Among the numerous benefits ensuing from solitude is the abstention from sin provided that in solitude control is exercised over the eyes as well. The ears as well as the heart have to be guarded in solitude. Deliberately the thought of anyone besides Allah Ta'ala should not be introduced into the mind. In the event of any such stray thought entering the mind, the one sitting in solitude should immediately ward off the thought by engaging in Thikrullaah. In such a well-guarded solitude there is indeed great protection against sin. It is quite manifest that prevention against evil has priority over the acquisition of gain, hence solitude in this sense is better over association.
Although association (i.e. with others) has its many benefits, nevertheless many sins follow in its wake. Secondly, Qillat-Kalaam (less conversation) is difficult with association (Ikhtilaat). Only the Siddiqeen and those perfected in spiritualism are able to exercise perfect control over their tongues (as well as other emotions) even in association with others. In most cases futile and nonsensical discussions take place when one is in association with others. The hearts of those who have no solitude in their time become progressively denuded of Anwaar (spiritual effulgence).
The Benefits of Association (Ikhtilaat)
For certain persons in particular circumstances, association is beneficial. Among such benefits are acquisition (Ta'allum) of knowledge and imparting (Ikhtilaat) of knowledge, Ta'leem and Taallum are dependent upon association (Ikhtilaat). Ikhtilaat affords the opportunity of rendering service to creation. The fazeelah (significance and benefits) of Jamaat Salaat is available by means of Ikhtilaat. One who has adopted total solitude is deprived of the Thawaab of Jamaat and service to creation. Tawaadhu (humility) is also the result of Ikhtilaat. The faidh (spiritual magnificence) of the Deen is obtained by means of associating with the Auliyaa.
The Effective Method
Execute every act and duty at its stipulated time. Mundane (worldly) duties in their time and Ibaadah on its time. Even occasional humor and light-hearted talk for pleasing the hearts of Muslims should be resorted to at opportune times. One's daily life should be conducted in this controlled manner. Total solitude is not always ideal because sometimes eagerness and enthusiasm in one are dulled and it then becomes difficult to progress.
Service to creation is extremely beneficial, but Ikhtilaat (association) should not exceed the time required for rendering his service to creation. Association in excess to the required measure is fraught with inner (pertaining to the Rooh) evils and harm. One should not increase one's association and connections, for such increase interfere with the remembrance of Allah.
One should remain in solitude as long as the heart finds solace and united with Allah Ta'ala. However, when one becomes disturbed and frustrated in solitude as a result of a multitude of thoughts striking the mind, one should withdraw from solitude and sit in company. But, it is essential that the company be pious. The stray thoughts and frustration will be eliminated in such company. In such circumstances Ikhtilaat (association) is in the same category as Khalwat (solitude).