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In this article, you will be introduced to the basic concepts of Islam in relation to Illness and faith.

Spiritual Understanding

Muslims believe that our main purpose in life is to worship God at all times. Allah (ﷻ) 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 (ﷺ) 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. God is the One who gifted us Life, and in case of the decree of death, it is returning back to Him.
  2. Faith will not change destiny, but indeed, it will help people cope with illness and accept it as a test better than those without faith.
  3. Life is a test that can be of many dimensions including sickness, death, loss of property etc. Allah (ﷻ) 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.
  4. Muslims honor life as an investment in righteous deeds even when sick or ill. The prophet (ﷺ) said: “The best among you is one who lives long (time) with good deeds.”[2] The prophet (ﷺ) 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 is better for me.”[3]
  5. When encountering illness or hardships of any type, a Muslim would be urged to see it as a sign of love from God. The prophet (ﷺ) said, “If God loves people, He will test them.”[4] This love is evident in the following:
    1. Recognizing your need for God. Allah (ﷻ) said: {When harm touches a human being, he calls upon his Lord [for relief], penitent to Him [alone.]} 39:8.
    2. Erasing your sins. The prophet (ﷺ) said, “Anything that touches the Believer whether tiredness, illness, stress, sadness, harm or depression even the (pain of a) thorn that touches him, Allah would erase his sins (because of that).”[5] The prophet (ﷺ) also said: “If a Muslim was ill for three days, he will be purified from all his sins like the day his mother gave birth to him.”[6]
    3. Big rewards: Allah (ﷻ) said: {For, indeed, those who are patient shall be rendered their reward in full, without measure.} 39:10. The prophet (ﷺ) said, “The greater the hardship is, the greater shall be the reward.”[7]

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 all of 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 (ﷺ) said: “Allah has created illness and Allah has created cure; so (seek) cure.”[8] The prophet (ﷺ) also said: “All diseases that God brought down were brought (down) with cures, be it known (such medicine) to those who knew it or (kept) unaware (undiscovered) from those unaware.”[9]

Although it is known that a Muslim has the right to reject medical care if he/she chooses that, but it becomes mandatory to seek medical care in cases of serious and treatable diseases. The Council of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy’s seventh meeting in Jeddah, May 1992 stated that: Seeking cure is permissible for references mentioned in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 contagious diseases.
  2. Seeking cure will be preferred though not mandatory 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 contemptible if by doing it, fear of worse complications will happen than the illness meant to be treated.” fiqhacademy.org.sa

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 (ﷻ) 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. Allah (ﷻ) said: {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.

The Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned many words of supplications that a person might read in addition to verses from the Holy Quran as a way of asking God (Allah) the Healer to bring healing or put blessings in the medicine.

Some recommended supplications:

  1. O Allah the Lord of people; remove harm and (bring) healing; You are the Healer. No healing but Yours; the healing that leaves no illness (behind.)
  2. I ask Allah the Gracious, the Lord of the Gracious Throne to heal you.
  3. Place your hand where you feel pain and say: ‘Bismillah (In the Name of Allah)’ three times; and then repeat seven times: (I seek refuge with Allah and with His Power from the evil that afflicts me and that which I apprehend).”
  4. My Lord. Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.
  5. Oh, our Lord Allah Who is in Heaven, Holy be Your name, Your will is done in heaven and on earth; as Your mercy is in heaven, bestow it upon the earth. Forgive us for our sins and our wrong ways. You are the Lord of the good. Send down mercy from You and remedy from You to heal upon this pain, so that it is healed.”

General Rules of Islamic Medical Ethics

  1. Harm should not be removed by causing another equivalent harm or bigger. For example, you will not approve a donation of a kidney if the donor will be harmed equally or more than the recipient.
  2. Necessity overrides prohibition. For example, exposing a female’s body to a male is prohibited in Islam. But because medical care is a necessity, it will be permissible in such cases.
  3. Removing harm has priority over bringing benefit. For example, in breast cancer patients, if removing one or both will save the woman’s life, it should be the option taken.
  4. Public interest overrides individual interest. For example, if vaccines were mandated by authority for a certain pandemic, every individual must abide to prevent spreading disease even if it was against 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 needing to be removed should be the case.


Ending the life of an ill person for the purpose of easing his pain (euthanasia) is not allowed in Islam. The Grand Mufti of Egypt made it clear that this act is prohibited in Islam. “The life of a human is a trust that he should preserve, and he should preserve his body [from harm] and should not expose himself to destruction. Allah said: {Yet do not cast your souls, by your own hands, into destruction}. Islam also prohibited killing yourself; Allah said: {And you shall not kill one another. Indeed, God is ever merciful to you}.” Mohammad Tantawi; (Comprehensive Medicine Convention. February 2000 University of Ayn Shams, Egypt.) www.islamonline.org


Role of Social and Family Support:

  1. Social support is seen as an act of worship in Islam: The prophet (ﷺ) said: “Allah said in the Holy Hadith; O son of Adam, I (God) 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) will say: Didn’t you know that my servant (so & so) got sick, and you didn’t visit him! Didn’t you know, that if you had visited him, you would have found Me by him!”[10]
  2. Social support is seen as a right for the ill person. The prophet (ﷺ) said: “The rights of a Muslim toward another Muslim are five; returning greetings, visiting the sick, following (attending) funerals, answering invitations and making supplications (for the one) who sneezes.”[11]
  3. Social support for the ill means lots of reward for those who offer such support such as visiting the sick: The prophet (ﷺ) said: “For any Muslim who visits (an ill) Muslim in the morning, seventy thousand angels will pray for him till evening. And for any Muslim who visits (an ill) Muslim in the evening, seventy thousand angels will pray for him till morning.”[12]

Visitation guidelines:

  1. Short visits: You do not know the condition of the sick person and that is why each visitor should make his visit as short as possible.
  2. Supplications for the ill person: The prophet (ﷺ) mentioned many types of supplications that the visitor should say when visiting the ill. Example: (repeat seven times): “I ask Allah the Glorious, the Lord of the Glorious throne to heal you.”
  3. Optimistic words: The prophet (ﷺ) said: “If you entered on an ill person, breathe (using optimistic words) for him, (postpone Ajal; appointed term of death), although it does not prevent what is written (of fate) but it soothes the soul of the afflicted.” Hadith narrated by Ibn Majah and Tirmizi.
  4. Offering support and help for the family. It could be financial help or volunteering services to them etc. The prophet (ﷺ) said, “The example of believers in their love and mercy (toward each other) is like a single body. If one part of it feels pain, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.”

By Imam Kifah Mustapha

[1] Bukhari

[2] Tirmizi

[3] Bukhari

[4] Tirmizi

[5] Bukhari

[6] Tabarani

[7] Tirmizi

[8] Abu Daoud

[9] Ahmad

[10] Muslim

[11] Bukhari

[12] Tirmizi


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