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RAMADAN MUSINGS: Solitude

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Asian Lite is marking Holy Month of Ramadan with a new column by Masarat Daud

ramadanWhat does soul-searching look like, physically? I have always loved the depth of nights and the early morning quiet. We are able to think and hear our own voices clearly then. The real solitude or peace is what is felt in our heart because even if a place is serene, it is our hearts and minds that must stop fighting and be at one with the place. For some, this can happen in a busy train or any other public place too.

While ritual and solitude collectively form religious worship, it is many times wrongly assumed that only ritual is worship or that it is simply enough. We see people saying their prayers like robots and seamlessly walking into their regular day-to-day work. But spiritual connection in solitude makes us disconnect and then, it takes a few moments before we reconcile with our daily lives.

It is a natural instinct to want to be alone when the world overwhelms us. We simply need peace and quiet to process the noise within us, to disconnect from societal obligations and roles we are made to play. It was also a regular practice of Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) to spend hours in solitude in a cave; it was also the place where Muslims believe that he received the revelation in the form of a chapter of the Koran. The first words sent to him were ‘Read’. That was the starting point, the foundation of Islam. Since Muslims emulate all actions the Prophet, this spiritual retreat should become a more integral aspect of worship. As mentioned in a previous column, it is common to hear of people practicing the I’tikaf or solitary worship during the last ten days of Ramadan.

While solitude is a time of deep reflection, loneliness is very different. Loneliness is mostly wretched and is usually forced upon an individual, unlike solitude.

What these solitary prayers or moments of reflection teach us is that we must be at peace within ourselves before we look for peace in rituals, relationships and daily chores.

(Masarat Daud is many things. A girl’s education campaigner, a TED speaker, a TEDx curator, a recent SOAS MA graduate and a politically-incorrect humourist currently based in London.)