A Booklet For A Sick
“A Booklet For A Sick” treatise consists of Twenty-Five Remedies. It was written as a salve, a solace, and a prescription for the sick, and as a visit to the sick and a wish for their speedy recovery.
Warning and Apology
This immaterial prescription was written with a speed greater than all my other writings, and since time could not be found in which to correct and study it, unlike all the others, it was read only once—and that at great speed like its composition. That is to say, it has remained in the disordered state of a first draft. I did not consider it necessary to go over carefully the things which had occurred to me in a natural manner, lest they be spoilt by arranging them and paying them undue attention. Readers and especially the sick should not feel upset and offended at any disagreeable expressions or harsh words and phrases; let them rather pray for me.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
“Those who say when afflicted by calamity: “To God do we belong and to Him is our return.”(2:156)
“Who gives me food and drink; And when I am ill it is He Who cures me.”(26:79-80)
I will describe briefly Twenty-Five Remedies, which may offer true consolation and a beneficial cure for the sick and those struck by disaster, who form one tenth of mankind.
O inevitable sick person! Do not be anxious, have patience! Your illness is not a malady for you; it is a sort of cure. For life departs like capital. If it yields no fruits, it is wasted. And if it passes in ease and heedlessness, it passes most swiftly. Illness makes that capital of yours yield huge profits. Moreover, it does not allow your life to pass quickly; it restrains it and lengthens it, so that it will depart after yielding its fruits. An indication that your life is lengthened through illness is the following much repeated proverb: “The times of calamity are long, the times of happiness, most short.”
O ill person who lacks patience! Be patient, indeed, offer thanks! Your illness may transform each of the minutes of your life into the equivalent of an hour’s worship. For worship is of two kinds. One is positive like the well-known worship of supplication and the five daily prayers. The other are negative forms of worship like illness and calamities. By means of these, those afflicted realize their impotence and weakness; they beseech their All-Compassionate Creator and take refuge in Him; they manifest worship which is sincere and without hypocrisy. Yes, there is a sound narration stating that a life passed in illness is counted as worship for the believer—on condition he does not complain about God. It is even established by sound narrations and by those who uncover the realities of creation that one minute’s illness of some who are completely patient and thankful becomes the equivalent of an hour’s worship and a minute’s illness of certain perfected men the equivalent of a day’s worship. Thus, you should not complain about an illness, which as though transforms one minute of your life into a thousand minutes and gains for you long life; you should rather offer thanks.
Impatient sick person! The fact that those who come to this world continuously depart, and the young grow old, and man perpetually revolves amid death and separation testifies that he did not come to this world to enjoy himself and receive pleasure.
Moreover, while man is the most perfect, the most elevated, of living beings and the best endowed in regard to members and faculties, through thinking of past pleasures and future pains, he passes only a grievous, troublesome life, lower than the animals. This means that man did not come to this world in order to live in fine manner and pass his life in ease and pleasure. Rather, possessing vast capital, he came here to work and do trade for an eternal, everlasting life.
The capital given to man is his lifetime. Had there been no illness, good health and well-being would have caused heedlessness, for they show the world to be pleasant and make the Hereafter forgotten. They do not want death and the grave to be thought of; they cause the capital of life to be wasted on trifles. Whereas illness suddenly opens the eyes, it says to the body: “You are not immortal. You have not been left to your own devices. You have a duty. Give up your pride, think of the One Who created you. Know that you will enter the grave, so prepare yourself for it!” Thus, from this point of view, illness is an admonishing guide and advisor that never deceives. It should not be complained about in this respect, indeed, should be thanked for. And if it is not too severe, patience should be sought to endure it.
Plaintive ill person! It is your right, not to complain, but to offer thanks and be patient. For your body and members and faculties are not your property. You did not make them, and you did not buy them from other workshops. That means they are the property of another. Their owner has disposal over his property as he wishes.
As is stated in other writings, an extremely wealthy and skilful craftsman, for example, employs a poor man as a model in order to show off his fine art and valuable wealth. In return for a wage, for a brief hour he clothes the poor man in a bejeweled and most skillfully wrought garment. He works it on him and gives it various states. In order to display the extraordinary varieties of his art, he cuts the garment, alters it, and lengthens and shortens it. Does the poor man working for a wage have the right to say to that person: “You are causing me trouble, you are causing me distress with the form you have given it, making me bow down and stand up;” has he the right to tell him that he is spoiling his fine appearance by cutting and shortening the garment which makes him beautiful? Can he tell him he is being unkind and unfair?
