اَللَّهُمَّ اشْفِ كُلَّ مَرِيْضٍ
O Allāh, Cure every Sick Person
The Arabic word marīd literally means ‘one who is sick or disordered’. It originates from its infinitive ‘marad’ which means:
الْخُرُوْجُ عَنِ الاِعْتِدَالِ الْخَاصِّ بِالاِنْسَانِ وَذَلِكَ ضَرْبَان : الاَوَّلُ مَرَضٌ جِسْمِيٌّ...وَالثَّانِي عِبَارَهٌ عَنِ الرَّذَايِلِ...
Therefore, in reality, marad is another extension (mişdāq) of the state of disequilibrium (fasād), and thus can be discussed under the previous verse of the supplication too.
Extensions of Illnesses
In the Holy Qur'ān and traditions the word “marad” (illness) has been mostly employed to denote one of the abovementioned kinds of human disequilibria. Look at the following:
1. The Holy Qur’ān [26:80] narrating the words of Prophet Ibrāhīm (‘a), says:
And when I turn ill, He alone Cures me.
Two points should be noted here:
(i) The above verse does not imply that the Prophet (ş) would not seek the natural causes for the cure. What the verse means is that the Principal Curer (al-Shāfī) is only Allāh. This is because the existence, subsistence, and effect of the agent of cure is entirely by His Will and Permission.
(ii) Apparently what is meant in this verse is the physical extension of illness, for Prophets of Allāh, upon whom be peace, are free from spiritual illnesses. They are infallible in their thoughts, words and actions. And that enables them to be propagators and Messengers of God.
2. The Holy Qur'ān [2:8-10] describing the hypocrites says:
In their hearts is a sickness; and Allāh increased their sickness
The sickness referred to here is hypocrisy, which concerns the heart and not the body. Therefore marad is not limited to physical ailments.
3. Prophet ‘Īsā, upon whom be peace, is reported to have said:
...مَا مَرِضَ قَلْبٌ بأَشَدَّ مِنَ الْقَسْوَةِ...
4. Imām ‘Alī (‘a) is reported to have said:
لاَ مَرَضَ أَضْنى مِنْ قِلَّةِ الْعَقْلِ
Here the 'silliness' or simplicity of a person is considered to be another kind of sickness. Therefore marad can also employed to denote the dull-wittedness of a person.
5. And he (‘a) is also reported to have said:
الْحِقْدُ خُلْقٌ دَنِيٌّ وَ مَرَضٌ مُرْدِي
Therefore, in short, marad is not limited to physical illness. Rather it covers the avenues of mental and spiritual illnesses as well.
Supplication for a Sublime Purpose
Health, like any other Divine Blessing is meant for a sublime purpose. To underutilize the same would be equal to unthankfulness on the part of the human being. Our supplications for the betterment of ourselves and others should be purposeful: we must pray for health as a means to effect equilibrium in our souls. Were we to pray for health for the sake of sheer material enjoyment, we would be unthankful to Almighty Allāh, since the practical reality of shukr is to employ the Divine Blessing for the purpose it was created.
Imām al-Sajjād in his well-known prayer manual al-Sahīfat al-Sajjādiyyah prays:
فَمَا أَدْرِي يَا إِلَهِي أَيُّ الْحَالَيْنِ أَحَقُّ بِالشُّكْرِ لَكَ
وَأَيُّ الْوَقْتَيْنِ أَوْلَى بِالْحَمْدِ لَكَ
أَوَقْتُ الصِّحَّةِ الَّتِي هَنَأْتَنِي فِيهَا طَيِّبَاتِ رِزْقِكَ
وَنَشَّطْتَنِي بهَا لاِبْتِغَاءِ مَرْضَاتِكَ وَفَضْلِكَ
وَقَوَّيْتَنِي مَعَهَا عَلَى مَا وَفَّقْتَنِي لَهُ مِنْ طَاعَتِكَ...
For I know not, my God, which of the two states deserves more my thanking You, And which of the two times is more worthy for my praise of Thee: the time of health, within which You Make me delight in the agreeable things of Your provision, through which You Give me the joy to seek the means to Your Good Pleasure and Bounty, And by which You Strengthen me for the acts of obedience which You Have Given me success to accomplish…
Here the Imām (‘a) teaches us that health should be sought to achieve Allāh's pleasure (libtighā'i mardātika) and perform acts of His obedience (waffaqtanī lahu min ţā'atika). Therefore, when we seek the well-being of every extension of the human race, we should do so because we would like the means of their perfection to be facilitated and not because they can regain their health to continue more damage to themselves or others.
The Apple of our eyes, Sayyid Radī al-Dīn bin Ţāwūs in section seven of his Falāh al-Sā'il where he enumerates the characteristics of a supplicant, says:
مِنْ صِفَاتِ الدَّاعِي: أَنْ يُرِيْدَ بِالدُّعاءِ مُرَادَ اللهِ جَلَّ جَلاَلَهُ بِهِ وَ يُقَدِّمُ إِرَادَةَ اللهِ عَلَى إِراَدَةِ نَفْسِهِ وَ مِثَالُهُ إِذَا مَرِضَ لاَ يَكُوْنُ قَصْدُهُ مِنَ الدُّعَآءِ بِعَافِيَتِهِ مُجَرَّدَ بَقَآءِهِ لِشَهْوَتِهِ وَ عَاجِلَتِهِ وَدُنْيَاهُ الشَّاغِلَة عنْ آخِرَتِهِ بَلْ لِيَبْقَى عَلى مُرَادِ اللهِ جَلَّ جَلاَلَهُ فِيْ طَاعَتِهِ.
And among the characteristics of a supplicant is that he should seek through his supplication what Allah wants of Him and prefer Allāh's Desire over his. For example: when he becomes ill, the purpose behind his supplication for his well-being should not be merely subsistence for the sake of lustful desire, temporal enjoyment and worldly existence that disengages him from his Hereafter, rather it should be for the purpose of living according to what Allāh Wants, which is His Obedience.
Beyond the Immediate Causes of Illnesses!
Although it is true to say that we must seek the natural causes of the various maladies to eradicate them, our aspiration should be loftier then to merely search for the immediate causes. Physicians categorize "illness prevention” into four stages:
1. Primordial prevention
The Holy Qur'ān says:
Primordial prevention is to avoid the emergence and establishment of the social, economic and cultural patterns of living that are known to contribute to an elevated risk of disease.
This is certainly the most important of all kinds of prevention. The human being is taught that his lifestyle can surely determine what kind of future awaits him. To establish those social, economic and cultural patterns that would secure the health of the human being highly depends on the validity of the political body that governs the human society. Only an Islamic government subservient to the principles of Islam, can create a physically healthy environment. This is because the social, economic and cultural patterns would be defined by God, Who Created the human being for prosperity in both this world and the Hereafter, and Knows what laws would lead him to this prosperity. There is an interesting anecdote narrated about the situation prevailing the Muslim community during the time of the Holy Prophet (ş):
During the Holy Prophet (ş)'s time, the king of Egypt sent a skilled doctor to the Holy Prophet (ş). He lived one year with the Arabs but found no one approaching him to get cured. He therefore came to the Prophet (ş) and complained about the situation. The Holy Prophet (ş) explained to him that the reason behind the situation was that his people had adopted a path of moderation: they do not eat unless their appetite for food overcomes them, and (ii) They stop eating while they still have some appetite for food left. Hearing this, the doctor said: 'This is the cause of [their] health.' Then he kissed the earth, and left.
