16 – Etiquettes of Seclusion – Shaykh Riad Saloojee

In this class, visiting scholar, Shaykh Riad Saloojee, gives an overview of Imam Ghazali’s chapter on the Etiquettes of Seclusion from the book Ihya Ulum al-Din. Shaykh Riad delves into the benefits and harms of seclusion that one should keep in mind.

The benefits of seclusion:
[1] Taking time to reflect and remember Allah, which leads to solace and connectedness of the heart with Allah
[2] Saving oneself from being in situations of disobedience
[3] Avoiding ostentation or doing actions of obedience for others instead of for Allah.
[4] To be safe from disputation and partisanship
[5] Being away from the harm that may acrew to me because I deal with people
[6] Be away from the inclinations of wanting to please others or engage in worldly matters
[7] Shields one from interacting with people who are ignorant and the possibility of not responding properly to them

The harms of seclusion or the benefits of interacting with others:
[1] Learning knowledge and teaching others
[2] Benefiting people with one’s time and resources
[3] Taking benefit from people and earning a livelihood
[4] Training oneself and disciplining oneself and character; and assisting others in that
[5] Loneliness and missing out on companionship with others
[6] The chance to earn reward and give others the chance to earn rewards

Balancing between the two depends on who you are interacting with and what your intention is in both seclusion and in interacting with others. Thus one should aim for beneficial interaction and seclusion when necessary. Shaykh Riad reminds us that continuous interaction with others who are not righteous we will get used to seeing these acts of disobedience and it will become normalized. This also goes to interactions on social media or through television.

Shaykh Riad concludes by advising us to pick a routine time for seclusion every day to engage in remembrance and in reflection. The recommendation is to take 5 min after every prayer. The more one does this the more patient one becomes with seclusion and the deeper your reflections will become. In addition, try to sit after fajr till sunrise because there is great reward in that.

In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.

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