During Ramadan, Muslims from around the world do more to intensify their spirituality, some by seclusion in the masjid in the last ten days of the sacred month. Itikaaf is a practice consisting of a period of staying in a masjid for a certain number of days, devoting oneself to ibadah during these days and abstaining from worldly affairs.
In the Mother city, the community of Parkwood sees a number of men from the community that perform itikaaf there every year. *Mogamed Moosa who has performed itikaaf for many years says that he performs this every year because it gives him a sense of brotherhood.
“I tried itikaaf when I was still in school. There was a group of us and we did it together. To this day, many of us still meet up. There was this good comradely between us,” said a very nostalgic Moosa.
While itikaaf serves to improve one’s character through sacrificing one’s daily worldly pleasures, Moosa says it’s the sense of brotherhood and the human connections that impacts him the most.
“When we look at brotherhood in Islam we look at the Prophet (PBUH). The sahaba at the time were from different parts of the world and for me brotherhood in this day is felt during the time of itikaaf.”
At the masjid when the men come in to perform itikaaf they bring their bedding and other necessities. Their food is taken care of by the masjid. Anwa Doovey who has been performing itikaaf for 16 years and manages the day to day at the masjid says that during this period the men get together sharing whatever they have at the time of ‘boeka’.
“At the time of breaking fast someone brings dates, another will bring donuts and one maybe has savouries then we put all of that together and we share it. Even when it comes to cleaning up everyone will get together and do it,” he explained.
It is not common to hear that youth are flocking to the masjid to perform itikaaf, however 23 year old student Umar Blake makes it his Ramadan goal to perform itikaaf.
“I have done itikaaf many times before. Each time I try and bring a new person with me and Alhamdullilah that way we slowly try and grow the youth involvement in big events like these,” said Blake.
Blake emphasised that the atmosphere of brotherhood is what makes him come every year.
“Every time, you feel a sense of brotherhood at the masjid. Like when it comes to the final days of the recitation of the Quran, the youngsters get a chance to read in front for Taraweeh.”
Maulana Ismaeel Toefee who has observed the variety of men performing itikaaf has said that there are very few youth who perform itikaaf.
“Unfortunately not many of our youth are performing itikaaf. I think that the idea of being secluded and being in a corner is throwing them off. And that’s the purpose of itikaaf…it’s a spiritual personal reformation for one’s self.”
Moulana Toefee said that we need to engage youth to understand that itikaaf is for all.
“There needs to be activities to encourage them like allowing them to recite in the last few days in leading of Taraweeh and even put a theme to itikaaf. We are in the holiday season, so we make dua a lot more youth part take in itikaaf,” Moulana encouraged. VOC (Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed)