Lahore: Women’s Itikaf Camp 2013

Lahore: The spiritual atmosphere at Itikaf City at the sister’s side was indescribable. Mo’takifaat sisters started their Itikaf with the sole intention to please Almighty Allah, and to dedicate the next ten days to Him. The sisters gained invaluable Islamic knowledge whilst attending the I’tikaf that cannot be compared to sitting at home and worshiping alone. Indeed, Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) has said:

“Performing the prayers in congregation is 27 times more rewarding than when one performs them alone.” (Reported by Ibn Majah, at-Tirmidhi, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal.)

Therefore the amount of knowledge one gains in congregation cannot be achieved at home. Seeking true knowledge of Islam and allowing it to become a part of one’s heart and mind is an extremely important aspect of our Itikaf, which is why Minhaj ul Qur’an Women’s League designed a special ten days syllabus which is taught by esteemed scholars (sisters) from all over Pakistan. The sessions were extremely well managed and based on the Irfan ul Qur’an; the Holy Qur’an translated by Dr Tahir ul Qadri in various languages including Urdu, English and Norwegian.

A uniform schedule was followed scrupulously throughout the ten days to ensure that the sisters were given time for their own individual prayers, as well as collective prayers, Mehfil e Naat, Mehfil e Dhikr and time for rest.

The day began with the prayer of Salat ul Tahajud (the voluntary prayer before dawn) and then having Suhoor. The Mo’takifaat sisters then offered Fajr prayer and attended the Halaqa-e-Durood Mehfil, did their own wazaif etc. At precisely 11 am, the Sound Committee, along with the room heads, woke the sisters up who, after performing ablution, offered their nawafils (optional prayers) and headed to their assigned groups where scholars were able to teach them the syllabus designed especially for the ten days of Itikaf. The syllabus consisted of Fiqh; Selected Hadith’s which are relevant to the topics selected by the Scholars; and they were taught the Tafseer of selected verses of the Holy Qur’an. Immediately after, Salat ul Zuhr was offered, the Mo’takifaat werere given the chance to perform individual prayers and wazaif.

Collective Salat ul Tasbeeh then began at 4.15 pm, and at 5.00pm Salat ul Asr was offered; followed by a collective Mehfil e Dhikr and Naat. Each day a different Naat Council led the Mehfil, so that everyone was able to appreciate the variety and different styles of the Naat Councils from up and down the country. Whilst the Mo’takifaat became deeply subdued in glorifying Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) and were engaged in the Dhikr of Almighty Allah, organisers rushed around to prepare the Iftar for the sisters. The extremely satisfying Iftar consisted of food (the menu changed on daily basis), dates, ice/cold water and tea, which arrived at the door of every block and was graciously received by the Mess Committee and the Khidmat Committee. The sisters returned to their rooms reciting Durood Sharif loudly and continued with their wazaif as they waited for their Iftar to be delivered by the respective Committees.

After Iftar, Salat ul Maghrib was offered, as well as other nawafils, up until Salat ul Isha and Taraweeh. Taraweeh ended around 11 am and then Mehfil e Dhikr was conducted for half an hour which, in the dark of the night, illuminated the hearts of the Mo’takifaat. Throughout the day, the sisters patiently waited for the end of the night, around this time the excitement in the air was tangible for the eagerly anticipated moment when Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri would arrive to deliver his lectures. This lecture was the most important part of the Itikaf routine as the Mo’takifaat, both sisters and brothers, were given direct guidance through the teachings of Shaykh ul Islam.

The first lecture of Shaykh-ul-Islam discussed the acquisition of productive knowledge, which is the only way to regain our lost glory. The first night was also the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS). Therefore Shaykh-ul-Islam focused on the teachings of Sayyidina Ali (RadhiAllahu ‘Anhu) in relation to seeking knowledge.

Shaykh-ul-Islam focused on the importance of seeking knowledge and how this could be done by seeking the company of the ‘Aalim-e-Rabbani’; the one that has the true knowledge of Islam and has implemented it within his heart, soul and mind. He emphasized the importance of rejecting worldly desires to enlighten one’s self with the light of religion. He stressed the importance of staying away from those people who did not spread the true message of Islam, as seeking knowledge from such people would lead to one’s downfall.

In the next lecture, following on from this topic, Shaykh ul Islam highlighted how our society had fallen immensely. Not only due to the fact that people have strayed from religion, but also due to the corrupt practices and the society’s hopeless attitude towards countering corruption. He said that there is no denying the fact that we are living in an age of mischief, which explains why killing and terrorism are so pervasive. Concluding his speech, he asked people to side with the forces of truth without giving a hoot to what majority of people thought in order to revive Islam within and around us.

With the message of Shaykh-ul-Islam fresh in the hearts of the Mo’takifaat, the sisters, with their faith and determination charged, returned to their allocated areas for Suhoor, thoroughly aware of the duty that fell on their shoulders in reviving Islamic practices and values.

‘Teach a man and you have taught him for life, teach a woman and you have taught a generation.’