In other words, they obeyed the Holy Prophet (ş) and applied his well-known saying:
كُلْ وَاَنْتَ تَشْتَهِي وَاَمْسِكْ وَاَنْتَ تَشْتَهِي
If the laws of Almighty Allāh prevailed in the environment they would deter the human being from engaging in sin, which can be said to cater for a substantial number if not most of the prevalent illnesses. In a society where capitalism and consumerism prevail, what should one expect save the culture of overindulgence? In an environment where the woman is used as an item of advertisement and sale, what can one anticipate save sexual perversion? And these two major factors contribute to a great number of illnesses. In such a situation primordial prevention is a far fetched phenomenon.
The fundamental unit, one must understand, for the realization of primordial prevention is the government. It is the ideology of the ruling power that determines what kind of society it would like and what kind of lifestyle does it encourage.
2. Primary Prevention
The Holy Qur'ān says:
Primary prevention is action taken prior to the onset of disease, which removes the possibility that a disease will ever occur. For example the preventive measures taken to avoid diseases such as heart attacks, high cholesterol levels, ulcers, etc. is called primary prevention. Often these simple measures are not taken seriously, which leads us to the second stage of prevention i.e. secondary prevention.
In primary prevention, the human being refrains from the causes that would amplify the vulnerability of illness. Abstinence [abstaining from sex beyond marriage], consuming low cholesterol foods, nominal sugar, etc. are known to be kinds of primary prevention. This kind of prevention is also difficult for those suffering from spiritual maladies such as avarice, overindulgence, etc. The following traditions emphasize the important role of denial before sickness:
i) Imām Amīru'l Mu’minīn (‘a) is reported to have said:
الْمَعِدَةُ بَيْتُ الأَدْوَاءِ وَ الْحِمْيَةُ رَأْسُ الدَّوَاءِ لاَ صِحَّةَ مَعَ النَّهَمِ
ii) And he ('a) has also said:
صَلاَحُ الْبَدَنِ الْحِمْيَةُ
iii) Imam Abū Ibrāhīm al-Każim (‘a) is reported to have said:
لَيسَ الْحِمْيَةُ أَنْ تَدَعَ الشَّيْءَ أَصْلاً وَلَكِنَّ الْحِمْيَةَ أَنْ تَأْكُلَ مِنَ الشَّيْءِ وَتُخَفِّفَ
iv) And Imām Abu'l Hasan al-Ridā ('a) is reported to have said:
رَأسُ الحِْمْيَةِ الرِّفْقُ بِالْبَدَنِ
To deal with the body in a friendly manner does not mean to eat whatever you want. This wise dictum of Imām al-Ridā ('a) calls us to identify those things that the body needs and provide it with the same. Overindulgence in eating would therefore be contrary to what our body requires. Although it would give utter pleasure to the taste buds of our tongues, but its consequences are detrimental to our bodies. Uncontrolled sex likewise is the same. Utmost pleasure can be sought from this act, but the consequences are harmful to the body.
There is a beautiful poem attributed to Avicenna where he considers the secret of medicine in the moderation of food consumption and sex:
إسْمَعْ جََمِيْعَ وَصِيَّتِيْ وَ اعْمَلْ بِهَا فَالطِّبُّ مَجْمُوْعٌ بِنَظْمِ كَلاَمِيْ
اَ قْلِلْ جمَاعَكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتَ فَإِنَّهُ مَآءُ الْحَيَوةِ تَصُبُّ فِي الأرْحَامِ
وَ اجْعَلْ غَذاءَكَ كُلَّ يَوْمٍ مرّةً وَ احْذَرْ طَعَاماً قَبْلَ هَضْم طَعاَمِ
Listen to all what I have to advise, and act accordingly
For medicine is gathered in the poetry of my word
Lessen your copulation as much as you can
For verily it is the water of life that is placed in the wombs
And make your meal once a day
And beware of eating before the digestion of what you have eaten
3. Secondary Prevention
Imām Abū 'Abdillāh al-Şadiq (‘a) is reported to have said:
إنَّ نَبيًّا مِنْ الأَنْبِيَاء مَرِضَ فَقَالَ لاَ أَتَدَاوَى حَتىّ يَكُوْنُ الّذِيْ أمْرَضَنِي هُوَ الَّذِي يَشْفِيْنِي فَأَوْحَى الله تَعَالى إِلَيْهِ لاَ أشْفِيْكَ حَتىّ تَتَدَاوَى فَإِنَّ الشّفَاء مِنِّي
One of the Prophets [once] got ill, whereupon he said: I shall not treat myself until He Who made me sick treats me Himself. Thereupon Almighty Allah revealed unto him: I will not treat you, until you treat yourself, for surely ‘cure’ comes from Me.
Secondary prevention is action, which halts the progress of a disease at its incipient stage and prevents complications. Treating diseases with medicines constitutes secondary prevention. The health programs initiated by governments are usually at the level of secondary prevention.
Islam does not encourage one to immediately seek medicine for illnesses that only need time to disappear. So long as the human being can bear the difficulty and pain of a certain sickness like mild flue, he/she is encouraged to do so. To immediately resort to medicine is not a wise instruction. Instead one is highly advised to seek the natural foods that have a medicinal effect on the body. Yes there are illnesses, which should be controlled at their incipient phases. If one doubts or deciphers such an illness, he should immediately seek his/her treatment so that the situation does not get worse.
4. Tertiary Prevention
Tertiary prevention is a preventive measure used late in the stage of the disease. It includes limiting disabilities and carrying out rehabilitation programs.
Can Illness Be Totally Avoided?
With scientific advancement, the causes of many illnesses and their remedies have been discovered. But can we limit the causes of the various illnesses to what has been discovered so far? Both the scientist and the philosopher will respond in the negative. This is because there is always a probability for there being other unknown causes of certain maladies. The scientist has no right to limit the causes of a certain malady to what the latest empirical data suggest, since there is always room for the discovery of other causes to different maladies. The scientist can also not claim that no psychological or spiritual factor is responsible for physical illnesses, for he does not comprehend the link between the body and the soul, and cannot transcend the senses.
Imām al-Şādiq ('a) was once asked by an atheist as to why is it deserving for a small child to suffer from ailments and sicknesses while he is sinless and has committed no crime. The Imām ('a) responded saying:
َإِنَّ الْمَرَضَ عَلَى وُجُوهٍ شَتَّى مَرَضُ بَلْوَى وَمَرَضُ الْعُقُوبَةِ وَمَرَضٌ جُعِلَ عَلَيْهِ الْفَنَاءُ وَأَنْتَ تَزْعُمُ أَنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ أَغْذِيَةٍ رَدِيئَةٍ وَأَشْرِبَةٍ وَبِيئَةٍ أَوْ مِنْ عِلَّةٍ كَانَتْ بِأُمِّهِ وَتَزْعُمُ أَنَّ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ السِّيَاسَةَ لِبَدَنِهِ وَأَجْمَلَ النَّظَرَ فِي أَحْوَالِ نَفْسِهِ وَعَرَفَ الضَّارَّ مِمَّا يَأْكُلُ مِنَ النَّافِعِ لَمْ يَمْرَضْ وَتَمِيلُ فِي قَوْلِكَ إِلَى مَنْ يَزْعُمُ أَنَّهُ لاَ يَكُونُ الْمَرَضُ وَالْمَوْتُ إِلاَّ مِنَ المَطْعَمِ وَالْمَشْرَبِ قَدْ مَاتَ أَرَسْطَاطَالِيسُ مُعَلِّمُ الْأَطِبَّاءِ وَأَفْلاَطوُنُ رَئِيسُ الْحُكَمَاءِ وَجَالِينُوسُ شَاخَ وَدَقَّ بَصَرُهُ وَمَا دَفَعَ الْمَوْتَ حِينَ نَزَلَ بِسَاحَتِهِ
Surely illnesses are of various kinds: the illness of Divine tribulation, the illness of Divine punishment, and illness as a means for death. Do you think that the reason behind the illness is to partake rotten food and contaminated water, or a malady that was present in the child's mother? Do you think that whosoever manages his body properly and takes good care of the conditions of his spirit and distinguishes the dangerous foods from the advantageous will never turn sick?
