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Calamities and Diseases Are Predetermined by Allah

By Sheikh Dr. Ali Ibn Abdulrahman Al-Huthaifi

17 Zul Hijjah 1433

In this sermon, he talked about the fate predetermined by Allah, Exalted be He, stating that whatever befalls man is ordained by Allah's will and decree. He warned against following the path of the infidels who believed in evil omens and other types of superstitions and thought that diseases are contagious by their very nature. He pointed out that Islam put an end to these wrong beliefs and stressed the importance of having trust in Allah Exalted be He, in every matter.

All praise is due to Allah. We thank Him, seek His assistance and guidance, and ask for His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Him from the evils in ourselves and the wickedness of our deeds. Whoever Allah guides no one can misguide and whoever goes astray no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah, Who has no partners. I also bear witness that our master and prophet, Muhammad, is His servant and messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, his household, and Companions.  

"O Believers! Fear Allah, Exalted be He, and obey Him, for the fear of Allah is the means by which one attains what is good in this life and in the Hereafter."

"O Muslims! Delegate all your affairs to Allah and trust in Him as whoever trusts in Allah  is sufficed and will be rewarded by His paradise and His pleasure. Act according to what is mentioned in the Qur'an and learn from sound lawful experience gained throughout life. Whoever observes Islamic teachings and acts accordingly shall be among the successful and whoever turns his back on the Book of Allah, Exalted be He, and the traditions of his Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam will be among the losers."

Worshippers of Allah!

Your Lord, Glory be to His names, had pre-determined the destiny of all creatures. He  pre-ordained how matters were going to be fifty thousand years before He created man on this earth. Abdullah Ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with his father and him) said, "I heard Allah's Messenger Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam saying, 'Allah predetermined the fate [of his creatures] fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and earth" (Narrated by Muslim and Al-Tirmidhi). Allah, Exalted be He, does what He wills. He has all power, decisive will, perfect wisdom, comprehensive knowledge and indefinite mercy. The creation is His and everything goes back to Him. Allah says, "He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned." [Al-Anbiya: 23]

Allah, Exalted be He, wanted the worldly life to combine both good and evil and wanted this visible thread of life to be ordered according to the laws He decreed and last to an appointed term.

Allah decreed that existence should comprise both life and death, love and hatred, good and evil, joy and sadness, health and illness, trial and well-being, obedience and disobedience, relief and calamity, ease and hardship, perfection and defect, and soundness and disability, so that all creatures may know that this universe has a Great Creator Who has all the attributes of perfection and Who is exalted from any defect or shortcoming. Consequently they will worship Him alone without associating any partners with Him, ask Him alone for whatever is good in this world and in the Hereafter, and seek refuge in Him to protect them from any evil that may befall them in this life and in the Hereafter. For Allah, exalted be He, is the only one who can do all this. Allah, Exalted be He, says, "And if Allâh touches you with harm, there is none who can remove it but He, and if He intends any good for you, there is none who can repel His Favour which He causes it to reach whomsoever of His slaves He wills. And He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful." [Yûnus: 107]

Whoever thinks or imagines that this visible world can contain the good only and be devoid of evil is totally wrong. For if this visible world comprised only good and obedience without the incidence of wickedness or evil, it would be a different world with different laws. And Allah is All-Powerful over all things.

As for the Hereafter, absolute good and pure beneficence exist in Paradise; whereas all kinds of evil and suffering exist in Hell. Therefore, whoever enters Paradise will not feel bothered for what he did not achieve in the Worldly life or lament the mishaps that befell him there, and whoever is destined to be in Hell will find all the happiness he enjoyed in the worldly life was in vain.

Anas RA narrated that Allah's messenger Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, "The most favored man among the dwellers of the Earth will be brought from among the people of the Fire on the Day of Resurrection. He will be dyed in the Fire but once, and then it will be said to him, ‘O son of Adam, have you ever seen good at all? Has any pleasure ever come to you?’ He will say, ‘No, by Allah, O Lord.’ Then the most miserable people in the world will be brought from the people of Paradise and will be dyed with the dye of Paradise. It will be said to him, ‘O son of Adam, have you ever seen any misery, and has any hardship ever come to you? ‘ He will say, ‘No, by Allah, O my Lord. No misery ever came to me, nor did I see any hardship" (Narrated by Muslim).

