The Hidden Blessings of Illness and Hardship

Huge sunrays in a blue sky

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

I’m glad and grateful that I am ill right now, and that times are hard. Does that sound crazy?

Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “For any adversity a Muslim suffers, Allah erases some of his sins, even though it may be no more than a thorn pricking him.” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

Another version of this Hadith is also related by Al-Bukhari on the authority of two of the Prophet’s (pbuh) companions, namely, Abu Saeed Al-Khudri and Abu Hurairah who quote him as saying: “Whatever befalls a Muslim of exhaustion, illness, worry, grief, nuisance or trouble, even though it may be no more than a prick of a thorn, earns him forgiveness by Allah of some of his sins.”

My father recently suffered a fall and broke his leg badly, and is now in a rehab center. In my personal life, two moves and one divorce in the last five years have made it hard to retain friendships, and I find myself feeling isolated. I’ve been through some painful personal experiences. And these are hard times economically as well. So there’s a lot of stress in the household.

I do my best to love my daughter more than ever, to play with her, hug and kiss her, and always remind her of Allah’s barakah. I try to make her world full of happiness, learning, and talks about Allah. I try to never let her see me sweat, as they say. But once she’s sound asleep in bed, I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders like a sack of stones.

So if by patiently enduring this illness and these hard times in general, I will earn Allah’s forgiveness for my sins, and maybe will be blessed in ways that I do not see, then I am grateful.

One more hadith: Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated that Allah’s Messenger salallahu alayhi wasallam said, “On the Day of Resurrection, when people who have suffered affliction are given their reward, those who are healthy will wish their skins had been cut to pieces with scissors when they were in the world.” (Al-Tirmidhi, 1570)

In other words, when people see how much reward is given to those who suffered in life, they will wish that they had suffered terribly, in the worst possible ways, so that it might become a cause of forgiveness for them in the Hereafter.

SubhanAllah, whatever pain we suffer in this life is not in vain. It is not wasted. We may cry and wince and groan over small pains, but Allah sees our suffering and will compensate us more than we can imagine, as long as we are patient and keep faith in Him. Allah the Most High has a plan for us, and He is the best of planners. We must have faith in Him and His plan for us.

Seeing the Good

Also, let us not be blind to the good things that have happened. I think this is very important. All too often we get caught up in our losses and dismiss some of Allah’s quiet gifts and blessings that have budded and opened up when we were hardly looking.

For example, I have always thought of myself as a writer at heart and have been happiest when I was pursuing that calling. When I was single I was obsessive about it. Even after a long day at work I would sit down in front of the computer in my little San Francisco loft, and write. After I got married and the responsibilities of family life fell on my shoulders I neglected my writing. Lately, however, I find myself writing daily and expressing ideas that have been growing in my heart for decades. The words flow as if they have been bottled under pressure, waiting for release. What a blessing!

In my teens I studied martial arts for some years. Life carried me in different directions and I stopped practicing but I still thought of myself as a martial artist, and kept meaning to get back into it. Finally in my late thirties I realized that my dream was passing me by. I got back into it and made a do-or-die commitment. Since then, with the moves from the Bay Area to Panama City to El Valle to Fresno, it’s been a struggle to find teachers and training partners, but I have persisted, in some cases creating my own training group out of scratch. For the last year and a half, partly as a way of dealing with loneliness and stress, I plunged myself into an intensive study of the arts.

Now I suddenly find myself entering this phase when my understanding of the arts is expanding like a tidal wave. I seem to have moved beyond rote memorization of techniques and I am able to spontaneously create combinations and visualize new possibilities. My balance is solid, my form is good. Basically, I have grasped the underlying principles of the arts and have moved beyond the 1-2-3 stage. I can finally call myself a martial artist.

That’s something I dreamed of all my life. And it came about because I was stressed!

What other secret blessings await me? What other lifelong dreams are quietly budding, getting ready to bloom?

Only Gratitude

That’s why the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “How amazing is the case of the believer; there is good for him in everything, and this is only so for the believer. If he experiences something pleasant, he is thankful, and that is good for him; and if he comes across adversity, he is patient, and that is good for him.” [Muslim]

How amazing indeed! What a treasure trove of strength and mercy there is in this deen! Who can say that this is not a religion of hope?

