Explaining to kids how and why 
they become seriously ill

by Rabia Mills

How can one possibly explain an illness to a child who is seriously ill from some sort of ongoing disease? Insha Allah the following explanation given to a sick child will show the Islamic perspective as well as provide an answer to this question.
Picture this ...  a very young child, of say about two-years, is playing dangerously near a cliff and is just about to fall off. The mother sees the child, and with her heart almost sunk into her stomach with fear for her child's life, she runs over to the child, picks him or her up and then starts to spank the child and at the same time cries, "Don't ever do that again!" The child is very confused and thinks something like this: "Why are you spanking me if you love me?" The two-year old, being so young, is shocked by all of this and is unable understand why mommy is reacting like this.

It is the same for the rest of us. Sometimes Allah gives kids difficult things, like long illnesses, to overcome. He sees the danger that the child might get into and so, just like the mother, He spanks him or her. This is not punishment per se though, because He is preventing the child from hurting or endangering themselves -- just like the mother with the two-year old is doing. If He so chooses, He will let the child know why they must suffer like that. One thing we do know however, is that He does this for the child's benefit, even though on the surface it doesn't look that way.

Everything Allah gives us is a gift, but we don't know how or why it is a gift, just like the little two-year old can't possibly understand why his mother is reacting the way she does. In many ways though, the fact that some children have been singled out for such a difficult ordeal like severe sickness, is a very good sign from Allah. It shows that He has turned with favour towards him or her. That is an incredible gift that most will never know! That makes you [name of  sick child] very special. There is no doubt about it, being sick is difficult, but if your illness causes you to turn more towards Allah, it will be very good for you. Maybe if you were healthy, you wouldn't turn towards Him and would do bad things. Not cool. All that really matters is Allah. That is important to know.

The above explanation was part of a response given to a personal friend of Rabia's whose young teenaged daughter had just been diagnosed with a severe form of Lupus as well as Reynaud's disease. The teenager was having problems understanding why and how this was happening to her -- especially from an Islamic perspective. We thought some of our website viewers might like to read this. It was altered somewhat so as to protect the identities of the people involved. For more information about Rabia's background, she mentions a little bit about herself here.