A Note from the Sunnah on Health and Pain

By Qays Arthur

Illness can be a major test. Sometimes even with the best treatment pain and misery can persist. The following is some general advice from the Sunnah that can help with achieving good health and when dealing with physical pain. This is not meant to replace a visit to the doctor for those who suspect major issues, but the benefits of these tips can't be denied.

Firstly, one should try as much as possible to avoid excessiveness in food and drink. By that I mean to avoid eating for “comfort” and/or to relieve stress, and rather eat only when one is hungry and in moderation. This is the Sunnah and many of our books mention that it is the foundation of good health. If one snacks, avoid processed foods (which are often consumed without checking the ingredients) and do so with moderation and gratitude to Allah for his favor, and to gain strength and encouragement to worship.

Secondly, it is generally a good idea to ensure that one's diet includes dates, honey, and black seed as these are mentioned in the Sunnah as being generally conducive to good health.

But again, moderation is key.

The Sunnah doesn't recommend "alot" of anything except dhikr (remembrance) of Allah, Most High. Those who are not already consuming these foods and are on medical treatment regimens should check with their health care professional before adding them just as a precaution.

Finally, for pain in the body it is authentically related that the Prophet () prescribed the following for a companion who was in pain:

“...place you hand on the part of the body where the pain is and say, 
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ 
(three times). 
Also say, 
أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ وَقُدْرَتِهِ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا أَجِدُ وَأُحَاذِرُ
“a’uthu billahi wa qudratihi min shari ma ajid wa uhadhir” 
(seven times – wiping the area each time).” (Muslim)

“Bismillah” means "in the name of Allah". “A’uthu billahi wa qudratihi min shari ma ajid wa uhadhir” translates roughly as “I seek refuge in Allah and in His omnipotence from the evil (pain) that I find, and I seek to avoid it.”

Of course, if one experiences persistent pain one should visit a qualified health care professional, yet the Prophet's () advice, being a supplication, can be followed before or after such a visit and can accompany other kinds of treatment.

One should do the three things above with the intention of gaining the pleasure of Allah, Most High, and drawing nearer to Him even in pain and adversity for that is our entire purpose in the world and the very reason we experience pleasure and pain, and ups and downs, in the first place. With that intention one should persist with the first two even after Allah brings relief and have recourse to the third measure whenever needed. We ask Allah for acceptance, well-being, and success.

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