Allah rewards the believer even for the pricking of a thorn. Who can deny that this is the attitude of a Compassionate God, One who understand us, sees our pain, cares about our suffering, and wants only good for us?

And what does Allah want in return? Only gratitude, and that our actions manifest that gratitude. Nothing more.

Allah says, “And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ “ [Surat Ibrahim 14:7]

Which brings us back to my opening statement. I am grateful and glad even for the hardships. I am aware of all of Allah’s favors, and when He says, “Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?” my response is, “I deny none of them, O Lord!”

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including Zawaj.com and IslamicAnswers.com, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project, IslamicSunrays.com, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at AbolishTorture.com. He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , Read 264 articles by
113 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Rubina says:

    Assalamualaikum,

    I made a sin by telling a lie at my job that i m unmarried as the job requirement was for unmarried women at the university and now i deeply feel sorry for that. I may be punished for the same but so afraid of the punishment. And simultaneously i want everyone to know the truth and i want to get saved from the punishment and want my job as well. I had my husbands permission when i lied.

    Kindly help me for the sake of Allah to overcome this problem. Even my husband feel regretted now. We both are sorry for the same.

    Just Allah knows how extremely we are feeling sorry felling sorry.

    • Gracias says:

      Salam sister Rubina, I think as Long as you will keep n doing this job you will not get mental rest . Start fresh without any deception to get worldly gains.
      I don’t think there is any other way except to quit this job along with dua for Allah forgiveness.

    • Rasheedah says:

      if you feel that guilty then look for another job and forgive yourself and move on. Allah is most merciful. 🙂 have mercy on yourself. May Allah bless you with something even better. As salaam u alaikum

  2. firmbeliever says:

    Salaam brother,

    Thank you for sharing with us and May Allah reward you ten times for every letter because indeed, it is a blessing to be a source of comfort for others.

  3. Asma says:

    Salaam brother,Please dua for me i am in too anxiety and too much sad

    • Riyyan says:

      Salaam sister , stay firm in your suffering and anxiety , you will be rewarded as long as you stay firm and patient in the way of Allah .

  4. ServantofAllah says:

    Assalamualaikum. I have been having this unknown sickness where I feel tingling pain on my legs and hands for over years now. It comes and go though. I also feel cold on the whole of my body which comes and go as well. When I feel that the pain and discomfort is too much, I feel so depressed and sad. I know that this a test for me from Allah. I am trying to remain patient upon this test as I have tried my best to seek help from the hospital, clinic and other means of halal help. However, the sickness is still not cure and I know this sickness only can be cure by the help of Allah. I am certain that Allah loves me and that is why he is testing me this way. I would apperciate that if anyone are willing to give me words of encouragement so that I don’ feel sad and depressed.

    • Wael says:

      Be patient dear sister and remember that any pain or illness you suffer in an expiation for your sins, as long as you are patient. It may be that on Yawm-al-Qiyamah you will find all your sins forgiven because of this pain and your patience with it.

      Wael
      IslamicSunrays.com

    • Muneeb says:

      Waalaikum as salam Sister, I am sharing my experience and I would same mine was bit more than yours. Anyway, this could be my personal or specific to me. Even I have undergone the same situtation and I categorised illness in three forms: physical /mental and soul. If you have used all the halal means then your sickness wouldn’t be related to magic\clincal. You feel cold because you are observing\noticing your body changes and giving it importance in your mind which inturn will worsen the effects. You need to learn to reject the thoughts saying “we are human we will have stomach aches\head aches depression\sadness”. It’s normal in human. Do not ponder much on these thoughts and learn to live with it. May Allah help us from all the kinds of illness.

      • ServantofAllah says:

        Thank you so much for your respond!! Can you tell exactly how can I stop pondering over the thoughts?? I really am having a difficult time to stop myself from not thinking it as it is really uncomfortable to bear.

        • Slave of ALLAH says:

          Wa ‘alaykumussal?m warahmatull?hi wa barak?tuhu sister

          You have to start Reciting al-Faatihah,The last three surahs of the Qur’an, Aayat-ul-Kursi and last two verses of surah Al baqrah.Also if possible Entire Al baqraah.

          The Former i have mentioned Recite Every morning and Evening and also before going Bed time.

          You may not see the initial Effects but Eventually In sha ALLAH ,things will be ok.its a like daily dose.

