O sick person who complains at not being able to perform good works due to illness! Offer thanks! It is illness that opens to you the door of the sincerest of good works. In addition to continuously gaining reward for the sick person and for those who look after him for God’s sake, illness is a most important means for the acceptance of supplications.
Indeed, there is significant reward for believers looking after the sick. Inquiring after their health and visiting the sick – on condition it does not tax them – is Sunna1 and also atonement for sins. There is an Hadith which says, “Receive the prayers of the sick, for they are acceptable.”2
To look after the sick, especially if they are relations, or parents in particular, is important worship, yielding significant reward. To please a sick person’s heart and console him, is a sort of significant alms-giving. Fortunate is the person who pleases the easily touched hearts of father and mother at a time of illness and receives their prayer. Even the angels applaud, exclaiming: “Ma’shallah! Barekallah!” before loyal scenes of those good offspring who respond with perfect respect and filial kindness at the time of their parents’ illness showing the exaltedness of humanity – for they are the most worthy of respect in the life of society.
Yes, pleasures are experienced at the time of illness which arise from the kindness, pity, and compassion of those around, and are most pleasant and agreeable and reduce the pains of illness to nothing. The acceptability of the prayers of the sick is an important matter. For the past thirty or forty years, I myself have prayed to be cured from the illness of lumbago from which I suffer. However, I understood that the illness had been given for prayer. Since prayer cannot be removed by prayer; that is, since prayer cannot remove itself, I understood that the results of prayer pertain to the hereafter,3 and that it is a sort of worship, for through illness one understands one’s impotence and seeks refuge at the divine court. Therefore, although for thirty years I have offered supplications to be healed and apparently my prayer has not been accepted, it has not occurred to me to give it up. For illness is the time for supplication. To be cured is not the result of the supplication. If the All-Wise and Compassionate One bestows healing, He bestows it out of His abundant grace.
al-Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir, ii, 45, No: 1285.
Ibn Maja, Jana’iz, 1; Daylami, Musnad al-Firdaws, i, 280.
Yes, while certain illnesses are the reason for the existence of supplication, if the supplication is the cause of the illness’ non-existence, the existence of the supplication would be the cause of its own non-existence, and this could not be the case.