Have you ever thought about illness in the Quran? What does the Quran have to say about illnesses and diseases? Is it a good or bad thing? Illness is definitely something people would avoid and no one likes to get ill. However, sometimes illness can have certain benefits for both our body and soul.
In this article on Islam4u, we will look into the matter of illness in the Noble Quran. The following topics will be discussed:
Is Illness in the Quran Something Good or Bad?
وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ حَسَنَةٌ يَقُولُوا۟ هَـٰذِهِۦ مِنْ عِندِ ٱللَّـهِ ۖ وَإِن تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ يَقُولُوا۟ هَـٰذِهِۦ مِنْ عِندِكَ ۚ قُلْ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ ٱللَّـهِ فَمَالِ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ ٱلْقَوْمِ لَا يَكَادُونَ يَفْقَهُونَ حَدِيثًا ﴿78﴾
And if good things happen to them, they say, “It is from God,” but if evil things happen to them, they say, “It comes from you.” Say [to all of them], “Everything comes from God.” What is wrong with these people that they do not understand words [of God]? 1
Therefore, anything good or evil that happens to an individual comes from Allah, yet he is to be blamed not Allah. In other words, it is owing to his evil deeds that evil comes to him. Nevertheless, this seemingly evil phenomenon that comes to an individual is actually for his own good and in his interest, but most of us do not perceive it that way. For example, if an illness befalls a believer, it may have various reasons:
- He may have sinned greatly and Allah wants to compensate for and forgive his sins by making him ill
- Allah wants to test him to see whether he still thanks Him or not
- Allah wants him to humble himself before Allah as stated in a verse of the Quran
Let us now analyze these three reasons.
Illness in the Quran as a Compensation for Sins
Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him and his progeny] has said:
السقم یمحوا الذنوب
Illness effaces sins. 2
Of course, this would be the case only if the person gives thanks to Allah and exercises patience until he is cured and regains his health. Now, what about other kinds of illnesses, such as psychological ones? In Islam, conditions such as depression, sadness, anxiety, and so on are considered illnesses of the soul, which, may well affect the body in tandem. There is a hadith from Abu Abdullah Jafar ibn Muhammad that reads:
Whenever the sins of Allah’s servant become too many and he does not do anything to compensate for them, Allah afflicts him with sorrow and depression so that his sins are forgiven.
His Holiness has also said:
Whenever any believer becomes afflicted with a grievance and exercises patience, he will have the reward of a thousand martyrs.
Needless to say, one should not purposely place himself in such situations under the pretext of receiving reward or being forgiven of one’s sins. Instead, one should always try to be healthy, ask Allah for one’s own as well as the health and well-being of others, and give thanks for being well and healthy.
Illness in the Quran Is Considered as a Means for Testing Man
The Quran says:
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىْءٍ مِّنَ ٱلْخَوْفِ وَٱلْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ ﴿155﴾
And We will certainly test you with fear, hunger, and damages in wealth, lives and fruits, and give good news to the patient. 3
These are all sufferings and grievances that Allah may cause to befall everyone. Illness is damage to our lives, but if we as believers are patient and do not complain to Allah, but rather give thanks to Him, He will certainly reward us and forgive our sins. Further, the Quran says that Allah has placed good and evil in this world to test human beings in the following verse:
وَنَبْلُوكُم بِٱلشَّرِّ وَٱلْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ ﴿35﴾
And We test you through goodness and evil [events], and you will [finally] return to Us. 4
Of course, Allah is pure goodness and He does not want people to suffer for no reason, but rather to test them and separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
Allah Wants Us to Humble Ourselves to Him by Causing Illness
Allah says in the Quran:
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَآ إِلَىٰٓ أُمَمٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ فَأَخَذْنَـٰهُم بِٱلْبَأْسَآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَضَرَّعُونَ ﴿42﴾
And indeed, We sent [many messengers] to the people before you, and We made poverty and sickness strike them that they may be humble [to God and repent]. 5
It truly pleases Allah for us to communicate with Him, speak to Him, and request our needs from Him. When believers distance themselves from Allah and stray from the straight path or even plunge into sins, Allah makes them ill so that they may return to Him, plead with Him, humble themselves, and ask Allah to cure them. For example, a person might be very healthy by following a balanced diet and exercising on a regular basis. No one, even himself would expect him to fall ill. However, all of a sudden he contracts a life-threatening illness, such that he begins to lose hope of living. This is when that person has no choice but to turn to Allah and ask Him to cure him.
Which People Suffered From Serious Illness in the Quran?
