In solitude, there is sweetness.
In solitude, while intently pondering over your state and your situation, you chance upon thoughts that have gone unnoticed. Perhaps these thoughts were inactive, they lingered in your mind but were buried somewhere in the chaos that is life. Contemplation awakened these thoughts, made you conscious of them and acutely aware of their existence.
In the quietness in which your own thoughts are your company, you are made to reflect introspectively and ponder over weighty matters, at times arriving at profound conclusions. And what amazing – indeed essential – reflections one may arrive at, what meaningful ruminations one may engage in, when they are in the company of none save themselves, when their unadulterated voice shines through, when truth is brought to the fore and one may see situations as they truly are. For is it not the case that one must step away from a situation they are engrossed in to see the bigger picture? Is it not true that distance gives one perspective?
So too, you can contemplate and ponder over your actions; you can implore Allaah and remember Him much; you can repent and shed tears for sins past and present; you can taste the beauty of the Qur’aan in your heart and upon your tongue; you can ruminate upon the noble ones of the past and how they reached such a lofty standing; you can make clear your flaws, reveal your shortcomings and begin the rectification process.
Perhaps you will be of the fortunate, if Allaah wills it, who shall begin to taste the words of Ibn Al Qayyim, rahimahullaah, when he stated:
The contemplative believer who remembers Allah will begin to enjoy solitude and places of seclusion where voices and movements are hushed. There he will find strength of heart and will, and he will no longer be worried or depressed. Then he will begin to taste the sweetness of worship, of which he cannot have enough. In it, he will find abundance of pleasure and comfort – more than what he used to find in diversion and play, or in the satisfaction of worldly desires. (Madaarij As-Saalikeen)
There is beauty in this. There is truth in this.
Ours is a changing society, and one in which people are routinely connected and incessantly wired. People are so connected through different means and so fixated on receiving the latest updates that they do not know what it means to be alone. It is a foreign concept; for even when they are physically alone, in essence, they still remain in the company of others.
Many people constantly covet company – they wish to be surrounded by friends and engaged in conversation often and much. They yearn for this and some may even fear the opposite reality, or think it strange. Some are uncomfortable with silences, and perhaps others may fear the raw truth that may spring from solitude – truths about themselves they would rather not face. Realize the ascendancy of being alone at times and do not fear it, for its benefits are immense.
Solitude leads us to self-evaluation and allows us to take ourselves to account – a process we should willingly engage in, before it is forcibly done to us upon death’s arrival. Getting distracted by the trappings of this life is so easy (and surely it is made to look ever-appealing by the one who disguises evil for good and harm for fun, na’oothubillaah), whereas self-evaluation requires effort and discipline. We need to stop and ask ourselves fundamental questions. Where are you going, O Muslims? Allaah ‘azza wa jall asks in the Qur’aan:
What path are you traversing, and where shall it lead you? Moreover, what is the state of your connection with Allaah? How do you spend your time, and with whom? Solitude provides an ideal environment for such essential musings.
And yet self-evaluation can only be beneficial if one is honest with themselves. In many ways, solitude is an environment in which honesty flourishes, for it is easier to truthfully examine our character while being alone than it is while in the presence of others. Being alone is an opportune setting for self-discovery and bringing to light our faults. However, it does not go unnoticed that some lie even to themselves, glazing over their faults and remaining blind to their true reality. Perhaps they have bought into a lofty self-image or cannot come to terms with their failures, so they simply do not address them. We should remember that it is only when we have a clear and earnest picture of ourselves and have admitted our shortcomings, that we can take the next crucial step to rectify them and by doing so, draw closer to Allaah.
We do not say flee from the people, but we say do not deprive yourself from the sweetness that comes from solitude. Do not get so immersed in the affairs of others that you forget to think of your own affair. Embrace the quiet that comes with such isolation, and yet, perhaps that in itself is a misnomer for the quiet soon becomes overtaken by your voice. Perhaps you are not used to intently listening to your thoughts, but we urge you to listen to them – for they may reveal a truth that you have seldom seen.