Illnesses are the tests of this world

Updated 09 May 2014
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Illnesses are the tests of this world

Illnesses are means by which believers can show their passion for and devotion to our Lord. People who believe in God and submit to the destiny created by Him show their contentment with all that comes from Him by not forgetting that all sickness and health comes from God. In this way, by God’s leave, they turn times of sickness into blessings of reward.
Illnesses are one of the things that serve to remind people of their weakness. The otherwise well-protected human body can still be severely affected by a virus or microbe too small to be seen with naked eye. At first sight, this weakening of the body might not be what one would expect. God has created the human body with immaculate defense mechanisms. Indeed, the human body’s defense system can be described as a “powerful army.” Yet people still frequently fall ill. Of course, if God, Who installed such superior systems inside the human body so wished, nobody would ever fall ill. Viruses, microbes and bacteria would have no effect on them, or else these specially created tiny “foes” would never have existed in the first place. Yet everyone can contract an illness with such minute causes that give rise to serious consequences.
These dangers are not far off and remote; they can easily befall anyone at any time. It is a grave error to assume they are natural events and never think about them. Like all other weaknesses, illness is specially created by God. Human beings, with their tendency to arrogance, can thus see how feeble they truly are. They can also grasp the deficiencies of this world.
Illnesses are tests bestowed on Muslims by God so that they can desire Paradise, give thanks for God’s mercy and the blessing of good health, and submit to Him in the knowledge of their own weakness. They always hope for health from God, knowing it is He Who bestows sickness and health. They remember God at every painful moment and keep their hearts bound to Him. The words of the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) on the subject are revealed as follows in the Qur’an;
“When I am ill it is He Who heals me.” (Surat ash-Shu’ara, 80)
What is the wisdom behind the creation of disease?
Sickness reminds people of their weakness and their need of God. Human beings incapable of preventing the harm a microscopic virus does to their bodies are thus better able to understand their weakness and how much they need God.
Sickness makes one appreciate the fact that good health is a great blessing from God. Someone who does not become ill for a long time, and therefore feels no pain or discomfort, becomes used to that state of affairs; but when he is confronted by sickness, he will immediately realize that good health is indeed a great blessing from God.
In severe illnesses, people may reflect more on the transitory nature of the world, and on death and the hereafter. Some people who contract a life-threatening disease or who lose the use of their limbs may regard this as an unwelcome development yet that disease may have been bestowed on them, not as a source of trouble, but as a means whereby they can attain salvation in the hereafter and turn to God alone: One prays more and draws closer to God in times of sickness. As the symptoms of a severe illness begin increasing in the body, one may begin reflecting on death, which one has perhaps never much thought of before, and thus wish to be restored to health by praying to God with all one’s heart.
Someone who never fully submitted to God before falling ill may acquire that virtue through sickness and may hope to attain the eternal blessings of Paradise in the face of brief discomfort in the life of this world.
If God so wished, nobody would ever fall ill or suffer pain but there is much wisdom behind the experiencing of such discomfort in terms of grasping the transitory nature of this world and the infinite might of God.
It must not be forgotten that it is most important to sincerely grasp this fact and to be able to behave with virtue in the face of such events.
In the face of illness, people reflect on how meaningless their devotion to this world is; they realize that the things they own are temporary and given to them in order to test them. Someone whose life is threatened by a single microbe inside his body and is quite unable to fight that microbe off will grasp his helplessness, and realize that it is God Who created him and protects him from dangers. No matter how great someone may imagine himself to be, he is unable to do anything to benefit himself or to protect himself from harm unless God so wishes. If God so wishes, He will send sickness, and if He so wishes, He creates weaknesses in the human body to remind people of their helplessness.
As said earlier, this world is a place of testing created by God. Everyone has a responsibility to perform good deeds that will please Him and is tested accordingly. At the end of the test, those who abide by God’s commandments and prohibitions will earn the right to live in Paradise for all time, but those who insist on being arrogant and prefer the few decades of this world to the eternal life of the hereafter will be unable to escape the deficiencies, troubles and weaknesses in this world and in the hereafter.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.