“ARGH!!! Not again!!” I grunted with all my strength as I took the thermometer out of my mouth and read the temperature. It was 99.8° F and rising. For the second time this month, I was sick. Two weeks ago, it was the same story. A fever. Clogged nose. Itchy throat. Rib cracking cough. I had recovered form that for about a week and then, BOOM! What do you know, it was back.
I couldn’t afford to get sick again, I thought. It was a Friday and I had an exam for my Sociology class. It was also my turn to present my social problems presentation. I was actually looking forward to it. I saw it as an opportunity to face my fear of speaking in front of a group of people, however small it may be. Plus, I was looking forward to seeing my Quran teacher at the masjid after 3 weeks. Oh and I hadn’t been to Jummah forever and wanted to stay for it. I didn’t want the fever to stop me from enjoying the day as I had planned the night before!
After contemplating on whether or not I should ditch class for a snuggly day in bed, my temperature had risen to 100.3. And if you remember having a fever, you know how terrible it is. I so badly wanted to retire for the day and do nothing at all.
Instead I popped in a few pills of Tylenol to reduce the fever and decided to go to class. I aced the exam and the presentation went well.
But I didn’t make it through the day. I didn’t have enough strength to recite Quran to my teacher or stay for Jummah afterwards.
I spent the rest of the day sulking in bed, a bit angry and disappointed that the next few days wouldn’t go as I had planned. There were only 6 weeks left for the AP exams and my workload was piling up. Everything came to a halt. My plan to finish memorizing the Surah Ma’idah by the end of the weekend was made impossible with the cough that came at 5 second intervals. I literally could do nothing but rest in bed for four days.
I realized something I had never thought of before. If I was to be patient and content with the current state of my health, some of my sins would be forgiven by Allah’s mercy.
”Narrated ‘Abdullah: I visited Allah’s Apostle while he was suffering from a high fever. I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! You have a high fever.” He said, ‘Yes, I have as much fever as two men of you.’ I said, ‘Is it because you will have a double reward?’ He said, ‘Yes, it is so. No Muslim is afflicted with any harm, even if it were the prick of a thorn, but that Allah expiates his sins because of that, as a tree sheds its leaves.’” (Book #70, Hadith #551)
Score!! Knowing that all I had to do was be patient and my sins would be forgiven made me feel content and HAPPY. Just by changing my outlook, I changed my attitude and instead of feeling restless, waiting for the fever to pass so you could get back on your feet.
This was just a flu which lasted a few days and that was it.
What would I do if I was put to bed rest for the rest of my life? What if… sometime in the future, I wasn’t as capable and healthy as I was before? Would I regret what I did with all that time I had? Or would I look back, let out a sigh of relief, and lay contently as I waited to either be cured or breathe my last?
“Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death.”
(Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim)
Have you ever noticed how your elders are always somehow trying to get you to be more “religious” or do something with your life? They really know what they’re talking about. They’ve been young and either have wasted their youth and realized what it means to be successful when they grow old, which is why you see a lot of people getting religious with age or have spent it well. They’ve tasted the sweetness of health and well-being along with the crippling pain of disease and sickness.
Sickness, whatever it may be, small or big, leaves you mentally paralyzed. You lose your senses. Bright light is your greatest enemy (after your little siblings). You can’t talk or enjoy good conversation. Noises annoy you (stay away, little siblings!) And you totally lose your appetite – another great blessing. Being able to engulf your senses in the savory taste of your favorite flavors and enjoy the aroma is a blessing.
A mere fever of four days gave me the opportunity to look back at the previous month’s productivity. And I won’t lie. It was anything but productive. I had the time and health to do MORE than I had actually done. I felt remorseful and regretful thinking about it. I need to stop wasting time! I need to stop wasting time! I told myself. It was time for action. I was not going to waste my youth – the epitome of my years of living. I would take advantage of every moment of my youth.
So my message to you? Think about your goal(s): primarily pleasing your Rabb and Jannah. What are you doing to get there? Are you wasting away your health in useless endeavors and being ungrateful? Or are you using the blessing to get closer to Allah and your ultimate destination? Don’t wait for an epiphany.