Nigerian Muslims will join their counterparts in other countries to embark on spiritual seclusion in various central mosques as they enter the third phase of the holy month of Ramadan 1443 AH.
This spiritual seclusion, known as ‘i’tikaf, starts from the sunset of the 20th day of Ramadan and ends immediately after the new moon of Shawwal (the tenth month of the Islamic calendar) is sighted.
According to Islamic belief,I’tikaf protects from the evil consequences of excessive talking and also enhances concentration towards the worship of Allah.
Being the last ten days when worshipers engage more in Taraweeh, recitation of the Qur’an, remembrance of Allah, and so on, it also comprises the Lailatul Qadr (Night of Majesty), which, according to the Almighty Allah, is better than a thousand months.
Investigations carried out by Muslim News showed that Nigerian Muslims, like their counterparts across the globe, have expressed readiness and renewed their intentions to embark on this spiritual seclusion at various central mosques after a hiatus of two years.
Furthermore, those who have enough money have concluded all arrangements to perform ‘itikaf at the grand mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, when they go for Umrah (lesser Hajj) during the last ten days, which begins on Thursday (tonight).
It would be recalled that ‘itikaf was suspended in Nigeria and other countries including the two holy mosques for two years following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted economic and religious activities.
This medium reported how many central mosques were under lockdown and religious gatherings shut down in many major central mosques in Nigeria, which prevented Muslims from the opportunity to embark on ‘itikaf for nearly two years.
The suspension of ‘itikaf continued during Ramadan of 2021 as a precautionary measure to stem the spread of coronavirus, which has killed 2,061 and infected 164,588 Nigerians as of April 21, 2021.
Many, however, could not hide their excitement when the Nigerian government in early April 2022 lifted the COVID-19 restrictions and midnight curfew due to the declining number of cases during the beginning of Ramadan.
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Muslim News findings revealed that the ban lift gave mosque authorities across the country the opportunity to begin planning to accommodate fasting Muslims for ‘itikaf in their respective mosques, except for some mosques which have canceled ‘itikaf for this year due to other reasons.
The most expensive ‘itikaf
In a vox populi (vox-pop) conducted by our medium on social media handles, it emerged that the i’tikaf organised by the Lekki Muslim Ummah (LEMU), Victoria Island, Lagos is the most expensive, with the fee of N80,000 for registration, without feeding.
The Center only makes provision for a maximum number of 130 slots (80 males and 50 females).
Suleiman Opeyemi Musa’b who sent the infographics of LEMU’s ‘itikaf wrote, “LEMU is N80,000 excluding feeding.”
Following LEMU according to responses gathered from the vox pop is Clear Path Islamic Centre, also in Lekki, Lagos, which charges N40,000. It is not clear if this fee excludes feeding like that of LEMU.
Alhaji AbdulFatai Olajide, Publicity Secretary, LEMU, while speaking with Muslim News on Wednesday, said the community is prepared for the 2022 ‘itikaf.
According to him, “As usual, we are very prepared. And, we are always meticulous when it comes to events like that. 2019 was the last time we had ‘itikaf. We didn’t hold any of it in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. Now that the restrictions have been lifted, we are having our ‘itikaf for this year. We are taking a lot of precautions to ensure a hitch-free seclusion.”
Some of the restrictions, he said, are allowing only 130 participants. “Normally we have a capacity for over 300, but we are restricting the number to just 130 – 80 males, 50 females. There will still be social distancing even though the FG has canceled that”, he noted.
Clearing the air on the registration fee of N80,000, Alhaji Olajide stated that it was due to the economic situation of the country. “What we normally do during ‘itikaf is that we give people 24/7 power, with full AC and other amenities, so that people won’t have any reason to complain.
“As you know, electricity is epileptic now. That is why we’ll be running on generator throughout the last ten days of Ramadan. When we carried out our budgeting, diesel alone will consume about 5.2 million naira. Other logistics such as cleaning, water, and evacuation of the septic tank, among others are included. We’re doing this solely for the convenience of our participants.
