As Muslims we seek the best of this world and the Hereafter. Every person desires good health and seeks protection from illness as taught to us in the Quran and Hadith. However, Allah Ta'ala in His Wisdom decides what is better for a person. At times, Allah Ta'ala afflicts a person with illness that becomes a means of forgiveness, cleansing and elevation.
Seek protection from harm and illness
A companion who had become ill was suffering due to a Dua which he made asking Allah to give him all the punishment due to him in this world so he will not suffer any pain in the Hereafter. Nabi r advised him not to make such a Dua, and taught him to say, “O Allah grant me the best of this world and the best of the Hereafter and save me from the punishment of the fire.” (02:201) The Sahabi t recovered from his illness.
Illness – a subtle and concealed bounty
Outwardly, illness is seen as an adversity due to the pain and difficulty that is brought about by it. The wisdom and benefit of every bounty is not apparent to us, but we have firm conviction in the words of Nabi r who said, “How wonderful is the state of a Believer! Every condition is good for him, and this is for no one except the Believer; if he finds himself in a favourable situation, he expresses gratitude and this is good for him; and if he is afflicted with adversity, he exercises patience and this is good for him.” (Sahih Muslim)
Gratitude and patience
Good health and illness are both bounties for a Muslim, for one we express gratitude and the other we bear patiently. The one enjoying good health should be grateful to Allah Ta'ala and use the health to do good and be obedient. One who suffers illness should exercise patience and have hope in Allah Ta'ala for cure. In essence, we ask Allah Ta'ala to remove the 'bounty' of illness and replace it with the bounty of good health.
Glad tidings for exercising patience when afflicted
Allah Ta'ala says, “…And give glad tidings to those who exercise patience, those who, when any difficulty befalls them say: Indeed, we belong to Allah, and to Him shall we return. Those are the ones upon whom are the (special) blessings from their Rabb, and mercy; and those are the ones who are rightly guided.” (02:155 & 157)
Tremendous virtues of illness
Nabi(Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “The person for whom Allah desires goodness, he is afflicted (with hardship).” (Sahih Bukhari)
Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Do not speak ill of fever, for it washes away the sins of the children of Adam, just as the furnace expels impurities from iron.” (Sahih Muslim)
Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “The one who dies due to an illness in the stomach is a martyr, and the one who dies due to a plague (pandemic) is a martyr.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Allah Ta'ala says, “Indeed, those who observe patience will be given their reward in full, without measure.” (39:10)
In principle, we should pray for the removal of the illness, spend in charity and also resort to medicine, and thereafter accept the decree of Allah Ta'ala and focus on the benefits of this bounty.
May Allah Ta'ala grant complete Shifa to all those who are unwell and help us to be patient with affliction.