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Why do we fall ill?

There are many hadith regarding sickness and why Allah afflicts one with it. Every sickness that a Muslim undergoes certainly has a purpose. It is not that Allah is not merciful towards His servants, on the contrary, He is Most Merciful when he causes a Muslimah to beset with any form of illness. In fact, one of the ways that Allah shows a true Muslimah that Allah loves her dearly is by giving her a particular degree of disease. It is probably one of the easiest ways for a true believer to know that Allah appreciates her efforts and that Allah wishes for her to enter Paradise, insha Allah.

sick in bed

Only Allah knows the actual reason for one to be sick – perhaps it is a test to reward one’s patience, perhaps it is a way for Allah to wipe off one’s sins, perhaps Allah wants to increase one’s level of faith, etc… Allah knows the accurate purpose of one’s sickness. Therefore, a Muslimah should not be sad or angry when she is burdened with hurt. Verily, every sickness has its function.

The following are several Hadith that may bring us a little understanding regarding this matter, insha Allah…

 Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 544:

As narrated by ‘Aisha (the wife of the Prophet), Allah’s Apostle     said, “No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn.”


Hadith Sahih Bukhari in al-Adab ul-Mufrad (no. 493), verified authentic by al-Albani :

The Prophet    said, “Expect good, because Allah (s.w.t.) makes a believer’s sickness an expiation (for his sins) and a period of repose. As for a disbeliever falling sick, he is like a camel whose owner ties it and then lets it loose –it does not understand why it was tied, nor why it was freed.”

Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 546:

 As narrated by Kab: The Prophet    said, “The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant. The wind bends it sometimes and some other time, the wind makes it straight. And the example of a hypocrite is that of a pine tree which keeps straight till once it is uprooted suddenly.”


Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 548:

As narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle    said, “If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.”


 One may think that the Prophet    never did fall ill as he was the best of the Prophets and he was guaranteed Paradise by Allah. But, alas, Prophet Muhammad    is also human and the best of examples. Allah did give him sickness, perhaps also to show us how to behave when we are ill.


Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 549:

As narrated by ‘Aisha: “I never saw anybody suffering so much from sickness as Allah’s Apostle   .”

Hadith – Bukhari 7:564,

As narrated by Bukhari who said, “I visited Allah’s Apostle    while he was suffering from a high fever. I touched him with my hand and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! You have a high fever.” Allah’s Apostle said, “Yes, I have as much fever as two men of you have.” I said, “Is it because you will get a double reward?” Allah’s Apostle said, “Yes, no Muslim is afflicted with harm because of sickness or some other inconvenience, but that Allah will remove his sins for him as a tree sheds its leaves.”

 Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, Number 633:

As narrated  by Al-Aswad:

“We were with ‘Aisha discussing the regularity of offering the prayer and dignifying it. She said, ‘When Allah’s Apostle    fell sick with the fatal illness and when the time of prayer became due and Adhan was pronounced, he said, ‘Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer.’ He was told that Abu Bakr was a soft-hearted man and would not be able to lead the prayer in his place. The Prophet gave the same order again but he was given the same reply. He gave the order for the third time and said, ‘You (women) are the companions of Joseph. Tell Abu Bakr to lead the prayer.’ So Abu Bakr came out to lead the prayer. In the meantime the condition of the Prophet improved a bit and he came out with the help of two men one on each side. As if I was observing his legs dragging on the ground owing to the disease. Abu Bakr wanted to retreat but the Prophet    beckoned him to remain at his place and the Prophet was brought till he sat beside Abu Bakr.” Al-A’mash was asked, “Was the Prophet praying and Abu Bakr following him, and were the people following Abu Bakr in that prayer?” Al-A’mash replied in the affirmative with a nod of his head. Abu Muawiya said, “The Prophet was sitting on the left side of Abu Bakr who was praying while standing.”


Do we have to visit the sick?

Let’s face it – many of us feel uncomfortable visiting the sick for one reason or another. Some say they do not want to ‘disturb’ their sick friend. There are others who avoid visiting the sick as they fear that they may cause trouble to the sick by visiting (i.e. she thinks that the sick would feel obligated to entertain the guest and make the guest feel at home). There is also a type of Muslimah who refrains from any stopovers as she is afraid she would say the wrong words when faced with her sick friend.

Do take a minute to ponder.

How long does it really take to visit a friend who has been ill for months, if not years? Is an hour enough, 30 minutes, or half a day? Can a visit just be 15 minutes – just before you fetch your children from school? Will the sick pal find 15 minutes too quick and thus feel hurt or offended that the healthy friend has no time for her?