O sick person! Just like in this comparison, in order to display the garment of your body with which He has clothed you, bejeweled as it is with luminous faculties like the eye, the ear, the reason, and the heart, and the embroideries of His Most Beautiful Names, the All-Glorious Maker makes you revolve amid numerous states and changes you in many situations. Like you learn of His Name of Provider through hunger, come to know also His Name of Healer through your illness. Since suffering and calamities show the decrees of some of His Names, within those flashes of wisdom and rays of mercy are many instances of good to be found. If the veil of illness, which you fear and loathe, was to be lifted, behind it you would find many agreeable and beautiful meanings.
O you who is afflicted with illness! Through experience I have formed the opinion at this time that sickness is a Divine bounty for some people, a gift of the Most Merciful One. Although I am not worthy of it, for the past eight or nine years, a number of young people have come to me in connection with illness, seeking my prayers. I have noticed that each of those ill youths had begun to think of the Hereafter to a greater degree than other young people. He lacked the drunkenness of youth. He was saving himself to a degree from animal desires and heedlessness. So I would consider them and then warn them that their illnesses were a Divine bounty within the limits of their endurance. I would say:
“I am not opposed to this illness of yours, my brother. I don’t feel compassion and pity for you because of your illness, so that I should pray for you. Try to be patient until illness awakens you completely, and after it has performed its duty, God willing, the Compassionate Creator will restore you to health.”
I would also say to them:
“Through the calamity of good health, some of your fellows become neglectful, give up the five daily prayers, do not think of the grave, and forget God Almighty. Through the superficial pleasure of a brief hour’s worldly life, they shake and damage an unending, eternal life, and even destroy it. Due to illness, you see the grave, which you will in any event enter, and the dwellings of the Hereafter beyond it, and you act in accordance with them. That means for you, illness is good health, while for some of your peers good health is a sickness…”
O sick person who complains about his suffering! I say to you: think of your past life and remember the pleasurable and happy days and the distressing and troublesome times. For sure, you will either say “Oh!” or “Ah!” That is, your heart and tongue will either say “All praise and thanks be to God!”, or “Alas and alack!” Note carefully, what makes you exclaim “Praise and thanks be to God!” is thinking of the pains and calamities that have befallen you; it induces a sort of pleasure so that your heart offers thanks. For the passing of pain is a pleasure. With the passing of pains and calamities, a legacy of pleasure is left in the spirit, which on being aroused by thinking, pours forth from the spirit with thanks.
What makes you exclaim “Alas and alack!” are the pleasurable and happy times you have experienced in the former times, which, with their passing leave a legacy of constant pain in your spirit. Whenever you think of them, the pain is again stimulated, causing regret and sorrow to pour forth.
Since one day’s illicit pleasure sometimes causes a year’s suffering in the spirit, and with the pain of a fleeting day’s illness are many days’ pleasure and recompense in addition to the pleasure at being relieved at its passing and saved from it, think of the result of this temporary illness with which you are now afflicted, and of the merits of its inner face. Say: “All is from God! This too will pass!”, and offer thanks instead of complaining.
O brother who thinks of the pleasures of this world and suffers distress at illness! If this world was everlasting, and if on our way there was no death, and if the winds of separation and decease did not blow, and if there were no winters of the spirit in the calamitous and stormy future, I would have pitied you together with you. But since one day the world will bid us to leave it and will close its ears to our cries, we must forego our love of it now through the warnings of these illnesses, before it drives us out. We must try to abandon it in our hearts before it abandons us.
Yes, illness utters this warning to us: “Your body is not composed of stone and iron, but of various materials which are always disposed to parting. Leave off your pride, understand your impotence, recognize your Owner, know your duties, learn why you came to this world!” It declares this secretly in the heart’s ear.
Moreover, since the pleasures and enjoyment of this world do not continue, and particularly if they are illicit, they are both fleeting, and full of pain, and sinful, do not weep on the pretext of illness because you have lost those pleasures. On the contrary, think of the aspects of worship and reward in the Hereafter to be found in illness, and try to receive pleasure from those.
