temple away from their family in order to devote themselves in remembrance of, and prayer to, the Lord. Muhammad Islamized this practice in the hope of persuading the Pagans to join Islam. And Itikaaf has been observed by Muslim men for the past 14 hundred years as an Islamic ritual during the holy month of Ramadan. The following hadiths give clear evidence that Itikaaf was a ritual of Pagans in pre-Islamic days:
'Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "O Allah's Apostle! I vowed in the Pre-Islamic period to perform Itikaf in Al-Masjid-al-Haram for one night." The Prophet said, "Fulfill your vow." So, he performed Itikaf for one night. (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:248 & 258-259)
LIMITS SET BY ALLAH REGARDING ITIKAAF
Allah tells his male followers in the Quran to refrain from sexual activities and close proximity during the observance of Itikaaf:
“While you are in Itikaaf in the mosques, do not have sexual relations with your wives; these are the limits set by Allah; So do not approach them. Thus Allah makes clear His signs to man-kind that they may be righteous.” (Quran Sura Baqara 2:187)
OBSERVANCE OF ITIKAAF: MODERN MUSLIMS vs MUHAMMAD
Dear brethren! We see during every Ramadan that some Muslim men from our locality, usually the elders, confine themselves into the mosque, usually for ten days, for the practice of ‘Itikaaf’. They isolate themselves from their family, and will not look at women even from the windows of the mosque. They even arrange screens around them to confine themselves inside it.
When a small boy, I had asked my father about the significance of ‘Itikaaf’. In reply he said, it is to seek Allah’s blessings for all the Muslims of that particular locality. After many years, when I studied Islamic scriptures, I realized that my dad’s answer was not correct. Instead, Muhammad had copied and imposed the ritual of Itikaaf on Muslims simply to protect himself from possible attack of his victims during the sacred month of Ramadan.
OUR ‘ SATYROMANIAC ’ PROPHET’S SUNNA ON ITIKAAF
After studying Islamic sources, I also realized that those, who engage themselves in Itikaaf, are just wasting their time. They think that they are following Muhammad’s Sunna by doing so. If they study Islamic sources, even as they sit in Itikaaf in mosque, they will never do it again. The fact is: The way they practice ITIKAAF is not how our holy prophet practiced it. If they really want to follow Muhammad’s Sunna, they should invite their wives to the mosque at ‘late night’ hours during their observance of Itikaaf.
Our loving prophet could not separate himself from women even while he was in Itikaaf. So, he kept aside Allah’s order (Quran 2:187) and invited his wives to the mosque at the dead of night to keep him company as the submerged himself in Itikaaf for repentance and Salvation.
- Aisha, the mother of the believers, combs Muhammad's head while he was observing ITIKAAF. (Sunan Abu Dawood, 2467-69)
- Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet used to embrace me during my menses. He also used to put his head out of the mosque while he was in Itikaaf, and I would wash it during my menses. (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:247)
- Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet and I used to take a bath from a single pot while we were Junub. During the menses, he used to order me to put on an Izar (dress worn below the waist) and used to fondle me. While in Itikaf, he used to bring his head near me and I would wash it while I used to be in my periods (menses). (Sahih Al-Bukhari 1:298)
- Narrated 'Ali bin Al-Husain from Safiya: Safiya went to the Prophet while he was in Itikaf. When she returned, the Prophet accompanied her walking. An Ansari man saw him. When the Prophet noticed him, he called him and said, "Come here. She is Safiya. (Sufyan a sub-narrator perhaps said that the Prophet had said, "This is Safiya"). And Satan circulates in the body of Adam's offspring as his blood circulates in it." (A sub-narrator asked Sufyan, "Did Safiya visit him at night?" He said, "Of course, at night.") (Sahih Al-bukhari 3:251, 254 & 255; Sunan Abu Dawood, 2470-71)
Dear Muslim brothers! Bear in mind that there was no electricity or proper lanterns during Muhammad’s time!
