Every Illness Has A Cure: The Islamic Perspective

by Mawlana Sikander Khan Pathan

Praise be to Allah, Knower of all ailments and their hidden cures. May peace and salutations be upon His first prophet Adam, His final prophet Muhammad and all the prophets that came in between Amen! (Amen!).

Muslims like so many others believe in a creator. We believe that we were sent into this world as vicegerent of Allah. The Holy Quran informs us that man and jinn were created for the worship of Allah. After death we shall all be resurrected on the Day of Judgment and we shall be judged according to our deeds.

Therefore our principle of life is:

“He Alone has the keys of the unseen treasures, of which no one knows except Him. He knows whatever is in the land and in the sea; there is not a single leaf that falls without His knowledge, there is neither a grain in the darkness of the earth nor any thing fresh or dry which has not been recorded in a Clear Book.”
Quran 6.59 (Translator Malik)

It further says in the Quran:
“And Hold fast the rope of Allah, all together, and do not be divided”
Quran 3.103 (Translator Malik)

Medication:

There are many Ahadith (traditions of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him (pbuh) which encourage the Muslims to seek medical treatment. Some of them are mentioned below:

Abu Hurayrah narrates that The Prophet pbuh said:
“There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy.”
Bukhari 7.582

Usamah ibn Shuraik narrated:
“… ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Should we seek medical treatment for our illnesses?’ He replied: ‘Yes, you should seek medical treatment, because Allah, the Exalted, has let no disease exist without providing for its cure, except for one ailment, namely, old age’.”
Tirmidhi

Taking proper care of ones health is considered by the Prophet Muhammad pbuh to be the right of the body.
Bukhari as-Sawm 55, an-Nikah 89, Muslim as-siyyam 183, 193, Nisai

The Prophet not only instructed sick people to take medicine, but he himself invited expert physicians for this purpose.
D.o.H. p.50, As-Suyuti’s Medicine of the Prophet p.125

From this brief beginning one would gather that Imaan (faith) and Tawakkul (trust) have to be the uttermost important part of a Muslim’s belief. Hence, problems, illnesses or troubles of life, should be very easy to cope with. But, since this material world has been classed as Darul Asbaab (A world of means) it is necessary to take medication for one’s illness. In most cases Mufti’s would give a ruling of suicide for one who died in the event of not taking medicine. We all would be required by Shariah (Islamic Law) to have trust in Allah but search for the cure, which would be classed as the highest grade of Tawakkul – Trust in Allah.

Dr Shehzadi Munir a retired psychiatrist says: “I found it very easy to practice on religious people because you direct their emotions to a certain pillar and the best pillar to have faith in is Allah – God, the Maker of the Universe.”

To stop a person falling in the trap of worry and anxiety we have been advised that: “Imaan (Faith) is between fear and Hope!”
Mishkat

Is it a Punishment?

One cannot stipulate that he is a sinner, hence he is being punished;
“O My servants who have transgressed against their souls do not despair of Allah’s mercy, for Allah forgives all sins. Indeed it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
Quran 39.53

Some people believe that we are born sinners and therefore religion is to blame for the psychological condition of the patient. Islam teaches that man is born pure from sin; it is only later in life that he does good and becomes better or does evil and becomes worse.

What is the position of a mentally ill patient in Islam?

Islamic Law rules that the insane are excused they will have no reckoning and all their sins will be forgiven. “Allah burdens not an individual more than his capability”
Quran 2.286

Mufti Shafi on the above verse comments that: A person’s actions can be divided into two categories, voluntary and involuntary. They will be reckoned for the voluntary actions but the involuntary ones are excused.
Ma aarifiul Quran 2.286

Islam is very compassionate and understanding towards human nature, hence we have been told from the very outset that: “Mankind has been created weak”
Quran 4.28

In other words if you do indulge in abomination, one should not become disorientated, but rise above the situation and turn to his Lord in repentance, for indeed He is Al-Gaffar (Most Forgiving) Ar-Rahman (Most Merciful).
“The repenter from sins is like one who has no sin at all”
Mishkat

Islam never ceases to encourage repentance for those who transgress!