O sick person who has lost the pleasures of health! Your illness does not spoil the pleasure of Divine bounties; on the contrary, it causes them to be experienced and increases them. For if something is continuous, it loses its effect. The people of reality even say that “Things are known through their opposites.” For example, if there were no darkness, light would not be known and would contain no pleasure. If there was no cold, heat could not be comprehended. If there were no hunger, food would afford no pleasure. If there were no thirst of the stomach, there would be no pleasure in drinking water. If there were no sickness, no pleasure would be had from good health.
The All-Wise Creator’s decking out man with truly numerous members and faculties, to the extent that he may experience and recognize the innumerable varieties of bounties in the universe, shows that He wants to make man aware of every sort of His bounty and to acquaint him with them and to impel man to offer constant thanks. Since this is so, He will give illness, sickness, and suffering, the same as He bestows good health and well-being. I ask you: “If there had not been this illness in your head or in your hand or stomach, would you have perceived the pleasurable and enjoyable Divine bounty of the good health of your head, hand or stomach, and offered thanks? For sure, it is not offering thanks for it, you would not have even thought of it! You would have unconsciously spent that good health on heedlessness, and perhaps even on dissipation.
O sick person who thinks of the Hereafter! Sickness washes away the dirt of sins like soap, and cleanses. It is established in a sound Saying that illnesses are atonement for sins. And in another Saying, it says: “As ripe fruits fall on their tree being shaken, so the sins of a believer fall away on his shaking with illness.”
Sins are the lasting illnesses of eternal life, and in this worldly life they are sicknesses for the heart, conscience, and spirit. If you are patient and do not complain, you will be saved through this temporary sickness from numerous perpetual sicknesses. If you do not think of your sins, or do not know the Hereafter, or do not recognize God, you suffer from an illness so fearsome it is a million times worse than your present minor illnesses. Cry out at that, for all the beings in the world are connected with your heart, spirit, and soul. Those connections are continuously severed by death and separation, opening up in you innumerable wounds. Particularly since you do not know the Hereafter and imagine death to be eternal non-existence, it is quite simply as though lacerated and bruised, your being suffers illness to the extent of the world.
Thus, the first thing you have to do is to search for the cure of belief, which is a certain healing remedy for the innumerable illnesses of that infinitely wounded and sick, extensive immaterial being of yours; you have to correct your beliefs, and the shortest way of finding such a cure is to recognize the power and mercy of the All-Powerful One of Glory by means of the window of your weakness and impotence shown you behind the curtain of heedlessness, rent by your physical illness.
Yes, one who does not recognize God is afflicted with a world-full of tribulations. While the world of one who does recognize Him is full of light and spiritual happiness; he perceives these in accordance with the strength of his belief. The suffering resulting from insignificant physical illnesses is dissolved by the immaterial joy, healing, and pleasure that arise from this belief; the suffering melts away.
O sick person who recognizes his Creator! The pain, fear, and anxiety in illness is because it is sometimes leads to death. Since superficially and to the heedless view death is frightening, illnesses which may lead to it cause fear and apprehension.
So know firstly and believe firmly that the appointed hour is determined and does not change. Those weeping beside the grievously sick and those in perfect health have died, while the grievously sick have been cured and lived.
Secondly: Death is not terrifying, as it appears to be superficially. Through the light afforded by the All-Wise Holy Book, in many parts of the Writings we have proved in completely certain and indubitable fashion that for believers death is to be discharged from the burdensome duties of life. And for them it is a rest from worship, which is the instruction and training in the arena of trial of this world. It is also a means of their rejoining friends and relations, ninety-nine out of a hundred of whom have already departed for the next world. And it is a means of entering their true homeland and eternal abodes of happiness. It is also an invitation to the gardens of Paradise from the dungeon of this world. And it is the time to receive their wage from the munificence of the Most Compassionate Creator in return for service rendered to Him. Since the reality of death is this, it should not be regarded as terrifying, but on the contrary, as the introduction to mercy and happiness.
Moreover, some of the people of God fearing death has not been out of terror at it, but due to their hope of gaining more merit through performing more good works with the continuation of the duties of life.
Yes, for the people of belief, death is the door to Divine mercy, while for the people of misguidance; it is the pit of everlasting darkness.
O sick person who worries unnecessarily! You worry at the severity of your illness and that worry increases it. If you want your illness to be less severe, try not to worry. That is, think of the benefits of your illness, the recompense for it, and that it will pass quickly; it will remove the worry and cut the illness at the root.