SATAN WANDERED IN MUHAMMAD’S MOSQUE DURING RAMADAN
Narrated 'Ali bin Al-Husain (from Safiya, the Prophet's wife): The wives of the Prophet were with him in the mosque (while he was in Itikaf) and then they departed and the Prophet said to Safiya bint Huyai, "Don't hurry up, for I shall accompany you," (and her dwelling was in the house of Usama). The Prophet went out and in the meantime two Ansari men met him and they looked at the Prophet and passed by. The Prophet said to them, "Come here. She is (my wife) Safiya bint Huyai." They replied, "Subhan Allah, (How dare we think of evil) O Allah's Apostle!" The Prophet replied, "Satan circulates in the human being as blood circulates in the body, and I was afraid lest Satan might insert an evil thought in your minds." (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:254)
Wait! Who Unchained the Satan? In the above hadith, Muhammad, while observing Itikaaf in the month of Ramadan, was sending his wife Safiya home, when two Sahaabas passed by them. And suspecting that they might have evil thoughts toward her due to influence of the Satan, he warned them that she was his wife. But this can not happen during Ramadan, because Muhammad himself said in another hadith that Satan is chained and impounded for the whole month of Ramadan.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained." (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:122-123, 4:497; Sahih Muslim 6:2361)
How could the prophet then worry that Satan could insert evil thoughts in the two Sahaaba’s mind toward his wife?
PURPOSE OF ITIKAAF: ACTUAL & FABLE
So far we have seen that every rite and ritual of our Islam had a purpose to benefit our prophet personally. So was Itikaaf. We have discussed in previous articles in this series that Muhammad felt very insecure during his self-declared sacred month of Ramadan. As he used to attack the Kafirs in their sacred months, he naturally expected that his victims would copy his tactic and attack him during his sacred month of Ramadan. So, to strengthen his safety and security, he linked his fable of receiving the first revelation from Jibreel on a day called ‘Laillatul Qadr’. He said that Itikaaf should be observed during ‘Laillatul Qadr’, but he forgot the exact date of it. So, he ordered his Sahaaba to confine themselves in his mosque for the observance of Itikaaf for the whole month of Ramadan, so that they will not miss the day of ‘Lailatul Qadr’. Thus, he secured his safety for the whole month of Ramadan.
DATES AND DURATION OF ITIKAAF
According to our Islamic fables, Itikaaf is to ‘seek’ the night of first revelation, the night of power, ‘Lailatul Qadr’. Why do we have to ‘seek’ this night every year, and why not Muhammad, who allegedly had an encounter with Jibreel on that night, could tell us? Please read the following hadith carefully and understand the catch on Muhammad’s security hidden in this hadith.
Narrated Abu Salama: ….. "Once Allah's Apostle performed I'tikaf (seclusion) on the first ten days of the month of Ramadan and we did the same with him. Gabriel came to him and said, 'The night you are looking for is ahead of you.' So the Prophet performed the I'tikaf in the middle (second) ten days of the month of Ramadan and we too performed I'tikaf with him. Gabriel came to him and said, 'The night which you are looking for is ahead of you.' In the morning of the 20th of Ramadan the Prophet delivered a sermon saying, 'Whoever has performed I'tikaf with me should continue it. I have been shown the Night of "Qadr", but have forgotten its date, but it is in the odd nights of the last ten nights……..." (Sahih Al-Bukhari 1:777)
A CHALLENGE TO OUR INTELLECT: According to this hadith, our ‘prophet’, who could predict the future, had forgotten the date of the first revelation he received from Jibreel, and he practiced Itikaaf to seek that night, because Allah says in the Quran that that night is equal to 1000 months. So, we Muslims have been seeking ‘Lailatul Qadr’ every year for the past 14 centuries, and yet failed to identify the exact date of that glorious night. If a child from kindergarten can remember his birthday, then why our ‘prophet’, who could even predict the future, failed to remember the most glorious night of his life? Then what is the purpose of calling him a ‘prophet’?
