We are not in Heaven yet, and life was never meant to be free from trials, tests and calamities. Allah (SW) said: {One who created death and life to test you, [and to reveal] which of you is best in deeds. 67:2}

The value of existence on the foundation of free will, where we, as human beings, were given the ability to submit willingly versus other creations that have no choice but to submit, {All those in the heavens and in the earth submit to Him- willingly and unwillingly. 3:83} laid the philosophy of the presence of tests and trials including pain and suffering in the journey of life. Allah (SW) said: {We created man in [a life of] travail. 90:4}

Even though the Quran is clear that no one will escape being touched by trials and tests in this life, by the mercy of Allah, easing pain and suffering is sought in Islam on many levels, not merely the physical level that medical intervention focuses on. Islam advocates a wholesome approach that helps prevent such suffering before it happens, deals with it as it is happening, and secures the chance for it not to return.

In these few lines, I will be covering certain concepts in Islam that support a wholesome wellness approach.

Wellness for the body and soul is to be protected in Islam, and it is something everyone should be seeking in life. The prophet (SAAW) said: “The best of people is one who lived long and excelled in his deeds.”[1] Preventative measures such as eating lawful foods while avoiding harmful ones {Eat of the wholesome foods which We have provided you. 2:172}, taking care of your body (“A strong believer is better and beloved to God than a weak believer although both are good.”[2]), and keeping a hygienic lifestyle {And Allah loves those who purify themselves. 2:222} were all meant to care for the self and maintain its wellness to pre-emptively avoid illness or harm. At the same time, through strengthening one’s faith in God and trusting His wisdom behind incidents of predetermined destiny (Qadar), people are mentally prepared to stand strong and utilize the best means available for them to seek healing and ease suffering. Allah (SW) said: {Indeed, We have created all things in [accordance with a predetermined] measure. 54:49}

Dealing with illnesses and diseases as one of the main causes for pain and suffering is also addressed in Islam. Islam promoted the concept of seeking cures by utilizing science and knowledge on the basis that all illnesses are curable. The prophet (SAAW) said: (“God has never brought down a disease without bringing the cure for it.”[3]) It was said that Omar (RAA) visited people and saw that the camels they owned had some type of skin rash. He asked: “How do you treat this?” They said: “There is a blessed woman who comes and reads Quran on it.” Omar replied: “It would be better if you mix such recitation with coal tar.”[4]

The role of family and friends is very crucial in bringing support to the one in pain or suffering. Muslims care for each other under the concept of being there for support, or what you can call the Ministry of Presence.[5] Allah (SW) said in the Holy Hadith: “O son of Adam, I was ill and you did not visit Me?” The servant will say: “My Lord; how would I visit you and you are the Lord of all that exists?” Allah (SW) will reply: “Did you not know that my servant (so & so) was ill and you did not visit him? Had you visited him, you would have found Me by him.[6] Islam also promotes speaking words of support in the presence of an ill person in a positive way. The prophet (SAAW) said: “If you enter on a patient, extend (positively in words) his chance of wellness, for although it does not change the pre-destined decreed matter (for him) but it brings ease to his soul.”[7] Such support helps the person utilize his inner power mentally to help cope with his or her pain and suffering.

As we list all these measures in dealing with pain and suffering, we as Muslims believe that they are all means and tools. The true Healer is God, as Ibrahim (AS) stated: {And when I become ill, He [is the One who] heals me. 26:80} Muslims also believe in the healing power of God’s Words (SW) and the selected supplications that prophet Mohammad (SAAW) taught us. Allah (SW) said: {Thus, do We send down [in the verses] of the Quran that which is a healing [for body and soul] and a mercy to the believers.17:82} Let me add to this point that although Words of God are recited for the healing purposes in them, the pure intentions of the reciter, the positive spirit in bringing healing to the sick person, and the faith demonstrated when reading verses or supplications are also a key factor in healing.

Let me also add that the number of good acts in life associated with illness and pain are to be viewed as the positive side of such suffering. The prophet (SAAW) said: “Treat you ill ones by almsgiving.[8] How many times have we witnessed acts of good deeds in the name of seeking healing on behalf of someone who is ill? Even in times of loss, great acts of good deeds and continuous trusts and charities were established and named after someone, or on behalf of his or her memory.

On a final note, let me end by saying that only if you believe in the Hereafter will all this make sense and have some logic to it. Our lives are short and incomplete, and only if you see the Hereafter as your final chapter can you truly understand and cope with your challenges in life. Many verses or Hadiths were mentioned about how Heaven is meant to be the real life and how pain in our worldly life can be transformed into erasing sins, elevations in levels of Heaven, and best of all, closeness to Allah.

I pray and ask Allah (SW) to make our life free from pain and suffering and utilize us for the best of His service.

O Allah, we ask the continuity of Your blessings, the fulfilment of wellness on us and that our ending will be in the best of our moments submitting to Your Might, Ameen.

By Sh Kifah Mustapha

[1] Tirmizi

[2] Muslim

[3] Bukhari

[4] Asphahani “Muhadartul Udaba’”

[5] A term I learned while doing my chaplaincy program CPE at Good Samaritan Hospital in Lombard IL.

[6] Muslim

[7] Tirmizi

[8] Abu Daoud