“Good health is a crown only the sick can see” Imam Shafi’i
Ever since I can remember I have almost always had some sort of illness, whether it’s a cold, chest infection, anaemia or more recently a back problem. I am ill so often that I sometimes forget what it feels like to be fit and healthy. This has come with its many challenges, I’ve had to take time off school and when I was at university it became even harder. Trying to study when you’re ill is no easy job, along with the long hours of commuting to university and trying to help out at home, well, that can totally drain you by the end of the day. You just feel like you have no energy to do anything.
During my final year of university, I truly understood what it meant to be healthy. During that summer I had been ill, having recurring chest infections which lasted about 4months but the effects as a result of these infections continued well into the new year. I didn’t start feeling like myself again until about 8/9 months later. It was at that time I was also diagnosed with having prolapsed discs, something which will affect me for the rest of my life. During the long months of illness I had to take time off university and move a placement to the summer as I couldn’t work in the hospital with chest infections. Walking up the stairs was like running a marathon and my whole body ached. This along with my ongoing back problem really made me feel useless. I became really sad and withdrawn from my family and friends. But it was during this time that I truly understood the word “Alhamdulillah”. When I was unable to do even the simplest things I then realised just how blessed I was. I was finally able to improve the quality of my salah, something I had been struggling with for a while. I felt truly connected to Allah. It was my illness that brought me closer to Allah in a way that no success in my life ever could. Yes, at first when I became ill I couldn’t function like normal it made me very upset and frustrated. I was irritable and had very little tolerance for anything. I didn’t want to speak to anyone and felt like I was worthless. But when I finally realised that if I continued like this I would become very depressed and it would make me worse not better I finally started to pull myself out of this downward spiral.
Instead of lying in bed doing nothing or just watching some TV I changed that with reading, making dhikr and watching lectures. I would do my absolute best to pray all 5 salah and read the Quran with translation. I attended courses at my local masjid which gave me weekly imaan boosts.
These things helped me so much during my illness I wasn’t so angry anymore but the most important thing that truly helped me was that I just accepted that whatever had happened to me was because Allah knew that this was best for me. Once I accepted this I was actually able to do so much more than I expected. I still am limited to what I can do but comparing myself to when I was just angry and irritable I am able to do a lot more in my day now. There are still times when I find it harder to cope with my illness and I feel frustrated and irritable but I don’t allow it to consume me and those moments do pass.
I know that there are so many people who are suffering from illnesses many much worse than mine but I just wanted to share my experience because I know how difficult it can be. When you are ill it is easy to just give up and feel helpless but we should remember that this was decreed for us for a reason. Allah always knows what is best for us and He is the best of planners.
Remembering these hadiths and ayahs always helped me to get through the times when I felt down:
- “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?” (Qur’an, 29:2)
- “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” (Quran, 2:286).
- The Prophet (saw) said: “There is no calamity that befalls a Muslim but Allah expiates (sin) thereby, even a thorn that pricks him.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 5640; Muslim, 2572.
- “They plan and Allah plans and Allah is the best of planners” (Quran 8:30)
- “Verily, with hardship there is ease” (Quran 94:6)
When we really reflect on what they are telling us we realise a few things. That every single one of us will be tested in some way and that it may be that Allah is testing us through this illness. So just like we would work hard for our school exams we should strive to not only pass but excel in this test. Allah tells us that whatever test he sends our way we will be able to bear it, even if we think at that time we cannot make it through this difficulty. So with the right mindset and we will get through it no matter how hard things may become. The hadith of the Prophet (saw) always makes me feel better as I think about how many sins I may have committed knowingly and unknowingly and that through my illness it is being wiped away. This shows just how merciful Allah is, subhanallah. This last ayah I share with you is truly profound, many people think, just as I did, that this means we will have times of hardship followed by times of ease. But I recently read an article which helped me see this ayah in a new perspective. It says WITH hardship there is ease so even in times of hardship there will be ease as well. The two come together not one after the other. Now thinking about it this way gives a person so much more hope. This time may be hardship but it won’t be all bad. You will have plenty of good moments even if you are ill for a long time. Something I only really noticed after really understanding this ayah.
I still have bad days when I feel upset or frustrated about how much my health condition limits me in things I want to do, this feeling is natural but it shouldn’t consume me and I know that Allah is the best of planners and whatever He has planned for me through his infinite wisdom will be so much better for me than anything that i could imagine, I just need to trust Allah. I know there is a reason for Him giving me this health condition.
I truly hope that what I have shared with you will be of benefit to you and that it may help you through your illness or hardship you are going through.