Indeed, worry increases illness twice over. Worry causes an immaterial illness of the heart beneath the physical illness; the physical illness rests on that and persists. If the worry ceases through submission, contentment, and thinking of the wisdom in the illness, an important part of the illness is extirpated; it becomes lighter and in part disappears. Sometimes a minor physical illness increases tenfold just through anxiety. On the anxiety ceasing, nine tenths of the illness disappears.
Worry increases illness, so is it also like an accusation against Divine wisdom and a criticism of Divine mercy and complaint against the Compassionate Creator. For this reason, contrary to his intentions, the one who does so receives a rebuff and it increases his illness. Yes, just as thanks increases bounty, so also complaint increases illness and tribulations.
Furthermore, worry is itself an illness. The cure for it is to know the wisdom in illness and the purpose of it. Since you have learnt its purpose and benefit, apply that salve to your worry and find relief! Say “Ah!” instead of “Oh!”, and “All praise be to God for every situation” instead of sighing and lamenting.
O my impatient sick brother! Although illness causes you an immediate suffering, the passing of your illness in the past until today produces an immaterial pleasure and happiness for the spirit arising from the reward received for enduring it. From today forward, and even from this hour, there is no illness, and certainly no pain is to be had from non-being. And if there is no pain, there cannot be any grief. You become impatient because you imagine things wrongly. Because, with the physical aspect of your time of illness prior to today departing, its pain has departed with it; only its reward and the pleasure of its passing remains. While it should give you profit and happiness, to think of past days and feel grieved and become impatient is crazy. Future days have not yet come. To think of them now, and by imagining a day that does not exist and an illness that does not exist and grief that does not exist to be grieved and display impatience, is to give the color of existence to three degrees of non-existence—if that is not crazy, what is?
Since, if the hour previous to the present was one of illness, it produces joy; and since the time subsequent to the present hour is non-existent, and the illness is non-existent, and the grief is non-existent, do not scatter the power of patience given you by Almighty God to right and left, but muster it in the face of pain of the present hour; say: “O Most Patient One!” and withstand it.
O sick person who due to illness cannot perform his worship and invocations and feels grief at the deprivation! Know that it is stated in a Saying that “A pious believer who due to illness cannot perform the invocations he normally regularly performs, receives an equal reward.” On an ill person carrying out his obligatory worship as far as it is possible with patience and relying on God, during that time of severe illness, the illness takes the place of Tradition worship—and in sincere form.
Moreover, illness makes a person understand his impotence and weakness. It causes him to offer supplication both verbally and through the tongue of his impotence and weakness. Almighty God bestowed on man a boundless impotence and infinite weakness so that he would perpetually seek refuge at the Divine Court and beseech and supplicate. According to the meaning of the verse, Say: Your Sustainer would not concern Himself with you if it was not for your prayers; that is, “what importance would you have if you did not offer prayer and supplication?” the wisdom in man’s creation and reason for his value is sincere prayer and supplication. Since one cause of this is illness, from this point of view it should not be complained about, but God should be thanked for it, and the tap of supplication which illness opens should not be closed by regaining health.
O unhappy person who complains at illness! For some people illness is an important treasury, a most valuable Divine gift. Every sick person can think of his illness as being of that sort.
The appointed hour is not known: in order to deliver man from absolute despair and absolute heedlessness, and to hold him between hope and fear and so preserve both this world and the Hereafter, in His wisdom Almighty God has concealed the appointed hour. The appointed hour may come at any time; if it captures man in heedlessness, it may cause grievous harm to eternal life. But illness dispels the heedlessness; it makes a person think of the Hereafter; it recalls death, and thus he may prepare himself. Some illnesses are so profitable that they gain for a person in twenty days a rank they could not otherwise have gained in twenty years.
Since illnesses contain such benefits, they should be not complained about, but borne with patience and relying on God, indeed, thanking God and having confidence in His mercy.
O sick person whose eyes have developed cataracts! If you knew what a light and spiritual eye is to be found beneath the cataract that may cover a believer’s eyes, you would exclaim: “A hundred thousand thanks to my Compassionate Sustainer.” I shall recount an incident to you to explain this salve. It is as follows:
One time, the aunt of Süleyman from Barla, who served me for eight years with total loyalty and willingness, became blind. Thinking well of me a hundred times more than was my due, the righteous woman caught me by the door of the mosque and asked me to pray for her sight to be restored. So I made the blessed woman’s righteousness the intercessor for my supplication, and beseeching Almighty God, I prayed: “O Lord! Restore her sight out of respect for her righteousness.” Two days later, an oculist from Burdur came and removed the cataract. Forty days later she again lost her sight. I was most upset and prayed fervently for her. God willing, the prayer was accepted for her life in the Hereafter, otherwise that prayer of mine would have been a most mistaken malediction for her. For forty days had remained till her death; forty days later she had died—May God have mercy on her.