A sinner is not allowed to mention the name of the committed sin (when seeking forgiveness) because in doing so he will torment the heart which is forbidden. This teaches us that Islam is very understanding towards the sinners let alone the mentally ill.

In this day of modern medicine, man has discovered that mental illness is mostly a pathological, genetic or organic illness. It can also be a reactionary affect to socio-cultural dilemmas like divorce, separation etc.

Sometimes mental illness in patients has a cultural influence hence, an ill patient of England would sometimes see Isa (Jesus) pbuh, an African would see spirits but the Asian would see Jinn’s, magicians etc.
Dr S Munir

Why the suffering?

When a person is in pain or suffering either he is a good person and his place in Jannah (Heaven) is elevated or else he is a sinner whose sins will be forgiven through this illness.

Abu Hurayrah has narrated from Prophet Muhammad pbuh that: “Whenever a Muslim is afflicted by illness, continuous pain, anxiety, grief, injury or by a thorn with which he is pricked. Allah causes this to be an atonement for his sins.”
Mishkat

Abu Saeed Khudri and Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Prophet pbuh said: “No fatigue, disease, sorrow, sadness, hurt, or distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.”
Bukhari.7.545

Patients’ Rights

God, The Lord of Honour and Glory, will say on the Day of Judgement:
‘Son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit me.’
The man will say: ‘My Lord, how could I visit You and You are the Lord of the universe!’
God will say: ‘Did you not know My servant so and so was sick and you did not visit him?
Did you not realise that if you had visited him, you would have found Me with him?’
Development of Hospitals (D.o.H.) p.42, Muslim Al-Birr, 25

Abu Musa Ashari narrates that the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and set free the captives.”
Bukhari 7.552

Amulets and Pendants

There is a misunderstanding in some communities that Islam discourages medical treatment and classes psychiatric illness as the spell of Devils and associates it with evil so they try out different Taweez (amulets and pendants). This is a thing, which can be found in some communities who have been heavily influenced by their family traditions and cultures.

The Prophet pbuh used amulets but when needed he always took medicine.

Abu Said Khudri narrates that The Prophet pbuh said: “Once when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) fell ill, Gabriel came and asked: O Muhammad, are you ill? The Holy Prophet answered in the affirmative. Gabriel Said: I blow on you in the name of Allah from everything that troubles you and from the evil of every soul and the evil look of every envier. May Allah restore You to health. I blow on you in His name.”

Muslim Aishah narrates that: Whenever Allah’s Apostle paid a visit to a patient, or a patient 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.”
Bukhari 5.579

Aishah narrates that: During the Prophet’s fatal illness, he used to recite the Mu’auwidhaat (Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Naas / Quran chapters 113 and 114) and then blow his breath over his body. When his illness was aggravated, I used to recite those two Surahs (chapters), blow my breath over him and make him rub his body with his own hand for its blessings.” (Ma’mar asked Az-Zuhri: How did the Prophet used to blow? Az-Zuhri said: He used to blow on his hands and then passed them over his face.)
Bukhari 7.631

Abdul Aziz narrates that: Thabit and I went to Anas bin Malik. Thabit said, “O Abu Hamza! I am sick.” On that Anas said, “Shall I treat you with the Ruqya (Amulet) of Allah’s Apostle?” Thabit said, “Yes.” Anas recited, “O Allah! The Lord of the people, the Remover of trouble! (Please) cure (Heal) (this patient), for You are the Healer. None brings about healing but You; a healing that will leave behind no ailment.”
Bukhari 7.638

The Prophets’ Sunnah (Tradition):

Anas ibn Malik narrates that: A woman who had a defect in her brain, said: Allah’s Messenger, I want to talk to you. He said: Mother of so and so, choose on which side of the road you would like to stand and talk, so that I may fulfill your need. He stood with her on the sidewalk until she spoke to her heart’s content.
Muslim 1081

This shows that the Prophet pbuh never discriminated between the sane or insane. As long as this woman conversed with him patiently he continued to listen. Anas used to tell of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he would visit the sick.
Tirmidhi 1529

Don’t Discriminate!

