While re-reading "The Forty Rules Of Love" in preparation for our new book-reading class next week, I was struck by Rule No. 7 which goes like this: "Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without being lonely…"
First, we often misconceived 'loneliness' and 'solitude' as being one and the same. In doing so, we missed out on the benefits of both. Particularly in these times, most people suffer from loneliness because they have never experienced solitude. And if one is not accustomed to solitude, how can one be intimate in the privacy with his/her Lord?
In the field of human science, psychologists differentiates "loneliness" as something negative while "solitude" as a positive state of mind. This is because loneliness is deemed as something that depletes us and is imposed upon us - whereas solitude is a conscious choice, a springboard to greater self-awareness, and grounds us in who we are that enables us to reach out and give to others.
There is a resonance to the concept of solitude within Islam. One is encouraged to be in a state of regular self-reflections and introspections. Beyond the obligatory deeds, one performs the night vigils in the stillness of the night - a selfless sacrifice of a believer in one of the highest order of intimacy with his Creator. When one performs the supererogatory fasts, one tries to do so in secret. When one performs charity, the left hand does not know what the right hand does, and the list goes on. These acts are not lonely acts despite performing them alone, but these are acts of solitude, love and intimacy between a needy believer and his loving God. During those moments, there are private and beautiful blessings being transpired in their solitude.
This spiritual saying sums it all up: "to be alone in the crowd" - despite being busy in the hustle and bustle of urban, modern living and all that it demands from us, one's connection and solitude with Allah s.w.t. is always maintained. That is our pillar. That becomes our anchor. That prevails as our handhold with the Divine. That becomes our balance.
How do we apply this concept into our day-to-day existence? It is easy, really. This world is temporary, so treat it as it is. Don't take life too seriously because at the end of the day, we have to let it go willingly.
Take a moment to enjoy what you have - there is more to life than rushing for deadlines. Take a step back, breathe in deeply and appreciate your life in all its glory. Be grateful.
Let go of things that drags you down. Do not carry baggage as it slows you in your path. Be humble.
Enjoy your quiet time. Be alone sometimes, and always be in a state of solitude. Make peace, within and without. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. Forgiving will set you free.
Smile, love, and choose to be happy.
Life is indeed beautiful, Alhamdulillah!