opposites.” For example, if there were no darkness, light would not be known and would produce no pleasure. If there were no cold, heat could not be comprehended. If there were no hunger, food would afford no pleasure. If there were no thirst of the stomach, there would be no pleasure in drinking water. If there were no sickness, no pleasure would be had from good health.
The All-Wise Creator’s decking out man with truly numerous members and faculties, to the extent that he may experience and recognize the innumerable varieties of bounties in the universe, shows that He wants to make him aware of every sort of His bounty and to acquaint him with them and to impel him to offer constant thanks. Since this is so, He will give illness, sickness, and suffering, the same as He bestows good health and well-being. I ask you: If you had not suffered this illness in your head or in your hand or stomach, would you have perceived the pleasurable and enjoyable divine bounty of the good health of your head, hand or stomach, and offered thanks? For sure, you would not have even thought of it, let alone offering thanks for it! You would have unconsciously spent that good health on heedlessness, and perhaps even on dissipation.
O sick person who thinks of the hereafter! Sickness washes away the dirt of sins like soap, and cleanses. It is established in a sound Hadith that illnesses are atonement for sins. And in another Hadith, it says: “As ripe fruits fall on their tree being shaken, so the sins of a believer fall away on his shaking with illness.”1
Sins are the chronic illnesses of eternal life, and in this worldly life they are sicknesses of the heart, conscience, and spirit. If you are patient and do not complain, you will be saved through this temporary sickness from numerous perpetual sicknesses. If you do not think of your sins, or do not know the hereafter, or do not recognize God, you suffer from an illness so fearsome it is a million times worse than your present minor illnesses. Cry out at that, for all the beings in the world are connected with your heart, spirit, and soul. Those connections are continuously severed by death and separation, opening up innumerable wounds. Particularly since you do not know the hereafter and imagine death to be eternal non-existence, as though lacerated and bruised, your being suffers illness to the extent of the world.
Bukhari, Marda, 1, 2, 13, 16; Muslim, Birr, 45; Darimi, Riqaq, 57; Musnad, i, 371, 441; ii, 303, 335; iii, 4, 18, 38, 48, 61, 81.