Seeking Medication vs Qadar and Tawakkul

There are some people who refuse to make use of medical treatment for their illness and prefer to rely on Allaah. These people are opposed to any attempt at treatment and advocate reliance on Allaah (tawakkul) without any attempt at a cure on their part.

Three False Stands

A party among them say that if Allaah has decreed cure for their ailments, then seeking medical treatment would not be of any use as they will eventually be cured; they also say that if Allaah has not decreed cure for their ailments, then their taking medications or seeking medical treatment would still have been a wasted effort. They also say, "Our illness is as a result of Allaah's decree (Qadar), and concerning Allaahs decree (Qadar), nothing can dispel or avert it." Another party among those who say they prefer to rely on Allaah and discard the use of medical treatment are of the opinion that cure should not be hastened with the use of drugs, etc., when it is clear that there are rewards associated with patience and forbearance during illness and affliction.

They also say that because there is expiation or atonement of ones sins during illness, the continuation of such an illness is, therefore, a blessing and no attempt should be made to stop its progression. They likened their case to that of the woman who came to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and requested him to pray to Allaah on her behalf to cure her of her epileptic fits (or seizures) as narrated in the following hadeeth:

A Woman of Paradise

Narrated Ata bin Abi Rabah: "Ibn Abbas (RA) said to me, "Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?" I said, Yes. He said, "This black lady came to the Prophet and said" I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allaah for me.The Prophet said (to her), If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allaah to cure you., She said, I will remain patient and added, but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allaah for me that I may not become uncovered. So he invoked Allaah for her. (Bukhari)

It should, however, be emphasized that the above incident is neither a case of abandonment of a medical treatment because of tawakkul nor a case of abandonment of medical treatment in order to prolong the course of an ailment or disease. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sailam) offered the woman two choices: an instantaneous cure by virtue of his supplication to Allaah, or forbearance in an absolute and irrevocable exchange for Paradise.

The two choices are permissible and neither is forbidden. The clarity of this matter is established in the Prophets statements commanding the Muslims to seek and make use of medical treatment. If their case was genuine, then the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) being the strongest of those who rely on Allaah would not have made use of medical treatment. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) made use of medical treatment. He treated and operated on some of his Companions, and he told others to seek the help of physicians for their ailments. He also enquired from two physicians, "Which of you two is better at medicine?" before delivering his patient for treatment.

All Are Part of Qadar

Abu Khizaamah (RAH) reported that his father asked Allaahs Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam): "Tell me about the ruqaa (Quranic verses, Prophetic supplications) which we recite, the medicine which we apply [or seek cure therewith] and the precautionary measures which we employ to protect ourselves. Does these avert [or ward off] anything which Allaah has decreed [or destined]? "He [the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam)] replied, "All of these measures, themselves. are part of Allaahs decree. "(Ahmad)

The Prophets statement implies that nothing comes out of the decree of Allaah; rather one decree of Allaah is dispelled or warded off by another decree of Allaah. Thus, ones eating or drinking to satisfy ones hunger or quench ones thirst, preparing against the enemies in war, etc. are all part of Allaah's decree. That which brings about repulsion, that which is repelled, and the act of repelling itself are all part of Allaah's decree (Qadar).

The hadeeth shows that reliance on Allaah (tawakkul) does not imply that one should dispense with one's effort, and seeking medical treatment does not imply that one does not rely on Allaah, just as eating food at the time of hunger, drinking water to quench the thirst, having a cold shower when there is excessive heat, or providing a warm environment in extreme cold. None of these suggest or imply absenceor lack of tawakkul. In fact, ones faith cannot be sound except one recognizes the natural means leading to causation of events.

Therefore, it will not be right for a man not to sleep with his wife and then hope for a child, relying on Allaah, or for a student not to prepare for his/her exams and, then hope for a brilliant performance, or for someone to eat a known poisoned food, or cross a busy road with the eyes closed, or sleep with the house door opened or unlocked, claiming that he relies on Allaah.

A State of Tawakkul

Real tawakkul is a state of mind, which leads one to have full reliance on Allaah so as not to be disheartened by the failure of apparent causes. Tawakkul does not mean relying on Allaah for achieving an objectivewithout working for it. This is clear from numerous verses of the Quraan as well as sayings of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam). Allaah says: "And that man can have nothing except what he strives for." (an-Najm [53]: 39)

Anas (RA) and Amr ibn Umayyah (RA) reported that a man went to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and asked, "Should I tether my camel and rely on Allaah or should I leave it free and rely on Allaah?" The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) told him, "Tether it and then rely on Allaah." (Tirmidhi).

