Isolation and its positive effects
If applied with a correct understanding, isolation can be most beneficial.
Ibn Taymiyah said:
“At times, it is necessary for the worshipper to be isolated from others in order to pray, remember Allah, recite the Qur’an, and evaluate himself and his deeds. Also, isolation allows one to supplicate, seek forgiveness, stay away from evil, and so on.”
Ibn al-Jawzi dedicated three chapters of his well-known book
Savd al-Khatir to this topic. He said:
“I have not seen or heard of anything that brings repose, honor, and dignity as much as seclusion does. It helps one to stay away from evil, it protects one’s honor, and it saves time. It keeps one away from the jealous minded and those who take pleasure in your affliction. It promotes the remembrance of the Hereafter, and it allows one to reflect on the meeting with Allah. In times of seclusion, one’s thoughts may roam in that which is beneficial, in that which contains wisdom…”
Only Allah knows the full benefits of seclusion, for in seclusion, one’s mind develops, views are ripened, the heart finds repose, and one finds himself to be in an ideal atmosphere for worship. By remaining isolated at times, one distances himself from trials, from flattering the person who deserves no praise, and from the eyes of jealous and envious persons. One is saved from the haughtiness of the proud and the follies of the idiot. In isolation, one’s faults, deeds, and sayings are all secluded behind a veil.
During periods of isolation, one is able to delve deep into a sea of ideas and concepts. In such a state, the mind is free to form its opinions. Isolated from the company of others, the soul is free to achieve a state of rapture and to hunt for the stimulating thought.
When alone, one does nothing for show or ostentation, since none but Allah sees him, and since none but Allah hears him.
Every person who was a genius, a mental giant, or a great contributor to the human race watered the seeds of his greatness from the well of isolation, until the seed became a plant, and then finally, a formidable tree.
Al-Qadi `Ali ibn `Abdul `Aziz al-Jurjani said:
“I never tasted the sweetness of life until
1 became a companion of home and book,
There is nothing more honorable than knowledge, so I seek in no other an associate,
Truly, the only degradation is in mixing with people, Therefore leave them and live nobly and stately.” Another said:
“I found company in my solitude and I remained fervently in my home,
So felicity was perpetual for me and my happiness grew, I have severed human relations and I couldn’t care, whether the army has gone forth or the president has given us a visit!
Ahmad ibn Khaleel al-Hanbali said:
“Whoever strives for dignity and comfort?
From a long and tedious anxiety,
Let him be one of the people,
And be contented with a little.
As long as one lives unwholesomely,
How can he find pleasure in life?
Between being poked by the deceitful
And giving flattery to the conceited,
Between tolerating the jealous
And forbearing the stingy,
Woe to becoming acquainted with
People, and with all of their ways and follies.”
Another poet said,
“Meeting with people brings about no benefit,
Except with the increase of, `it has been said’, and, `he said,’ So spend less time in conversing with others, though barring, The acquirement of knowledge or the improvement of one’s condition.”
Ibn Faris said:
“They asked how I was, and I said, well, and thank you, a need is fulfilled and another is neglected,
When distress is such that my heart becomes constricted, I say that perhaps one day will bring with it some aid, my comrade is my cat and my soul’s companions are my books, and the object of my love is my night-lantern.”