Keeping on striving to safeguard the gift of guidance is the safest way to remain on the path of guidance. “O, you who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy. Vie in such perseverance. Strengthen each other. And fear Allah, that you may attain true success” (3:200). In today’s world, no person is secure from having one’s perception corrupted, and consequently, losing the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood, between right and wrong. In fact, when the truth is altered by whims and agendas serving egos, not only is one’s perception twisted, but the whole world falls into corruption! “And if the truth had been in accordance with their desires, verily, the heavens and the earth, and whosoever is therein, would have been corrupted!” (23:71).
The distortion of the truth as a result of excessive greed and the ferocious craving for power has spread confusion and doubt all over. As for the believers, it is their holding fast to the way of Allah (swt) that will help them persevere on the path of the truth: “Then Allah, by His leave, guided those who believed to the truth of that wherein they differed. And Allah guides whom He wills to a Straight Path” (2:213). However, if one intends to work on securing the soundness of his/her perception and the perseverance on the path of the truth, he/she has to reflect on how to translate into adequate action the holding fast to Allah (swt). Thinking of such a noble endeavor, one should start by checking the part of the being that holds the management of the perception. It is, indeed, the inner insight, located in the heart - “Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly, it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts” (22:46).
In order for the inner insight to be enlightened and be able to secure the soundness of perception, one has to enforce in his/her schedule moments of seclusion: to reflect and ponder upon existence, the like of one contemplating a city from a high mountain. In fact, the Prophet (pbuh) had the love of seclusion bestowed upon him before receiving the divine revelation. He started to go into seclusion in the cave of Hira, where he meditated for many days. He used to see from high above, the city of Makkah, contemplating in complete serenity and silence, the state of his people wrapped in the worries of the worldly life, transgressing all boundaries, sinking into ignorance, leading with injustice and enforcing a system of worship which serves the elites and oppresses the weak. This time of seclusion prepared the Prophet (pbuh) to receive the divine revelation, and then to rise and deliver the message of Allah (swt). However, the Prophet (pbuh), after receiving the revelation, never went back to the cave of Hira. It is, indeed, the Quran that then conferred the ability to watch/see from above the existence and the world around. The Quran conferred true insight and an accurate vision of the universe and life. Today, the seclusion needed for the enlightenment of the insight does not require retreating to a cave or hiding in a remote place. It can be practiced while one is continuing to build a life and honor his/her tasks. However, the mindfulness of the need for seclusion and for moments to be enforced in one’s schedule to reflect and ponder is necessary for the believer to secure perseverance on the path of guidance.
In today’s culture, the culture of “roasting” and culture of "canceling” morality is defined in accordance with the trend of the canceling criteria! Whoever talks ill, for example, about gender issues is deemed to be canceled, or whoever is incorrect in delivering a political statement is sought to be canceled, too. In sum, talking incorrectly about any of the issues made to be sensitive might lead to one’s canceling and being made bankrupt! Note that the correctness upon which the principles of the canceling culture are defined is founded on whims, desires, trends, agendas, etc. There is no consideration at all for the divine truth, nor for justice and fairness. This culture is causing some people to regard such actions as being just, which then makes the adherence to this culture justified. Other people, consumed by the fear of being stigmatized, choose to be silent. In such an atmosphere, the heart grows hard and the light of the inner insight will be soon extinguished. In order to keep the inner insight illuminated, one is obligated to practice seclusion and avoid falling into the pit of delusion and ending up embracing a code of morality founded on whims far from the truth. In such a path, there will only be corruption, grief, and worries.
In a saying of a righteous predecessor, a mindful, sincere believer should never miss four moments in his/her day: a moment to be with Allah (swt) worshiping Him, imploring Him and glorifying Him; a moment to review one’s actions and to reflect; a moment to be with companions whose openness compels them to tell one about his/her shortcomings and encourage/inspire him/her to persevere on good works; and a moment to let the inner self have its time of lawful entertainment. Indeed, this last moment helps one find strength in observing with focus the other moments.
In the most eloquent, beautiful, and concise way, the Quran summarized in the following Surah, the management of the schedule of actions that helps safeguard the inner sight, and consequently, one’s perception: “By the time! Verily Humankind is in loss, except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy” (103:1-3).
Observing seclusion daily, with the help of Allah (swt), is truly easy. One can have it in the daily prayers, when waiting for the congregational prayer in the Masjid, before Fajr while making Istighfar (seeking forgiveness), during the daily commute, before going to bed, etc. These moments of daily seclusion will help, InshaAllah, one maintain the light of the inner sight and be protected from falling into the delusion of today’s cultures!