The Miracle of Solitude
“Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him” (Muslim).
The world today is experiencing a huge phenomenon, one that hasn’t been experienced in our lifetime. Overnight, freedoms have been taken away, leaving some isolated, others without work and for others no downtime or abilities to visit family. With an invisible illness that can be spread so quickly, we are in a time of the unknown and unpredictable.
Feelings of sadness, anger or loss of control are all negative characteristics that could leave you feeling overwhelmed. But this situation is not new and has occurred many times in the past, and we need to take the time to remember those before us, who were tested with trials and afflictions greater than those we witness today. Indeed, many were in similar situations of being isolated, away from those they love and unknowing of what their future would bring.
In this short reminder, we look at some of the trials of those before us, the impact upon them, and the lessons that we can take from them, so that we can see that if we remain patient, call out to Allah and behave in a way pleasing to Him, then with Allah’s will, this trial will be lifted, life will return to normal, and if we remain calm and patient, we will be among those who are successful, inshaAllah.
Maryam (may Allah be pleased with her)
And mention, [O Muhammad], in the Book [the story of] Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east. And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. (Surah Maryam, 16)
Maryam, daughter of Imran, was indeed one of the most blessed and pious to be placed upon this earth. From her childhood, under the care of Prophet Zachariyah, she was given provisions from where no one knew. Zachariyah, peace be upon him, when finding Maryam with sustenance, asked "From whence is this?" She said, "It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account." (Surah al-Imran, 37).
The Qur’an mentions when Maryam took seclusion from her loved ones. This would undoubtedly of been a trial of great proportions, to be in seclusion, with child, scared and alone, not knowing how the community would react to her once the child was born. Maryam herself cried out:
“Oh! Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten in oblivion.” (Surah Maryam, 23).
But Allah in His mercy did not leave Maryam alone. Just like He has not left us, in our time. Allah instead continued to provide for her with the dates of a palm tree until she was nourished, just as He continues to provide us our sustenance, however difficult it may be to find. Allah did not allow those from her community to cast her out. Instead ordering her to take a vow of silence when those who doubted her came to her. Allah allowed her son to speak from the cradle, teaching those at that time that he was to be a Prophet. Allah did not let Maryam be dishonoured, instead raising her status to be one of the most pious women in the world, her name being the title of a surah in the Quran and mentioned daily throughout the world. If we too, continue to praise Allah, seeking His help, His provision, using His perfect names, then we should know that we will find Allah in front of us.
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: I was behind the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) one day and he said:
“O young man, I shall teach you some words (of advice): be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already decreed for you, and that if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would only harm you with something Allah had already decreed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi, no.2516).
Yunus (may Allah be pleased with him)
Prophet Yunus, peace be upon him, was given the role of teaching those in his community about Islam, but became frustrated and angry that they paid no heed. Instead of staying, he left them and found himself upon a ship sailing in the strong sea.
The men who were on the boat were experiencing a great storm, so made Yunus leave the boat where he was taken by the will of Allah, into the belly of a whale. In realising his mistake of leaving his people behind, he cried out to Allah, all alone in the darkness, for forgiveness.
We can see form this example that where he left his people without the permission of Allah, he had committed an error. In his realisation and turning back to Allah to ask for forgiveness, he did an act that all of mankind can take a lesson from; returning directly to Allah and asking for forgiveness. His situation was dire, and one which none can imagine escaping from, yet Allah was all-knowing, and Yunus was permitted to return from the depths of the sea back to his people. It is this act of returning directly to Allah that we should learn from and copy. We should do so in the depths of the night, in the depths of darkness, and cry out to Allah, just as the Prophet Yunus did. And just as Yunus never gave up hope in Allah the Almighty, we must do the same, and place our hope, trust, and reliance upon Allah. We must also learn from the story of Yunus in restraining our anger and be patient. Allah says;
"Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people - and Allah loves the doers of good." (Surah Al Imran, verse 134).
Muhammed (peace be upon him)
The final example for us is that of the most noble man who ever lived. Muhammad, peace be upon him. He would spend countless days and nights in the cave of Hira, alone, secluded, away from his loved ones, to contemplate. It was here that the revelation of the Qur'an was revealed to him and he was given his prophethood.
Great things can happen and have happened whilst people have been in seclusion. In these testing times for us, we should remember the best of examples. That Muhammad (peace be upon him), would take the time to contemplate life, its meaning, its purpose. We too, should take some quiet time to contemplate upon our actions and the meaning of life. Now that we have been given the Quran and the Sunnah we must also ask ourselves how can we bring them into our lives to reflect upon the meaning of life, and the ultimate goal that we should all have; seeking the pleasure of our Lord.
Allah has indeed shown the world that it is He who controls everything and those amongst us who take heed, should take this opportunity to turn to Him.
“Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him." (Muslim).
A Reflection for Today
As we move into the next phase of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, there are certain things that we must be reminded of.
We must remember that this is the divine decree of Allah the Almighty, just as the great trials were for those who came before us.
Nothing in this universe occurs without His ordainment, and as such, those who contract the disease, or those who escape its direct effects, it was written for you, as is the situation that unfolds before us.
We hear as rhetoric the importance of being grateful, and many of us take for granted our freedom to walk and meet, to build and be part of our communities, our ability to seek education, our ability to go the masjid, and our ability to go out and earn a living.
As the shut-down of life starts to take hold, we must take this as an opportunity to reflect upon those who live like this permanently, who have no freedom to move around, seek an education, practice their religion, or to make a living; and there are millions of people in this situation on a daily basis. We must also take this as an opportunity to draw closer to Allah, to make repentance, to increase in remembrance, to make istighfar, to continue to seek Islamic education, and to concentrate on our prayers. This extends not only to the obligatory prayers, but also the the voluntary, as Allah tells us in the Qur’an;
"And seek help (from Allah) through patience and prayer." (Surah Al-Baqarah, 46).
Do take the opportunity to watch beneficial courses on YouTube like those on our channel, rather than those that simply pass time away. Finally, we should increase in charity, for in an authentic narration (classified as sound in Al-Bayhaqi) the Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said;
"Treat your loved ones by virtue of spending charity."
When life restarts, inshAllah, we must increase in energy, our focus, our desire to utilise our freedoms to support those in need, to actively build our communities, to seek beneficial education and to draw closer to Allah through the masjids that we are now all prevented from visiting.
Do take the opportunity to grow the relationship that you have with Allah in this time of solitude, and return to Allah at every moment of desperation, in the depths of the darkness, and find moments to find solitude to reflect and contemplate, within the frame of the Qur'an and the sunnah guiding our thoughts.
May Allah increase you all in patience, protect you and your families, and bring ease to those who are in a worse situation than ourselves, ameen.