The truth is, even 15 minutes is good enough for someone who is ill and cannot leave her house for months on end. Just a brief smile and hello or, if you can afford it – a cup of coffee from the nearby cafe or a magazine or small bag of biscuits from Woolworths, is usually enough to light up a run-down friend. The sick wants to feel remembered and thought of in her times of need. She does not want to burden her friends with a daily visit! All she probably needs is just a tiny visit every 3 months or so, to keep her ‘in the loop’ and cheerful!

Fifteen minutes of smile and presence of a visiting friend, is for the sick, better than no visit at all.

Just imagine – If you were ill for a very long time and feeling quite lonely, would you like to hide behind the walls of your house and wish that nobody remembers about you? Wouldn’t you want to laugh or be captivated by listening to short stories from your friends and family regarding their hilarious or interesting adventures?

Would you be embarrassed to show your friends your sickly look or would your friends feel embarrassed to see you looking so drab and ill?

If you were sick for weeks, months or even years, would you want to curl up in bed, cry day in and day out, feeling sorry for yourself and envious of all healthy people who lead their daily lives? Or are you avoiding your sick friend so that she does not need to feel envious of your fulfilling and busy life as a mother, wife or career woman? In other words – out of sight, out of mind…

But think again – Are you really doing the unwell friend a favour?


Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 42:

As narrated by Jarir bin ‘Abdullah:

The Prophet    said, “He who is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully.”


 If you have been ill for a long time and have little or no chance of recovery, would you think people would not want to come to your house if you did not offer them to drink a cup of coffee and eat a slice of cake? Are they there to make you happy or are you there to make them happy? Don’t you think your guests are there to comfort and entertain you (no matter how brief) in your time of weakness? Or are you ashamed to not being able to give them refreshments when they arrive? Are you ashamed of your untidy home as you did not have the health and energy to keep it neat? Do you think that your friend has come to visit you just for the sake of judging the condition of your living room and toilets?

Perhaps it should be said that the sick and the visitor should lower their standards of each other and just meet without any promise of a cuppa or flowers.

The sick should open her doors to any friends who wish to drop in for a visit. It doesn’t matter if you do not wear the eye-liner or make-up or your hair is unbrushed. It shouldn’t matter if the bathroom is not spick-and-span. The friend is here to visit you – not your toilet!

The visitor should visit her lonely friend without being invited. Do not expect to have a cup of cappuccino or a feast of fried noodles when you arrive. If you are thirsty, get yourself a glass of water from her kitchen. If you are hungry, bring a TicTac in your handbag to suck on. Try not to visit her toilet, unless totally necessary. Make her feel at ease with your presence. Make the visit quick and sweet. No gossiping, no grandfather’s stories about how you met your husband, etc… Just a few quick smiles, touch on the weather, news or any funny incidents.. Then good-bye!

 One should understand that visiting the sick is a good deed that is strongly encouraged by the Prophet   .


 Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 552:

As narrated Abu Muisa Al-Ash’ari:

The Prophet    said, “Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and set free the captives.”

Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 40:

As narrated by An-Nu’man bin Bashir: Allah’s Apostle    said, “You see the believers as regards their being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind, resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness and fever with it.”

Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 553:

As narrated by Al-Bara bin Azib: “Allah’s Apostle    ordered us to do seven things and forbade us to do seven other things –  

(Among the seven that we should avoid,) The Prophet forbade us to wear gold rings, silk, Dibaj, Istabriq, Qissy, and Maithara;

And (among the seven that we should do,) he ordered us to accompany funeral processions, visit the sick and greet everybody.


sick in bed

Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 579:

As narrated by ‘Aisha: “Whenever Allah’s Apostle     paid a visit to a sick person, or a sick person was brought to him, he used to invoke Allah, saying, “Take away the disease, O the Lord of the people! Cure him as You are the One Who cures. There is no cure but Yours, a cure that leaves no disease.”


Therefore, one can conclude that one should visit the sick whenever possible. When you call upon the ill friend, just bring your smile. Leave your frowns and problems at the door for 15 minutes or so. If you can’t come because you are too busy, give her a call on the mobile. If you can’t call, give a TXT, SMS, email, Facebook message, Facebook poke, etc… And if those are all still not possible , just du’a to Allah (supplicate to Allah, invoke to Allah) on a regular basis, for her happiness in this world and in the hereafter, instead. She’ll appreciate it when she knows about it later on at Judgement Day – Guaranteed!

Well… that should be sufficient to make everyone happy campers on this quick journey called life. Eventually, both the sick and the visitor would be aptly rewarded in one way or another by Alllah s.w.t. There is no deed that goes unnoticed by God.

Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 52:

As narrated by Sahl bin Sad: The Prophet    said, “A single endeavour in Allah’s Cause in the afternoon and in the forenoon is better than the world and whatever is in it.”


Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 421:

As narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas:

The Prophet    said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.”


Sickness is, afterall, a word. Not a sentence.


(Article written by Umm B, 12th November 2011)



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