In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
Diseases and illnesses are afflictions by which Allah tries His slaves. They contain benefits and lessons, secrets and wisdoms that a person perceives by contemplation and fine observance. It is said, “It is perhaps through illnesses that bodies gain health.” From among the most prominent wisdoms of afflicting the slaves through illness is for them to turn to their Lord and Master, attaching their hearts to their Lord besides all else. For it is He in whose hand is the cure, as Ibrahim al-Khalil said when introducing his Lord whom he worships:
“And when I am ill, it is He who cures me.”[Al-Shu`ara’ 26:80]
So the one afflicted calls upon Allah – while being sincere to Him in religion – to remove what has befallen him of disease and illness. And this is no surprise, for Allah Almighty brings out du`a through affliction, and gratitude through giving. Wahb bin Munabbih said, “He sends down affliction to bring out du`a through it.” Thus, man is as Allah describes him:
“But when evil touches him, then he is full of extensive du`a.”[Fussilat 41:51]
In the lives of the prophets whom Allah has commanded us to be guided by their guidance, there is the story of Ayyub whom Allah Almighty afflicted with an illness whose affliction prolonged and distress intensified. So he turned to his Lord and called upon Him, as Allah says:
“And Ayyub, when he called on his Lord, ‘Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.’”[Al-Anbiya’ 21:83]
So the Most Generous and Bountiful responded to him:
“So We responded to him and removed what had afflicted him of adversity.”[Al-Anbiya’ 21:84]
Thus, du`a is among the greatest means of achieving one’s requests, for how many a sick person whose hardship prolonged and affliction elongated, raised his complaint to his Lord, and then relief came to him and mercy descended upon him?
What is surprising is that some people turn the issue around. Thus, when illness descends upon them or they are afflicted with illness, their hearts become attached to tangible means, forgetting about Allah, The Curer, of whom there is no cure but His cure. So you find a group of people who have been afflicted with illness attaching their hearts to doctors or medicines, hoping for cure and elimination of the illness from them. Thus, they made the means to be at the same level as the Lord of all lords. As such, what they became afflicted with of destruction and corruption of their hearts was greater than what befell them of disease and illness.
Another group of them roamed the deserts and wilderness, crossing land and sea, heading east and west, going after magicians and sorcerers, hoping to lift affliction and remove adversity through them. Thus, they ruined their hearts in order to cure their bodies, thereby corrupting their hearts and weakening their bodies:
“And there were men from mankind who sought refuge in men from the jinn, but they only increased them in sin and disbelief.”[Al-Jinn 72:5]
Indeed, he who approaches a fortune-teller, magician, or sorcerer, asking him and then believing what he says, has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Both groups, the former and the latter, forgot about Allah, relying on their own selves and what their hearts became attached with. If they had thought better and looked into it with consideration, they would have realized that the matter is in Allah’s Hand, and that:
“None besides Allah can avert it.”[Al-Najm 53:58]
“Whosoever relies upon Allah, then He will suffice him.”[Al-Talaq 65:3]
Meaning that He is sufficient for whoever puts his trust in Him concerning his misfortunes and tasks. He shall suffice him for that which troubles and worries him.
So my advice for every afflicted person, whether sick or otherwise, is to bring your case before Allah who calls every night saying, “Who calls upon Me so that I may answer him? Who asks Me so that I may give him? Who asks Me for forgiveness so that I may forgive him?”
I also advise them to bear patiently waiting for relief, and to have good thoughts of Allah, for how many an afflicted person for whom affliction was better than well-being in his present life and next life?
In a hadith narrated by Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), he said, “A black woman came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, ‘I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me.’ So he said, ‘If you wish, bear patiently and you will have Paradise; and if you wish, I can invoke Allah to cure you.’ She said, ‘I will bear patiently.’ Then she added, ‘But I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I do not become uncovered.’ So he invoked Allah for her.” [Bukhari (5652) and Muslim (2576)]
So since the affliction with patience was better for her, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave her the choice. We ask Allah for continuous pardon and well-being.
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