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,GUIDE POSTS, VALUE OF SOLITUDE (Bashir Ahmad Orchard) 5 It has been declared that great deeds are born in solitude. There is no doubt that great characters have been formed in solitude including great spiritual personalities. Not that they have spent all their time in solitude for they have to render their services for the benefit of mankind. Let us turn to the life of Jesus as recorded in the Bible. While he was active in preaching he appreciated the value of solitude from time to time. We read: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35) ” And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” (Matth. 14:23) “These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.” (John 12:36) The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, also spent much time in prayerful solitude: “Revolting against the mischiefs, misdeeds and the many vices of the people of Mecca, he chose a place two or three miles away for his meditations. This was on top of a hill, a sort of cave shaped out of stone. His wife Khadija would prepare food for several days, and with this he would repair to the cave Hira. In the cave he would worship God day and night.” (Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran) Then in his home he would arise in the stillness of the night and spend hours offering special prayers (Tahajjud) between midnight and dawn. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Moveme:lt in Islam was also prone to 6 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS solitude. It was not until the nature of his Divine mission required him to live and move in the limelight that he did so. Circumstances brought him out of seclusion. In his younger days he expressed his feelings to his father in the following words: ” I wish I could spend the rest of my days in some solitary corner, drawing myself away from the company of men and busying myself with the remembrance of God. Perchance I may succeed in making up for lost time, and may be able to make amends for all my past.” (Life of Ahmad by A. R. Dard) In his house he constructed a special closet for prayer known as Bait-ud-Dua where he would retire in privacy to offer long and heartfelt prayers. On one occasion he went into retreat for forty days during which time he issued instructions that nobody should visit him, the front door should be bolted and nobody should disturb him. Food was brought to him and utensils taken away afterwards. In this way he spent his time in one room praying, meditating and reading. The only time he ventured outside was to attend Friday prayers which he led in a small mosque. During those forty days he enjoyed communion with God and wonderful religious experiences. Let us see what others have said on the value of solitude: “Silence promotes the presence of God, humbles the mind, and detaches it from the world.” ( Archbishop Fenelon) “In solitude and silence the holy soul advances with speedy steps and learns the hidden truths of the oracles of God.” (Thomas a Kempis) Sleep is a period of solitude when one becomes detached from the affairs of the world and returns to it revived and refreshed. It is necessary for the health and welfare of man. Similary in the spiritual field we find that hungry and thirsty souls are spiritually refreshed and invigorated by periods of isolation devoted to spiritual development in one way or another such as through prayer, meditation and reading. There are times in this world when one likes to be alone with a friend when two is company and three makes a crowd. Similarly there are times when a devout soul likes to be alone with God and these are the times when he enjoys the value of solitude with Him.

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