Regarding feeding, Alhaji Olajide revealed that LEMU has adopted the service of food vendors since 2019, adding that, “we ensure that the prices of food are reasonable enough for every participant to be able to afford.”
Speaking further, “Before that time, we used to cook for them, which was a little bit challenging. For instance, if you have fried rice, and jollof rice alone on the menu list, some people might opt for beans and we can’t cook all kinds of food. So, in 2019, we decided to stop cooking ourselves and engage two notable eateries. They set up their shops in our dining hall, for participants to order different varieties and pay for them. People are happy about this development.
“The only thing we did back then and which we are still doing now is that we ensure that the prices of foods are reasonable for all participants, as little as N500 per meal.
On LEMU being the most expensive, he said he wasn’t surprised considering the location, serenity of their Mosque, and quality of services delivered to the participants.
“Naturally, LEMU mosque is the first purpose-built mosque in Lagos. In terms of cleanliness and other amenities, that’s why we are charging a premium; It’s understandable. No other mosque provides the kind of services we render,” he added.
Muslim News findings revealed that the registration fee is separated from feeding in other central mosques as well. However, even as registration is free in some cases, feeding comes with a cost.
Organisers of the ‘itikaf at Daaru Nai’m Central Mosque charge the sum of N30,000, according to Taofeeq Olatide Lawal, who expressed his willingness to perform the spiritual seclusion there.
“Daaru Nai’m Central Mosque is N30,000. But I don’t have the money. If someone can sponsor me, I will be happy. If I make it, it’s going to be my first ‘itikaf ever. Jazakumullahu khaeran in advance,” he noted.
Ishola AbdulLateef said there is nothing like registration and feeding fees at Jaaheed Central Mosque, Bayeiku, Ikorodu, Lagos.
“It is free, and there’s nothing like feeding fee, we eat from our own pockets,” he said.
At Al-Jaohara Mosque, Epe, Lagos State, the registration fee is N10,000, said Oladosu Tunde. While for Salafi Mosque, Ilorin, Kwara State capital, registration is N5,000 and feeding is N10,000, in the words of Ojuabere Tosho.
Findings also revealed that ‘itikaf at Sagamu Central Mosque, Ogun state attracts N10,000, which covers both registration and feeding, as noted by Alliu Ademola Sanni. However, Jimoh Olaojo said at Central Mosque, Ondo state, registration is free and feeding is N1,500 per day.
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Abdullah-Ahmed Hassan reported that Al-Usrah Masjid, Port Harcourt, Rivers State charges N5,000 for registration and N25,000 for feeding. For Da’wah Centre, Ijesha, Lagos State, the registration fee is N2,500, while feeding (sahur or Iftar only) attracts N8,000.
Speaking with Muslim News, the founder of Al-Usrah, Prof. Abdul Razaq Kilani revealed that ‘itikaf has been the tradition of their mosque for some years, adding, “We only had a temporary setback during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What we have done is to reactivate all our programmes for ‘itikaf such as awareness, registration, sanitation and preparation of the participants spiritually. We have a series of other programmes which we have started from the beginning of Ramadan. In shaa Allah, our ‘itikaf will be commencing tomorrow, Thursday.”
Kilani, a foremost Islamic scholar and preacher, explained that there are no restrictions on the numbers of participants expected at the mosque.
According to him, “There are many mosques in Port Harcourt that will also have their own ‘Itikaf. Because of that, we aren’t expecting overwhelming numbers that we won’t be able to cater for. That is why we didn’t put restrictions. *Our Mosque is a storey building*; the women will be using the upper part , while the men will be on the ground floor.”
Regarding feeding, Prof. Kilani noted that there are two options for participants, adding, “The first category are those who want to take their sahur and iftar from the source (the organisers). For the second category, they can buy their foods from vendors who are also at the venue. Those who are not interested in the above can also make their private arrangements. Our Mosque also allows that. All they need to do is register.”
