Sunday, August 04, 2013
Ramadan 2013 - Day 25, Itikaf
Things are starting to quiet down since we are in the last ten days of Ramadan. This is because Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to worship more during these last ten days, even praying all night. So many Muslims dedicate more time to prayer on the last 10 days of Ramadan. If I have this right, prayer and doing good deeds at this time gives greater rewards in Heaven than at any other time. My Muslim friends are at the mosques a lot more now so I can’t hang out with them during the evenings. So for a non-Muslim like me things are simply quieting down. The fasting schedule is starting to wear me out as well - all of this sleeping during the day is messing me up again.
Some Muslims do a kind of 10-day spiritual retreat known as “Itikaf”. The time is spent worshiping, performing extra prayers, and reciting the Qur’an. Some Muslims practically live in the mosque for those 10 days and I've heard that some Qataris book vacation time from work to perform Itikaf. Many mosques will remain open for 24 hours a day so people can perform Itikaf.
There is also a belief that during the last 10 days of Ramadan there is a special night known as Laylat Al-Qadr. Prayers during Laylat Al-Qadr are worth 1000 months of prayer (Qur’an, sura 97:3). However it is not known ahead of time which night of the last 10 of Ramadan that Laylat Al-Qadr falls on (I am a bit confused on this point as I'm not sure how then people determine after-the-fact which night it was). This also encourages people to devote themselves to prayer on the last 10 nights, so they don't miss Laylat Al-Qadr.
Anyway I leave on vacation tomorrow night so I’d better prepare. The Qur’an says you don’t have to fast while you're traveling so I don't think I worry about my fast once I reach the airport.