I was hospitalized early last week for a couple of days. Alhamdulillah, I am out now, but still recovering. While at the hospital, I had lots of time to reflect. Here are some reflections related to hospitals, sicknesses, cures, and related matters.
1. Hospitals are like a parallel world. Life in the outside world goes on without any serious changes. However, people inside hospital rooms have a completely different experience of the world. They are bored. They are restricted. They need guidance. They are in pain. They have anxiety. They peek outside the windows wishing they can rejoin the ‘normal life’. It can become really lonely in this parallel world, and this why it is a right of a believer on another believer that he visits him when he’s sick. In a tradition recorded by al-Bukhārī, Muslim, and others, the Prophet ﷺ mentioned the rights of a believer on another and among the rights he mentioned was, “When he is sick, visit him.”
2. Spiritual direction in hospitals is extremely crucial for patients in general, and especially those who are hospitalized. Often, the trauma, the pain, the loneliness, and the drugs can be too overbearing and can lead to a mental or spiritual crisis, adding to the physical pain that the patient is already experiencing. Reminders of gratefulness, patience, and divine decree in such circumstances can act as profound tools to heal, maintain, and contain. No matter how hopeful we may be during normal circumstances when life takes unexpected turns, one can easily lose hope. The Messenger ﷺ was keen on empowering the sick through hope, whilst keeping them in touch with the inevitable reality of life. He said, “Medicate [and treat] for Allah has not created a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of old age.” [Sunan Abī Dāwūd]
3. It is a personal obligation on every Muslim to learn the etiquette of addressing a patient. Many people make serious behavioral mistakes when speaking to an ill person. For instance, some start scolding the patient for how his/her lifestyle was at fault for causing him/her to become sick. Others start drawing parallels between the patient’s sins and the sickness. All this and more is inappropriate behavior when addressing a patient.
In addition to such comments being inappropriate, they are simply wrong because a health-related test is not necessarily a result of sin or bad lifestyle choices. It can also be a means of expiation and a gift from Allah to his slave for his ranks to be raised. When Ibn Masʿūd (ra) saw the Messenger ﷺ suffering from a sickness, he said, “You are severely suffering from a high fever, O Messenger of Allah ﷺ.” The Messenger ﷺ replied, “Yes, I am suffering from as much fever as two of you do.” [al-Bukhārī & Muslim] Could this sickness, which was even more severe than an average sickness, have been from the wrath of Allah, or a bad lifestyle choice!? Certainly not! It was a blessing from Allah, as through the patience he ﷺ had, his status was further elevated.
4. Pick your doctor very carefully. A bad doctor can cause lots of damage to the body. For the purpose of finding this ‘good doctor’ seek recommendations and reviews. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ, himself a doctor, would recommend some patients to go to al-Ḥārith Ibn Kaladah. When Saʿd Ibn Abī Waqqāṣ (ra) was suffering from heart disease, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “You are a man suffering from heart disease. Go to al-Ḥārith Ibn Kaladah from [the tribe of] Thaqīf as he is a man who is [a good] practitioner. He should take seven ajwah dates of Medina, grind them with their seeds, and place them into your mouth.” [Sunan Abī Dāwūd]
May Allah cure us all of physical and spiritual illnesses, and grant us righteous, healthy, fruitful, and happy lives.