To attribute everything to decree without working is a sign of weak faith. One will then be like those people who, when they do good attribute it to fate but when they do evil they say it is forced on them. They are like those pagans who said: "If Allaah had willed we should not have associated partners with Him, nor would our fathers. and we would not have forbidden anything [against His will}." (al-Anaam [6]: 148) And they also said: "Shall we feed those whom. If Allaah had so willed, He Himself would have fed." (Yaa Seen [36]:47).

So the act of seeking medical treatment and the consequences of using medical treatment does not in anyway alter the decree of Allaah; rather, they are part of Allaahs decree. Ibn Abbaas (RA) reported that Allaahs Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "Medication is part of decree (Qadar) "it may benefit with Allaah's permission." (Tabarani).

Ibn Abbaas (RA) also reported that Allaahs Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "Medication is part of decree (Qadar); and He (Allah) benefits whomever He wills with whatever He wills."(As-Sunni)

Prolong the Blessings, not the Suffering

As for those who say that continuation of the illness is a blessing and so medical treatment should not be sought no matter the gravity of the illness, what would they have done if they had suffered no ailment? Would they have inflicted injury on themselves or expose their bodies to diseases in anticipation of rewards and blessings and then rely on Allaah? Would they also prefer to forgo eating and drinking continuously and suffer hunger pangs so that they can receive blessings and rewards? Abandoning the cure is, in fact, contradictory to the true reliance and dependence on Allaah, This is because true reliance guides the believing servant to acquire what benefits him in his life and religious affairs, while fending off what harms his life and religion. Allaah says in the Quraan: "And make not your own hands contribute to your destruction; rather do good, for A1laah loves those who do good." (al-Baqarah [2]: 195).

No one suffered a greater affliction than the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) yet the Prophet supplicated to Allaah and employed and sought medical treatment for his ailments. Allaah, in His Infinite mercy, afflicts His beloved servants to atone for their sins. He is the One Who determines the type, duration and course of the affliction, and He makes His beloved servants to be able to bear it to the best of their ability. Whoever seeks to outrun Allaah, the Determinant of all affairs, such a person will be subdued and humiliated. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) has laid down a good example for us to emulate.

The Right Understanding Abu Saeed al-Khudree (RA) reported that a man from among the Muslims asked, "O Messenger of Allaah! What do we stand to gain from all these illnesses that afflict us?" The Prophet replied, "They will be expiation for your sins." Ubayy (RA) said, "O Messenger of Allaah! What about if it is something smaller or less significant?" The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "Even if it be [as trivial as] a thorns prick or something greater than that." Then Ubayy (RA) supplicated for himself that fever should not part with him till he dies, and that it should not trouble him as to distract or divert him from performing hajj, or umrah, or Jihaad (fighting) in Allaahs cause, or observing the obligatory prayers in congregation.

Then, he said, "No man is afflicted in his body except that he continues to feel the heat [or traces] of that affliction till he dies." (Ahmad) It is not a sin as such for one to be desirous that ones affliction or illness be delayed or prolonged for the sake of reward which accrues from it as long as one has the right- and proper understanding of this issue. This is because during the state or period of illness or affliction, a person becomes closer to his Lord, remembers Him ever than before and seeks nearness to Him by engaging much in acts of worship so much so that a secret, peaceful and close relationship develops and exists between him and his Lord. 

This in turn which gives him contentment, relieves and reinvigorates his soul, dispels his grief and sorrow, and revitalizes his hope; and the afflicted person enjoys and derives pleasure from this new, subtle and radiant relationship that now exist between him and his Lord, so much so that he is desirous that this stateof joy and contentment, being experienced side by side his affliction, continue to exist and his rewards continue to multiply.

But despite this state of relative ease and comfort, the conscious Muslim does not abandon or discard treating his .illness or seeking remedy for his affliction just as he does not refuse to break his fast at sunset despite the joy and pleasure derived from his fasting and the reward promised him by Allaah.

The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) is the interpreter of the message and he is the best example to follow, and Allaah revealed to him: "O Prophet! Allaah is sufficient for you, and for the believers who follow you." (al-Anfaal[8]: 64)


This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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