MSM Sister’s participation in the annual iʿtikaf held by Minhaj-ul-Quran International

With the Grace and Blessings of Allah Almighty Minhaj-ul-Quran International has the honour of hosting one of the largest itikaf gatherings in the world. Sitting in itikaf is often associated with the older generation who often have more free time to devote ten days in seclusion. Whilst this may be the case in general, an unprecedented aspect of the ‘Minhaj Itikaf City’ is that it is made up of thousands of youngsters. Most of these participants register through the vast Minhaj Youth League network as well as the Mustafavi Students Movement (MSM) in Pakistan, which is the student wing of MQI. This year, once again under the guidance of the Minhaj Women League, the MSM sisters are attending in full force with hundreds already registered. The MSM was set up in 1994 and is active in universities, colleges, schools and religious institutes all over the country. This year students attending itikaf are from more than 25 different universities. Due to their large numbers and to ensure that their specific needs are catered for, they are being accommodated together in a separate complex.

This year Ramadan has fallen during the revision and board examinations period. However, despite this, the students have shown immense determination and are attending in large numbers for as many days as possible (siting in nafali itikaf) to benefit from the manifold blessings of these last ten days. One of the main objectives of sitting in itikaf is to seclude oneself from worldly pleasures and the attractions of the dunya. This then causes the heart to empty from frivolous and unnecessary thoughts, which can then allow the love of Allah Almighty to enter and help achieve His nearness and marifaat.

However, with the proliferation of many types of social media platforms, the youth of today are particularly vulnerable to following social trends that are often detrimental to both their physical and mental health. There is an immense pressure for example to look and dress in a certain way, listen to particular kinds of music and imitate an often-unattainable celebrity look. Failure to do so can lead to ridicule from one’s friends and peers, creating a feeling of despair and disappointment at failure, which can ultimately lead to serious physical and mental health problems. Therefore, a primary aim of itikaf for the youth is to provide them with spiritual training and motivation to ensure they remain steadfast in the deen and understand what their priorities in life should be.

This year’s itikaf lectures by Shaykh-ul-Islam are aimed at purifying the soul and providing solid foundations for individuals to be able to live in the dunya but allow their minds and hearts to remain firmly attached to Allah and His Rusool (peace be upon him). With this in mind the MSM sisters have a team of 36 special coordinators who have travelled from all over Pakistan to implement a special training program for the rest of the youth siting in itikaf. This special training program during itikaf includes arranging specific workshops and talks on improving confidence and creating character and team building skills. The sisters also have their own tailor-made dhikr circles, fiqh classes tackling specific issues related particularly to the youth as well as an emphasis on learning spiritual techniques to purify the soul.

The society we live in today has created manifest pressures upon the younger generation to behave in certain ways that are often at odds with Islamic teachings and morality. Therefore, sitting in ten days seclusion, away from worldly affairs, is a wonderful time to take a break from the daily pressures of life, to reflect on ones goals and objectives and then become recharged and re-focussed to face the challenges of life. May Allah Almighty accept the heard endeavours of all of the brothers and sisters involved in the Minhaj Youth League and the Mustafavi Students Movement.

Dr Ghazala Hassan Qadri