Thus, in place of the woman looking sorrowfully at the gardens of Barla with the eye of old age, she profited by in her grave being able to gaze for forty thousand days on the gardens of Paradise. For her belief was strong and she was completely righteous.
Yes, if a believer loses his sight and enters the grave blind, in accordance with his degree he may gaze on the world of light to a much greater extent than others in their graves. Just as we see many things in this world that blind believers do not see, if they depart with belief, those blind people see to a greater extent than other dead in their graves. As though looking through the most powerful telescopes, they can see and gaze on the gardens of Paradise like the cinema, in accordance with their degree.
Thus, with thanks and patience you can find beneath the veil on your present eye an eye which is thus light-filled, and with which while beneath the earth you can see and observe Paradise above the skies. That which will raise the veil from your eye, the eye doctor that will allow you to look with that eye, is the All-Wise Holy Book.
O sick person who sighs and laments! Do not look at the outward aspect of illness and sigh, look at its meaning and be pleased. If the meaning of illness had not been good, the All-Compassionate Creator would not have given illness to the servants He loves most. Whereas, there is a Saying the meaning of which is, “Those afflicted with the severest trials are the prophets, then the saints and those like them.” That is, “Those most afflicted with tribulations and difficulties are the best of men, the most perfect.” Foremost the Prophet Job and the other prophets, then the saints, then the righteous, have regarded the illnesses they have suffered as sincere worship, as gifts of the Most Merciful; they have offered thanks in patience. They have seen them as surgical operations performed by the All-Compassionate Creator’s mercy.
O you who cries out and laments! If you want to join this luminous caravan, offer thanks in patience. For if you complain, they will not accept you. You will fall into the pits of the people of misguidance, and travel a dark road.
Yes, there are some illnesses which if they lead to death, are like a sort of martyrdom; they result in a degree of sainthood like martyrdom. For example, those who die from the illnesses accompanying childbirth and pains of the abdomen, and by drowning, burning, and plague, become martyrs. So also there are many blessed illnesses which gain the degree of sainthood for those who die from them. Moreover, since illness lessens love of the world and attachment to it, it lightens parting from the world through death, which for the worldly is extremely grievous and painful, and it sometimes even makes it desirable.
O sick person who complains of his distress! Illness prompts respect and compassion, which are most important and good in human social life. For it saves man from self-sufficiency, which drives him to unsociableness and unkindness. For according to the meaning of, “Indeed man transgresses all bounds” In that he looks upon himself as self-sufficient, an evil-commanding soul which feels self-sufficient due to good health and well-being, does not feel respect towards his brothers in many instances, who are deserving of it. And he does not feel compassion towards the sick and those smitten by disaster, although they deserve kindness and pity. Whenever he is ill, he understands his own impotence and want, and he has respect towards his brothers who are worthy of it. He feels respect towards his believing brothers who visit him or assist him. And he feels human kindness, which arises from fellow-feeling, and compassion for those struck by disaster—a most important Islamic characteristic. And comparing them to himself, he pities them in the true meaning of the word and feels compassion for them. He does what he can to help them, and at the very least prays for them and goes to visit them to ask them how they are, which is Tradition according to the Law, and thus earns reward.
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 most sincere 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 supplications being accepted.
Indeed, there is significant reward for believers for looking after the sick. Enquiring after their health and visiting the sick—on condition it does not tax them—is Tradition and also atonement for sins. There is a Saying which says, “Receive the prayers of the sick, for their prayers are acceptable.”
Especially if the sick are relations, and parents in particular, to look after them is important worship, yielding significant reward. To please a sick person’s heart and console him, is like significant alms-giving. Fortunate is the person who pleases the easily touched hearts of father and mother at the time of illness, and receives their prayer. Indeed, even the angels applaud before loyal scenes of those good offspring who respond at the time of their illness to the compassion of their parents—those most worthy of respect in the life of society—with perfect respect and filial kindness, showing the exaltedness of humanity.