Although the world is replete with anguish and predestined calamities and misfortunes, faith and Islam guarantee the Muslim a happy ending and the best destiny by increasing his blessings, rewarding him for his thankfulness and patience, and forgiving his sins.

Salman (may Allah be pleased with him) said Allah's messenger Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, "How amazing the case of the believer is; there is good for him in everything, and this characteristic is exclusively for him alone. If he experiences something pleasant, he is thankful, and that is good for him; and if he comes across some adversity, he shows patience, and that is good for him" (Narrated by Muslim)

Diseases are among the trials which Allah, Exalted be He, inflicts on his creatures. They may be sent with or without any reason, and Allah cures whomever He wants with or without reason. Allah says,

"Owner of the throne, the Glorious, (16) (He is the) Doer of whatsoever He intends (or wills)." [Al-Burûj: 15-16].
Whoever is afflicted with any disease should be patient and seek Allah's help. He should have recourse to those treatments that Allah has permitted. The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, "You should seek medical treatment, because Allah, the Exalted, has let no disease exist without providing for its cure, except for one ailment, namely, old age." (Narrated by Abou Daud and Al-Tirmithi, from the hadith of Asa'am ibn Shareek RA.

It was reported by Abud-Dardaa RA that the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, "Allah has sent down the disease and the cure, and He has appointed a cure for every disease, so treat yourselves medically, but use nothing unlawful" (Narrated by Abu-Dawud and Al-Tirmidhi).

By invocation Allah may lift afflictions that have occurred or prevent other ones from occurrence. Invocation is one of the causes that bring about all that is good and dispel all that is bad. Allah, Exalted be He, said, "And your Lord said: "Invoke Me, [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islâmic Monotheism) and ask Me for anything] I will respond to your (invocation). Verily! Those who scorn My worship [i.e. do not invoke Me, and do not believe in My Oneness, (Islâmic Monotheism)] they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!" [Ghafir: 60]

People have known diseases that, if Allah wills, can be transmitted from an ill person to a healthy one. People in the age of Jahiliya (pre-Islamic age) thought that such diseases were contagious by their nature, spreading by themselves from the diseased to the healthy. They also thought that an ill person would inevitably infect anyone with whom he came into contact. Allah showed that this belief was wrong and told the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam that infection does not exist. Negation is rhetorically more effective than prohibition in abolishing such a belief in infection.

It was reported by Abu-Huraira RA that the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, "There is no infection, nor bad omen, nor hama (evil bird), nor Safar (regarded by pre-Islamic Arabs as an evil month)".

Bad omens occur either upon seeing something or hearing a specific sound.  Polytheists before Islam believed in bad omens. They considered seeing birds flying in a certain direction or producing certain sounds a bad omen. They also considered certain days and coming across certain creatures signs of bad omen. Belief in omens would stop them from proceeding with their plans, or would provide them with the will and determination to proceed with their needs if they saw or heard what they thought would give them success.

When Islam came, Allah, Glorified be He, abolished all forms of superstitious belief in bad omens. Islam came up with true faith and complete monotheism, enjoined trust in Allah the Almighty, and made a Muslim's heart attached to the Creator and Disposer.

Al-Fadl ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with his father and him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, "An omen is what prompts you to do something or refrain from doing it" (Narrated by Ahmad).

Ikrima said, "While we were sitting in Ibn Abbass's house, a bird passed by chirping. One man said, "Good! Good! I hope!" Ibn Abbass then said, "Neither good nor evil!" So Ibn Abbass disapproved of what the man said to prevent him from believing in any good or bad effect of the bird.

The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam liked good omens, or the favorable word. It pleased him without affecting his determination to proceed with an act or refrain from it. A good omen implies a good thought of Allah, and it is a good deed, unlike having a bad thought of Allah, which is forbidden.

An evil bird (hamah) is a night bird which was considered an evil omen by Arabs in the age of Jahiliya (pre-Islamic age) if it alighted on one's house. A man would then say, "It has announced my death!".