‘The prophet in his visits did not discriminate against ailing people. He even visited sick non-Muslims.’
Bukhari Tafseer Surah 59

Traditions of The Early Muslims:

During the Islamic period attempts were made by the Muslims to provide appropriate facilities and assistance to sick people. The ten years (13/634-23/644) under the rule of the second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, saw many public welfare works in the Islamic State. The Caliph was so concerned for the welfare of ailing people that he accompanied a team of physicians with the army proceeding towards Persia.
D.o.H. p.58

Ibn Tulun Hospital

Ibn Tulun the governor of Cairo 259/872 established a hospital on the pattern of the hospital in Baghdad. In addition, various wards were constructed for eye diseases, orthopedic and surgical cases. Ibn Tulun took a special interest in the welfare of the patients and he used to inspect the progress of the patients personally every Friday. In this Hospital he had also made a separate section for the treatment of the insane.
D.o.H. P.63, Tib al Arab Translation of Arabian Medicine by E.G. Brown by N.A. A. Wasti P.448

Benjamin of Tudela, a Jewish historian, who visited Baghdad in 556/1160 found at least sixty medical institutions there and wrote regarding Sultan Salah al-Din. “All are well provided for from the king’s stores with spices and other necessaries. Every patient who claims assistance is fed at the king’s expense until his cure is complete. There is another large building called Darul Maraphtan in which are locked up all those insane persons who are met with during the hot season, every one of whom is secured by iron chains until his reason returns when he is allowed to return home they are regularly examined by the king’s officers appointed for this purpose and when they are found to be possessed of their reason again they are immediately liberated. All this is done by the king in pure charity towards all those who come to Baghdad either ill or insane, for the king is a pious man and his intention is excellent in this respect.”
D.o.H. P.68, C. Elgood, a medical history of Persia, p.172

Bimaristan al-Salihani Ayyubi:
The Sultan Salah al-Din Ayyubi converted a palace in Cairo into a hospital in 577/1181. On its walls the entire Quran was written. Ibn Jubayr describes the hospital in these words:

“This hospital is one of the prides of Salah al-Din. This is a magnificent and beautiful palace. The rooms are most elegant; in each room beds are spread, on which mattresses and pillows are placed in an orderly manner. There is a separate room for the dispensing of medicine and for this purpose chemists and compounders have been appointed. For lunatics, there are separate houses, which include a vast courtyard.”
Juju Sedan, Tarkio al Tamaddun al-Islami, V.111 p.188, quoted in Tib al Arab, p.451,
D.o.H. p.67

First European Mental Hospital It is interesting to note that the brothers of St. John built the first European mental hospital in the 15th Century C.E. at Valencia in Spain. This European institution was based on a similar institution in Cairo and modelled on the Bimaristan of Baghdad (which was built in 136-158/754-775). The same brothers were later summoned to France by Marie de Medici to to build psychiatric hospitals at Charenton and the Charite at Senlis.
D.o.H. p.70,
S.H.Z.Naaqui, ‘Islam and Development of Science’, Nigerian Journal of Islam, V. i, p.5, (1971-72)

Conclusion

We believe that each illness has a cure but it is unto man to research and find the cure. Let us pray to Allah that He strengthens our faith for the peace and tranquility that are such vital ingredients for us being an ideal society.

The advice of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh “Allah, The Most Merciful, has mercy on the merciful therefore, be merciful upon the dwellers of the earth. He will have mercy upon you Who is in the heavens.”

Hadith
Amr ibn Maymun al-Awdi narrates that: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said to a man in the course of an exhortation:
“Grasp five things before five others: your youth before your decrepitude, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your leisure before your work, and your Life before your death.”
Tirmidhi 1337

A message of The Holy Quran:
“Whoever kills a human being, not in lieu of another human being nor because of mischief on earth, it is as if He has killed all mankind: and if he saves a human life, it is as if he has saved the lives of all mankind”.
Quran 5:33

(c) 2000 Mawlana Sikander Khan Patha

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