In line with the same thinking is one who conjectures that sickness and death do not occur save through food and drink; surely Aristotle, the mentor of physicians and Plato, the president of the philosophers died; and Galen became old and his eyesight decreased, and he could not repel death when it came to him.
Therefore even if one puts great efforts in observing hygiene as well as primary prevention, he cannot assure himself to be immune from illness.
Illness - a Means of Self-Purification
The apparent form of physical illness may seem to be affliction and trouble, but its kernel manifests nothing but love, mercy and attention. In our traditions, illness for a believer plays the role of a detergent of the human soul that purifies it from the burden of sins so that the soul can qualify to be receptive and perhaps start the journey to Almighty Allāh.
Following are some of the many traditions that clearly show how illnesses can be an advantage to the believing souls:
1. The Holy Prophet (ş) is reported to have said:
إنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَكُوْنَ لَهُ الدَّرَجَة عِنْدَ اللهِ لاَ يَبْلُغُهَا بعَمَلِهَِ يُبْتَلى ببَلاَءٍ فِي جِسْمِهِ فَيَبْلُغُهَا بذَلِكَ
2. Imām ‘Alī (‘a) is reported to have said:
إذَا ابْتَلى الله عَبْدًا أَسْقَطَ عَنْهُ مِنَ الذُّنُوْبِ بِقَدْرِ عِلَّتِهِ
3. Imām al-Ridā (‘a) is reported to have said:
الْمَرَضُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ تَطْهِيْرٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ، وَلِلْكَافِرِ تَعْذِيْبٌ وَلَعْنَةٌ...
4. Imām al-Şādiq (‘a) is reported to have said:
صُدَاعُ لَيْلَةٍ تَحُطُّ كُلَّ خَطِيْئَةٍ إِلاَّ الْكَبَائِر
Mediation by those who possess
The human being has an ability to soar to such heights that he can influence the world of contingent existence (takwīn) by the permission of Almighty Allāh. As for the Prophets of Almighty Allah, this is a fact that one can observe in different places of the Holy Qur’ān. An example is that of Prophet ‘Īsā (‘a):
Almighty Allāh says:
…and when you determined out of clay a thing like the form of a bird by My permission, then you breathed into it and it became a bird by My permission, and you healed the blind and the leprous by My permission; and when you brought forth the dead by My permission....
In all the abovementioned wonders that Prophet ‘Īsā (‘a) was able to perform, he required Divine permission to lay his influence on contingent existents. That is why the phrase "by My permission" is iterated after every wonder described.
As regards the infallible Imams of the Ahlu'lbayt (‘a), we do have reports of such influence by them and there is enough evidence to indicate that such phenomena are normal and simple for them, since they enjoy al-wilāyah al-takwiniyyah (the powers to lay influence in contingent existence), and they are intermediaries of Divine Grace (wasā'iţ al-fayd al-ilāhī) as well. Following are some instances worthy of contemplation:
1. Uprooting the door of Khaybar is a phenomenon that is beyond the scope of science to explain. No very strong human being can do this with his bodily strength. While explaining to Sahl bin Hunayf how he managed to uproot the heavy door of Khaybar, Imām ('a) said:
وَاللهِ مَا قَلَعْتُ بَابَ خَيْبَرٍ وَقَذَفْتُ بِهِ وَرَائِي اَرْبَعِيْنَ ذِرَاعًا لَمْ تَحُسّ اَعْضَائِي، بِقُوّةٍ جَسَدِيّةٍ وَحَرَكَةٍ غَرِيْزِيَّةٍ بَشَرِيَّةٍ وَلكِنّي اُيّدْتُ بِقُوَّةٍ مَلَكُوْتِيَّةٍ وَنَفْسٍ بِنُوْرِ رَبِّهَا مُضِيْئَةٌ
I swear by Allah, I did not uproot the door of Khaybar and throw it 40 forearms away while the members of my body did not feel anything, with bodily strength, or nutritive momentum, but I was supported by celestial power and the spirit which is radiant with the Light of its Lord.
2. History tells us that once in the gathering of the Abbasid Caliph Ma'mūn, Hamīd bin Mahrān, a supporter of the Caliph, belittling Imām al-Ridā ('a) tried to challenge him saying that his prayer for rain which followed heavy rains after a long drought was something ordinary and that rain came at its normal season. He said that if the Imām ('a) could perform miracles which were beyond the powers of ordinary men, then he should order the pictures of the two lions that were painted on the curtains of the court of Ma'mūn to become real lions and jump on him and swallow him up. The Imām ('a) pointed to the two pictures and they became real lions, and pounced at Mehrān and ate him up and then turned toward Ma'mun and started gazing at him. Thereafter facing the Imām ('a) the lions said to the Imām: what do you order us to do with this one (i.e. Ma'mūn)? On seeing this, Ma'mūn fell unconscious. The Imām ('a) said to the lions to return where they came from.
These were instances that transpired through the Imāms('a). However, is this possible also with other human beings who attain heights of perfection? Do the Awliyā'ullāh (near ones to God) possess such power too? Can they cure a sick person without employing the conventionally known methods?
Let us look at the Holy Qur’ān and find the answer:
Said one who had knowledge of the Book: “I will bring it to thee within the twinkling of any eye!”Then when (Solomon) saw it placed firmly before him, he said: "This is by the grace of my Lord! to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And if any one is grateful, truly his gratitude is (a gain) for his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, truly my Lord is Free of All Needs, Supreme in Honor!”
According to the traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), the ‘one who had knowledge of the book’ in the above verse, was the minister of Sulaymān called Āsaf bin Barkhiyyah. He was the person who with Divine Consent brought the throne of queen Bilqīs within the twinkling of an eye. He was known to possess knowledge of al-Ism al-A’żam (the great Name of Allah), and therefore could perform such powerful phenomena.
We must understand however that according to authoritative Muslim scholars neither does the al-Ism al-A’żam (Great Name) actually consist of letters and words, nor is the knowledge of the Great Name the conceptual or mental knowledge of a certain word or specific letters as have a majority of the laity conjectured and believed so far. The knowledge of al-Ism al-A’żam is a maqām and station that the human being attains after self-purification and attaining human perfection. 'Allāmah Ţabāţabā'ī in volume 7 of his monumental al-Mīzān has explained this reality at length.
