Overcoming Hardships Reflections

In Sickness and In Health

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Photo: jacki-dee

By Izza Atiqa

One of the things I love most about my job is the people that I get to meet. I just started work a few months ago, and in the course of my day-to-day routine, I have met some people to whom my heart gravitates, just for the beauty of the person that they are. During my first few weeks of work, I met a Muslim brother who was suffering from multiple sclerosis. Despite it being a difficult condition to live with, he was independent, positive, and especially cheerful during the short 30-minute consult my colleague and I had with him. That day, he had intermittent muscle spasms that interrupted the treatment we were giving him, yet it did not disturb his calm and collected demeanor. I remember he was the first patient to say, “Jazak Allahu Khayran (may God reward you),” and I was so delighted at hearing someone make that simple du`a’ (supplication) for me.

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of meeting him again. This time, however, he seemed like his condition had worsened and now needed a care-person to assist him. I thought about him the entire day. I thought about all the other people I have met during the short time that I have been working. The one who was blind but who laughed and smiled as if she could see the world. The one who had Alzheimer’s, and kept repeating “thank you” because she didn’t know what else to say. And the ones with every debilitating condition possible, but still walking through every day of their lives with every bit of strength imaginable. I remember these people being so physically sick, but so content, so joyful, glowing with light from within. And I, unlike them, am physically able and blessed with perfect health, and yet spiritually weakened by the illnesses of my heart and my desires for the fleeting pursuits of this dunya, which is by definition the “lowest of all worlds”.

It was a beautiful Friday. I made a du`a’ for that man at every prayer, and all the times in between. Earlier that day, at Fajr, I had asked Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) to grant me a beneficial and meaningful day that would bring me the remembrance of Him. My request had been granted, because that short encounter led me into deep thought and reflection. I then understood why such people are so content. It was because their sickness is a constant reminder of the day that they will return to God. Because their physical handicap is a testament to how Allah (swt) is Ar-Razzaq, the only Provider for the things we often take for granted, such as our five senses. Because they have the hearts of true believers, remaining patient throughout their afflictions and knowing that their pain and suffering will only pave their way into jannah (paradise). As Prophet Muhammad ﷺ(peace be upon him) beautifully said, “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,” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5641 – 5642). May Allah (swt) admit them to the shade of His mercy, return them to Him in the most beautiful way, and grant us all the spiritual purification that we are greatly in need of at this time.

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