Polytheists also considered the month of Safar an evil omen. Islam completely abolished this wrong belief, directed Muslims' hearts to the Creator, to Whom belong the keys of the heavens and the Earth, and enjoined them to trust in Him.

The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam showed the ruling of Islam on evil omens. It was reported by Abdullah ibn Mass'ud in a traceable Hadith that the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, "A bad omen implies the association of partners with Allah.  A bad omen means associating partners with Allah" (Narrated by Abu-Dawud and Al-Tirmidhi).

As for the infection denied by the Hadiths, it means that an illness by its nature and by itself spreads from the diseased to the healthy via contact. This was a  pre-Islamic belief upheld by people who affirmed that a healthy person would catch a disease from an ill person, without heeding Allah's will or attributing catching the disease to His volition.

Islam abolished such a pre-Islamic belief, and attributed all things to the will of Allah, Exalted be He. Whatever Allah wills must come to pass, and whatever He wills not will never happen. Allah, Exalted be He, may choose to make the contact between the diseased and the healthy a cause for transmitting a disease, or may choose to keep the healthy unaffected by such contact. Health and illness are both determined by the will of Allah, Exalted be He.

It was reported by Ibn-Mas'ud RA that the Messenger of Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, "One thing does not infect another". A Bedouin man then said, "O Messenger of Allah! A small spot of mange first appears on a big camel's snout or tail, then the whole camel becomes mangy!" The Messenger of Allah  then said, "So who made the first one mangy? There is no infection, nor omen, nor evil bird. Allah created each soul and ordained its life, misfortunes, and provision" (Narrated by Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi).

As for the prophetic sayings that call for the necessity of seeking protection against diseases, these do not in any way imply that infection exists or can occur by itself. Rather these sayings indicate that a healthy person should keep away from whatever causes him evil or harm, just as one should not throw oneself into fire or torrential floods, or drink poison, sleep on top of a roof that is not fenced, or do anything that is prohibited which might cause damage to him. As Muslim narrated in the Hadith of Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him: “The prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam  said, "Do not allow the diseased to get in touch with the healthy”. The Prophet also said: “Run away from the leper as you would from a lion” (Narrated by Ahmad and Al-Bukhari)

Abdul-Rahman Ibn Awf RA said : “The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said, "If you hear that the plague has broken out in a country, do not go therein, and if it hits a country you are in, do not leave to another place.” (Narrated by Al Bukhari)

Such prophetic sayings do not only confirm that contagious diseases are not spread without Allah's permission, but they also indicate that contact with people could be a reason for transmitting diseases to healthy ones. What is implied in the above Hadiths is the necessity to avoid what might cause evil or harm.

These prophetic sayings also constitute an impediment to the devil’s whispers which, if harbored within one’s soul, might blemish one’s creed and induce man to say, "If only I had done that, I would never have been hit by such and such". However, the one who entirely and deeply trusts in Allah will find relief in all his daily affairs,

"And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him." [Al-Talaq: 3]

Among the measures permitted to avoid infection is vaccination, which has proved to be very efficient against many diseases without triggering any side effects either at present or in the future.

Quarantine is another permitted measure, but trust in Allah is the best option, given the Hadith that tells of the seventy persons who enter Paradise without reckoning of their accounts and without (receiving any) punishment, those who do not seek incantations or spells, those who do not get cauterized, those who avoid believing in bad omens, and those who put their trust in their Lord.

It is commonplace that many who have been in close contact with those hit by smallpox or measles (both contagious diseases, subject to Allah's will) and have even shared food with them, have not been infected by such diseases.

"No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but it is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfûz) before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allâh. (23) In order that you may not grieve at the things that you fail to get, nor rejoice over that which has been given to you. And Allâh likes not prideful boasters." [Al-Hadîd: 22-23]

May Allah bless me and you by the glorious Qur'an, and make us benefit from its verses and wise reminder, as well as the guidance of the master of Messengers and his sound statements.  I say what you have heard, and I seek forgiveness, from Allah for myself, all of you and the rest of the Muslims, for every sin we have committed. Ask the forgiveness of Allah.

Remember Allah, the Great, the Almighty, and He will remember you. Thank Him for His benevolence and He will increase His blessings to you. Remembrance of Allah is greater than all, and Allah knows what you do.


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