Salman al-Muhammadi and his Powers
One of the companions of the Holy Prophet (ş) who enjoyed the station of al-wilāyah al-takwīniyyah was Salman al-Farsi, who was also known as Salman al-Muhammadī by the Ahl al-Bayt ('a). Being utterly subservient to the Ahl al-Bayt ('a), he was also known to be from among them. Once Salmān al-Fārsī's name was mentioned near Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir ('a), and he said:
لا تَقُولُوا سَلْمَانَ الْفَارِسِيَّ وَلَكِنْ قُولُوا سَلْمَانَ الْمُحَمَّدِيَّ ذَاكَ رَجُلٌ مِنَّا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ
It is important and necessary for us to realize and understand that ma'rifah and gnosis are of various levels. Those who attain the lower levels cannot comprehend the higher levels. Rather, the matter becomes so intricate that if those of lower levels were to hear what the exalted ones have to say, they would have termed them as disbelievers and done things worse than that. Salmān al-Muhammadī enjoyed a very high rank, such that Imām Zayn al-‘Ābidīn is reported to have said about him:
وَاللهِ لَوْ عَلِمَ أبُو ذَرّ مَا فِي قَلْبِ سَلْمَان لَقَتَلَهُ
And Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir ('a) is reported to have said:
دَخَلَ أَبُو ذَرٍّ عَلَى سَلْمَانَ وَهُوَ يَطْبَخُ قِدْراً لَهُ فَبَيْنَا هُمَا يَتَحَادَثَانِ إِذَا انْكَبَّتِ الْقِدْرُ عَلَى وَجْهِهَا عَلَى الأَرْضِ فَلَمْ يَسْقُطْ مِنْ مَرَقِهَا وَلاَ مِنْ وَدَكِهَا شَيْءٌ فَعَجِبَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ أَبُو ذَرٍّ عَجَباً شَدِيداً وَأَخَذَ سَلْمَانُ الْقِدْرَ فَوَضَعَهَا عَلَى حَالِهَا الأَوَّلِ عَلَى النَّارِ ثَانِيَةً وَأَقْبَلاَ يَتَحَدَّثَانِ فَبَيْنَمَا هُمَا يَتَحَدَّثَانِ إِذَا انْكَبَّتِ الْقِدْرُ عَلَى وَجْهِهَا فَلَمْ يَسْقُطْ مِنْهَا شَيْءٌ مِنْ مَرَقِهَا وَلاَ مِنْ وَدَكِهَا قَالَ فَخَرَجَ أَبُو ذَرٍّ وَهُوَ مَذْعُورٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ سَلْمَانَ فَبَيْنَمَا هُوَ مُتَفَكِّرٌ إِذْ لَقِيَ أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ(ع) عَلَى الْبَابِ فَلَمَّا أَنْ بَصُرَ بهِ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ(ع) قَالَ لَهُ: يَا بَا ذَرٍّ مَا الَّذِي أَخْرَجَكَ وَمَا الَّذِي ذَعَرَكَ؟ فَقَالَ لَهُ أَبُو ذَرٍّ: يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَأَيْتُ سَلْمَانَ صَنَعَ كَذَا وَكَذَا فَعَجِبْتُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ فَقَالَ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ(ع) يَا بَا ذَرٍّ إِنَّ سَلْمَانَ لَوْ حَدَّثَكَ بِمَا يَعْلَمُ لَقُلْتَ رَحِمَ اللَّهُ قَاتِلَ سَلْمَانَ يَا بَا ذَرٍّ
Abū Dharr once came to Salmān while he was cooking in a cooking pot; while they were conversing with each other, the cooking pot overturned and its front side fell down on the ground, but not a drop of its curry or cooking fat fell down ; Abū Dharr was highly amazed at seeing this; Salmān picked up the cooking pot and placed it on the fire the second time, and they began conversing once again; while they were talking to each other, the pot overturned again, and nothing of the curry or cooking fat spilled…Abū Dharr then left Salmān in the state of great astonishment, and while he was in his thoughts, he suddenly met Amīr al-Mu’minīn (‘a) at the door. When the Imām ('a) saw Abū Dharr's state of amazement, He said to him: O Abā Dharr, what made you leave the presence of Salmān? And what made you frightened? Abū Dharr said to the Imām ('a): O Amīr al-mu’minīn, I saw Salmān doing such and such a thing, and I was amazed by that. Thereupon Amīr al-Mu’minīn (‘a) said to him: O Abā Dharr, If Salmān were to tell you what he knows, you would have said: May Allāh have mercy on the killer of Salmān.
This incident reveals much. It is important to note the following::
1. Īmān (belief) and ma'rifah (knowledge of God) have different levels. Those who enjoy the lower levels cannot bear the knowledge of the high ranking ones like Salmān al-Muhammadi. Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir (‘a) is also reported to have said:
سَلْمَانُ بَحْرُ الْعِلْمِ لاَ يُقْدَرُ عَلَى نَزْحِه
Abū Başīr is reported to have said that he heard Imām al-Şādiq (‘a) saying:
إِنَّ سَلْمَانَ عَلِمَ الإسْمَ الاَعْظَمَ
Surely Salmān knew the Greatest Name of God (al-ism al-a’żam)
And as we said, this name is not a word to be memorized but an exalted spiritual state. Men of gnosis describe it as the state of exemplifying in oneself the beautiful attributes of Almighty Allāh according to one’s limitations.
2. Salmān al-Muhammadī had powers that enabled him to lay influence in existence, and that is why not a drop of curry spilled off even if the vessel overturned. Other incidents are also narrated about him, which we have not considered here, due to the limited scope of this work.
3. The statement that if Abū Dharr would have known what Salmān knew he would have said ‘May Allāh have mercy on the killer of Salmān’ should not make us conjecture that the belief of Salmān and Abū Dharr contradicted each other. Not at all. It is the stages of knowledge, as ‘Allāmah Majisī and Mawlā Fayd al-Kāshānī allude in their works, that differ. A narrow receptacle cannot contain more that its capacity. Can you fill a bucket full of water in small cup? Otherwise Abu Dharr was one of the great companions of the Holy Prophet (ş) such that it is narrated from the Holy Prophet (ş) that:
مَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يَنْظُرَ إِلَى زُهْدِ عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ(ع ) فَلْيَنْظُرْ إِلَى أَبِي ذَرٍّ
الْجَنَّةُ تَشْتَاقُ إِلَيْكَ يَا عَلِيُّ وَإِلَى عَمَّارٍ وَسَلْمَانَ وَأَبِي ذَرٍّ وَالْمِقْدَادِ
In short, both the examples of Āsaf bin Barkhiyyah and Salmān al-Muhammadī reveal that other human beings too are able to attain a station that can enable them to do things that those far away from God cannot do.
Ibn Sīnā in his monumental work Remarks and Admonitions, says:
You may receive information about the Gnostics that almost runs counter to custom, and then you begin to disbelieve. And this is like saying a knower (‘Ārif) sought rain for people, hence, they received rain; or sought recovery for them, hence, they recovered; or wished them ill, hence they were cast down, inflicted by earth tremors, or perished in another way. This is also like saying he wished them well, hence they were emancipated from diseases, murrain, torrential stream and flood; or a beast submits to some of them, or no birds flees from them, or other similar things occur that do not count as belonging to the kind of things that are clearly impossible. Stand still and do not rush into rejecting these things, for such things have causes in the mysteries of nature. Perhaps it will be possible for me to relate some of these causes to you.
Does Seeking Help from the Ahululbayt ('a) for Curing Our Maladies Lead to Shirk?
