Eremitism and Islam (2)

Like the other two major Western religions, Islam takes a pragmatic view of solitude and eremitism as temporary spiritual practices but ultimately having no spiritual value or authority, being a disruption of the unity of society and religion. While “recluses” appear here and there in Sufi stories, they are generally scholars entrenched in study for a short time or poor mendicants. The basic assumption is that hermits do nothing, a strong condemnation, as in the verse attributed by Idries Shah to an otherwise unnamed Sahl’s Commenting on a Recluse:

He has established himself upon a mountain
So he has no Work to do.
A man should be in the market-place
While still working with true Reality.

Saadi of Shiraz (13th cent.) affirms the contrasting identification with the way of the scholar:

Give money to the scholars so that they can study more.
Give nothing to the recluses, that they may remain recluses.