Isolation by Imam Ghazali & How It Prepares Us for Ramadan
Our world is in isolation: your countries, families, and communities have been ordered to stay at home due to the coronavirus outbreak, forcing you to be isolated and be in a position of solitude. This can have an impact on your health and state of mind, however, being in a state of isolation can be viewed in a positive light according to Imam Ghazali.
Imam Ghazali speaks of the 4 pedestals to spiritually connecting to Allah in his works, Disciplining The Soul from the Ihya. There are four pedestals of striving towards Allah, the process of restraining and training our spiritual state to be connected to Allah and building a fortress for the soul itself, these are hunger, sleeplessness, isolation, and silence. Each of these pedestals, coincidentally, is present whenever we are fasting SubhanAllah. A pedestal is simply a pillar arkan or a stepping stone to getting closer to Allah.
As much as I can write about the benefits of being in a state of hunger, sleeplessness, and silence, for this blog I felt compelled to share with you some positive thoughts and messages on being in a state of isolation.
When The Prophets Isolated
Before the revelation was revealed to the Prophet ﷺ he was in a state of isolation in the cave of Hira. When the Prophet Yunus (alayhi salam) was stuck inside the whale he was in a state of isolation. When the Prophet Yusuf (alayhi salam) was stuck inside the well he was in a state of isolation. When the Prophet Musa (alayhi salam) was stuck inside the moses basket he was in a state of isolation. When Adam (alayhi salam) was cast down to the earth he was in a state of isolation.
SubhanAllah there are countless stories of the Prophets being in a state of isolation much worse than our condition that exists today. The beauty of being in isolation is it strips the embellishments of life back to you and your creator. The link that you can achieve with Allah is only possible when you are in a state of pure isolation. Imagine being stuck in a whale or a well? SubhanAllah and we are stuck inside our beautiful warm homes. We must thank Allah for this time and build a relationship with Him.
Key Tip: Isolation minimises the external stimulation and distractions and focuses the heart on its relationship with Allah. It's not about cutting yourself off from the world and looking after others, but about starting over, starting a new chapter in your spiritual life, using this time as a vehicle to facilitate that transformation. Find a routine and stick to it In sha' Allah
Imam al-Ghazali, not feeling content, went through a crisis of his own. That crisis led him to resolve the prior dilemma of teaching publically and seeking spiritual solitude to attain certainty. He wouldn’t take a break from teaching for a month or two, nor a year or two, but a full decade. In it, Imam al-Ghazali left prestige, fame, the ego, and spiritually developed himself unlike any learning previous experience he had before.
How Isolation Can Bring Positive Change Before Ramadan
Well, I'itkaf has started early hasn't it? Being stuck in one place, restricted in food and leisure items, distractions are out of reach. Well, not quite if you have children running around the house but you can begin to appreciate the benefits of isolation in this challenging time.
The month of Ramadan is just moments away and as we are in the month of Sha'ban we begin to start preparing for the blessed month ahead. Perhaps this state of isolation we are in now will help us to prepare for the 30-days of sincere focus and concentration on Allah. Perhaps this time we are in now is our spiritual warm-up for the month of Ramadan.
As the Prophet ﷺ said, "Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day either speak good or be silent." The agitation that our external world brings is intertwined with the internal agitation of our lower self. Bringing about isolation will help us to train our nafs and actions to be reminiscent of Allah. This same condition happens in the month of Ramadan where we isolate ourselves from the world and therefore we reserve our energy and spiritually connect to Allah.
Isolation and our environment goes a long way in calming our souls, while also promoting the atmosphere of fikr(contemplation) necessary to purify our hearts. In those opportune moments where you find yourself alone at your desk or at home when the children are asleep (finally), contemplate deeply on the Creator and engage in spiritual reflection. You can use our Ramadan Legacy Reflection Cards to help you to do that. Remind yourself of your shortcomings and of Allah's mercy and plead for Him to rectify your condition, with the supplication our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him and his family).
All of these spiritual acts of worship come in advance of Ramadan and we begin to implement them in the month of Ramadan too.
Key Tip: Use this time to make up for your missed fasts from last Ramadan. As the world is scurrying around to shop for food, fast instead and donate your food if your health allows you to do so. Use this time to spiritually 'warm-up' for the month of Ramadan before it comes. Rather than stocking up your cupboards, keep them to a healthy minimum and give more than you take.
In summary, the time that we have now is our spiritual warm-up for the month of Ramadan. As distractions are obligatorily closed, this gives us the time and space to bring Allah back into our lives at the forefront. It's the perfect opportunity to fine-tune ourselves to receive the blessings that the month of Ramadan will bring into our lives.
Check out our Ramadan Legacy planners to help you have an organised, productive and life-changing Ramadan.
Written by: Shahbaz Mirza