Human beings have different degrees of power and strength. It is an obvious phenomenon that the less powerful seek assistance from the more powerful. When seeking support and assistance from other human beings, do we commit shirk (polytheism)? Certainly not, for we do not seek assistance from the strong ones and at the same time consider them to possess independent power. We are also not certain whether they would complete the job. Why? This is because they do not have anything of their own. They are contingent and dependent beings. They and their acts all depend and subsist by the All-Powerful Being. This truth is understood by contemplating on the adjective "al-Qayyūm" in the well-known verse of the Throne (Āyat al-Kursī):
Al-Qayyūm is defined as al-Qā'imu bidhātih wa al-Muqawwimu lighayrih, which means "One who is Essentially Subsisting and every other entity and being subsists by Him. Therefore no one can ever claim to have any kind of independent perfection whatsoever. Consequently seeking assistance from anyone other than Him in any limited degree whatsoever, with the intention that every power solely comes from Him and belongs to Him is nothing but Tawhīd.
The Holy Qur'ān says:
The same applies with regard to the Infallible Imāms (‘a) of the progeny of the Holy Prophet (ş), who have more power than others and have access to the higher realms too. Should we consider seeking their support to be shirk? The answer is clear: shirk is out of question because we do not consider them to have independent power. We certainly know that every effect that they would lay would be entirely with Allāh's power. This reality is aptly stated in the verse of the Throne of the Holy Qur'ān:
It should be noted that shafā‘ah and mediation here refers to existential mediation.
'Allāmah Ţabāţabā'ī in his monumental al-Mīzān says:
وقد فاتهم أولا أن ثبوت التأثير سواء كان ماديا أو غير مادي في غيره تعالى ضروري لا سبيل إلى إنكاره، وقد أسند تعالى في كلامه التأثير بجميع أنواعه إلى غيره ونفي التأثير عن غيره تعالى مطلقا يستلزم إبطال قانون العلية والمعلولية العام الذي هو الركن في جميع أدلة التوحيد ، وفيه هدم بنيان التوحيد .
نعم المنفي من التأثير عن غيره تعالى هو الاستقلال في التأثير و لا كلام لأحد فيه، وأما نفي مطلق التأثير ففيه إنكار بديهة العقل والخروج عن الفطرة الإنسانية
“They however did not realize the following: establishing influence, be that material or immaterial with regard to other than Allah is necessary and inarguable. Further, God has attributed in his speech all kinds of influence to other than Him; and the absolute negation of influence from other than Him necessitates the annulment of the [intellectually established] universal law of causality [every effect necessitates a cause] which is a fundamental principle in all the proofs of monotheism; and in that [i.e. the annulment of..] is the destruction of the foundation of monotheism.
Yes, that influence which is unacceptable from other than God is ‘Independent Influence’ and there is no contradiction in this. However, negating ‘influence’ in the absolute sense is contradicting the rationally self-evident and transgressing the bounds of the human disposition (fiţrah)…”
Visiting the Sick:
A Manifestation of True Concern
One of the manifestations of true concern for the sick is to visit them and seek information about their well-being. To verbally pray for them but be indifferent of their condition seems to be somewhat paradoxical. Of course this is different from a situation in which one does pray for the sick people, but has no opportunity to visit them due to his/her important and busy schedule.
Besides psychological research, which proves that visiting the sick confers a lot of solace and sometimes can radically improve the condition of the ailing one as well, our traditions enumerate lots of blessings for visiting the sick people. Following are traditions worthy of contemplation:
i) The Messenger of Allāh is reported to have said:
عَنِ النَّبِيِّ(ص) قَالَ يُعَيِّرُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَبْداً مِنْ عِبَادِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيَقُولُ عَبْدِي مَا مَنَعَكَ إِذَا مَرِضْتُ أَنْ تَعُودَنِي فَيَقُولُ سُبْحَانَكَ سُبْحَانَكَ أَنْتَ رَبُّ الْعِبَادِ لاَ تَأْلَمُ وَلاَ تَمْرَضُ فَيَقُولُ مَرِضَ أَخُوكَ الْمُؤْمِنُ فَلَمْ تَعُدْهُ وَعِزَّتِي وَجَلاَلِي لَوْ عُدْتَهُ لَوَجَدْتَنِي عِنْدَهُ ثُمَّ لَتَكَفَّلْتُ بِحَوَائِجِكَ فَقَضَيْتُهَا لَكَ وَذَلِكَ مِنْ كَرَامَةِ عَبْدِيَ الْمُؤْمِنِ وَأَنَا الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُ
On the Judgment Day Almighty Allāh would reproach a servant among his servants, and say: 'O My servant, what hampered you from visiting Me when I turned sick.' The servant thereupon would say: 'Free from imperfections are You! Free from imperfections are You! You are the Lord of the people, neither do You sense any pain, nor do You get sick.' Thereupon Allāh would say: 'Your mu'min brother turned sick, and you did not visit him; I swear by my Invincibility and Majesty, were you to visit him, you would have found Me near him, and I would have taken the responsibility of attending to your needs and would give them to you; and this is due to the nobility of a My believing servant, and I am the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
2. Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir (‘a) is reported to have said:
كَانَ فِيمَا نَاجَى بِهِ مُوسَى رَبَّهُ أَنْ قَالَ يَا رَبِّ مَا بَلَغَ مِنْ عِيَادَةِ الْمَرِيضِ مِنَ الأَجْرِ فَقَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أُوَكِّلُ بِهِ مَلَكاً يَعُودُهُ فِي قَبْرِهِ إِلَى مَحْشَرِهِ
Among those things that Mūsā (‘a) whispered to his Lord was: ‘O Lord inform me the extent of reward that a person who visits the sick would get? Allāh said: ‘I would entrust an angel over him who would visit him in his grave until his resurrection [on the Judgment Day].’
3. Imām Abū ‘Abdillāh al-Şādiq (‘a) is reported to have said:
مَنْ عَادَ مَرِيضاً شَيَّعَهُ سَبْعُونَ أَلْفَ مَلَكٍ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لَهُ حَتَّى يَرْجِعَ إِلَى مَنْزِلِهِ
Despite all the above merits, a selfless and concerned human being would visit the sick because his innate disposition (fiţrah) calls him to do that, and not due to the attraction of the reward.
Visiting the sick, however should be short as has been indicated in different traditions, and one must also try to observe the etiquette of visiting the sick. Due to the brevity of the present work, we would avoid going into details about this. Those however who are interested to know the details of these can refer to traditional texts such as vol. 81 of Bihār al-Anwār of Allamah Majlisi.
"AAH" is One of the Names of Allah
Both the Holy Qur’ān as well as the traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) greatly emphasize that one should not complain in the state of sickness and affliction. And whosoever observes patience is promised great reward. Look at the following traditions:
1. The Holy Prophet (ş) is reported to have said:
أَرْبَعٌ مِنْ كُنُوزِ الْجَنَّةِ كِتْمَانُ الْفَاقَةِ وَكِتْمَانُ الصَّدَقَةِ وَكِتْمَانُ الْمُصِيبَةِ وَكِتْمَانُ الْوَجَعِ
2. 'Abdullāh bin Mas‘ūd is reported to have said:
بَيْنَا نَحْنُ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ(ص) إِذْ تَبَسَّمَ فَقُلْتُ لَهُ مَا لَكَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ تَبَسَّمْتَ فَقَالَ(ص) عَجِبْتُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ وَجَزَعِهِ مِنَ السُّقْمِ وَلَوْ يَعْلَمُ مَا لَهُ فِي السُّقْمِ مِنَ الثَّوَابِ لأحبَّ أَنْ لا يَزَالَ سَقِيماً حَتَّى يَلْقَى رَبَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
While we were in the presence of the Holy Prophet (ş), we found him suddenly smile. So I asked him: What happened; why did you smile O Messenger of Allāh? He said: I am surprised at the believer and his apprehension due to his illness; were he to know what reward there is for him in the illness, he would have loved to be ill until he meets his Lord, the Invincible and Majestic.
