The practice of the Prophet during the Last Ten Nights
‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported: “When the last ten days of Ramadan came, the Prophet would stay up all night, wake his family and gird his loins”. [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]. In the book of Imaam Muslim the narration read: “He strove hard and girded his loins”. Imaam Ibn Hajar said: “His staying all night was in worship and acts of obedience, and the reason he woke his family was for them to pray the optional night prayers, and girding his loins referred to him abstaining from sleeping with his wives”
‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported: “The Prophet used to strive hard (in worship) during the last ten days of Ramadan in a way that he did not strive at any other times.” [Muslim]
Zaynab Bint Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported: “Whenever the last ten nights of Ramadan came, the Prophet would not leave any member of his family who could physically pray the night prayers but would wake them up.” [At-Tirmithi]
The Way of the Prophet in I’tikaaf
‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported: “The Prophet used to do I’tikaaf (residing in the mosque with the intention of worship) during the last ten days of Ramadan until he passed away, then his wives did I’tikaaf after him”
Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “The Prophet used to do I’tikaaf during the last ten days of Ramadan” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported: “When the Prophet wanted to do I’tikaaf, he would pray Fajr, then enter the place where he was to do I’tikaaf” [Al-Bukhari and Muslims]
Once the Prophet wanted to do I’tikaaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan, so he commanded a small tent be placed for him in the mosque. Zaynab, may Allah be pleased with her, also commanded a tent be placed for her for I’tikaaf, and after that other wives of the Prophet commanded likewise. After he prayed the Fajr prayer he noticed the tents and commanded his tent to be removed and did not resume I’tikaaf the remaining part of Ramadan, and instead he went into I’tikaaf the first ten nights of the month of Shawwaal. This proves that he had a special isolated area away form the people for I’tikaaf that was enough only for him.
Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “The Messenger of Allah used to perform I’tikaaf every year in the month of Ramadan for ten days, and when it was the year of his death, he stayed in I’tikaaf for twenty days”. [Al-Bukhari]
Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet said: “Seek Laylatul-Qadr (i.e. the night of decree) in the last ten days of Ramadan” [Al-Bukhari]
Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allah did I’tikaaf during the first ten days of Ramadan, then he did I’tikaaf during the middle ten days in a Turkish tent [a circular structure] in which a mat was placed. He said: “So he took the mat in his hand and put it at the side of the tent, then he raised his head to speak to the people, so they came closer to him. He said: “I did I’tikaaf during the first ten days, seeking this night, then I did I’tikaaf during the middle ten days. Then someone came to me and told me that it is in the last ten days, so whoever among you wants to do I’tikaaf, let him do so.” So the people did I’tikaaf with him. He said: “I was shown an odd-numbered night, in the morning of which I was prostrating in mud and water”. Then in the morning of the twenty-first, he got up to pray the Fajr prayer and it was raining; the roof of the mosque leaked, and there was mud and water. He came out when he had finished praying, and there was mud and water on his forehead and nose. That was the morning of the twenty-first, one of the last ten days. [Muslim]
Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet said: “Whoever stays up praying during Laylatul-Qadr (i.e. in prayer) out of faith and in the hope of Allah’s reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported: “When the Messenger of Allah was in I’tikaaf, he inclined his head towards me and I combed his hair whilst I was on my menses inside my room (i.e. which overlooked the mosque), and he did not enter the house except for a need (i.e. relieving himself).” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim] He would walk his wives back home if any of them visited him in the mosque during I’tikaaf.
Al-Husayn Ibn Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “Safiyyah the wife of the Prophet came and visited him during his I’tikaaf in the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan. She spoke with him for a while, then she stood up to go home. The Prophet stood up with her to walk her back, then when she reached the door of the mosque, by the door of Umm Salamah, two men of the Ansaar passed by and greeted the Prophet and rapidly moved away.The Prophet said to them: “Wait, this is Safiyyah bint Huyay.” They said: “Subhaanallaah, O Messenger of Allah!” They felt distressed (that he thought they might think something bad). The Prophet said: “The devil is as close to a man as his blood.” In another report: “The devil flows through the veins of a man like blood. I was afraid that the devil might cast some evil ideas into your hearts.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “Whenever the Prophet was in I’tikaaf, a mat would be placed for him and a bed, and if he went out to use the bathroom, he would not talk to anyone, and his I’tikaaf area was small, unlike what some ignorant people do by making their area fit ten people so that they can receive visitors. This is contrary to the manner of the Prophet’s I’tikaaf”