“We have two sets of programmes. The normal taraweeh we do after Ishai. Then, from 2:00 am, we wake up for tahajud. During that period, we continue with the Qur’an recitation we started from the beginning of Ramadan. Also, we have daily tafsir, which is done in English. We live in an environment where we have people of diverse backgrounds. Using English will allow other ethnic groups to understand the message of the Qur’an. That has started since the beginning of Ramadan and in shaa Allah, it will continue during ‘itikaf,” he added.
Free i’tikaf in the north, south
We were also reliably informed that both registration and feeding are free in many northern and southern states, including Enugu and Kebbi States, among others.
This, we were told, is not unconnected to their poor living conditions, which requires financial support for the Muslim minorities in non-Muslims dominated states.
Ustadh Musa Ani, the Imam of Islamic Center Central Mosque, Uwani, Enugu said, “We don’t have such (registration and feeding fees) here. People will only indicate to perform ‘itikaf and provisions will be made for them based on the available resources at our disposal.”
About feeding arrangement, Imam Ani told Muslim News that it is being catered for by the mosque and the support they receive from some individuals and organisations.
According to him, this place isn’t like other States. We are the minority here and many of our people, especially the reverts need assistance both during and after Ramadan. There are times people don’t have money to buy foodstuff. Life isn’t easy generally for us here.
Imam Ani acknowledged the efforts of Muslim corps members who he said go extra miles in assisting the indigent Muslims during and after Ramadan.
“The corps members also do their best by providing food items to the indigent Muslims. They seek fund across the State to assist them, because their ‘alawee’ (stipends) cannot care for everything they really need. That’s why we’re calling on Muslims all over Nigeria to assist the Southern Muslims.
Activities During I’tikaf
A person, both male and female, doing i’tikaf should busy himself/herself with a lot of act of worship such as reading the noble Qur’an, remembrance of Allah, voluntary prayers, among others. Acts like backbiting, gossiping and all vain and forbidden utterances should be avoided during I’tikaf.
The mother of the Faithful, Aisha said, “The established conduct for a person in i’tikaf is that he doesn’t visit the sick, or attend a funeral prayer, he doesn’t have intercourse with his wife or embrace her in desire, he doesn’t go out of the mosque except in case of an unavoidable necessity…”
It’s however painful to see some places of I’tikaf becoming halls of discussion, story-telling, arguments, quarrels, unwarranted movement in and out of the mosques and siting in its surroundings without necessity. Entering of places of I’tikaf reserved for women, unnecessary free mixing and and exchange of messages with women folks. All these are actions that contradict the teachings of Allah’s Messenger.
However, there is nothing wrong with visiting receiving visitors in I’tikaf, especially visits by members of once family. Several sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) supported this. It must nevertheless be emphasised that the main objective of the Seclusion is to witness Lailatul-qadr (Night of Majesty) in prayer and devotion. Read more HERE
Allah has blessed the Muslims with Night of Majesty in Ramadan the most virtuous night of the year. It’s a night that is better than a thousand months and any action therein, for instance, reciting the Qur’an, is better than acting for one thousand months which do not contain the Night of Qadr.
Scholars hold different opinions as to the particular night, which is the Night of Qadr but the popular opinion, relying on the Sayings of the Prophet, says that it falls within the odd nights: 21, 23, 25, 27, 29 of Ramadan. The most popular opinion which is based on the tradition of Prophet Muhammad is 27th night of Ramadan.
Dua for Lailatul-qadr
‘A’isha said, “I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, if I know what night the Night of Power is, what do you think I should say during it?’ He said, ‘Say: “O Allah, You are Pardoning and you love pardon, so pardon me.”‘” (Tirmidhi)
اللْهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُعَنِّي
Allahumma innaka `afuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee
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