A prophet could not possibly ‘forget’ this event. At least, his wife Khadeejah, his cousin Ali and his friend Abu Bakr, who embraced Islam immediately after that day, could not forget this event? Were they also so forgetful like the prophet? Moreover, Jibreel used to visit Muhammad during the nights of entire month of Ramadan on every year till Muhammad’s death (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:126). Yet, Muhammad never bothered to ask Jibreel about this night, which is better than 1000 months and extremely beneficial to us Muslims. Muhammad could have been a stupid enough to not ask about the date from Jibreel, but how come Jibreel, the ‘post man’ of Allah, failed to inform Muhammad about the night of his first encounter with Muhammad, when Muhammad is trying so hard to seek it? Instead, the stupid and forgetful Jibreel, allegedly an angle of Allah, advised Muhammad in the above hadith to search ‘Lailatul Qadr’ for the whole 30 nights of Ramadan. Stupidity at its extreme, isn’t it?
Dear Muslim brothers! We are living beings with six senses. We are also the most intelligent in the kingdom of living beings. Where is our sanity, intelligence? Have we lost it all due to Islam?
Muhammad’s prattling about the duration of Itikaaf
Hadiths in this section can not be listed in full, as they are long. It is also my wish to make my Muslim brethren to make this opportunity to start your own research on Islam. These hadiths are available in the net, which you can easily find by searching using the hadith numbers I have given.
My Muslim brothers may immediately ignore my request, saying that these hadiths could be from Christians or Jewish websites and fabricated. As a pious Muslim, I too used to think in such a way when I started studying my beloved religion. But no my brothers, these hadiths are hosted by many Islamic websites for spreading the “deen” of Allah among the kuffars of the world. For Muslim brothers, who are keen on having an understanding of real Islam, please find these hadiths from Internet or from your Hadith books, and discover the level of our ignorance and unconditional slavery toward Islam. But don’t seek the suggestions from our Mullahs for ‘god sake’. You will get the answer “Don’t worry much about the books, that will weaken your ‘eemaan’ (faith), and just follow what we preach.”
WHAT OUR BRILLIANT PROPHET SAYS ON ITIKAAF?
Last 10 days of Ramadan (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:242-243)
Last 20 days of the month Ramadan (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:233, 235, 244, 252, 256,260)
All 30 days of Ramadan (Sahih Al-Bukhari 1:777)
10 days in the month of Shawwal (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:249-250 & 261)
Last 10 days of the month Shawwaal (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:257)
The above days are the possible days of Jibreel’s encounter with our prophet, which altogether makes about 60 days. To identify just one night (that never occurred) we Muslims have to sacrifice so many nights? The fable of his first encounter with Jibreel itself was a fabricated one, similar to other Islamic fables. Muhammad adopted Itikaaf from Pagans absolutely to secure himself from likely attack from his affected victims during his self-proclaimed ‘sacred’ month of Ramadan, nothing more.
DID MUHAMMAD OBLIGE TO ALLAH’S ORDER?
During pre-Islamic days, the so-called age of ignorance, Muhammad’s forefathers, relatives and tribesmen used to confine themselves in the Kaaba to isolate themselves from their family as part of the ritual of Itikaaf. Muhammad Islamized this practice and made it part of Islam in order to attract the people of his city toward his new cult. He did some amendments to it so as to give it Islamic look, for example by allowing men to perform this ritual alone. His disciples had to confine themselves away from their wives in his mosque to observe Itikaaf, which provided round-the-clock security for him. So, the verse came to sanctify his security:
“While you are in Itikaaf in the mosques, do not have sexual relations with your wives; these are the limits set by Allah; So do not approach them. Thus Allah makes clear His signs to mankind that they may be righteous.” (Quran, Sura Baqara 2:187)
PROPHET’S WAY: ITIKAAF WITH THE WIVES
As usual, instructions contained in above verse of Allah are meant for Muhammad’s followers only; Muhammad himself is exempt from it. There are many hadiths that show how his young wives used to visit their 60-year-old ‘young’ husband in his mosque during the dark hours of night (remember there no electricity in those days, not even lanterns) as he sat in Itikaaf. When Allah the most merciful gave his beloved prophet the sexual power of 30 men (see hadiths Sahih Al-Bukhari 1:268, 7:142), the prophet had to use it and Allah could not mind it, could he? So, even while he was in the ‘Itikaaf’, a period of great security concern, he was unable to control his attraction toward women.
