Inspiring Moments of Isolation in the Holy Quran

“She said, ‘Oh I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten’. But he called her from below her, ‘Do not grieve…'”

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“She said, ‘Oh I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten’. But he called her from below her, ‘Do not grieve…'”

The world seems to be at an almost complete standstill – with no end in sight. The Coronavirus continues to both take lives and disrupt the lives of millions around the world – those most vulnerable are lost, livelihoods are taken away as many are left without a job, and nationwide lock-downs have many in despair and frightened of what the future may bring.

Being or feeling in isolation can be mentally (and physically) trying – and it can easily lead to a loss in mental health and spirituality. In an effort to help rekindle hope, faith, and health, we must – as always – turn to the Holy Quran for guidance. Here are but a few examples from the Holy Quran when Allah provides an example of deep isolation or loneliness, and how we may use these examples to overcome our own loneliness or isolation:

Prophet Yunus

“And indeed, Yunus was among the messengers. When he ran away to the laden ship, And he drew lots and was among the losers. Then the fish swallowed him, while he was blameworthy. And had he not been of those who exalt Allah, he would have remained inside its belly until the Day they are resurrected.” [Quran 37:139-144]

In this passage from the Quran, the story of Prophet Yunus is explained – having been swallowed by a large fish (or whale), Yunus was languishing inside the belly for what may have seemed to him to be an eternity. The most important part of this passage, however, is when the Quran states: “had he not been of those who exalt Allah, he would have remained inside its belly until the Day they are resurrected”. This stands as a stark reminder to us all – we must never forget Allah, even in our darkest or loneliest moments – and only then can we be helped and saved by Him.

Lady Maryam

“So she [Maryam] conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, ‘Oh I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten’. But he called her from below her, ‘Do not grieve, your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.'” [Quran 19:22-26]

The story of Lady Maryam, mother of Prophet Isa (Jesus), will always remain an inspiration to all – and the Quran reminds us that even she, in her moments of childbirth, felt the pains and despair of being alone. While the community around her would even chastise her for her child, Maryam remained strong and in full faith – showing that we must also never give up hope, even if the entire world seems to be giving its back to us.

Prophet Yusuf

“So when she heard of their scheming, she sent for them and prepared for them a banquet and gave each one of them a knife and said [to Yusuf], ‘Come out before them.’ And when they saw him, they greatly admired him and cut their hands and said, ‘Perfect is Allah ! This is not a man; this is none but a noble angel.’ She said, ‘That is the one about whom you blamed me. And I certainly sought to seduce him, but he firmly refused; and if he will not do what I order him, he will surely be imprisoned and will be of those debased.’ He said, ‘My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant.’ So his Lord responded to him and averted from him their plan. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing…” [Quran 12:30-34]

The story of Prophet Yusuf is one of the more commonly known – refusing the advances of the beautiful wife of Al-Azeez, one of the Chief Ministers of ancient Egypt, Yusuf chooses to rather be thrown in jail than accept committing a sin. Prophet Yusuf even pleads to Allah himself, saying: “If you do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and thus be of the ignorant” – meaning that even he was afraid of his own temptations, and looked towards Allah and Allah alone to save him and his faith. This remains an important part for all believers – sometimes a form of prison, isolation, or loneliness is what is best for us, after all Allah is the only One who can save us from the sins and vices of this world. We must always remind ourselves that Allah Knows best, even if we feel like we are in a prison of this world.


“Truly Safa and Marwah are among the rituals of God, so whosoever performs the hajj to the House, or makes the umrah, there is no blame on him in going to and fro between them. And whosoever volunteers good, truly God is Thankful, Knowing.” [Quran, 2:158] … “Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful.” [Quran, 14:37]

These verses from the Holy Quran allude to the story of Hajar, the wife of Prophet Ibrahim, when she was alone in the desert frantically searching for water. Her faith and determination has been forever captured in the running between the two hills, done during both hajj and umrah. The explanation, or tafseer, is as follows (The Study Quran, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 2015):

“Safa and Marwah are two hills near the Kaaba, between which pilgrims pass or ‘hurry’ back and forth seven times, a practice that is said according to the traditional Islamic account to go back to the story of Hajar and Ishmael. After Ibrahim, following God’s Command, brought them to that place and left them there (Genesis 21), Hajar frantically ran from one hill to another seven times in order to look for water for Ishmael. Called sa’y, this motion is partway between walking and running. Even though this was the action of Hajar, Muslims consider it part of the rituals of the pilgrimage, because it originated with Ibrahim, who build the Kaaba with Ishmael after the latter had become an adult and the practice was continued by the Prophet Muhammad.”

The story of Hajar, when she is left alone without any physical comfort, remains an important reminder to us all on the importance of faith and determination – no matter how isolated we may feel, we must never give up on our faith towards Allah and His mercy.

People of the Cave

“Or have you thought that the companions of the cave and the inscription were, among Our signs, a wonder? When the youths retreated to the cave and said, ‘Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance’. So We cast [a cover of sleep] over their ears within the cave for a number of years. Then We awakened them that We might show which of the two factions was most precise in calculating what [extent] they had remained in time. It is We who relate to you, [O Muhammad], their story in truth. Indeed, they were youths who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance. And We made firm their hearts when they stood up and said, ‘Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never will we invoke besides Him any deity. We would have certainly spoken, then, an excessive transgression. These, our people, have taken besides Him deities. Why do they not bring for [worship of] them a clear authority? And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah a lie?'” [Quran, 18:9-15]

While this is but a short excerpt from the longer story of the People of the Cave in the Quran, this will always remain one of the most inspiring around the miracles and beauty of Allah. Later the Quran states: “And they remained in their cave for three hundred years and exceeded by nine (18:25)”… “And you would think them awake, while they were asleep. And We turned them to the right and to the left, while their dog stretched his forelegs at the entrance. If you had looked at them, you would have turned from them in flight and been filled by them with terror (18:18)”.

The People of the Cave emerged from their slumber with better faith and knowledge around the worship of Allah, despite the long and frightening sleep that lasted for hundreds of years. What we can take away from this is a better understanding of patience and faith – oftentimes what we do not like in life is what is best for us, as Allah is the Best of all Planners. We must remember that despite periods of isolation, despair, or loneliness, we will always have Allah – which is all we ever need in life.

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