          This is a Calamity or a test.

          If you are patient ALLAH the exalted will Reward you ,Forgive your sins and Elevate your status.

          The best way to not to think about it is to Remember ALLAH by adhkaar/dhikr.

          You can start with the above ones i have mentioned.

          The more you keep yourself occupied with dhikr ,the more these thoughts are going to be away.pleas Refer these two books Fortress of muslim and Ruqyah by Darrusalam.They are short books with lot of supplications translated in English.

          The Remembrance of ALLAH is like a medicine.The Quran is a Shifa.

          You should aslo change your living habits and Recite all dhikr at appropriate places.I e before eating and Drinking,before sleeping,before going out of house,while coming into the house,Also Additional Dhikrs while travelling like Glorifying ALLAH.The Dhikr of morning and Evening in Fortress of muslim.Further Establish prayers, Pray on time ,Pray all the sunnah and nawafil prayers.

          You have to slowly start and gradually increase.ALLAH is surely with one who is patient.

          The time a test or calamity is struck ,Your path to victory is Registered.its up to you to get the victory early or late by abstaining from sins and doing righteous acts or by involving in sins and living a life unmindful of ALLAH therefore delaying victory.

      • hafisa says:

        well said

    • Julaybib says:

      Wa Lay kumsalaam.

      May Allah ease all your difficulties, and bless you abundantly with the blessed gifts of sabr and shukr ameen.

      I went through a similar experience some years ago, physical illness, financial and other problems which resulted in me having a mental breakdown, I wrote
      the following article on my experience and posted it elsewhere and insha’Allah it will be of benefit to you.

      Gratitude a Cure for Depression.!

      For those going through difficulties I thought I would share my own personal experience and Insha’Allah it may be of some benefit.

      Well it is a long story but to put in a nutshell, a few years ago I suffered from a mental breakdown, the Anti-depressants the Doctor put me on made the symptoms worse, so during those months out of desperation I started looking for Islamic solution even with my mental state I was able to identify that I had allowed my mind to be filled with thoughts of selfpity “Why me?”

      Well I read a chapter on the Benefit of Shukr by Imam Ibn Alawi Haddad in his book of assistance, and so to help counteract the Depression and thoughts of selfpity and despair I made a point of trying to force myself to express perpetual shukr throughout the day. So daily I developed a routine whereby I would get up in the morning say Alhamdulillah for new day, sit up in bed say Alhamdulillah for giving me the tawfiq to sit free from pain. Walk to the Bathroom say Alhamdulillah for giving me the tawfiq to walk.

      Upon Drinking glass of water Alhamdulillah for the blessings of being able to receive water through a tap, Alhamdulillah for giving me a glass to pour it in, Alhamdulillah for giving me hands to hold the glass Alhamdulillah for being able to swallow the water, Alhamdulillah, for quenching my thirst.

      Essentially trying to focus my mind on Gratitude, instead of negative thoughts of selfpity and despair. Every time I had a negative thought I would immediately try to combat it by reflecting on some blessing and expressing gratitude. Even though initially my expressions of gratitude seemed a bit mechanical, and insincere. But ever so slowly I genuinely started to feel more grateful, and the depression started to dissipate.

      During that time I shared this method of non-stop shukr with a couple of friends and they both found the results to be staggering, one of them set the Alarm clock on his mobile to go off after every hour. So every hour on the hour he would try and reflect on everything he did or was able to accomplish during the previous hour and express Gratitude.

      Having a couple other friends do it with me helped quite a lot, we would report back to each other every week as to how we got on! and would feed of each others enthusiasm, and energy, and that helped me remain steadfast with this method of Zikr.

      So the above outlined method was an essential part of my recovery during those few weeks. And it was spiritually a very powerful experience.

      Here is an Extract from the book of assistance on blessings of Gratitude.

      On Gratitude

      You must thank God for all that he has favoured you with. you have no good thing, whether outward or inward religious or worldly, but that it comes from Him.
      He has said Exalted is he: Whatever good thing you have is from God.(XVI:53), Gods favours upon you are more than you can number or be aware of, let alone adequately thank Him for. If you would count the favours of God you cannot number them. (XIV:34) .

      If the poor and sick among the people of monotheism reflected on God’s favours upon them they would become too intoxicated by giving thanks to feel the hardship of patient endurance. you should do as much as you can to thank your Lord and confess your total incapacity to do so adequately.

