Names of Allah Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII |Part XXIX| Part XXX |Part XXXI | Part XXXII | Part XXXIII|Part XXXIV | Part XXXV | Part XXXVI |Part XXXVII |Part XXXVIII | Part XXXIX | Part XL|Part XLI|Part XLII | Part XLIII | Part XLIV | Part XLV | Part XLVI | Part XLVII | Part XLVIII| Part XLIX| Part L | Part LI | Part LII | Part LIII | Part LIV | Part LV | Part LVI | Part LVII
All of us become ill. We may be inflicted yearly with the flu, get a fever or infection from time to time, or suffer from something more serious and/or more frequently, may Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), protect us all and ease the suffering of those who are ill. We are suddenly confronted with how weak we can be, and, sometimes without being conscious of it, plead with Allah (swt) to heal us. Indeed, as the Prophet Abraham, `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him), said:
“And when I am ill, it is He who cures me (yashfeen).” (Qur’an, 26:80)
Aisha, radi Allahu `anha (may God be pleased with her), narrated that when she or any of the Prophet’s ﷺ (peace be unto him) wives would become ill, he would put his right hand over the place of ailment and say:
“O Allah, the Lord of the people! Remove the trouble, for You are the Healer (al-Shāfī). No healing is of any avail but Yours; healing that will leave behind no ailment.” (Bukhari)
This du`a’ (supplication) teaches that it is Allah (swt) who is the Healer: He is al-Shāfī.
Sheikh Abdulrazzaq al-Bader said that the meaning of Allah al-Shāfī is that He is the healer of the diseases of the body and He is the healer of the diseases of the heart—such as rancor, envy, and hatred. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“… and [Allah will] heal the hearts of a believing people.” (Qur’an, 9:14)
The Healing of the Body
When we become ill, there are some of us who will grab a pill or visit the doctor. Others of us may try to figure out what the du`a’s of the Prophet ﷺ were in a similar situation.
Which one of the two groups believes with certainty that Allah is al-Shāfī?
The answer is: both, depending on the state of their heart. The Prophet ﷺ taught us that, “Every disease has a cure. So if the treatment is applied to the disease, the disease is cured by the Will of Allah.” (Muslim) The Prophet ﷺ set up a make-shift hospital in the form of a tent in Madina and appointed a woman named Rufaydah al-Aslamiyah (ra) to run it. Aisha (ra) stated that the companion Sa’ad bin Mu’ath was injured during the Battle of the Trench, and it was Rufaydah who tended to him (Muslim). Moreover, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani praised Rufaydah’s skill and wisdom, as she realized that the arrow that had hit Sa’ad (ra) was too deep to pull out, and so she worked on stopping the bleeding instead.
Al-Shāfī is the source of all cure and healing. Allah (swt) created this world and its laws. He decreed that when a chemical reaction at a certain temperature occurs between oxygen and a fuel, the result would be fire. He also decreed that water would put out (most) fire. Similarly, the laws dictate that when certain things happen—injury, infection, an unhealthy lifestyle or particular genes—we become ill. And those same laws provide for us a prevention from or cure for disease.
Seeking these cures (or making use of the prevention) and making du`a’ are complimentary when we understand that al-Shāfī is the source. He heals us through the laws that He created in the universe—which is why we are commanded to seek cures for our illnesses—and through our asking for His healing. Indeed, the Prophet Ayyoub (as) (Job) prayed to Allah (swt):
“Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.” (Qur’an, 21:83)
And Allah (swt) healed him.
We must remember though that we can cause our own illnesses. Think of a person who is a heavy smoker and is then afflicted with diseases in his lungs and throat. Indeed Allah is al-Shāfī, and He can cure whom He wills, but we must also take responsibility for our actions. We cannot be resigned and say, “Well, Allah willed it,” as an excuse to avoid accountability. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
“…do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction.” (Qur’an, 2:195)
This verse is in specific reference to withholding charity, but mufasiroon (commentators on the Qur’an) such as Tabari stated that the general meaning is also applicable to doing the things that may bring about your own destruction.
