Dr Suhaib Ashraf Bhat.
The things that cross our minds and make us feel distressed are things in the past that have caused grief, things in the future that we are worried about, and things in the present which concern us. People react differently to stress and worries, depending on how many things are concerning them, whether the worry is continuous or not, and on whether they have faith in their hearts or are rebellious and sinful. We may describe people’s hearts as being of two types: either the heart is the throne of Allah swt, filled with light, life, happiness, joy and all the treasures of goodness; or it is the throne of the Shaytaan, wherein is distress, darkness, death, grief, worry and anxiety. People’s worries and concerns also differ, according to the differences in their motivations, circumstances and individual responsibilities.
How often we find problems in our daily lives that stem from the extremes of either concern or negligence. The one who seeks happiness and success in this world has to have a balanced approach without letting the one outweigh the other. In this manner he can strengthen his heart with faith and find peace of mind in doing that which he is required to do. What we often complain of does not stem from ignorance of the root of the matter, rather it stems from the fact that we are focusing more on fear and the causes of fear and we are forgetting about being optimistic and not paying any attention to it.
You know that death is an inevitable reality that will come to every living thing, and no one will be spared that, no matter how noble his status before Allah swt. Allah swt said to His Prophet, the noblest of all creation (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, you (O Muhammad) will die, and verily, they (too) will die”
The believer knows that this world is fleeting, its luxuries few, and that whatever pleasures exist in it are always imperfect. If it causes a little laughter, it gives many reasons to weep; if it gives a little, it withholds far more. The believer is merely being detained here, as the Messenger of Allah swt Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him), said: “This world is the prison of the believer and the Paradise of the Kaafir [disbeliever].” This world is also fatigue, pain, misery and suffering, so the believer feels relief when he departs from it. Abu Qataadah ibn Rib’i al-Ansaari, (may Allah swt be pleased with him) used to say that a funeral passed the Messenger of Allah swt Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him), and he said: “He is now relieved, and people feel relieved of him.” The people asked: “O Messenger of Allah swt Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him), how can he be relieved and people feel relieved of him?” He said: “The believing slave [who dies] is relieved of the fatigue and pain of this world and has gone to the mercy of Allah swt; when the rebellious slave dies, people, land, trees and animals are relieved of him.” For the believer, death brings a respite from the distress, worries and pain of this life, as is stated in the Hadeeth: “When the believer is about to die, the angels of mercy bring white silk and say: ‘Come out content, with the pleasure of Allah swt upon you, to the mercy of Allah swt and sweet fragrance and a Lord who is not angry.’ So [the soul] comes out like the best fragrance of musk and the angels hand it to one another until they bring it to the gate of heaven. They say: ‘How good is this fragrance that has come from the earth!’ They bring it to the souls of the believers, and they rejoice over it much more than you do when one who has been absent returns. They ask him: ‘What did so-and-so do? What did so-and-so do?’ then (the angels) say: ‘Leave him alone, for he was suffering the distress of the world.’ When he asks: ‘Did not so-and-so come to you?’ They say: ‘He was taken to his home in the Pit [i.e. Hell].’ When the Kaafir is about to die, angels of punishment bring sackcloth and say: ‘Come out discontent, with the wrath of Allah swt upon you, to the punishment of Allah swt.’ So [the soul] comes out like the worst stench of rotten meat, and they take it to the gate of the earth. They say: ‘How foul is this stench,’ until they bring it to the souls of the disbelievers.” This understanding of the reality of this world makes it easier for the believer to bear afflictions, pains, distress and anxiety; because he knows that they are an inevitable part of the nature of this life.
In the event of a calamity or epidemic, the remedy is to repent to Allah swt, may He be exalted, and humble oneself before Him and beseech Him, and to right any wrongs that have been done, and also to seek forgiveness a great deal, glorify Allah swt a great deal, send blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him), ask Allah swt for well-being, and take measures to protect oneself and treat sickness, such as quarantine, and vaccinations and medical treatment if they are available.
With regard to taking measures such as quarantine and seeking medical treatment, this is indicated by the teachings and practice of our Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him), as he instructed us to seek medical treatment, and highlighted the importance of taking precautions against infection; he instructed us not to put sick camels with healthy camels, and not to travel to a land where a plague is occurring.The Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him) said: “Seek medical treatment, for Allah swt, may He be glorified and exalted, has not created any disease but He has also created a remedy for it, except for one disease: old age.” narrated by Ahmad (17726) and the authors of as-Sunan, Abu Dawood (3855), at-Tirmidhi (2038), and Ibn Maajah (3436). Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.And the Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him) said: “Whoever eats seven ‘ajwah dates in the morning, will not be harmed by any poison or witchcraft that day.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5769) and Muslim (2057).Al-Bukhaari (5771) and Muslim (2221) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah swt be pleased with him) said: The Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him) said: “No sick camel should be put with a healthy one.”And the Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah swt be upon him) said: “If you hear of the plague in some land, do not enter it, and if it occurs in a land where you are, do not leave it.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5728) and Muslim (2218).
Allah swt, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):“And We have already sent [messengers] to nations before you, [O Muhammad]; then We seized them with poverty and hardship that perhaps they might humble themselves [to Us]. Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing” [al-An‘aam 6:42-43].
Ibn Katheer (may Allah swt have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer (3/256):“And We have already sent [messengers] to nations before you, [O Muhammad]; then We seized them with poverty” that is, impoverishment and destitution “and hardship” – this refers to disease, sickness and pain“that perhaps they might humble themselves [to Us]” that is, that they might call upon Allah swt, humble themselves before Him, and fear Him.
Allah swt, may He be exalted, says: “Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves?” That is, why, when We tested them with that, did they not beseech Us and show humility before Us?“But their hearts became hardened” and never softened and became humble“and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing” namely shirk (associating others with Allah) and committing sins. End quote.Allah swt, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):“Do they not see that they are tried every year once or twice but then they do not repent nor do they remember?” [at-Tawbah 9:126].
Calamities only come down because of sin, and cannot be removed except by repentance, as al-‘Abbaas (may Allah swt be pleased with him) said in his du‘aa’ when he prayed for rain (istisqaa’).Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah swt have mercy on him) said in al-Fath (2/497): az-Zubayr ibn Bakkaar described in al-Ansaab the du‘aa’ (supplication) that al-‘Abbaas offered during this event and the time during which it occurred. He narrated, with his isnaad (chain of narrators) that when ‘Umar (may Allah swt be pleased with him) prayed for rain by virtue of the supplication of al-‘Abbaas, he said: O Allah, no calamity comes down except because of sin and it cannot be removed except by means of repentance. End quote.
With regard to seeking forgiveness: it is a means of attaining good health, strength and well-being.
Allah swt, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):“And [saying], Seek forgiveness of your Lord and repent to Him, [and] He will let you enjoy a good provision for a specified term and give every doer of favor his favor” [Hood 11:3]
“And O my people, ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in showers and increase you in strength [added] to your strength. And do not turn away, [being] criminals” [Hood 11:52].
Ya Allah! Shower your mercy upon me out of your mercy, O the most merciful off all those who show mercy. Aameen