Care of the Seriously Ill and Dying

50 The Review of Religions – April 2005 I wish to express my thanks to the Almighty, The Most Gracious and Ever Merciful Allah, for His gift of life. Is it not surprising that the quantity of the fluid from which man is made is so insignificant that it can be held on the tip of a needle? Yet, within it are the hands of man, his legs, his head together with his brain, the ear, the nose, the mouth as well as all the internal organs of man, the heart, the liver, the kidney. The fluid thickens in a ‘safe depository’ in the womb of a woman. With time, it turns into flesh. Then bones are formed, and in nine months, we have our baby! Referring to this the Holy Qur’an says that seeing all this, one has no alternative but to exclaim: So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators. (Ch.23: V.15) This creature, who is very weak and fragile, becomes a fully grown-up person: knowledgeable and powerful enough to traverse the ocean on the earth and to physically land on the moon in the heavens! But this same person, seemingly powerful, remains fragile. Let him get sick and you will see his misery and utter helplessness. His mouth is sour and he cannot enjoy the most sumptuous of meals or drinks. He deserves care and compassion. That is why the Holy Prophet of I s l a m( s a ) has said that every Muslim has a duty to visit the sick. He had exhorted his followers that Care of the Seriously Ill & Dying Islamic Perspectives and Testimonies on Spiritual Healing (An address delivered by Maulvi Abdul Wahab bin Adam, Amir and Missionary-in-charge, Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Ghana, on the occasion of a symposium held at the University of Ghana, Legont – 26th – 28th January, 2005). 51 CARE OF THE SERIOUSLY ILL AND DYING The Review of Religions – April 2005 on such occasions, we should utter only encouraging words that would lift the spirits of the sick person and pray to Allah for his/her speedy and full recovery. He taught a special prayer for the sick: ‘O our Lord, Thou art the Healer. Pray, grant cure to our sick, for there is none beside Thee to grant cure.’ When he is in the throes of death, his condition is even more pitiable. He is restless with pain. Referring to this the Holy Qur’an says: Why, then, when the soul of the dying man reaches the throat, And you are at that moment looking on – And We are nearer to him than you, but you see not – Why, then, if you are not to be called to account, You cannot bring it back if you are truthful. (Ch.56: Vs.84-88) Islam recommends the recitation of Chapter Ya Sin of the Holy Qur’an at such a critical time. This is Chapter 36 of the Holy Qur’an which says in part: Surely, We alone give life to the dead, and We record that which they send forw a rd and that which they leave behind; and all things have We recorded in a clear Book. (Ch.36:V.13) Finally he/she is no more and the best we can do for him/her is to open up the earth and bury him/her in a pit that we call a grave. Before the burial, the body is given a bath, it is wrapped in a simple white sheet, and perfume is applied to the body. That is why the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) is reported to have said: ‘When you are in health, think of illness and when you are enjoying abundance of material things, think of death.’ (Bukhari) The tradition draws attention to the divine favour of health and the inevitability of illness and death. Yes! Islam considers death as 52 CARE OF THE SERIOUSLY ILL AND DYING The Review of Religions – April 2005 inevitable. The Holy Qur’an says: E v e ry soul shall taste of death. And you shall be paid in full your re w a rds only on the Day of Resurrection. So whosoever is removed away from the Fire and is made to enter Heaven has indeed attained his goal. And the life of this world is nothing but an illusory enjoyment. (Ch.3: V. 1 8 6 ) This is so because it is only after the body has been separated from the soul that one is granted one’s reward in full and it is only then that one is given the capacity to fully appreciate the bliss of the next life: Call it life after life. But since most deaths are preceded by illness, it can be said that illness is, in a way, part of l i f e . Islam guides man towards clean, pure and wholesome eating and drinking habits in order to avoid illness. All the same, it recognises the fact that man cannot completely avoid illness. There should be no superstition about it. The Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) h a d s a i d : ‘There is no illness for which there is no cure’. This is one of the favours of Allah. He has out of His grace, created herbs, chemicals etc. to be exploited for the cure of diseases. As man became more and more enlightened and got acquainted with the true nature of the elements, he divested himself of the superstition that was associated with illness. Islam does not accept the notion that diseases are caused by witches and that the sick should be subjected to inhuman treatment ostensibly to exorcise the disease. One of the great contributions of the early Muslims was the discovery and development of medicine. Hospitals were established where the sick was admitted for treatment. Despite his knowledge of medi- 53 CARE OF THE SERIOUSLY ILL AND DYING The Review of Religions – April 2005 cine, the Muslim doctor recognises the fact that it is Allah who heals. