Disease in Islam

Salam, Barka Jumah. Its another Friday with its blessings. Alhamdulilah. Today's post was a spur of the moment post. During the week, i lost a friend, she had been battling with a kidney condition for the better part of the last 3 years. We went to the University of Lagos together, shared fun moments, lots of laughs and good times and it hurts so much she had to go through what she went through and not survive. For a while, i asked why it had to be her, why could it not be someone else. Then i realized God's plan cannot be challenged. I decided to find out more on what the Quran and Ahadith say about Muslims when faced with the slightest illness to life-threatening diseases. This post is dedicated to a friend that left us way too early, a friend that would forever live in our hearts, Linda Jemeni and to everyone who are faced with ill health, people like Debbie Idiagbonya and her battle with breast cancer. May Allah see them through their trials. Ameen.


Whenever a Muslim falls ill, or faces any calamity, it is not to be taken otherwise. Actually, any calamity which a Muslim faces is nothing but a trial from Allah. Man is tested and will be tested according to his level of religious commitment; the stronger his religious commitment, the more severe will be his test. One of the best examples of this is Ayyub (AS). When Allah tested him with loss of his family, wealth & children, and he had nothing left, he started to focus (more) upon remembrance of Allah. It is mentioned in following verses of Holy Qur’an:

“And remember Ayyub (AS), when he cried to his Lord: Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy.”

“So We answered his call, and We removed the distress on him, and We restored his family to him, and the like thereof along with them as a Mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all those who worship Us.” - Q21 V83-84 

I shall quote one hadith too to explain this matter:

Narrated Abdullah (RA): I visited the Prophet (SAW) during his ailments and he was suffering from high fever. I said, “You have a high fever. Is it because you will have a double reward for it?” He said, “Yes, for no Muslim is afflicted with any harm but that Allah removes his / her sins as the leaves of a tree fall down.” - Hadith No. 5647, Book of Patients, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 7

Therefore, whenever any Muslim is confronted by any illness or a calamity, he / she should not be worried, rather he / she is supposed to be patient, pray to Allah for His Mercy and be steadfast in faith. The ideal behaviour of a Muslim in such a condition is beautifully explained in following hadith:

Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant; from whatever direction the wind comes, it bends it, but when the wind becomes quiet, it becomes straight again. Similarly, a believer is afflicted with calamities. And Al-Faajir (a wicked evil-doer) is like a pine tree which keeps hard and straight till Allah cuts it down when He wishes.” - Hadith No. 5644, Book of Patients, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 7

I shall mention one more hadith to provide another example of the virtues of being patient during the times of facing an ailment.

Narrated Anas bin Malik (RA): I heard Allah’s Messenger (SAW) saying, “Allah said, ‘If I deprive my slave of his two beloved things (i.e. his eyes) and he remains patient, I will let him enter Paradise in compensation for them.” - Hadith No. 5653, Book of Patients, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 7

Howsoever stressful the calamity or sickness is, a Muslim patient is not supposed to lose heart. There are some cases where a patient finds his / her pain unbearable and starts yearning for death. This is wrong; Islam does not allow us to wish for death. Go through the following hadith.

Narrated Anas bin Mālik (RA): The Prophet (SAW) said, “None of you should long (wish) for death because of a calamity befalling him; but if he has to wish for death, he should say: O Allah! Keep me alive as long as life is better for me, and let me die if death is better for me.” - Hadith No. 5671, Book of Patients, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 7

Now let us take one another scenario where an epidemic falls on a community. When such thing happens, it is no more an individual affected by the calamity, rather whole society bears the burden. Islam recommends its followers to be patient in such a scenario also. Allah has great rewards for any innocent who dies because of any such epidemic. Example has been given about Plague. Refer to following hadith:

Narrated Anas bin Mālik (RA): Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “(Death from) plague is martyrdom for every Muslim.” - Hadith No. 5732, Book of Medicine, Sahih Bukhari, Vol 7

Concluding remarks

We have discussed at length about the rulings of Islam on diseases and what a patient is supposed to do. It all depends how strong our faith is; if we have faith, none of the do’s and don’t(s) will be a problem for us. As our beloved Prophet (SAW) said that Allah has made cure for every disease, we should all pray to Allah that He may guide our scientists to achieve a breakthrough for the cure of some dreadful diseases prevalent at present, namely Cancer, AIDS and the likes. The cure is there; it is only when Allah wills that the mankind will be able to know about it. May Allah have Mercy on us from all the calamities and diseases.