The Wisdom of the Prophet: the Incident of the Epileptic Woman

Beautiful mountain meadow

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

There is a hadith narrated by ‘Ata bin Abi Rabah:

Ibn ‘Abbas once said to me, “Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “This black lady came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, ‘I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.’ The Prophet said (to her), ‘If you wish, be patient and you will have Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.’ She said, ‘I will remain patient,’ and added, ‘but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.’ So he invoked Allah for her.” – Bukhari :: Book 7 :: Volume 70 :: Hadith 555

This hadith was published recently on MuslimasOasis.com, and I was fascinated by the many comments from readers who have epilepsy and have been inspired or comforted by this hadith.

One sister wrote:

“(This hadith) was a comfort to me as an epileptic when I had a seizure outside of a masjid on the pavement in Philadephia during a busy Jumaah afternoon. When I came to, my niqab was removed, my hijab loosened, and my husband and a brother were helping the paramedics that had arrived. Because of this hadith I felt comfort in spite of being such a spectacle, alhamdulillah.”

Another said:

“I too am an epileptic. When I first reverted to Islam over 3 years ago, one of the sisters who witnessed my Shahada wrote this hadith out and gave it to me. It is a HUGE comfort to know this. May Allah ease the trials of all epileptics and those who suffer from any disease and grant us all sabr. Ameen!”

And there were other similar comments, from men and women, ma-sha-Allah.

I don’t have epilepsy or any other serious sickeness, Alhamdulillah (praise God)  for all His blessings. But as I read the comments of people who do have some illness and have been tremendously comforted by this hadith, all of a sudden I realized the huge wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in what he said to the epileptic woman. He could have simply invoked for her and she would have been cured, and then all of us 1,400 years later would read the story and say, “Ma-sha-Allah, another miracle to prove his Prophethood.” But it would have no lasting personal significance.

Instead, by asking the woman to be patient and promising her Jannah (Paradise), the Prophet (pbuh) has sent a message of hope down through the ages to all the other sufferers in the world:  Allah sees your suffering. Your pain will be compensated, and your patience rewarded with the greatest possible prize.

Even today epilepsy cannot be cured, though it can be controlled somewhat through medication. So even now, all these years later, in this age of medical wonders, this hadith still has immediate significance for people who suffer from this illness, and in fact from people who suffer from any illness, from cancer to leprosy to bipolar disorder.

Another point of note is that every Prophet was sent with certain types of miracles appropriate to the understanding of their people. Musa (Moses, peace be upon him) was sent with the staff of power and the white hand, because his mission was to a people steeped in sorcery. “Medical miracles” – curing the sick, even bringing the dead back to life – were the hallmark of the Prophet Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary, pbuh), because he was sent to a people who specialized in healing arts.

If the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had made it his habit to cure the sick, the Christians might say about us Muslims, “Oh, you are only taking Biblical stories and applying them to your Prophet.”

Instead, though the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) performed his share of wonders, he was given the greatest miracle of all, the Quran, a living proof through the millenia, and a source of eternal guidance. This is appropriate because his immediate mission was to a people of poetry, of language and eloquence; while his greater mission was to all of humanity.

“Say: ‘If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they backed up each other with help and support.'” (Quran 17:88)

Did the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), a mere shepherd and trader living almost one and a half thousand years ago in the lonely deserts of Arabia, realize the lasting significance of his actions? Did he perceive the way his words and deeds would echo down the annals of history?

Sure he did. He was a man of great wisdom, courage and natural intelligence. He did not do things randomly, especially in matters of worship. And he was guided by Allah in these matters, so that his actions could serve as an example for humanity until the Day of Resurrection.

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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 259 articles by
6 Comments Post a Comment
  1. GenDarMe says:

    Great topic >>
    well, it’s good to have PaTiEnCE
    but It’s HarD to have it too >>
    As, ProPhEt MuHaMMed (pbuh) was in too many (uncountable) ways showing us how to live >>
    he’s our ExAmPLe as You SaiD before >>

  2. Needadvice says:

    Salaam, I often visit this site when I’m down and re-read articles which iv already read..jazakAllah sometimes it’s articles like these that get me through the day May Allah swt make easy for u anyhardship u face as u make Easy mine Ameen

  3. Rasheed Ali says:

    Alhamdulillah. When I read this Hadith I was very pleased and felt gifted of the mercy from Allah. After I read this I told my mother, may Allah be pleased with her, I intend to be patient and wish to live this life without my epileptic seizures being cured since Insha’Allah what Allah will bless me with in the Hereafter is an innumerable amount of times better than everything in this world. So may Allah bless me with guidance, forgiveness, and my gift to Jannah. May He help me keep it under control to not harm others, and may He bless me to keep it for my entire life in this world if He will grant me with the greatest reward in the Hereafter because of it. Allah knows best. : )

    • Wael says:

      Brother Rasheed, take your medicine, or if there is a surgery that can cure you, then have it. Back in those days they didn’t have a cure for epilepsy, so the Prophet (sws) advised patience. Now we do have treatments. So make use of them.

      • Nadia hussain says:

        Aslaam wa alaikum
        My sister in law suddenly started having epileptic fits after many scans and MRI scans doctors found a lump in her head next to her brain. This was not a tumour but just a lump which they thought was causing the seizures. After a major head sugary she was fine for about four months and then started having seizures again. The lump did not re develop and the doctors do not know why she is having seizures. Their for operations are not necessarily a answer. She is now more I’ll than before, may Allah give everyone good health, ameen

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