Inspiring Quran lessons in times of isolation

During troubled times, the Quran provides guidance and hope to everyone in isolation. Everyone has had to adapt to a new, almost unprecedented form of isolation. Here, we look at some of the most inspiring stories.

The Coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on our social lives and made even close relatives become distant.  From grandparents with grandkids, elderly parents with their children, best friends, and work colleagues,  

Man alone in desert

6 Stories in the Quran about isolation

If you are getting tired of lockdowns and isolation, let’s read about isolation in the Quran.  Which people faced confinement, or had it enforced on them and what did they do while in that situation? 

The Quran tells us about Prophets’ Yusuf, Ayyub, Yunus, the people of the cave among others, and how they successfully dealt with the isolation and came out with dignity.

1. Prophet Yusuf’s imprisonement

Following his imprisonment, which he preferred rather than accept a woman’s illicit call, indicates the best and most perfect grade of character, because he was youthful, beautiful and full of manhood.  He preferred the isolation of prison because he feared Allah and hoped to earn His reward. 

A hadith of the Prophet (SAW) states: ‘Allah will give shade to seven on the Day when there will be no shade but His:…..A man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for illicit intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah, and a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears.’ 

(Bukhari, Muslim)

In his confinement, Prophet Yusuf kept his trust in Allah and His infinite wisdom and bore with patience.  He made plans trusting he will be free one day.  Look how he was rewarded, even though it took some time.  He came out to be a ruler of Egypt, held in honor and high esteem.

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2. Prophet Yunus in the fish

He was isolated in a place that was very different from Prophet Yusuf and in fact was unique.  In the depths of darkness within the belly of the fish, he was in distress and cried out to his Lord:

‘…..Then in the veils of darkness he cried out, “There is no god worthy of worship except You. Glory be to You! I have certainly done wrong.” 

Quran (S. Al Anbiya 21:87)

He came out forgiven by his Lord.  Sometimes it takes isolation and seclusion to remember the mistakes we made and ask for forgiveness humbly before it is given.

3. Prophet Ayyub’s illness

Prophet Ayyub was afflicted with an illness at the age of seventy.  His illness was so severe, that it left no limb of his body free from disease except his tongue and heart.  He used these constantly for the remembrance of Allah. 

Although there are different durations for the affliction given by historians, from three years to one opinion being as long as eighteen years, he bore it patiently for a very long time. 

During this time, he was struck with sickness and poverty and had to keep in seclusion.  Not once did he lose his faith in Allah’s choice of destiny for him, bearing the pain and seclusion with patience and contentment. 

Look how he was rewarded for this, Allah compensated him with lots of wealth and a huge family.  Everything he had lost before, he regained, and much more.

isolation in a cave

4. People of the Cave

The youth who took refuge in the cave for the sake of their religion, fearing persecution.  They fled to a cave where they hid from their people.  Before going into isolation, they asked Allah to show them mercy and kindness:

‘…Our Lord! Grant us mercy from Yourself and guide us rightly through our ordeal.”  

Quran (S.  Al-Kahf 18:10)

They asked Allah to facilitate their affair in the right way and grant them a good end, however long this ordeal lasts.  Allah answered their prayer and saved them in their isolation from the troubles they would have encountered outside.

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5. Prophet Musa

The story of Musa is indeed a remarkable one, right from his birth, where he was born in a year that he should have been killed, as per Pharaoh’s instructions.

‘We inspired the mother of Moses: “Nurse him, but when you fear for him, put him then into the river, and do not fear or grieve. We will certainly return him to you, and make him one of the messengers.” 

Quran (S. Al Qasas 28:7)

Against the natural instincts of a mother, she obeyed His command with absolute trust and reliance on Allah.  Musa (AS) was isolated inside a basket in the Nile River.  The feelings of a mother whose child is between certain death at the hands of a tyrant or the unknown course of a mighty river must have been almost unbearable.  Then Allah saved Musa and he grew up inside a palace. 

There is a lesson in this too, sometimes you have no control and no ability to help anyone and those you love may be far from you, in isolation.  This is the time for trust, prayer and hope that you will see and hold them again soon.

Read more about Musa AS and Pharaoh here >>

6. Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) seclusion in the cave

The Prophet’s first revelation came when he was alone in a cave, secluding himself so that he could contemplate the things around him and who or what can be in control of everything.  The solitude helped him put into perspective what is going on around him. 

Then Allah sent Jibril (AS) to him with the revelation.  This shows that many things can’t be understood when you are in the middle, surrounded by them and moments of solitude can bring clarity and depth to your understanding.

Aisha (RA) narrated that before the first revelation came to the Prophet, ‘….the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him.  He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship continuously for many days before his desire to see his family….till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave….’

(Bukhari)

We can find our own moments of truth descend in seclusion, which is where we open our hearts and reflect on important matters.

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Conclusion

There are many more stories in the Quran where you find individuals having been in isolation and seclusion and then emerged better, stronger and victorious.  The question is how will you spend this time?  Will you make plans like Prophet Yusuf?  Will you have patience like Prophet Ayyub?  Will you ask forgiveness like Prophet Yunus?  Will you trust like the mother of Prophet Musa?

Just like these stories of isolation in the Quran ended with mercy, forgiveness, health, safety and leadership, we ask Allah to give us all these benefits of isolation once it ends.  Ameen.

˹It is they who have patiently endured, and in their Lord they put their trust.’ 

Quran (S. An-Nahl 16:42)