Women’s participation in the annual iʿtikaf held by Minhaj-ul-Quran International
As the last ten days of Ramadan quickly approaches, Minhaj-ul-Quran International will once again be hosting its annual spiritual retreat where thousands of Muslims descend upon its headquarters to sit in collective iʿtikāf. This ten-day spiritual retreat is one of the biggest in the world and has been held at the Jamia-ul-Minhaj Mosque, Baghdad Town, Lahore for nearly thirty years. Under the spiritual patronage of his Holiness Tahir Allauddin al-Gillani al-Qadri, the participants sit in the blessed company of his Eminence Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri and listen to his lectures and talks, receiving beautiful pearls of wisdom and guidance. Perhaps one (of many) of its most unique features is that it is not only men who sit here in iʿtikāf, but women and children also attend this spiritual gathering for ten consecutive days. The sisters are accommodated in completely separate facilities, segregated from the men and are hosted by the Minhaj College for Women.
By the Grace of Allah Almighty the Minhaj Women League has a vast organizational network of sisters spread over hundreds of cities through-out Pakistan. Teams of these sisters arrive, not only to sit and enjoy the benefits of iʿtikāf themselves, but also to serve and assist the thousands of other sisters during their stay. They are also supported by the students of the Minhaj College for Women, who very kindly give up their holidays during the last ten days of Ramadan and take care of all the attendees. Different committees are created to ensure that every aspect of their stay is as comfortable as possible. The logistics for example of ensuring that thousands of women are served suhur or iftar simultaneously and within a limited time frame is quite staggering. Yet Al-ḥamdu lil-lāh through excellent discipline and the cooperation of the participants, the teams of sisters do a wonderful job of catering for the needs of everyone. In order to ensure the well-being of all present, there is also a team of doctors’ present around the clock to ensure medical treatment is readily available as well as female security teams inside the complex to safeguard everyone.
During the ten days of iʿtikāf as well as listening to the inspiring talks of Shaykh-ul-Islam, a beautiful spiritual training program is provided to the sisters to ensure that they are able to fully benefit from this period of seclusion. This includes praying collective salat-ul-tasbih and tarawih prayers; engaging in remembrance of Allah circles and sending salutations upon the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). There are also Quranic, tajweed, tafseer and fiqh classes as well as sessions on different Islamic subjects according to age and education and need. The Minhaj Women’s League have their own team of female scholars who impart this crucial spiritual and academic training to the sister’s during the ten days of iʿtikāf. Along with the presence of the many Minhaj qurrā and nasheed artists who travel from all over Pakistan to provide their melodious voices during the nightly spiritual sessions, these special ten nights are not to be missed. May Allah Almighty accept the hard endeavours of not only those who are privileged to sit in iʿtikāf during these ten blessed days and nights, but also bless all the brothers and sisters involved in making this collective ‘iʿtikāf city’ possible.
Dr Ghazala Hassan Qadri
Quranic, tajweed, tafseer and fiqh classes