- Narrated 'Aisha: One of the wives of Allah's Apostle practiced Itikaf with him while she had bleeding in between her periods and she would see red (blood) or yellowish traces, and sometimes we put a tray beneath her when she offered the prayer. (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:253)
- Narrated 'Urwa: Aisha during her menses used to comb and oil the hair of the Prophet while he used to be in Itikaf in the mosque. He would stretch out his head towards her while she was in her chamber. (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:262)
- Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet used to embrace me during my menses. He also used to put his head out of the mosque while he was in Itikaf, and I would wash it during my menses. (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:245-247)
This is how the prophet observed Itikaaf when the Quranic verse 2:187 demands that one must keep away (“do not approach”) from women. In other words, the Prophet used to enjoy the company of his wives while observing Itihaaf, but his disciples had to completely separate themselves from their women and stay in his mosque to comply with his fabricated verse 2:187, thus, ensuring his security.
FIGHTING AMONGST MUHAMMAD’S WIVES TO JOIN HIM IN THE MOSQUE DURING ITIKAAF
Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, this heading may surprise you. You may wonder: How come Muhammad’s wives would fight over a ritual that doesn’t allows Muslim men to stay with their wives? As said above, all instructions in the Quran are for obeying by the stupid followers of Muhammad, not Muhammad himself. There are many verses in the Quran, whose commands and demands were violated by Muhammad. For example, our Quran allows Muslim men to marry up to four wives and do justice between them (Quran, Sura An-Nisaa 4:3 & 4:129), but that number was not sufficient for him and he created a new verses to give him license to marry as many wives and have outside-of-marriage sex with as many women as Muhammad liked. Some Arab scholars say, Muhammad had 65 official marriages based information from Islamic literatures that are yet to be translated into other languages from Arabic. According to the available translated Islamic scriptures for the non-Arabs, Muhammad had 15 official wives, besides the countless concubine sex-slaves. Some Hadiths say, out of the 15 official wives, Muhammad had eleven wives at one time and he used to have sex with all of them on the same night (Sahih Al-Bukhari 1:268, 7:142). Wow! What a strength that our prophet had at his 60’s. Subhanallah!
When the Prophet could violate the commands of the Quranic verses like that—such as in the case of number of wives or the observance of Itikaaf—even a petulant child will understand who was really the Allah behind the production of the Quran!
The eleven wives of prophet were divided between two rival camps with Aisha, Hafsa, Safiya and Sauda in one team led by Aisha, and Umm Salma, Zainab inth Jahsh, Malika and Mariya in another captained by Umm Salma. Muhammad knew all these but he was unable to unite them till his death. Maybe he was taking advantage of the situation. As Aisha, his ‘little’ child bride, knew almost every secrets of him, Muhammad openly supported her team out of fear as well as for the fact that two most powerful persons after him in Islam were Aisha’s father Abu Bakr and Hafsa’s father Umar.
MUHAMMAD FEARED AISHA
Muhammad could not spend a day without Aisha. But it was not because he loved her so much, but for political reasons, although he was very fond of her because of her tender age. She was so ‘cleaver’ that Muhammad was afraid to leave her alone for a day. A strong clique was formed among Aisha, her father Abu Bakr, Hafsa and her father Umar seeking to topple him any time. So Muhammad always stayed close to Aisha and took her along even during his Jihad raids. So, during his Itikaaf, Muhammad kept Aisha with him in the mosque. And Aisha, as leader of her team, allowed Hafsa and Safiyya to join also and spend their time with him during Itikaaf.
