Sa’eed ibn Al Muhalhal said,
“I would be happy on any day that I saw Sufyaan Ath-Thauree. There was an occasion, however, when I didn’t visit him for a number of days. When I finally did visit him, he said to me, ‘O Abu Muhalhal, what took you so long to come to me.’
He then held my hand and led me outside towards the graveyard. Once outside, we stood in a private place to one side of the pathways that people frequented and Sufyaan began to cry.
He said, ‘ O Abu Muhalhal, prior to this day I despised dying, but today my heart longs for death, even though my tongue does not say so.’
I asked, ‘And why is that?’
He said, ‘Because of how people have changed and have become corrupted.’
He then said to me, ‘If you are able to avoid mixing with anyone for the people of our time, then do so. And become wholly preoccupied in the task of preparing for the HereAfter. Beware of going to today’s rulers (and governors), and wholeheartedly seek help from Allah (alone) for the fulfilliment of your needs. Supplicate to Him and worship him when hardships befall you, and become independent of all people. Ask only from Allah, for Whom the greatest of needs are insignificiant (and easy to fulfill).”
True, Imam Sufyaan advised people to seek out solitude and to avoid mixing with people as much as possible. But this in no way meant that Imam Sufyaan had cut himself off from the world; to the contrary, he would go out and mix with others, but he would limit his activities to spreading knowledge, to enjoining good, to forbidding evil, and to helping others as much as possible.
[‘The Biography of Sufyaan ath-Thauree’ compiled by Salahud-Deen ibn ‘Alee ibn ‘Abdul Maujood, pp.145-146]