Illnesses, whether self-inflicted or not, also provide us with opportunities:
- Realizing our need for Allah
There is nothing like illness that reminds us of our weakness and how much we need Allah (swt). It is important to be a worshipper of Allah (swt) in all circumstances, whether things are good or bad.
- Purifying us
The Prophet ﷺ told us that, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that,” (Bukhari). In another narration, a companion visited the Prophet ﷺ when he was ill. The Prophet ﷺ told him: “No Muslim is afflicted with any harm but that Allah will remove his sins as the leaves of a tree fall down,” (Bukhari).
- Raising our station
Allah says in the Qur’an: “Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.” (Qur’an, 39:10)
When we strive to be patient and steadfast through our illness—meaning here we continue in our trust in Him, pray to Allah (swt) and persevere with treatment if we have it—we have to understand that Allah (swt) gets it. He knows what we are going through. And nothing that you go through is wasted. The verse cited tells us that those who are patient will be given their reward without having to go through the meezan (scale) on the Day of Judgment (Tabari). So rest assured that your patience and perseverance has not gone unnoticed.
The Healing of the Hearts
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (Qur’an, 26:88-89)
While a person may be rewarded during their physical illness and forgiven for sins, there is no such reward for the diseases of the heart. The reward for the disease of the heart is in the effort put into its removal.
Allah (swt) tells us about a beautiful du`a’ in the Qur’an:
“And [there is a share for] those who came after them, saying, ‘Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.’” (Qur’an, 59:10)
Allah (swt) talks to us about those who come after the muhajiroon (people who emigrated from Mecca) and the ansar (the helpers), and the beautiful du`a’ that they make. They ask Allah (swt) to not allow any resentment in their hearts towards others. Knowing that Allah (swt) is al-Shāfī is turning to Him first in our quest to purify our hearts.
Many scholars have enumerated the diseases of the heart, and to go through that would entail a whole separate series.1 The diseases of the heart can manifest themselves in many ways, such as arrogance, envy, following base desires, miserliness, ostentation, heedlessness and others. The cure is in seeking knowledge – because knowledge empowers us to identify these diseases; remembering and returning to Allah (swt) frequently – as that connects us to Him, reminding us of our love for and fear of Him; and finally obeying Allah (swt) and good deeds – as they give us a spiritual light and teach us discipline.
What is beautiful is that there is a relationship between the healing of the hearts and the healing of the body. Related to following desires and discipline, for example, an article in the Journal of Personality found that exerting self-control can make you happier both in the long-term and in the moment, because disciplined people are able to avoid situations of temptation. Indeed, the Prophet ﷺ taught us:
“There lies within the body a piece of flesh. If it is sound, the whole body is sound; and if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted. Verily this piece is the heart.” (Bukhari)
Healing Body and Soul
- Seek cures for your illnesses.
Pay attention to both the diseases of the heart and the body, and seek the appropriate cure.
- Pray to Allah for healing.
Remember that He is the al-Shāfī and that healing starts with Him.
- Remember the du`a’s of the Prophet ﷺ.
In addition to what was mentioned above:
i) When visiting a sick person:
أَسْأَلُ اللَّهَ الْعَظِيمَ رَبَّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ أَنْ يَشْفِيَكَ
“I ask Allah the Mighty, Lord of the Mighty Throne that He cures you.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)
ii) Reciting Surat al-Fatiha seven times. (Tirmidhi)
iii) Aishah (ra) said, “When a member of the Prophet’s family got ill, the Prophet would blow over his body by reciting the two protective surahs (Al-Falaq  and An-Nas ) and would rub him with his hand.” (Muslim)
iv) A`udhu bi `izzati Allahi wa qudratihi mimma ajidu wa uhadhir.
“I seek refuge and protection in the august might and power of Allah from the pain and illness I am suffering from and I am afraid of.” (Ibn Majah)
- The Qur’an is a healing.
Allah (swt) says about the Qur’an:
“And We send down of the Qur’an that which is healing and mercy for the believers…” (Qur’an, 17:82)
The Qur’an is a physical healing and is an ultimate spiritual healing for our hearts.
May Allah al-Shāfī heal our hearts and bodies. Ameen (Amen).
- Sheikh Hamza Yusuf’s The Purification of the Heart is a must-read for the diseases of the heart and their cures. [↩]