Once problem arose when Muhammad invited his beautiful wife Zainab bint Jahsh (Muhammad’s ex-daughter-in-law), belonging to the other camp, or she came along to compete with Aisha. Aisha used to hate Zainab because of jealousy toward her superb beauty. When Muhammad realized that Aisha was unhappy about Zainab’s presence, he cancelled his Itikaaf that year. (read the story below)
SEEKING LAILATUL QADR IN SHAWWAL, NOT RAMADAN—THANKS TO FIGHTING BETWEEN WIVES
In this way Muhammad treated the ‘jumbo’ team of his wives ‘equally’ and abide to these Quranic verses on equal treatment of wives.
- "And …marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one..." (Quran 4:3)
- “And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination, so that you leave her as it were in suspense; and if you effect a reconciliation and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful”. (Quran 4:129)
It seems from the above verses that Allah himself was not sure about treating the wives equally. When first verse was revealed, probably when Muhammad did not have so many wives, Allah (?) thought all the wives can be treated equally. Later when he had too many wives and he felt inclination toward the most beautiful and young ones, or had to incline toward Aisha due to the politics issue, Allah cancelled the requirement of equal treatment of verse 4:3 and revealed a new verse (4:129) allowing Muhammad to treat his wives unequally.
Here I gave one hadith out of many on the fighting among Muhammad’s wives:
Narrated 'Amra: Aisha said, "The Prophet used to practice Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan and I used to pitch a tent for him, and after offering the morning prayer, he used to enter the tent." Hafsa asked the permission of 'Aisha to pitch a tent for her and she allowed her and she pitched her tent. When Zainab bint Jahsh saw it, she pitched another tent. In the morning the Prophet noticed the tents. He said, 'What is this?" He was told of the whole situation. Then the Prophet said, "Do you think that they intended to do righteousness by doing this?" He therefore abandoned the Itikaf in that month and practiced Itikaf for ten days in the month of Shawwal." (Sahih Al-Bukhari 3:249, 250, 257 & 261)
(I recommend my brethren to read all these interesting hadiths from internet.)
From the above hadith, you may have noticed that Muhammad have shifted his ‘Itikaaf’ from to the month of Ramadan to the following month (Shawwal), while his Sahaaba observed Itikaaf in the risky month of Ramadan at his mosque to ensure his security. According to Allah, Jibreel and Muhammad himself, the purpose of observing Itikaaf is to meet the night of power, ‘Lailatul Qadr’, which falls in the month of Ramadan. Then what was Muhammad’s point of shifting his Itikaaf to the month of Shawwal? What game Muhammad played with our intelligence? Or is it that Muhammad suspected that Jibreel could have come with the first revelation in the month of Shawwal, instead of Ramadan?
Because we Muslims care little to read our scriptures, not even the Quran, in a language we understand, our Mullahs find it easy to brainwash us ignorants with a few feel-good hadiths picked from here and there. But if we study the scriptures by ourselves, we will find that there are too much craps with very little gems in it.
If you are planning to engage in Itikaaf this year, I urge you to read this article a second time before taking the decision. At least there may be some change in the mode of your observing Itikaaf this year as you may—in order to emulate the prophet—bring your lovely wife along to join you in your observance of Itikaaf.
In the next final article on ‘The Third Pillar of Islam’, I’ll discuss the issue of ‘The Night of Power’ (‘Lailatul Qadr’).
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4A | Part 4B | Part 4C | Part 4D | Part 4E | Part 4F | Part 4G | Part 4H | Part 5A | Part 5B | Part 5C | Part 5D | Part 5E | Part 5F | Part 5G | Part 5H | Part 5I | Part 5J | Part 5K | Part 5L | Part 5M