Islam and Illness

african disabled woman
ID 33292003 © Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang) | Dreamstime.com

Health is important for a Muslim. Allah has ordained many precepts ensuring that each man shall be fit for the feats of faith including prayers, good deeds and charitable giving. However, illness sometimes befalls us and with it comes not only physical, but also mental suffering. It is therefore important to have the concept of illness clear in our minds in order for us to be able to manage it in the way Allah expects us to.

Illness like any other thing in this world is sent us by the Lord for ‘not a leaf falls but that He knows it’ (6:59). What purpose does it serve then? That of a trial. ‘We will surely test you’, says the Lord (2:155). This trial is a blessing, a gift from the Lord. It opens up endless opportunities. While the medics tend to your body, you yourself can tend to your soul. Prayer and repentance in times of illness make Allah’s sympathy towards us grow stronger. Illness is a message, an act of grace from God. He turns his loving eye on you, he has chosen you among others to suffer pain in order to become special, someone with privileges at the Day of Redemption.

What about terminal illnesses then? What consolation can a man in this condition expect? Is he not abandoned to his plight?

Indeed, he is not. His hope is in the Lord, the Giver of Eternal Consolation. ‘Allah has not sent any disease without sending a cure for it’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5354). For some the cure is in medication. For others it is in living the rest of their lives trying to fulfil as many of the Lord’s commandments as possible. Truly, a man who can do that can expect ample reward from God.

It is hard to remain steadfast through illness. Especially when afflictions leave you disabled or deprive you of essential faculties such as eyesight or hearing. But the joy of God’s instruction is to be sought in these conditions even more actively. As are the pursuits of faith. While aiding your own soul you can reach out to the souls of others.

Dawah, the spreading of God’s word, is not only a good deed in the eyes of the Lord, it is a way of strengthening your own belief and understanding of the divine Islamic faith. The response that it sparkles in the hearts of those you come to with the Word of God is a mightily fulfilling instrument of giving you joy of a soul purified.

One thing in illness management is clear – patient endurance of this trial sent from the Almighty, however hard it may be, will be your benefit, your wonderwall, your tower of strength. Endure it with patience and Allah will be with you for He has given us a promise – ‘give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return”. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.’ (2:155-157)