Soldier of Allah 

9. Qiyam or Taraweeh Prayer

Allah Ta'aala has made the five prayers a day obligatory on the Muslims, He due to His grace made the reward thereof fifty folds. He also encourages the believers to perform supererogatory or Nafl prayers. Among which is the night prayer which falls between midnight and dawn. Allah praised those who engage themselves in prayer at that time of night: 'Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they spend (in charity in Allah's cause) out of what We have bestowed on them. (Qur'an: As-Sajdah, 32/16).

The Prophet (peace be on him) said: "The best prayer next to obligatory is the night prayer." (Muslim)

Of the night prayer is Witr, minimum of which is one and maximum is eleven.

Performing night prayer in Ramadan is far more superior to that performed in a different month by virtue of the recommendation of the Prophet (peace be on him) said: "He who performs night prayer in Ramadan with faith in Allah, in the great reward for it and in seeking such reward will have his past sins forgiven." (Bukhari).

Taraweeh prayer is considered of the night prayer in Ramadan, therefor one should take good care of it.

Allah's Messenger (peace be on him) said: "Whoever stood to pray (Taraweeh) in Ramadan with perfect faith and seeking reward, he will have his previous sins forgiven." (Agreed upon)

To pray Taraweeh in Jama'ah (congregation) is Sunnah initiated by our beloved Prophet (peace be on him), and revived by the Second Rightly Guided Khalifah Umar (May Allah be pleased with him). Though there is a difference of opinion among the scholars in the past of how many Rak'ah Taraweeh should be, but all of them unanimously agreed that the best is to apply the Sunnah of performing it eleven Rak;aat only. The Prophet (peace be on him) did not pray more than eleven Rak'aat in Ramadan or other month. Aa'isha (May Allah please with her), the wife of the Prophet (peace be on him) said: "The Prophet (peace be on him) never prayed more than eleven Rak'aat in the night neither in Ramadan nor, in any other month." (Bukhari & Muslim).

The full reward of Taraweeh is obtained only when it is performed in Jama'ah. The person who performs it in Jama'ah will be considered, according to authentic Tradition, as if he spent the rest of that night praying.

I'tikaf (Seclusion in the Masjid) is a Sunnah ( Part of the religion):

* Seclusion (I'tikaf) is a Sunnah which can be made objectively at any time, though the best and proper time for it is during the last ten days of Ramadan at Mosques in isolation away from earthly ambitions and people communications and complete devotion to the worship of Allah. Period of seclusion ends by the termination of the last day of Ramadan on the eve of the Feast.

* The main purpose of I'tikaf is to confine oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations, leaving the worldly jobs for a limited number of days in the last ten days of Ramadan. Hence, according to the Sunnah one should exert more as regards prayers and good deeds in the last ten days of Ramadan.

Narrated 'Aisha (May Allah pleased with her): " With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace be on him) used to tighten his belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No.241, Vol.3)

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar (May Allah pleased with him) : "Allah's Messenger (peace be on him) used to practice I'tikaf in the last ten days of the month of Ramadan." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No.242, Vol.3)

Narrated 'Aisha (May Allah pleased with her) the wife of the Prophet (peace be on him): "The Prophet (peace be on him) used to practice I'tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died; and then his wives used to practice I'tikaf after him. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 243, Vol.3)

* According to Shari'ah, I'tikaf means staying in the Masjid (Mosque) with the intention of drawing himself closer to Allah.

* All the scholars agree that it is Mashru (a legitimate part of Islam) because: The Prophet (peace be on him) used to stay in the Masjid, the last ten days of Ramadan until he died, then his wives used to do the same after him." (Agreed upon)

* I'tikaf is of two kinds: Supererogatory (Masnun) and Compulsory (Wajib).

The Masnun kind is what a Muslim does voluntarily, in order to get closer to Allah and to follow the Messenger (peace be on him) and it is especially recommended during the last ten days of Ramadan.