      Know that thankfulness leads to the perpetuation of favours already received and to the obtaining of others that are desired. God the Exalted has said: If you give thanks, I shall surely increase you (XIV:7) He is, Exalted is He, too Generous to take away a favour from someone who is thanking him. He has said, Exalted is He: That is because God never changes a blessing he has bestowed on any people until they first change what is in themselves, ( VIII:51) that is their neglecting to give thanks………..

      Imam Abdallah Ibn Alawi Al Hadad (May Allah bless him abundantly and confer His Mercy upon him)* Taken from ‘The Book of Assistance’

  5. Julaybib says:

    As salamu alaykum.

    Here is an Inspiring article I read, and would like to share with all those suffering from Illness and undergoing difficulties.

    Sick!Sick,Of Being Sick!

    The fateful day finally arrived. The darkness of the hospital ward enveloped my shrivelled body as I lay aimlessly on the cardboard mattress. As the day squeezed out of the dreary night, the reality dawned upon me. While we sat in the cold conference room with Dr. Wokshire, the bitter truth broke from her lips like prayer beads from an old thread. “You have a mental illness, for life.”
    The rope to Allah hung there, loosely above me. Yet, spiritually, I became too weak to jump. For hours I thought, “How did other Muslims hold the guiding rope with firm grips? There are other Muslims who are ill, with trials storming about them! Yet, they managed to move on, to believe, to pray, to fast, give zakah, do Hajj, but who? Who are they? Where are they? What are they?” The pattern of thought became all too familiar until I held the belief that I was the only one suffering in an ever darkening cave.

    I had become accustomed to complaining about my illness. Oh, the stress of my illness, oh the stress of taking medication, oh the stress of doctor appointments, oh the stress of remaining sane, oh the stress of stress! I had reached the bottom of the well and now I could only rise to the top. How I fell upon my knees as I knew my escape from the painful well was only with my Lord, with my Allah subhanahu watala who gave me this illness, challenged me with this illness, blessed me with this illness, The One who would cure me of this illness.

    Ar-Raheem, The Most Merciful, recalled to me the mercies He had showered upon me, the mother’s silky touch upon my tangled mind, the brown eyes to see shimmering sunrises, the strong legs to perform sweet salah, the trays of exquisite breads and fruits for my delight, the infinite mercies.

    Al-Mujeeb, The Responsive, answered my du’a and showed me the who, the where and the what. Alhumdulillah, He inspired me to open the Quran to the story of Prophet Ayub alayhi salaam in surah Al Anbiya (24:83-84). My fingers energetically followed the timeless words:

    “And (remember) Ayub (Job), when he cried to his Lord: ‘Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy’” (24:83).

    What distress had seized Ayub alayhi salaam to utter such beautiful words? As I scrolled down to the commentary, I soon realized the answer to my question. The joyous tears, full of gratitude, fell from my brown eyes to water the dry plants of eman and quench the spiritual desert in my heart. I clutched the Quran to my beating heart and read on. Ayub alayhi salaam had:

    Been severely tested with illness and poverty, left alone and abandoned shunned by society around him. He suffered from sores that reached from head to foot.

    But Allah recalls to him His mercies. With this in mind, Ayub alayhi salaam became humble. He takes humility, patience, and eman in Allah as his sword to fight and conquer evil. Allah restored him to prosperity with even more blessings and he lived happily ever after, but not as happy in Jannah.

    By this time, my mind and heart, as one, danced with the ayah as we madly, deeply truly fell in love. I developed a relationship with Allah, the one who gave me, me, little old me this timeless treasure to cherish beyond time. To this day, the timeless treasure, the sign, the ayah hangs on my wall. My hungry eyes gaze at it and the eman rushes through my veins till it reaches my heart and mind until I can breathe and think again, until I can be conscious of Allah and His Mercies again. I read to my friend the ayah hanging on the wall to assure her that Allah gave me this jewel as a sign, that Alhumdulillah, I can take the ‘in’ out of insanity and gain sanity.

    “What? Mental illness, me? I have a mental illness?” I thought. “Oh yes, that atom-sized illness with a nucleus that holds a proton-sized stress. Why make a fuss? After all, Allah created this illness and He created its cure. That’s why Alhumdulillah, Allah is treating the illness through my caring family, my intelligent doctors and the miraculous medication He gave me.