3. The Holy Prophet (ş) is reported to have said:
مَنْ مَرِضَ يَوْماً وَلَيْلَةً فَلَمْ يَشْكُ إِلَى عُوَّادِهِ بَعَثَهُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مَعَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلِ الرَّحْمَنِ حَتَّى يَجُوزَ الصِّرَاطَ كَالْبَرْقِ اللاَّمِعِ
Whosoever gets ill for a day and night but does not complain about his situation to his visitors, Allāh would raise him on the Judgment Day with Prophet Ibrāhīm (‘a), the Friend of the All-Merciful, so that he would pass the path like radiant lightening.
The meaning of complaint and shikāyah, however, should be understood properly. One who expresses the sensation of pain that he encounters cannot, for example, be known to be complaining against Almighty Allāh. In fact in some traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) the expression "āh" from the ailing one is considered as one of the Names of Almighty Allāh. Observe the following:
Ja'far bin Yahyā al-Khuzā‘ī is reported to have narrated from his father that he said:
دَخَلْتُ مَعَ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ(ع) عَلَى بَعْضِ مَوَالِيهِ يَعُودُهُ فَرَأَيْتُ الرَّجُلَ يُكْثِرُ مِنْ قَوْلِ آهِ فَقُلْتُ لَهُ يَا أَخِي اذْكُرْ رَبَّكَ وَ اسْتَغِثْ بِهِ فَقَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ(ع) آهِ اسْمٌ مِنْ أَسْمَاءِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى فَمَنْ قَالَ آهِ اسْتَغَاثَ بِاللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ
I accompanied Imam al-Şādiq ('a) who came to visit one of his [ailing] slaves, and I saw the slave saying "āh" many times. So I said to him: O my brother, remember your Lord and seek His Support. Thereupon Imam al-Şādiq ('a) said: Āh is a Name among the Names of Allāh, and whosoever says "āh" seeks the Help of Allah, the Invincible and Majestic.
It should be known that expressing the sensation of pain by employing the word "āh" is in reality expressing one's poverty and need for perfection and bodily equilibrium. And it is a known fact that NONE but the All-Affluent and the Principal Curer (al-Shāfī) can relieve the ailing patient.
Prophet Ibrāhīm (‘a) says:
Therefore in reality, one is seeking the support of the Almighty, and is well-aware that no doctor or nurse or anyone whatsoever can relieve him from any kind of malady independently. Hence by saying ‘Āh’ he is in reality calling ‘al-Shāfī’ (the Curer) or ‘Ghiyāth al-Mustaghīthīn’ (the Helper of the Seekers of help) and Allāh is the All-Knowing.
The Suffering Believer in the Garden of Paradise
There are purified souls who have been bestowed with inner vision and can thus behold the reality of different people. They need not to wait for the Hereafter to know the inner reality. Almighty Allāh has already gifted them with the knowledge thereof in this world. One such personality is Imām 'Alī ('a) who expressed this reality in the following dictum:
لَوْ كُشِفَ الْغِطَاءُ مَا ازْدَدْتُ يَقِيناً
In other words, nothing among the higher realities such as Paradise and Hell was hidden for the Imām (‘a). He could behold things that others could not.
There is an interesting narrative in which Imām 'Alī (‘a) is reported to have said:
وُعِكَ أَبُو ذَرٍّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ فَأَتَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ(ص) فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ أَبَا ذَرٍّ قَدْ وُعِكَ فَقَالَ(ص) امْضِ بِنَا إِلَيْهِ نَعُودُهُ فَمَضَيْنَا إِلَيْهِ جَمِيعاً فَلَمَّا جَلَسْنَا قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ(ص) كَيْفَ أَصْبَحْتَ يَا أَبَا ذَرٍّ قَالَ أَصْبَحْتُ وَعِكاً يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ(ص) أَصْبَحْتَ فِي رَوْضَةٍ مِنْ رِيَاضِ الْجَنَّةِ ...
Abū Dharr [once] turned sick; so I came to the Messenger of Allāh and said: O Messenger of Allāh, verily Abū Dharr has fallen sick. He said: let us go to visit him. So all of us together went to visit him. And when we sat besides him, the Messenger of Allah asked him: O Abū Dharr, how did you confront your morning? He said: I have confronted the morning in sickness. The Holy Prophet (ş) thereupon said: Surely you have confronted the morning while you are in a garden among the gardens of Paradise…
Here the Holy Prophet (ş) beheld the kernel of Abū Dharr's situation, and informed him of his higher rank which he could not vision.
Sadaqah- A Powerful Means of Curing the Sick
The human being due to his limited knowledge cannot perceive all the means to the cure of the different maladies and diseases. Further, since he/she perceives the world of matter and cannot vision the celestial realm ('ālam al-malakūt) or beyond that, he/she is oblivious of so many other ways to the cure of maladies. Here is where the important role of wahy (revelation) and Imāmate comes. Those entrusted with Divine secrets, acknowledging the need of unveiling them have informed us much to learn. With regard to curing the sick, we have traditions worthy of contemplation. Observe the following:
1.Imām al-Şādiq (‘a) is reported to have said:
دَاوُوا مَرْضَاكُمْ بِالصَّدَقَةِ
2. He ('a) is also reported to have said:
ذِكْرُنَا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ شِفَاءٌ مِنَ الْوَعْكِ وَالاَسْقَامِ وَوَسْوَاسِ الرَّيْبِ
One should note however that giving şadaqah (alms) has some etiquette, a most important of which is al-mubāsharah which means that the sick person should himself/herself give the şadaqah. Observe the following tradition:
Imām al-Şādiq ('a) is reported to have said:
يُسْتَحَبُّ لِلْمَرِيضِ أَنْ يُعْطِيَ السَّائِلَ بِيَدِهِ وَيَأْمُرَ السَّائِلَ أَنْ يَدْعُوَ لَهُ
Why are Spiritual Illnesses Worse than Physical Maladies?
One of the very important discussions that the 'ulamā al-akhlāq bring about in their ethical texts is how spiritual ailments are more dangerous to the human being than the physical illnesses. Mawlā Muhammad Narrāqī, the great ethician in his ethical corpus Jāmi’ al-Sa‘ādāt in his introductory discussions on ethics says:
اعلم أن الإنسان منقسم إلى سر وعلن، و روح وبدن ولكل منهما منافيات وملائمات، وآلام ولذات، ومهلكات ومنجبات.
ومنافيات البدن وآلامه هي الأمراض الجسمانيه. وملائماته هي الصحة واللذات الجسمانية. و المتكفل لبيان تفاصيل هذه الأمراض ومعالجاتها هو علم الطب. ومنافيات الروح و آلامه هي رذائل الأخلاق التي تهلكه وتشقيه، وصحته رجوعه إلى فضائلها التي تسعده وتنجيه و توصله إلى مجاورة أهل اللّه ومقربيه. والمتكفل لبيان هذه الرذائل ومعالجاتها هو (علم الأخلاق).
