If the previous hour was one of illness, it produces joy; and since the time subsequent to the present hour is non-existent, and both the illness and the distress are non-existent, do not scatter the power of patience given you by Almighty God to right and left, but muster it in the face of pain of the present hour; say: “O Most Patient One!” and withstand it.
O sick person who due to illness cannot perform his worship and invocations and feels grief at the deprivation! Know that it is stated in a Hadith that “A pious believer who due to illness cannot perform his customary invocations, receives a reward equal to them.”1 If an ill person performs his obligatory worship as far as it is possible with patience and relying on God, the illness takes the place of Sunna worship during that time of severe illness – and in sincere form.
Moreover, illness makes the person understand his impotence and weakness; it causes him to offer supplication both verbally and through the tongue of his impotence and weakness. For Almighty God bestowed on man a boundless impotence and infinite weakness so that he would perpetually seek refuge at the divine court and beseech and supplicate. The verse,
Say: Your Sustainer would not concern Himself with you if it was not for your prayers;(25:77)
has the meaning, “what importance would you have if you did not offer prayer and supplication?” According to this, sincere prayer and supplication are the reason for man’s creation and for his value. Since illness is one cause of this, from this point of view it should not be complained about but thanks be offered to God for it, and the tap of supplication which illness opens should not be closed by regaining health.
O unhappy person who complains at illness! For some people illness is a rich treasury, a precious divine gift. Every sick person can think of his illness in this way.
The appointed hour is not known: in order to deliver man from absolute despair and absolute heedlessness, and to hold him between hope and fear and so preserve both this world and the hereafter, in His wisdom Almighty God has concealed the appointed hour; it may come at any time. If it captures man in heedlessness, it may cause grievous harm to eternal life.
Bukhari, Jihad, 134; Musnad, iv, 410, 418.