How Can I Marry An Epileptic? – A True Story
By Zainab Wasay
It is said that just as health is a blessing, illness is a blessing, too. In fact many times the latter may be a greater blessing. My dear friend Nafeesa shares her experiences, as she found Epilepsy to be one of Allah’s (swt) greatest gifts for her.
From the age of twelve to twenty, Nafeesa suffered about thirty seizures. From immense psychological pain to four shoulder dislocations, her illness was never easy for her. But Nafeesa decided from day one that she would bear everything with a positive perspective, since according to the Hadeeth, a believer is always in a win-win situation. (Muslim) Thus one of the first things Nafeesa learnt from Epilepsy was humility.
When Nafeesa first began having seizures, she never encountered any physical pain. But when the seizure would begin, she would be conscious for a few moments and watch helplessly, as her arms would be twisting and jerking uncontrollably. The psychological pain she would feel then was much worse than physical pain. Then, one day, her mother said to her that maybe Allah (swt) is trying to tell her something by showing her, how helpless we as humans really are. Nafeesa pondered over her mother’s words and thought that maybe she did need to improve her attitude regarding certain things, and so she started changing herself. A few months later, many people said to her that she had become a very different person from who she was before.
Nafeesa’s main strength was her connection with Allah (swt), the Quran and Sunnah. Since Allah (swt) is Al-Hayy, the Ever-Living, also the Quran is an immortal book – any person in any age can relate to any of its verses. Once, after waking up from a seizure, she was lying in bed and crying to herself. It was not a traumatizing experience only for her but also for her whole family. She then opened the Quran in search of solace and could not help but smile, when she read the Ayaat in front of her: “And those who remain patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord’s… those will have the good consequence of [this] home – Gardens of perpetual residence; they will enter them with whoever were righteous among their fathers, their spouses and their descendants. And the angels will enter upon them from every gate, [saying], “Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home.” (Ar-Rad 13:22-24)
Once, during a class of Sahih Muslim, Nafeesa read the Hadeeth about the Ethiopian woman, who had Epilepsy. The Hadeeth goes that Ibn Abbas once said to his student: “Should I show you a woman of Paradise?” He replied: “Of course.” Ibn Abbas said: “This black woman came to the Prophet (sa) and said: ‘I suffer epileptic seizures and my body uncovers; please, pray to Allah (swt) for me.’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘If you wish, you can be patient and you will earn Paradise (in return). And if you wish, I will invoke Allah (swt) to cure you.’ She replied: ‘Rather, I will remain patient,’ and added, ‘but I become uncovered, so, please, invoke Allah (swt) for me that I remain covered.’” Thus, he prayed for her, after which her body would not uncover during seizures.
Though Nafeesa had read this Hadeeth before, this time she was overjoyed, when she read it with Imam Nawawi’s explanation. He wrote that this Hadeeth tells us that seizures carry immense reward, since Rasoolullah (sa) promised Jannah to the woman, who suffered them. Before reading this Hadeeth, Nafeesa had read the Hadeeth of the people, who made two migrations, and how Abu Musa Ash’ari (rtam) and his companions would keep coming to Asma bint Umais (rtaf) to hear this Hadeeth from her. Asma (rtaf) would say that it was as though nothing in the whole world was more valuable to them. Nafeesa could not imagine, how a single Hadeeth could be so valuable. However, she reconciled with the fact that the Sahabahs perceived things very differently from the way we do.
Then, once after waking up from a seizure, she recalled the Hadeeth about the black woman and she realized, how a single Hadeeth really could be so dear to someone. In reality, she and the likes of her were nothing compared to the greatness of Allah (swt)… they were just ordinary beings among His infinite creation. But Allah (swt), the Lord of the Universe, still understood their pain and distress. Not only did He understand it but also gave a special reward for it – even if no one else could comprehend, what they were going through, He could. Then why wouldn’t the gift of the Most Merciful be more valuable than the world and all it contains?
Nafeesa’s illness had never been a hurdle in her education, and by Allah’s (swt) grace, she excelled in both her religious studies as well as worldly. But once she reached marriageable age, her parents decided to give her a reality check. One day her parents sat her down and explained that her illness had the potential of being a hurdle in her marriage, since it was understood that they would not hide her medical condition. Nafeesa did not say anything then, but when she went to her room, she cried her heart out. Afterwards, when she opened the Quran, Allah (swt) said: “And it is He Who has created from water a human being and made him [a relative by] lineage and marriage. And ever is your Lord competent [concerning creation].” ( Al-Furqaan 25:54)
Nafeesa stopped crying right then. She shyly smiled, as she realized that she did not need to worry about her marriage, since Allah (swt) had already written, who would marry her. Then, not after too long, a proposal came from Nafeesa’s own relatives and despite telling them all the details of her illness, they still finalized the marriage, because they said that they were marrying for Deen. Afterwards, they really did take care of all her medical needs, just like her own family would, Alhamdulillah.
May Allah (swt) grant Nafeesa and the likes of her complete Shifa, keep them steadfast on His path and compensate them fully in both worlds. Ameen.