On one occasion, Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) was in i’tikaaf in Masjidun Nabawi when a person came to him and sat down after greeting him with salaam. When Sayyiduna Ibnu ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) looked at the person, he observed that he was worried and anxious. He thus asked him, “O so-and-so! I see that you are overcome by grief and worry! (What is the matter?)”
The man replied, “Yes, O cousin of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! I owe so-and-so an outstanding debt, and I am unable to settle it (and that is the reason for my worry and anxiety)!” Sayyiduna Ibnu ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) offered, “Shall I speak to him on your behalf (requesting him to grant you some form of respite)?” The man replied, “(Yes,) if you wish.” Sayyiduna Ibnu ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) thus stood and left the masjid.
As he left the masjid, the man reminded him, “Have you forgotten that you are in i’tikaaf? (i.e. by leaving the masjid, your i’tikaaf has broken.)” Sayyiduna Ibnu ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) replied, “No, (I have not forgotten).”
Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) then looked towards the blessed grave of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), and with eyes filled with tears (out of the pain of being separated from his beloved [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam]), he said, “(The reason why I have broken my i’tikaaf is that) I heard the blessed person in this grave (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) mention, ‘The one who goes out to attend to the need of his Muslim brother, and he succeeds in fulfilling the need, then this is better (and more rewarding) for him than remaining in i’tikaaf for ten years, and (the reward of) the one who sits in i’tikaaf for a single day, seeking the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala, is that Allah Ta‘ala will place three trenches between him and Jahannam – each trench as vast as the distance between the east and the west.’”
(Shu‘abul Imaan #3679)
1. While sitting in i’tikaaf is extremely rewarding and whoever can manage to do so must certainly take the benefit of this great ‘ibaadah, it may not be possible for every person to do so. However, giving some assistance to a person in need is something which every person will be able to fulfil, according to his own means. Hence, we should ensure that we avail of such opportunities.
2. A true believer cannot rest in comfort while others around him are in difficulty and distress. Rather, a true believer will have the urge to help and assist in any way possible – even if it be through engaging in du‘aa for that person.
3. In order for a person to progress in Deen, it is necessary for him to know what is the most important thing for him to do at any given moment. For example, if one wishes to go for ‘umrah, but his mother requires him to stay with her and look after her, then his progress lies in him remaining with his mother and serving her with love and care. In this regard, it is important for us to refer to the ‘Ulama as they possess the necessary knowledge of Deen to guide us and show us our priorities.
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