One should be aware that there are two types of solitude. The first is that which is outwardly manifest. It is for the seeker to isolate his/herself in one’s home away from others, allowing one to sit there to attain to the angelic realms. This is because outward sensory organs when restricted are diverted to ‘inner realms’, thus allowing the angelic dominions to become evident.
The second type: inward solitude. This is how Abdul Khalid Ghudjdawānī has described: khalwa dar Anjuma, as ‘solitude amidst the crowd’. Anjuman in Persian means ‘the collectivity of people’. It means that the heart of the seeker maintains the presence of God while in the midst of others, being unaware of others though physically amongst them. From this understanding the idea of ‘murāqiba’ or ‘meditative’ vigilance is understood.
It has been said it means for the rememberer (dhākir) to be engrossed in ‘dhikr qalbī’ or ‘heart dhikr’. It can be of such an intense activity that one can enter the market and not be aware of the sounds, etc. of that place due to the reality of the dhikr taking possession over the reality of the heart.
The Quran mentions such a state that one is not distracted from the presence of God whilst being amongst people. He says, “Men whom neither trade nor selling distract from the remembrance of God” It is said that this is something unique to the Naqshbandiyya. This is so because these great ones never isolate themselves from the generality of people. The Prophet said, “The believer who mixes with people enduing their trouble is better than the believer who does not mix with people”
Abu Sa’īd al-Karaz said, “The perfected individual is not the one from whom various miraculous occurrences arise, but he/she is the one who can sit amongst people, selling and buying with them, marrying and mixing with people, and yet still not be distracted from God for an instant”.
Let your heart be immersed in the beloved, colored thereby!
Let your outward form be manifest among the people.
This is an extraordinary path, rare are its people,
For they thrive with the most pleasant of drinks!
The new initiate must consider restricting interactions with others so as to set up barriers to outward intrusions that will affect the heart. The physical senses and their activities with ‘aghyār’ or ‘that which is other than God’, need to be reigned in by the new seeker, as one matures with centeredness on God, this is not necessary, nor even desirable.