One of the greatest secrets distinguishing believers from non-believers is the difficulties, troubles and sicknesses they encounter in the life of this world. Things that lead to denial in some people are blessings for Muslims and means whereby they draw themselves closer to God. This is the secret of the test, through which believers live completely different lives in this world to those of the deniers.
Sickness, and especially serious illness, is a special test that only the person involved fully knows and experiences, the sufferings of which only that person feels. Like everything else, however, sickness comes from God. And the cure also comes from Him.
Patience in the face of sickness, proper fortitude in the knowledge that sickness comes from God, is a trait unique to true, sincere, honest Muslims. Our Almighty Lord refers to the Prophet Ayyub as an example:
“And Ayyub when he called out to his Lord, ‘Great harm has afflicted me and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful,’
We responded to him and removed from him the harm which was afflicting him and restored his family to him, and the same again with them, as a mercy direct from Us and a Reminder to all worshippers.” (Sura al-Anbiya’, 83-84)
A Muslim knows that troubles and difficulties, as well as blessings, all come from God and that they represent a special test. He knows that because of his love of and faith in our Lord he must display a proper fortitude in the face of troubles. He is aware that this patience is an indication of his love and friendship for God. He knows that they will come to an end simply by God so commanding, that their existence is a secret of the test and that since they are desired by God they must be regarded as blessings. The patience and submission exhibited in the face of difficulties by someone possessed of that awareness is not something that can be managed by those who are not sincere.
For the great majority of people, sickness and trouble are reasons to sulk with God and even to deny Him (God is beyond that). Even some people who describe themselves as Muslims may draw apart from belief in God by regarding troubles as terrible woes visited on them by Him and thus distance themselves from the duties incumbent upon all Muslims.
These situations, which true Muslims regard as tests and blessings, the recompense for their patience in the face of which they are told will be paradise, are generally treated as instruments of denial and rejection by people who hold contrary views. There is no doubt that the latter is a defective and corrupt perspective that will lead to grave losses in this world and the hereafter.
The Prophet Yusuf chose to reject the desires of the governor’s wife and to face imprisonment, even though he was totally guiltless. And he lingered there, unjustly, for many years. Looked at superficially, abandoning worldly interests in favour of years of imprisonment is not something that is possible for people who do not have a proper fear of God and who have not grasped the secret of the test. But because of his love and profound fear of God, the Prophet Yusuf was aware that such a circumstance had been specially created for him and that he was being tested. He was aware that there was a particular significance and wisdom behind our Lord, who would also create the finest of blessings for him, creating those particular circumstances at that moment. He had faith that his recompense would be infinite blessings in the hereafter, and his powerful love of God led him to behave in the most correct way.
In order for people to be able to see the secret of the test, to respond to difficulty and sickness with virtue and thanks, and to demonstrate the proper submission, they must first fear God. Knowing that all things come from God and that God will create a solution to all difficulties is of course one of the paths leading to the greatest salvation. Our Almighty Lord reveals in His verses:
“We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast: Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘We belong to Allah and to Him we will return’.” (Surat al-Baqara, 155-156)2008-10-18 18:40:35