Those who are well acquainted with the Quran know that when the words illness, patience, and at the same time having trust in Allah are mentioned, one cannot help but think of the epitome of patience, Prophet Ayyub (Job: اَيّوب). He was such a righteous and thankful prophet of Allah that Satan said, “The reason he is so thankful constantly is that he has enormous wealth, many healthy children, and an obedient wife.” If these are taken away from him, he would not be thankful to Allah and would complain to him. So, Satan asked Allah to give him the leave to inflict him with the worst kinds of sufferings to prove to Allah that he would not be thankful to Him. Allah gave him leave, yet Ayyub was still thankful and patient all along. Almost everything of his was taken away from him by Satan including his children, his wife, his wealth, and was afflicted with an extremely debilitating illness. Ultimately, he cried out to Allah for help—his sole refuge—while remaining patient and thankful to Him:
وَٱذْكُرْ عَبْدَنَآ أَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُۥٓ أَنِّى مَسَّنِىَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ بِنُصْبٍ وَعَذَابٍ ﴿41﴾
And mention Our servant Job, when he prayed to his Lord, “O my Lord! Satan afflicted me with distress and torment.” 6
Allah answered his call, and said:
ٱرْكُضْ بِرِجْلِكَ ۖ هَـٰذَا مُغْتَسَلٌۢ بَارِدٌ وَشَرَابٌ ﴿42﴾
“Strike with your foot [, then a spring will gush out of the earth]. This is a cool bath and a drink.” 7
So Ayyub was cured and Allah returned his family and wealth to him. As the Quran says, Ayyub was patient and constantly turned to Allah. 8
Health-promoting Verses as Mentioned in the Holy Quran
The Quran is a cure or Shifa (شِفاء) for believers, guidance, and mercy from Allah. 9 Those who wish to be cured of their illnesses should turn to the Quran and its illuminant verses. There are certain surahs and verses of the Quran that can be recited in order to cure a person. First and foremost, reciting surah Fatiha is a cure for all diseases as mentioned in countless narrations. Surah Fatiha can be recited once, seven, or seventy times for curing a person of his illness (the more the better) based on those narrations. Second, the following verse is also beneficial for seeking a cure from the Quran:
وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ ٱلْقُرْءَانِ مَا هُوَ شِفَآءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۙ وَلَا يَزِيدُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارًا ﴿82﴾
And We send down out of the Qur’ān that which is a cure and mercy for the believers, and it only increases loss for the wrongdoers. 10
Not only this verse indicates that the Quran is a cure for believers, but also reciting this verse a number of times cures those who have fallen ill based on narrations.
Another famous verse that its recitation can cure those who have become ill is the following verse:
أَمَّن يُجِيبُ ٱلْمُضْطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ وَيَكْشِفُ ٱلسُّوٓءَ
[Is a partner better] or who answers the one in distress when he prays to Him [for His help] and who removes the evil? 11
It is said that reciting this verse five times is not only beneficial for curing illnesses but all sufferings. Now, these were some verses for curing illnesses. What about health-promoting verses, are there any? Yes, there are verses and even entire surahs. Reciting surahs Kafirun, Ikhlas, Falaq, and Nas has been said to protect a person from any harm and evil including illnesses. The last two verses of surah Qalam also protect one from the evil eye if recited frequently and on a regular basis:
وَإِن يَكَادُ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ لَيُزْلِقُونَكَ بِأَبْصَـٰرِهِمْ لَمَّا سَمِعُوا۟ ٱلذِّكْرَ وَيَقُولُونَ إِنَّهُۥ لَمَجْنُونٌ ﴿51﴾
وَمَا هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِّلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ﴿52﴾
The disbelievers were about to destroy you with their glances when they heard the reminder saying, “Indeed he is mad.” Indeed, it is only a reminder for the people. 12
Moreover, it is famous that reciting verses 25-28 of surah Taha has many benefits for the soul and psychologically speaking. For example, if one has stress or anxiety about doing something, especially speaking or delivering a speech, reciting these verses will help him overcome it. These verses are the following:
قَالَ رَبِّ ٱشْرَحْ لِى صَدْرِى ﴿25﴾
وَيَسِّرْ لِىٓ أَمْرِى ﴿26﴾
وَٱحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِى ﴿27﴾
يَفْقَهُوا۟ قَوْلِى ﴿28﴾
He said, “O my Lord! Expand my heart. And make my task easy for me. And make my words plain [and expressive]. That they may understand my words. 13
There are also many short surahs that have benefits for one’s health that you can find in Islam4u’s articles about the short surahs in juz 30 of the Noble Quran.
Illness is a feeling of discomfort for everyone and no one likes to become ill. However, the truth of the matter is that for believers, illness is a good thing so long as the person is patient and thanks Allah. If he does so, Allah will reward him and forgive his sins. In fact, Allah wants to test believers by making them ill and to see whether they are patient and rely on Allah or not. In the end, one should always pray for his own and others’ health and well-being, and at the same time pray to Allah to cure all the sick people.
- Quran 4:78 (Foroutan).
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 244.
- Quran 2:155 (Foroutan).
- Quran 21:35 (Foroutan).
- Quran 6:42 (Foroutan).
- Quran 38:41 (Foroutan).
- Quran 38:42 (Foroutan).
- Cf. Quran 38:44.
- Cf. Quran 10:57.
- Quran 17:82 (Foroutan).
- Quran 27:62 (Foroutan).
- Quran 68:51-52 (Foroutan).
- Quran 20:25-28 (Foroutan).