The Wajib I'tikaf is what a person makes compulsory upon himself by a vow (Nadhr).

* The time to begin I'tikaf: "The Prophet (peace be on him) if he intended to perform I'tikaf, used to pray Fajr, then enter the area he set aside for I'tikaf in the Masjid." (Agreed upon)

* Necessary conditions for practicing I'tikaf: The person should be Muslim, having reached the age of discernment, purified from Janaba and menses and post-partum bleeding.

* The basic element of I'tikaf: Staying in the Masjid with the intention of getting closer to Allah.

* What is permitted to do while in I'tikaf:

1. Going out from the place of I'tikaf to bid farewell to his family.
2. Combing his hair, shaving his head, clipping his nails, cleaning his body, perfuming, and wearing the best of clothing.
3. To go out of the Masjid for pressing necessities like using the toilet, or to eat and drink, if no one brings him food.
4. It is permitted to eat and drink and sleep in the Masjid with the proper care taken to maintain its cleanliness.
* Etiquettes of I'tikaf : 'Aisha (May please with her) said: "The Sunnah for one in I'tikaf is not to leave the Masjid to visit the sick, nor to attend a burial, nor to touch a woman nor to have sex with her, and not to leave the Masjid except for unavoidable need; and there is no I'tikaf without fasting; and there is no I'tikaf except in a Masjid where Jumu'ah (Friday prayer) is established." (Baihaqi and Abu Dawud)

* Things which nullify I'tikaf:
1. Leaving the Masjid without need intentionally.
2. Losing one's rationality through insanity or drunkenness.
3. Menstruation and post-partum bleeding.
The Virtues of the Last Ten Days of Ramadan and Lailat-ul-Qadr:

It has been reported that the Prophet (peace be on him) used to put extra effort on his devotion in the last ten days of Ramadan. He used to awake his family in the night that they may not lose the benefit of those blessed nights. It is also reported that he used to make I'tikaf by spending the last ten days in the Masjid.

As for Lailat-ul-Qadr, which then interpreted into English means the night of honour and decree. It is erroneously translated into the night of power. The Prophet (peace be on him) recommended to be sought in the last ten days of Ramadan. The night is valued better than a thousand months spent in devotion to Allah. One of the privileges of this night is that the Qur'an was revealed in it. In it too, the angles descend to earth with blessings, goodness and mercy. It is peaceful night in which many are saved from Hell. Forgiveness of the past sins is granted to those who spend it busying themselves in prayer and the remembrance of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Seek it in the odd nights of the last third of Ramadan."

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas (May Allah pleased with him) The Prophet (peace be on him) said: "Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan (i.e. 21,23, 25, 27 and 29 respectively)." [3:238-OB]

One must not miss the great advantages and expectation of the most blessing Night "Al-Qadr", mentioned by the Most Merciful Allah in the Holy Scripture:

"Verily, We have sent it ( this Qu'an) down in the night of Al-Qadr, and what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is? the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand Months, (i.e. worshiping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand Months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months). Therein descend the angles and the Ruh[Jibril (Gabril)] by Allah permission with all Decrees. (All that night) there is Peace and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of Dawn. (Sura X CVII. Al-Qadr)

It is quoted in Tradition "He who spends the Night of Decree in worship, will receive forgiveness for all his previous sins".

Zakat - Ul- Fitr *(For more details about this subject look under Zakat) :

At the end of Ramadan a certain kind of Zakat is enjoined on the fasting Muslims to be paid to the poor provided that they have enough food for themselves and their families for the day and night of the feast. For everybody of the family one (Sa') is due to be paid out of the following varieties of food: wheat, barley, dates, raisins, dried milk or the like such as corn, rice etc. The best time for paying this Zakat is on the day of the feast before the Feast (Eid) prayer. One or two days before the Feast are also permissible, so that everybody, whether rich or poor, may have joy in the feast.

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