And Your Lord said: “Invoke Me, I will respond to your (invocation). Verily, those who scorn My worship, they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!” (Ghafir 40:60)
According to the Qur’an, prayer, meaning “calling, requesting, seeking help,” is a person’s turning sincerely to Allah, and seeking help from Him, the Almighty, the Compassionate and Merciful, in the knowledge that he is a dependent being. Illness is one of those instances when a person feels this dependence most and draws closer to Allah. Furthermore, sickness is a test, devised in His wisdom, that takes place by His will, and is a warning to remind people of the transience and imperfection of this life, and is also a source of recompense in the hereafter for the patient and submissive.
Those without faith, on the other hand, imagine that the way to recovery is through doctors, medicines or the advanced technological capabilities of modern science. They never pause to think that it is Allah Who causes their physical systems to function when they are in good health, or Who creates the healing medicines and doctors when they are ill. Many turn only to Allah when they arrive at the opinion that doctors and medicines are inadequate. People in such situations seek help only from Allah, realizing that only He can free them from their difficulty. Allah has revealed this mindset in a verse:
And when harm touches man, he invokes Us, lying on his side, or sitting down or standing. But when We removed his harm from him he passes on as if he had never invoked Us for a harm that touched him! Thus it is made fair-seeming to be Musrifun that which they used to do. (Yunus 10:12)
The fact is, however, that even in good health, or without tribulations or other difficulties, a person must pray and give thanks to Allah for the comforts, good health and all the other blessings He has imparted.
One very important aspect of prayer is this: In addition to praying out loud, it is also important for a person to make every effort to pray through his or her deeds. Prayer by action means doing everything possible to attain a certain wish. For example, in addition to praying, a sick person may also have to visit an expert doctor, use medicines that will be of benefit, and receive hospital treatment if necessary or some other form of special care. Because Allah has linked everything that happens in this world to specific causes, everything in the world and in the universe happens in accordance with these causes. Therefore, the individual must take the requisite measures in accordance with these causes, and yet await the outcome from Allah, with humility, submission, and patience, in the knowledge that it is He Who brings about their results.
The positive effect of faith and prayer on the sick and the way this accelerates treatment is a matter that has attracted the attention of and is recommended by doctors. Under the heading “God and Health: Is Religion Good Medicine? Why Science Is Starting to Believe,” Newsweek took the curative effect of religion as its cover story. It reported that faith in God raised people’s morale and helped them recover more easily, and that science had also begun to believe that people with religious faith recover more easily and quickly. According to a Newsweek survey, 72 percent of Americans say they believe that praying can cure someone and that prayer facilitates recovery. Research in Great Britain and the USA has also concluded that prayer reduces patients’ symptoms and accelerates the recovery process.
According to research conducted at Michigan University, depression and stress are observed to a lesser extent in the devout. And, according to findings at Rush University in Chicago, the early death rate among people who worship and pray regularly is some 25 percent lower than in those with no religious convictions. Another study conducted on 750 people, who underwent angio-cardiography, proved scientifically the “curative power of prayer.” It was established that the death rate among heart patients who prayed decreased by 30 percent within a year after their operations.
Examples of the prayers mentioned in the Qur’an are these:
And (remember) Ayyub (Job), when he cried to his Lord: “Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful of all those who show mercy.” (Al-Anbiya’ 21:83)
And (remember) Zakariya (Zachariah), when he cried to his Lord: ” O My Lord! Leave me not single (childless), though You are the Best of Inheritors.” (Al-Anbiya’ 21:89)
And indeed Nuh (Noah) invoked Us, and We are the Best of those who answer (the request). (As-Saffat 37:75)
As has already been stated, prayer must not only be for alleviation of sickness or other mundane problems. A sincere believer must always pray to Allah and accept whatever comes from Him. The fact that the benefits of prayer revealed in many verses of the Qur’an are now being recognized scientifically once again reveals the miraculous nature of the Qur’an.
And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) concerning Me, then (answer them) I am indeed near (to them by my knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me. So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright. (Al-Baqarah 2:186)