Yes, there are pleasures at the time of illness which arise from the kindness, pity, and compassion of those around them, 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 through prayer, prayer cannot be removed, that is, since prayer cannot remove itself, I understood that the results of prayer pertain to the Hereafter, and that it is itself 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 was not accepted, it did not occur to me to give up the supplication. Because illness is the time of 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.
Furthermore, if supplications are not accepted in the form we wish, it may not be said that they have not been accepted. The All-Wise Creator knows better than us; He gives whatever is in our interests. Sometimes for our interests, he directs our prayers for this world towards the Hereafter, and accepts them in that way. In any event, a supplication that acquires sincerity due to illness and arises from weakness, impotence, humility and need in particular, is very close to being acceptable. Illness is the means to supplication that is thus sincere. Both the sick who are religious, and believers who look after the sick, should take advantage of this supplication.
O sick person who gives up offering thanks and takes up complaining! Complaint arises from a right. None of your rights have been lost that you should complain. Indeed, there are numerous thanks which are an obligation for you, a right over you, and these you have not performed. Without Almighty God giving you the right, you are complaining as though demanding rights in a manner which is not rightful. You cannot look at others superior to you in degree who are healthy, and complain. You are rather charged with looking at the sick who from the point of view of health are at a lower degree than yourself, and offering thanks. If your hand is broken, look at theirs, which is severed. If you have only one eye, look at the blind, who lack both eyes. And offer thanks to God!
For sure, no one has the right to look to those superior to him in regard to bounties and to complain. And in tribulations it is everyone’s right to look to those above themselves in regard to tribulation, so that they should offer thanks. This mystery has been explained in a number of places in the Writings with a comparison; a summary of it is as follows:
A person takes a wretched man to the top of a minaret. On every step he gives him a different gift, a different bounty. Right at the top of the minaret he gives him the largest present. Although he wants thanks and gratitude in return for all those various gifts, the peevish man forgets the presents he has received on each of the stairs, or considers them to be of no importance, and offering no thanks, looks above him and starts to complain, saying, “If only this minaret had been higher I could have climbed even further. Why isn’t it as tall as that mountain over there or that other tower?” If he begins to complain like this, what great ingratitude it would be, what a wrong!
In just the same way, man comes into existence from nothing, not as a rock or a tree or an animal, but becomes a man and a Muslim, and most of the time sees good health and acquires a high level of bounties. Despite all this, to complain and display impatience because he is not worthy of some bounties, or because he loses them through wrong choice or abuse, or because he could not obtain them, and to criticize Divine dominicality saying “What have I done that this has happened to me?”, is a condition and immaterial sickness more calamitous than the physical one. Like fighting with a broken hand, complaint makes his illness worse. Sensible is the one who in accordance with the meaning of the verse, “Those who when struck by calamity say:
To God do we belong, and to God is our return submits and is patient, so that the illness may complete its duty, then depart.” (2:156)
As the term of the Eternally Besought One, ‘the Most Beautiful Names’ shows, all the Names of the All-Beauteous One of Glory are beautiful. Among beings, the most subtle, the most beautiful, the most comprehensive mirror of Eternal Besoughtedness is life. The mirror to the beautiful is beautiful. The mirror that shows the virtues of beauty becomes beautiful. Just as whatever is done to the mirror by such beauty is good and beautiful, whatever befalls life too, in respect of reality, is good. Because it displays the beautiful impresses of the Most Beautiful Names, which are good and beautiful.
If life passes monotonously with permanent health and well-being, it becomes a deficient mirror. Indeed, in one respect, it tells of non-existence, non-being, and nothingness, and causes weariness. It reduces the life’s value, and transforms the pleasure of life into distress. Because thinking he will pass his time quickly, out of boredom, a person throws himself either into vice or into amusements. Like a prison sentence, he becomes hostile to his valuable life and wants to kill it and make it pass quickly. Whereas a life that revolves in change and action and different states makes its value felt, and makes known the importance and pleasure of life. Even if it is in hardship and tribulation, such a person does not want his life to pass quickly. He does not complain out of boredom, saying, “Alas! The sun hasn’t set yet,” or, “it is still nighttime.”
Yes, ask a fine gentleman who is rich and idle and living in the lap of luxury, “How are you?” You are bound to hear a pathetic reply like: “The time never passes. Let’s have a game of backgammon. Or let’s find some amusement to pass the time.” Or else you will hear complaints arising from worldly ambition, like: “I haven’t got that; if only I had done such-and-such.”
