Khalwa in Arabic
The word khalwa designates the place where the aspirant to inner purity (moutassawwif) withdraws with himself to devote himself to the worship of his Lord.
[al-Mu’jam al-‘arabiy al-asâsiy]
In the Realm of the Wali
The word khalwa designates the fact to strictly stick to one’s own living tomb (the body), the individual stripping from all physical senses and the journey to the universe of Deep Senses, a journey whose provisions are the evocation of Divine name accompanied by absolute dispossession, to penetrate the heart and reach the highest maqam, until the veil lifts, and the inner vision becomes piercing through the eternal Source.
In terms I Can Understand:
Khalwa is fleeing to Allah from everything else but Him. It’s leaving the comfort of family, friends, and community to struggle to purify the heart. You realize that people you love won’t be in your life after khalwa, and you still choose to be with your Lord. Khalwa is not a lonely place; it is warm and welcoming in the presence of the most merciful.
Leaving khalwa is the hardest decision you’ll ever have to make. Returning to the world, those you’ve hurt by your absence, to bitter fighting over iktalaf in fiqh. The peace of seclusion is a miracle provided by Allah to His servants. Take advantage of the time you have to make khalwa for five minutes or many years. The heart will always long to be with its master. When you’re in khalwa, the love in your heart for people doesn’t fade or disappear- it becomes amplified. All love and beauty are only realized through fully surrendering to Allah. In this sweet surrender, we find the purpose of life. We find love of Allah and service to His creation.
The Heart Hopes
The hope in the heart during khalwa is that the intensity of your love will overshadow your absence in people’s lives. The reality is your love for the people of God and those who are still searching are pouring out in every direction. The other side of this phenomenon is that those you love have moved away from you because of your absence.
Absence from Allah is the greatest loss one can suffer. When you enter a long khalwa, you must realize that the purpose is closeness to Allah, and the cost will be closeness to those who held your heart before abandoning everything other than the object of our felicity.
Advice from the Awliya of Allah
Ibn Mas‘ud said: “You should be fountainheads of knowledge, lamps of guidance, recluses in your homes, engaged in worship at night with renewed hearts, and wearers of worn-out clothes, known by the people of heaven and hidden from the inhabitants of the earth.”
Our Shaykh Abu Madyan said: ” Oh People of will, practice hunger, the fast of intimate union, solitude (khalwa), and remembrance, for by (the practice of the before mentioned) you will attain what you desire, you will see how the gushing springs of wisdom will issue forth from your hearts and tongues, and by means of it you will arrive at your Lord.
Khalwa is one of the means to knowing al-Haqq.