The in vogue concept among the Muslim community is that a person confines in a mosque for Etekaaf by stretching out a coverlet and remains occupied in a corner of a mosque. S/he does nothing except repeating the words of the Quran day and night or remains sleeping. This is absolutely non-Quranic. And negates the true essence of Islam. Islam does never impart the teaching of such type of monasticism or worship.
There is no mention of such kind of Etekaaf in the Quran. The words - Ya'akofoon (7:138), Aakefu (22:25); Aakefun (20:97); Aakefoon (2:187); Aakefeen 2:125; 20:91; 26:71 and Ma'akoofun (48:25) - have come in the Quran. The words - Aakefoon and Aakefeen - have come at five places (as given against these words in the brackets above) in the Quran, where the meanings are: "continuously and steadfastly go on doing a work".
About Kaaba, it has been said in the Quran that it is for "Taa-i-feen, wal-Aakefeen"
(2:125). Here "Aak-i-feen" means such a group of people who does not keep the humanity unkempt and tossed, but keeps its environ set, in order by tying it up in a relation, and continuously remains busy in this very noble cause - with this bliss enjoyed, its members take their way on. (Lexicographic and conceptual meanings projecting the ideas of the Quran will follow later on.)
In the very verses numbered above, there has neither been any order given to the Muslims for sitting in Etekaaf by stretching out a coverlet, remaining occupied in a corner of a mosque, repeating the words of the Quran day and night, -or remain sleeping. Nor has any aspect of its honor been described in the Quran. In the aforementioned verses given under (2:187 and 2:125), nothing more has been given except that there is a direction for those "Aak-i-feen Fil-Masaajid (2:187)" And nothing else. The meanings of "Aak-i-feen Fil-Masaajid" (2:187) are - those taking up their abode punctually in the mosque, those harboring in the mosques, those having a firm footing in the mosques. Who are these "Aak-i-feen Fil-Masaajid (2:187)" whose mention has, by the way, been made in the injunctions of fasting? In order to understand it - without getting bogged down in its detail - keep this point in mind that fasting is, in fact, a Training Course for developing self-control and endurance in the Muslims. And the mosques are the locus standi in the national life of the Muslims. In connection with fasting, the mosques here mean the Training Centers.
Then understand this point that in this annual refreshing course, there may necessarily be some people, who may be staying in the training centers during the night hours for the accomplishment of some urgent matters. As has been given in detail in the verses given in connection with fasting in the Quran that those (i.e. the general fasting persons), taking part in this Training Course, have been ordered not to eat and drink and not to cohabit with their wives for the whole day. They have been permitted therein that they can go to their wives during night hours (when there is no fasting at night). But contrary to the general fasting persons, those who have been assigned certain duties and have been detained in masjids, during night hours, should remain away from their wives during night hours. This is neither limited to ten days, nor to the last days of Ramadan. It depends upon the System to observe as to how many days or how long this System detains a person in the Training Centers or Camps during the night hours. It is this - the exposition and the perspective of this verse of the Quran("Aak-i-feen Fil-Masaajid (2:187)". Since this System has eluded our observations, and all maters are being carried out just as traditional worship; hence this vestige of Etekaaf is being acted upon - just a ritual convention in vogue among us.
Don't you sense monasticism glistening vividly in the type of Etekaaf the Mullah preaches? Do you think confining of a man/woman in a mosque for sometimes, far away from the hurly-burly of life, remaining busy in the prayer (worship) of Allah all the time would serve the purpose of Islam?. Do you understand Islam and the Quran impart such type of teaching of monasticism?
* Stay for a while and recapitulate the System of Islam and the place of Fasting in it