Then ask someone struck by disaster or a worker or poor man living in hardship: “How are you?” If he is sensible, he will reply: “All thanks be to God, I am working. If only the evening did not come so quickly, I could have finished this work! Time passes so quickly, and so does life, they pass so quickly. For sure things are hard for me, but that will pass too. Everything passes quickly.” He in effect says how valuable life is and how regretful he is at its passing. That means he understands the pleasure and value of life through hardship and labor. As for ease and health, they make life bitter and make it wanted to be passed.
My brother who is sick! Know that the origin and leaven of calamities and evils, and even of sins, is non-existence, as is proved decisively and in detail in other parts of the Risale-i Nur. As for non-existence, it is evil. It is because monotonous states like ease, silence, tranquility, and arrest are close to non-existence and nothingness that they make felt the darkness of non-existence and cause distress. As for action and change, they are existence and make existence felt. And existence is pure good, it is light.
Since the reality is thus, your illness has been sent to your being as a guest to perform many duties like purifying your valuable life, and strengthening it and making it progress, and to make the other human faculties in your being turn in assistance towards your sick member, and to display various Names of the All-Wise Maker. God willing, it will carry out its duties quickly and depart. And it will say to good health: “Come, and stay permanently in my place, and carry out your duties. This house is yours. Remain here in good health.”
O sick person who is searching for a remedy for his ills! Illness is of two sorts. One sort is real, the other, imaginary. As for the real sort, the All-Wise and Glorious Healer has stored up in His mighty pharmacy of the earth a cure for every illness. It is licit to obtain medicines and use them as treatment, but one should know that their effect and the cure are from Almighty God. He gives the cure just as He provides the medicine.
Following the recommendations of skilful and God-fearing doctors is an important medicine. For most illnesses arise from abuses, lack of abstinence, wastefulness, mistakes, dissipation, and lack of care. A religious doctor will certainly give advice and orders within the bounds of the lawful. He will forbid abuses and excesses, and give consolation. The sick person has confidence in his orders and consolation, and his illness lessens; it produces as easiness for him in place of distress.
But when it comes to imaginary illness, the most effective medicine for it is to give it no importance. The more importance is given it, the more it grows and swells. If no importance is given it, it lessens and disperses. The more bees are upset the more they swarm around a person’s head and if no attention is paid to them they disperse. So too, the more importance one pays to a piece of string waving in front of one’s eyes in the darkness and to the apprehension it causes one, the more it grows and makes one flee from it like a madman. While if one pays it no importance, one sees that it is an ordinary bit of string and not a snake, and laughs at one’s fright and anxiety.
If hypochondria continues a long time, it is transformed into reality. It is a bad illness for the nervous and those given to imaginings; such people make a mountain out of a molehill and their morale is destroyed. Especially if they encounter unkind ‘half’ doctors or unfair doctors, it further provokes their hypochondria. For the rich, they lose their wealth, or they lose their wits, or their health.
My sick brother! There is physical pain with your illness, but a significant immaterial pleasure encompasses you that will remove the effect of your physical pain. For if you have father, mother, and relations, their most pleasurable compassion towards which you have forgotten since childhood will be reawakened and you will see again their kind looks which you received in childhood. In addition, the friendships around you which had remained secret and hidden again look towards you with love through the attraction of illness, and so, in the face of these your physical pain becomes very cheap. Also, since those whom you have served proudly through the decree of illness now serve you kindly, you have become a master to the masters. Moreover, since you have attracted towards yourself the fellow-feeling and human kindness in people, you have found numerous helpful friends and kind companions. And again, you have received the order from your illness to rest from many taxing duties, and you are taking a rest. For sure, in the face of these immaterial pleasures, your minor pain should drive you to thanks, not complaint.
My brother who suffers from a severe illness like apoplexy! Firstly I give you the good news that apoplexy is considered blessed for believers. A long time ago I used to hear this from holy men and I did not know the reason. Now, one reason for it occurs to me as follows:
In order to attain union with Almighty God, be saved from the great spiritual dangers of this world, and to obtain eternal happiness, the people of God have chosen to follow two principles:
The First is contemplation of death. Thinking that like the world is transitory, they too are transient guests charged with duties, they worked for eternal life in that way.
The Second: Through fasting, religious exercises and asceticism, they tried to kill the evil-commanding soul and so be saved from its dangers and from the blind emotions.
