Friday, June 21, 2013


On: Solitude

This morning a friend sent me a text with two questions:

How does one seek and find solitude?
How does one become used to solitude and cope alone?

Solitude on the one hand is all around us and on the other hand we can never attain truly.

I have reflected on this myself in the past and continue to do so now in the present. Man on the one hand is a loner. Born alone, dies alone. On the other hand man is never alone because he is under the Watch of the Almighty Lord. Man is surrounded by angels; several of them. He is surrounded by living matter all the while. So a true solitude is something he never arrives at.

However if one defines solitude as the absence of other humans then that is a different matter. Much has been written by people of all times and a simple search will bring many things to the top. Solitude is important and we all need it from time to time. People need their 'space' to think, reflect and draw upon inner strengths. This is why so many people even to this day go into seclusion for period of days or months. Sometimes being around others can just be too much.

Here are some pointers which may help in approaching the two above questions:

1. Recognise that truly we are and never will be alone. Review your relationship with God Almighty. By accepting that He has Lordship over you, you will allow yourself to develop the understanding that He is your Guardian. This is a lifelong task and you will have moments of success and failure in achieving it. But the more you can open your heart towards the fact that you are under God's Care, the better you will get at grasping it's fruits. Some people call this Submission.

2. If we are never 'alone' then we cannot get used to 'coping' alone. The concept is void. Instead of trying to 'cope' by yourself, review your support structure. Nobody is an I-land. Looking at the example of the Prophet Alaislam reassures us that we do nothing wrong when we call on friends and family for assistance. In the absence of people, we have the Holy Text which provides instruction and develops the capacity within us to deal with life, universe and everything within it. For example the statement from Chapter 2 that "On no soul doth God Place a burden greater than it can bear." shows quite clearly how the Holy Text can provide a viable coping mechanism.

3. Simplify things by adopting the Prophetic narration:

Solitude is better than being in bad company, and being in good company is better than solitude. Saying what is good is better than silence, and silence is better than saying what is bad.

4. There is a difference between solitude and isolation. It was during the state of solitude that the Prophet had his first revelation - however he was not isolated as his wife Sayida Khadija would still bring him food. Solitude is empowering and isolation is disempowering. Solitude leads to reflection but isolation can lead to negative self-talk. Solitude can help attain a greater awareness of life but isolation can lead to withdrawal. Solitude helps us grow and become stronger spiritually but isolation can bring our faith in God Almighty down. Review exactly what it is you mean by the term solitude and if it sounds like isolation then abandon it.

5. Each of us has a different set of challenges to deal with. By focusing on our God-endowed strengths we can overcome, learn and grow. If we take a glance at the First Prophetic Revelation which occurs at Mount Hira, when Sayida Khadija consoles the Prophet Alaislam she says: "You keep good relations with your relatives, help the poor, serve your guests generously, and assist those hit with calamities." In so doing this she brings his strengths and good qualities to the forefront and believes firmly that God Almighty would always do things for the best. Implementation of this can emancipate an individual.

6. There are times when an individual is unable to deal with the circumstances they find themselves in and find it easier to shut others out of their life. If one finds that negative self-talk is taking over and the capacity to see one's strengths and blessings is diminishing, then it is advisable to seek talk therapy. If such a state continues unchecked, it can hinder one's personal growth and lead to emotional unstability. Both of these are health disaster zones.

Pictures: Almeria, 2005.

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