ثم إن البدن مادي فإن، والروح مجرد باق، فإن اتصف بشرائف الصفات كان في البهجة والسعادة أبدا، وإن اتصف برذائلها كان في العذاب والشقاوة مخلدا...
Know that the human being is divided into "the kernel" (sirr) and "the apparent" (‘alan) and [or in other words] "the spirit" and "the body" and for each of these two dimensions there are incompatibilities (munāfiyāt) and compatibilities (mulāyimāt), pains and pleasures, elements of destruction and salvation.
The incompatibilities of the body and its pains are the physical illnesses whereas its compatibilities are good health and physical pleasures. And the discipline that caters to expound the details of these illnesses and their treatments is medicine. And the incompatibilities of the soul and its pains are bad characteristics that destroy it and make it wretched, and its wellbeing is to return towards good morals that bring it felicity and emancipate it and make it attain the neighborhood of the people of God and His Near ones, and the discipline that caters to expound these evil characteristics and their treatment is the discipline of ethics.
Then it should be known that the body is material and prone to destruction, whereas the spirit and soul is eternal, and therefore if the soul characterizes itself with noble qualities it would be in the state of joy and felicity forever, but were it to characterize itself with evil ethics it would be in the state of punishment and wretchedness forever….
Therefore since the spirit has always to remain, one should be very careful and purify it before it is too late. The material body on the other hand would have to stay in this world and probably turn into earth after burial.
Spiritual Illnesses Is The Principal Cause
If one were to understand the aim of human life, the gravity of spiritual sickness over physical sickness would become more apparent. In fact, if we painstakingly ponder over the causes of the different illnesses, we would come to realize that the principal cause of many of the physical illnesses stem from spiritual illnesses, either from oneself or from others: sometimes the source of physical illnesses is oneself, sometimes others, and at times a product of cooperation with others. An example of the first is when a person has no sense of temperance and allows his faculty of desire to prevail over his faculty of intellect, and engages in overindulgence in eating copulation, etc. The result of such a lifestyle would be brim with illnesses. Sometimes however, you are invited to your friend's house and served with delicious food, but because your friend did not observe some religious or hygienic precautions while cooking, you turn ill. If you are invited by one who, for example, does not care whether the meat he buys is from a believer or non believer or whether he earns through lawful or unlawful means, you would undoubtedly be affected spiritually. This can then be a basis for immoderation, which would lead to physical illnesses. An example of the third situation is when genetically made food is produced, and you show your cooperation in purchasing the same. Here the fault is both yours and the producer's. If your purchase is due to your mundane attachments and you know that the producer's aim is nothing but to satisfy his capitalistic demands, you would have cooperated with him to cause physical illnesses in your self. Here greed and avarice enveloped your intellect and you were led to physical illnesses. However, if the circumstances are such that you have to cope with such foods and you have no option, then you remain in danger of the physical illnesses but can be free from spiritual maladies.
The Traveling Physician
Imām ‘Alī (‘a) is reported to have described the Prophet (ş) in the following manner in one of his sermons compiled in the Nahj al-Balāghah:
طَبِيبٌ دَوَّارٌ بِطِبِّهِ قَدْ أَحْكَمَ مَرَاهِمَهُ وَ أَحْمَى مَوَاسِمَهُ يَضَعُ ذَلِكَ حَيْثُ الْحَاجَةُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ قُلُوبٍ عُمْيٍ وَ آذَانٍ صُمٍّ وَ أَلْسِنَةٍ بُكْمٍ مُتَتَبِّعٌ بِدَوَائِهِ مَوَاضِعَ الْغَفْلَةِ وَ مَوَاطِنَ الْحَيْرَةِ
The Prophet (ş) was like a traveling physician who has set ready his ointments and heated his instruments. He uses them wherever the need arises for curing blind hearts, deaf ears, and dumb tongues. He followed with his medicines the spots of negligence and places of perplexity.
One of the excellent methods of treating the ailing ones is to go to them for treatment. Amīr al-Mu’minīn ‘Alī (‘a) calls the Holy Prophet (ş) طَبِيْبٌ دَوَّارٌ بِطِبِّهِ ţabībun dawārun biţibbih- A traveling physician. Physicians who deal with the human body normally treat others in return for payment. This is because it is a means of their livelihood. Nevertheless, not all physicians have the same financial status. Whereas some work in certain hospitals or clinics, others own hospitals and clinics themselves. There are different poverty-stricken areas in the world where due to indigence, people do not have the privilege of getting treated from illnesses. Physicians who truly have concern for all the poor to get cured would either personally arrange a team of doctors to visit the area, and thereafter treat the various patients, or if resources do not permit, try to form a friendly circle of doctors who would voluntarily contribute what they can. By visiting these poverty-stricken areas, not only would they practically show their concern for the ailing ones, but also practice the Prophet's way of life in the physical dimension. Hence although this beautiful narrative of Imām ‘Alī (‘a) refers to the spiritual dimension, it can also be applied in the life of the physicians of the body too.
A very interesting narrative is reported in the historical text al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah of Ibn Hishām, where the practical import of Imām ‘Alī ('a)'s statement is brilliantly reflected. Ibn Hishām quotes Ibn Ishāq to have said:
فكان رسول الله (ص) يَعْرُضُ نَفْسَهُ فِي الْمَوَاسِمِ، إذاَ كَانَتْ عَلى قَبَائِلِ العَرَبِ يَدْعُوْهُمْ إلى اللهِ، وَيُخْبِرُهُمْ أَنَّه نَبيٌّ مُرْسَلٌ، وَيَسْئَلُهُمْ أَنْ يُصَدِّقُوْهُ ...
The Messenger of Allāh (ş) would present himself to [to the people] in [different] occasions; and when he would confront the Arabs, he would invite them to Allāh, inform them that He is an Apostle of Allāh, and seek their verification….
And in the same book Ibn Ishāq is reported to have said:
وَحَدَّثَنِيْ حُسين بن عَبْدِ اللهِ بن عُبَيْدِ اللهِ بن عَبَّاس، قاَلَ: سَمِعْتُ رَبِيْعَة بن عباد، يُحَدِّثُهُ أَبِي: قال إِنيّ لَغُلاَمٌ شَابٌّ مَعَ أَبِي بمنى، وَ رَسُولُ اللهِ (ص) يَقِفُ عَلى مَنَازِلِ الْقَبَائِلِ مِنَ الْعَرَبِ، فَيَقُوْلُ: يَا بَنِي فُلان، إنَِّي رَسُوْلُ اللهِ إِلَيْكُمْ، يَأْمُرُكُمْ اَنْ تَعْبُدُو اللهَ وَلاَ تُشْرِكٌوا بِهِ شَيْئاً, وَ اَنْ تَخْلَعُوْا مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُوْنِهِ مِنْ هَذِهِ الأَنْدَادِ، وَ اَنْ تُأْمِنُوا بِي، وَتُصَدِّقُوْا بِيْ، وَتَمْنَعُوْنِي حَتّى أُبَيِّنُ عَنِ اللهِ مَا بَعَثَنِيْ بِهِ.
‘Ubaydullāh bin 'Abbās narrates: I saw my father telling Rabī'a bin 'Ubbād: "During my youth age once I was together with my father in Minā; I observed that the Holy Prophet (ş) would visit the different tents (manāzil) of the Arabs, and say: 'O children of such and such personality, certainly I am a Messenger of Allāh towards you, who invites you to worship Allāh and that you must not associate anyone with Him, and renounce the [imaginary] partners that you worship other than Him, and believe in Me and accept me and protect me so that I may expound for you from Allāh that which He has sent me with.