And you, my brother who has lost the health of half his body! Without choosing it, you have been given these two principles, which are short and easy and the cause of happiness. Thus, the state of your being perpetually warns you of the fleeting nature of the world and that man is transient. The world can no longer drown you, nor heedlessness close your eyes. And for sure, the evil-commanding soul cannot deceive with base lusts and animal appetites someone in the state of half a man; he is quickly saved from the trials of the soul.
Thus, through the mystery of belief in God and submission to Him and reliance on Him, a believer can benefit in a brief time from a severe illness like apoplexy, like the severe trials of the saints. Then a severe illness such as that becomes exceedingly cheap.
Unhappy ill person who is alone and a stranger! Even if your aloneness and exile together with your illness were to arouse sympathy towards you in the hardest hearts and attract kindness and compassion, could that be a substitute for your All-Compassionate Creator? For He presents Himself to us at the start of all the Holy Book’s Chapters with the attributes of “the Merciful and the Compassionate,” and with one flash of His compassion makes all mothers nurture their young with that wonderful tenderness, and with one manifestation of His mercy every spring fills the face of the earth with bounties, and a single manifestation of His mercy is eternal life in Paradise together with all its wonders. Then surely your relation to Him through belief, your recognizing Him and beseeching Him through the tongue of impotence of your illness, and your illness of loneliness in exile, will attract the glance of His mercy towards you, which takes the place of everything. Since He exists and He looks to you, everything exists for you. Those who are truly alone and in exile are those who are not connected with Him through belief and submission, or attach no importance to that relation.
O you who look after innocent sick children or after the elderly, who are like innocent children! Before you is important trade for the Hereafter. Gain that trade through enthusiasm and endeavor! It is established by the people of reality that the illnesses of innocent children are like exercises and training for their delicate bodies, and injections and dominical training to allow them to withstand in the future the upheavals of the world; that in addition to many instances of wisdom pertaining to the child’s worldly life, instead of the atonement for sins in adults which looks to spiritual life and is the means to purifying life, illnesses are like injections ensuring the child’s spiritual progress in the future or in the Hereafter; and that the merits accruing from such illnesses pass to the book of good works of the parents, and particularly of the mother who through the mystery of compassion prefers the health of her child to her own health.
As for looking after the elderly, it is established in sound narrations and many historical events that together with receiving huge reward, to receive the prayers of the elderly and especially of parents, and to make their hearts happy and serve them loyally, is the means to happiness both in this world and in the Hereafter. And it is established by many events that a fortunate child who obeys to the letter his elderly parents will be treated in the same way by his children, and that if a wretched child wounds his parents he will be punished by means of many disasters in this world as well as in the Hereafter. Yes, to look after not only relatives who are elderly or innocents, but also those of the believers if one encounters them—since through the mystery of belief there is true brotherhood—and to serve the venerable sick elderly if they are in need of it to one’s utmost ability, is required by Religion.
My sick brothers! If you want a most beneficial and truly pleasurable sacred cure, develop your belief! That is, through repentance and seeking forgiveness, and the five daily prayers and worship, make use of belief, that sacred cure—and of the medicine which arises from belief.
Indeed, due to love of this world and attachment to it, it is as if you possess a sick immaterial being as large as the world, like the heedless. We have proved in many parts of the Writings that belief at once heals that immaterial being of yours as large as the world, which is bruised and battered by the blows of death and separation, and saves it from the wounds and truly heals it. I cut short the discussion here so as not to weary you.
As for the medicine of belief, it shows its effect through your carrying out your religious obligations as far as is possible. Heedlessness, vice, the lusts of the soul, and illicit amusements prevent the effectiveness of that remedy. Since illness removes heedlessness, cuts the appetites, is an obstacle to illicit pleasures, take advantage of it. Make use of the sacred medicines and lights of belief through repentance and seeking forgiveness, and prayer and supplication.
May Almighty God restore you to health and make your illnesses atonement for sins. Amen. Amen. Amen.
“And they say: All praise be to God Who has guided us to this; never could we have found guidance if it had not for the guidance of God; indeed, the Messengers of our Sustainer did bring the truth.”(7:43)
“Glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed, You are All-Knowing, All-Wise.”(2:32)
O God! Grant blessings to our master Muhammad, the medicine for our hearts and their remedy, the good health of our bodies and their healing, the light of our eyes and their radiance, and to his Family and Companions, and grant them peace.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi