Kifah MustaphaMuslims and Illness
 
The Spiritual Understanding:
 
Muslims believe that their main purpose in life is to worship God at all times. Allah said: {and [know that] I have not created [either] jinn or human beings [for any other end] but to [know and] worship Me [alone]} 51:56. God promised His servants that if they connect to Him during times of ease, He shall connect to them in times of hardship. The prophet (PBUH) said: “seek to connect with Allah in times of ease; He will look unto you in times of hardship.”[1] From that understanding, Muslims try to think positively about illness and sickness as it draws them closer to their Lord.  This is evident in the following:
 
1.  Muslims understand that life is a test that can be of many dimensions including sickness, death, loss of property etc. Allah said: {and, most surely, We shall test [all of] you [believers] with something of fear and [with] hunger and [with] loss of wealth and life and crops} 2:155.
 
2.  Muslims honor life as an investment in righteous deeds even when sick or ill. The prophet (PBUH) said, “The best of people is one who lives long and perfected his deeds.”[2]. The prophet (PBUH) also said, “Let no one wish for death because of a hardship! If he (feels to) say something; let him say: O Lord (grant me) life as long as life is better for me and (grant me) death if death was better for me.”[3]
 
3.  A Muslim when encountering illness or hardships of any type would be urged to see it as a sign of love from God. The prophet (PBUH) said, “If God loves someone, He will test him.”[4] This love is evident in the following: Recognizing your need for God, erasing your sin and enjoying big rewards for being patient on your illness.
 
The Sacredness of Life:
 
In Islam life is considered a gift from God. No one has the right to harm life but through a court of law based on a crime that makes the person liable for punishment. Saving a life is one of the most honorable things a person can do and it is considered as if humanity is being saved. Allah said: {and whoever saves a life, it shall be [reckoned] as though he has saved the life of all humankind.} 5:32
 
A Muslim should Seek Cure:
 
Seeking cure in time of illness is something that Islam urges. The prophet (PBUH) said, “Allah has created illness and Allah has created cure; so (seek) cure.”[5]
 
Although it is known that a Muslim has the right to reject medical care if he/she chooses that, it is mandatory to seek medical care in cases of serious and treatable communicable diseases. The Council of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy’s stated that, “Seeking cure is permissible for references mentioned in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and for preserving the entity (of a person) which is a theme in Islamic law. The ruling on seeking cure differs in relation to circumstances and people.”
 
1.  Seeking cure is mandatory if refusing it would lead to the destruction of the person or any of his/her body parts or if the disease carries harm to others like infectious diseases.
 
2.  It will be preferred if it leads to body weaknesses but does not lead to what was mentioned in the previous case.
 
3.  It will be neutral if it is not listed under the two previous cases.
 
4.  It will be hated if by doing it, fear of worse complications will happen than the illness meant to be treated.”[6]
 
Allah is the Healer:
 
Muslims understand that all healing is in the Hand of God and that medicine or seeking cure is just the tool.  Allah said [on behalf of Abraham]: {and He is the One who feeds me and gives me drink. And when I become ill, He [is the one who] heals me.} 26:79/80.
 
Healing in recitation of the Quran and supplications:
 
Muslims believe in the healing power of the words of God when recited next to an ill person. {Thus do We send down [in the verses] of the Quran that which is healing [for body and soul], and a mercy to the believers} 17:82. Some of the recommended verses from the Holy Quran during illness are: Chapter one, first five verses of chapter two, verse 255 of chapter two, verses 285/286 of chapter two, chapter 112, chapter 113 and chapter 114.
 
Some recommended supplications:
 
1.  “O Allah Lord of people; One who removes harm; bring healing; You are the Healer. No Healer but You; bring the healing that leaves no illness (behind.)”[7]
اللهم ربّ الناس مذهب الباس إشف أنت الشافي لا شافي إلا أنت إشف شفاء لا يغادر سقما
 
2.  The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Whoever visited an ill person and repeated by him seven times: (I ask Allah the Gracious, the Lord of the Gracious Throne to heal you) but will be healed from that illness.”[8] It means that part of the healing is using supplication.
أسأل الله العظيم ربّ العرش العظيم أن يشفيك
 
General Rules of Islamic Medical Ethics:
 
1.  Harm should not be removed by causing another equivalent harm or bigger. For example; it is not permissible to donate a kidney if the donor will be harmed equally or more than the donated recipient.
 
2.  Necessity overrides prohibition. For example; exposing a female body to a male is prohibited in Islam. Because medical care is a necessity, it will be permissible in such cases upon need.
 
3.  Removing harm has priority over bringing benefit. For example; removing a kidney because of the cancer in it so it will not spread to other parts of body overrides the benefit of keeping it.
 
4.  Public interest overrides individual interest. For example; if vaccines were mandated by authority, every individual must abide to prevent spreading disease even if it was against his self-interest.
 
5.  Harm is removed as needed. For example; unless it is certain that removing a whole lung is a must, only the part needed to be removed should be the case.
 
Sh. Kifah Mustapha
 
 
[1] Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari
 
[2] Hadith narrated by Imam Tirmizi
 
[3] Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari
 
[4] Hadith narrated by Imam Shawkani
 
[5] Hadith narrated by Imam Ibn Abdel Birr
 
[6] Annual seventh meeting in Jeddah May of 1992, www.fiqhacadmy.org.sa
 
[7] Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari
 
[8] Hadith narrated by Imam Abu Daoud