Enduring diseases

Question:

What is the ruling on the illnesses that befall the sons of Adam (i.e. humans); are they punishments from Allah or tests for His Servants? Are there any Hadiths on this subject?

Answer:

Allah (Exalted be He) is All-Wise, All-Knowing of what is best for His Servants, as He has full knowing of them and nothing is hidden from Him. Therefore, He afflicts His believing Servants with different types of adversities in their selves, their children, their beloved ones, and their property, so that He (Glorified be He) makes evident - through apparent (real) knowledge - the patient Mu’mins (believers), hopeful of Allah’s Recompense, from the others, which will cause them to earn a great reward from Allah (Exalted is His Majesty). This trial also makes evident the impatient ones who show intolerance and dissatisfaction with the Predestination and Decree of Allah, or they have no patience during calamities, which only increases the Anger of Allah against them.

Allah (Exalted be He) says: “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sâbirûn (the patient).” (al-Baqarah:155) And “…but Al-Birr is (the quality of) the one who believes in Allâh, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-Masâkîn (the poor)” until His Saying: “…and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles). Such are the people of the truth and they are Al-Muttaqûn (the pious).” (al-Baqarah: 177)

He (Glorified be He) also says: “And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the Cause of Allâh) and As-Sâbirûn (the patient), and We shall test your facts (i.e. the one who is a liar, and the one who is truthful).” (Muhammad: 31) This apparent knowledge is only for people; but as for Allah (Glorified be He), He knows since eternity who is patient and who is not.

Also, adversities - such as illness, physical disability, and grief - are all means of unburdening the sins and expiating the misdeeds of a Mu’min. It is authentically reported in many Hadith that they unburden sins. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Sa‘id and Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with them both) that they heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying, “Nothing befalls the believer of disease, fatigue, illness, grief, or even worry that troubles them, but Allah will cause it to expiate for some of their sins.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and At-Tirmidhi)

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, “I visited the Messenger of Allah ﷺ when he was suffering pain and fever. I touched him with my hand and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! You are severely sick and feverish.’ The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Yes, I ache as much as two men from you ache.” I said, ‘Is it because you get a double reward?’ The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Yes, never a Muslim is afflicted with harm, because of illness or anything like it, but Allah will thereby let fall their sins as a tree letting fall its leaves.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Illness and the like can also be a means of punishment or an expiation for those who show patience on affliction, and hope for Allah’s Reward, according to the general meaning referred to by the previously mentioned texts and Allah’s Saying (Glorified be He): “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much. (See the Qur’ân Verse 35:45).” (al-Shura’ : 30).

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, his family and Companions

  • Source(s): Fatawa Al-Lajnah Ad-Da'imah, Fatwa no. 11112, Question 2
  • Mufti(s): Sh. Ibn Baz , Sh. Abdul-Razzaq Afifi , Sh. Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan
  • Ref: الصبر على المرض