Five Ideas to Cope with Illness

“Whenever Allah wills good for a person, He subjects him to adversity.” (hadith recorded in Bukhari)

Elderly woman wearing light blue pajamas, lying in a hospital bed looking very weak

By Sheima Salam Sumer

Most of us can relate to the hardships of being ill. Here are some coping ideas for both the emotional and physical hardships of illness:

1. Be self-aware. Be aware of your negative thoughts and feelings. Remind yourself that Allah loves those who are patient during difficulty.
“…..And Allah loves the patient ones.” (Al-Imran 3:146)
Catch yourself if you start to have negative thoughts like, “Allah doesn’t like me” or “Why is this happening to me?” Remember that the Prophets of Allah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon all of them) suffered the most of all human beings!
“The most in their suffering among the people are the prophets…” (hadith recorded in Ahmad, Tirmidhi)
2. Know that being patient during illness will bring you nearer to Allah
Being sick also gives you an opportunity to learn compassion and humility–extremely important traits of a believer. Don’t be afraid to seek help from others and to admit your vulnerability. They will get blessings for helping you!
3. Try to find something to be grateful for when you are feeling sick or down.
Be thankful that you are not as ill as you could be. Remember that Allah rewards thankfulness in His servants:
And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” (Ibrahim, 14:7)

4. Try to improve your condition (i.e. look for solutions).
When I am sick, I take a lot of Vitamin D3, a proven germ fighter. I also avoid gluten and sugar. I have observed that sugar and gluten (found in bread, flour and pasta) seem to weaken my immune system. It is a good idea to reduce or eliminate sugar and high fructose corn syrup from your diet in general. Most nutritionists agree that sugar is toxic to your body and can cause heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Find what works for you. When you work on ways to improve your condition, you feel more empowered. Remember that becoming sick is a sign that you need to take time off for yourself. Remember to take care of yourself, both emotionally and physically.
5. A specific dua when you feel pain in your body:
Allah loves for us to remember Him and make dua to Him in all situations.
When you feel a pain in your body, put your hand on the place where you feel pain and say: “Bismillah” (‘In the name of Allah’) three times. Then say: A’udhu billahi wa qudratihi min sharri ma ajidu wa uhadhiru (‘I seek refuge with Allah and with His Power from the evil that I find and that I fear’) (Sahih).
Illness is an unfortunate part of this world, but for the believer, illness is a way to grow closer to Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala. Through self-awareness, a patient attitude, and hope for recovery, we can turn our illnesses into ways to become better Muslims. And remember to visit those who are ill!
(Sheima Salam Sumer, a trained counselor, is author of How to Be a Happy Muslim Insha’Allah, and The Basic Values of Islam (both available on Amazon.com). You can read more of her writings on www.howtobeahappymuslim.com)

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