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission has established hospitals, clinics and more importantly, homo- eopathic establishments in different parts of Ghana. In all these establishments, both in this country and elsewhere in the world, you will find a signboard on which is boldly inscribed: ‘He Alone is the Healer’ The truth is, it is Allah Who controls the powers of the heavens and the earth. So it is not an exaggeration to say that He Alone is the Healer. That is why all our doctors combine medical practice with prayers. Now I intend to narrate a few instances of healing which were possible only through the grace of the Almighty, manifested through His attribute, the Only Healer. A Man with Cancer A man was diagnosed of cancer that had spread to the liver and other organs. The patient had become terribly emaciated and his doctors felt it was a terminal case that would allow him to live for only a few months. Through p r a y e r, the man recovered, and lived for more than 15 years. A Boy with Diarrhoea A three-year-old boy by the name of Luqman had chronic diarrhoea, which defied the treatment of highly qualified doctors for more than six months. His father, resorted to prayer for divine intervention. He offered a mid- night prayer known to Muslims as Tahajjud prayer. After the prayer, he dozed off and saw a vision during which he heard a voice. ‘He will have only one more stool.’ And so it happened. After one more stool, the diarrhoea disappeared. The boy is now 14 years old and at times he leads others in congregational prayers. Madam Hassana Brenya Hassana Brenya Adam had been sick and bed-ridden for quite some time. One morning, she ceased to 54 CARE OF THE SERIOUSLY ILL AND DYING The Review of Religions – April 2005 show any sign of life. Hassana’s father had written to request for prayers from the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan. He was surprised therefore to receive a letter, on a day when everybody had given up on her. In the letter, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II(ru) had stated that Hassana Brenya would not only recover but would also be blessed with a baby boy, and that the boy should be named after him, the Khalifa. Hassana, who had been so weak that for months she could not sit up, sat up that very day, in bed, and asked for food to eat. Today, the woman is of advanced years, and her son, Mahmood Ahmad, is 42 years old. The Woman with Cancer of the Uterus We all know the agony of being barren. A lady approached Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih III ( r a ) with a request for prayers. Her eyes were full of tears. She was so upset that she could hardly speak. When she finally calmed down, she told the Khalifa that doctors had said she had developed cancer of the uterus and was unable to have any children. The Khalifa, Hadhrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad(ra), asked her: Are doctors God? She answered: ‘No Sir.’ He said, ‘then the verdict of the doctors should not worry you. You should rest assured that Allah would bestow upon you a number of children.’ That woman who had been written o ff by doctors now has six children! A Woman from Fetish Home An elder of our Community, Papa Harun Nimo, married a woman who belonged to a animist tribe. For some years, the marriage was without issue. During one month of Ramadan, the elder solicited for prayers and 55 CARE OF THE SERIOUSLY ILL AND DYING The Review of Religions – April 2005 added that the cause of his pain was that he had been told that if he did not sacrifice some rams to pacify the animist tribal beliefs of his wife, the wife could not have any issue. We prayed and the then Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was requested to join us in prayers. His response to the animist tribal threat was, ‘fetish has no power to grant children and that it is only Allah. The elder should, therefore, rest assured that his wife will bear children’. Before the end of Ramadan the lady became pregnant. When she finally delivered, they were twins: one male and one female! What a sure sign that the Almighty has the power to do what He wills! Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: When My servants ask thee about Me, say: I am near. I hear the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me that they may follow the right way. (Ch.2:V.187) We, therefore, believe that divine intervention in all matters affect- ing man, and indeed the universe, is not only possible but is a reality. We witness daily such divine interventions which take place through humble supplication to the Almighty in the dead of night, and in the secrecy of our chambers. This, of course, has no relationship with the so-called ‘miracles showmanship’ which are per- formed in public, in dubious circumstances, for monetary gain.