It is interesting to note that in his propagation to Banū 'Āmir, a person called Firās bin 'Abdillāh is reported to have said about him: 'I swear by Allāh, if I would have this youth from Quraysh, I would have ruled over the Arabs by him. Thereafter addressing the Holy Prophet (ş) he said that we can only pay our oath of allegiance to you on the condition that you make me your successor after you. Here was a very sensitive moment. If the Holy Prophet (ş) was merely after gaining support of his personal fame, he would have consented to this transaction. But it was not a matter of personal interests. The Holy Prophet (ş) said:
الأَمْرُ إِلى اللهِ يَضَعُ حَيْثُ يَشَآء...
And on this they did not listen to the Holy Prophet (ş) and remained adamant to their disbelief.
Our muballighūn should emulate this highly important tradition of the Holy Prophet (ş) within their own limitations. There is a law, we must understand, which prevails all the verses of this supplication:
Hence, each one of us is responsible according to his/her abilities. The resourceful, for example, would undertake great ventures to disseminate Islām in different parts of the world, and thus try to treat the maladies of the spiritually sick, whereas those who have limited resources could struggle to do the most from the least that they have at their disposal. There is another very beautiful law in the holy Qur'ān that implicitly tells us how to make advantage of the limited resources at our disposal. The secret is 'struggle'. The lazy carpenter by making small things, would worry about his financial status and perhaps seek unlawful means, but the diligent carpenter who possesses the similar tools would struggle hard and increase his tools so that he can produce better wooden items and develop himself financially. The Holy Qur'ān says:
We should remember that the extent of the struggle would reflect the firmness of our resolution to assist the ailing ones and the intensity of our concern for their well-being.
How Can We Contribute in Dispelling
Illnesses from Others?
It should be well understood by now that seeking the well-being of others is not limited to prayer only. Our contributions would vary according to the ability that we have. Further, we should understand how grave is our need for spiritual well-being. Therefore we should not be oblivious of this fundamental and decisive dimension of the human beings.
Those who can create conditions that would obliterate illnesses from the society are responsible to do the needful, those who can assist others in guiding them to observe precaution before they suffer dangerous illnesses have the duty to do so, those who can financially afford to assist others in getting their sickness treated should take the noble step of doing so; and those who do not have any of the preceding status due their limited powers, are expected to pray for the ailing and visit them as well. For those who have more power, they are required to play a greater role in all the areas that determine the treatment of the ailing ones.
As we humbly pray to Allāh for the well-being of everyone, we should not forget ourselves, for although we may enjoy very good physical health, but have we tried to diagnose ourselves spiritually yet? Are we sure that we do not suffer from any of the spiritual illnesses? Is spiritual illness so insignificant due to the absence of any immediate physical pain? If one looks at the depth of the matter, he/she would realize that eternal salvation is entirely dependent on the spiritual well-being of a person.
Our prayers should be continual. This is because persistence in prayer is a corollary of “true concern”. One who has no concern would not be persistent in his prayer. In fact, as we said in our introduction to the first volume of this commentary, du'a is a reflection of one's true state. There is complete harmony between one's spirit and the prayer that he/she utters.
 Some have also translated the word ‘marīd’ as ‘disordered’ [See E.W.Lane Arabic-English Lexicon]
 Rāghib al-Işfahāni, Mufradāt Alfāżi'l Qur'ān, p. 765
 Hājī Nūrī, Mustadrak al-Wasā'il, v. 12, p. 94
 Āmadī, Ghuraru'l Hikam wa Duraru'l Kalim, p. 55
 Āmadī, Ghuraru'l Hikam wa Duraru'l Kalim, p. 55
 Imām al-Sajjād ('a), Sup. 15, al-Sahīfat al-Sajjādiyya, p.54, [His supplication when Sick or Visited by Distress or an Affliction
 Sayyid Radī al-Dīn bin Ţawūs, Falāh al-Sā'il wa Najāh al-Masā'il, pp. 102-103.
 Holy Qur'ān, 13:11
 'Abdu'l Karīm Bī Āzār Shīrāzī, Masā 'il-e-Darmānī, v.2, p. 73.
 Al-Hurr al-Āmilī, Wasā'il al-Shī'ah, v.16, p.540
 Holy Qur'ān, 2:195
 Hājī Nūrī, Mustadrak al-Wasā’il, v. 16, p. 452
 Āmādī, Ghuraru'l Hikam, p. 320
 al-Hurr al-'Āmilī, Wasā'il al-Shī'a, v. 25, p. 229
 Imām al-Ridā, Fiqh al-Ridā, p. 340
 'Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 59, p. 66
 al-Ţabrasī, al-Ihtijāj, v.2, p. 225
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 81, p. 174
 Ibid., v. 81, p. 176
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār ,v. 81, p. 200
 Holy Qur’ān, ch. Al-Mā’idah (5), v. 110
 Āyatullāh Hasan Zādeh Āmolī, Sarh al-‘Uyūn Fī Sharh al-‘Uyūn, p. 730
 ‘Allāmah Majlīsī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 49, p. 184
 Holy Qur'an, 27:39
 ‘Allāmah Ţabāţabā’ī, Al-Mīzān, v.55, p.370.
 Ibid., v.7 pp. 354-355
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v.22, p. 349
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 22, p. 343
 ‘Allāmah al-Tustarī, Bahj al-Sabāghah Fī Sharhi Nahj al-Balāghah, v.3, p. 402
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v.22, p. 347
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v.22, p. 343
 Mawlā Fayd al-Kāshānī, al-Mahajjat al-Baydā’, v.1, p.65
 ‘Allāmah Majlīsī, Bihār al-Anwār, v.22, p. 243
 Ibid., v.22, p. 243
 Ibn Sīnā, Al-Ishārāt wa al-Tanbīhāt ( Ibn Sina and Mysticism), tr. by Shams Inati, p.104
 Holy Qur’ān, 2:252
 Mullā Hādī Sabzawārī, Sharh al-Asmā’, p. 363
 Holy Qur'ān, 37:96
 Holy Qur'ān, 2:255
 ‘Allāmah Ţabāţabā’ī, Al-Mīzan Fī Tafsīr al-Qur'ān, v. 10, p.295
 al-Hurr al-'Āmilī, Wasā'il al-Shī'a, v. 2, p. 417
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihar al-Anwār, v. 81, p. 218
 al-Rayy Shahrī, Mīzān al-Hikmah, v.4, p. 2888
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 81, p. 208
 Ibid., v. 81, p. 206
 Ibid., v.81, p. 203
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 81, p. 202
 Holy Qur’ān, 26:80
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 40, p. 153
 al-Nūrī, Mustadrak al-Wasā’il, v. 1, p. 57
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 81, p. 203
 Ibid., v. 81, p. 203
 ‘Allāmah Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, v. 81, p. 209
 Mawlā Muhammad Narrāqī, Jāmi’ al-Sa ‘ādāt, v.1, p. 5
 Sharīf Radī, Nahj al-Balaghah, sermon 108
 Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, v.2, pp. 35-36
 Ibn Hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, v.2, p. 36
 Ibid., v.2, p. 38
 Holy Qur'ān, 2:286
 Holy Qur'ān, 53:39