    “Yes, my atom-sized illness is nothing compared to the cosmos of calamities and loathsome sores that befell Ayub alayhi salaam. He passed his test. He was the Muslim stormed with trials. He was the Muslim who still believed and held Allah’s rope with a mighty fist. I had found the who, the where, the what. Their soothing stories sang from the golden pages of the Al Quran as signs for the whole of mankind, for men and woman, for you and I. Alhumdulillah, I found the who, the where, the what because of Allah. I asked and Allah answered, after all He is Al-Mujeeb, The Responsive!”

    Ya Mujeeb, let these words awaken our sleepless hearts and beat once again with the rhythm of your deen: Islam.

    Author Unknown.

    May Allah instil in our hearts Sabr Ameen.

    “And (remember) Ayub (Job), when he cried to his Lord: ‘Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy’” (24:83)

    • Julaybib says:

      As Salamu Alaykum.

      Brother Wael, In the above article I posted, I’ve spelt Salam incorrectly, instead of Salamu I typed Salanu…I would be grateful if you could Insha’Allah correct that for me…! May Allah reward you.

        • Julaybib says:

          As Salamu alaykum.

          May Allah reward you Brother Wael,..!

          For those who going through hardships, here is a prescription given by

          Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him) he says,

          “Develop the habit of talking to Allah.

          My shaykh Dr Abdul-Hayy ‘Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him) told this to us repeatedly.

          Sit in solitude and contemplate that I am infront of Allah. Tell Him everything that is on your mind and bothering you. Your past mistakes, the present difficulties and future apprehensions . Tell Him in detail and ask for guidance and help.

          InshaAllah, in addition, to relieving your anxiety it will lead to the creation of a bond between you and your Lord, Allah (ta’luq ma Allah).”

          Of course the success, of any spiritual prescription is dependent on doing it with focus commitment and consistency, until the desired aim is achieved.

          I pray that Allah blesses each and everyone who is going through difficulties, with the wonderful blessings of sabr and shukr, and such a healing where no trace of illness remains ameen.

  6. Haleema says:

    may God be with you, its great you found growth in this hardship, inshaAllah Allah will bring your family back together someday
    we provide free counseling
    http://www.fountainoflight.co/#!worriestreatment/c1l1j

  7. Sister striving for Allah SWT says:

    Dear Brother Wael

    Subhanallah Subhanallah Subhanallah may Allah bestow his blessings, peace and forgiveness upon you and all of us inshallah.

    Allhumdulilah I came across your site two days ago and have to if it has not made burst into tears as it did yesterday then I’m almost there enough!

    We all have our problems and feel they are too significant to overcome,

    So often we feel alone, suffering, hardships and there are the hidden nurs of this world showing us Allah is so merciful allhumdulilah.

    Jazakallah for your words of wisdom, and allhumdulilah you are blessed to write!

    I look forward to sharing your site with my family and friends.

    As salaam alaikum!

  8. Divine Seeker says:

    This is also an excellent article on the issue of Illness and Islam:

    https://seekingthedivinecountenance.wordpress.com/2016/07/13/the-problem-of-sickness/

  9. Saeeda Darr says:

    Jasak Allah
    for sharing your story I totally related to it my journey through and through and I ave been overwhelmed with Allahs countless blessings but at the same time the trials and tests continue. I recently got injured quite severely on my right Achilles muscle which required surgery. I am now in a cast house bound dependent on family and friends for my every day need. It has been a shock to the system as I have never ever sat down ans needed any one to do any thing for ma actually i ran around for every one. I have worked hard all my life and A|humdillah I have a full time job, always been in to fitness and have been training four times a week for the last nine years only to be told that i will need to learn to walk again, not only that but for now and the one most thing I love keeping fit will not be able to return to the gym for time. This is what my inner struggle with my self is I am determined to get back on my feet and be better, even fitter than I am. I was also supposed to fly to Pakistan to my brother in laws wedding. Due to the injury had to cancel the flight. I know Allah is testing me and I am not at all angry and accept my current situation. please let me know about duaas or surah’s that I can read to help the healing process. Please pray for me to quickly get back on my feet

    Waslam

    I look forward to your reply Inshallah

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