Q: If a person has cancer, is it right for the doctor to address him in such a manner that indicates to him that he will soon die? Certain doctors feel that they need to tell the patient the hard reality not realising the depressing effects on the family.
A: Life and death is in the complete control of Allah Ta’aala. The life span of each person is predestined. It cannot be extended nor can it be shortened. No person can predict his future nor foretell the future of the next person. The Hadith teaches us to give encouragement to the patient and create hope within him. We are prohibited from speaking such things which will create despondency in the patient. If it is destined that he will recover from the illness, then by informing him that he has few days to live, we will be putting him through unnecessary agony and pain. If death is written for him, it will come to him on its appointed time. Why should we then cause additional pain to the patient by frightening him of death before its time?
It is permissible for the doctor, based on his medical understanding and experience, to inform the patient of his physical condition. However, it is impermissible for him to create despondency in the patient by telling him that he will not recover or that he has only few days to live. Many a time the estimations of the doctors turn out to be incorrect. Apart from this, this method does not conform to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Whenever Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) visited the sick, he would speak words of encouragement and create hope of recovery. Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to address the sick person with the following words:
“لا بأس طهور إن شاء الله”
There is absolutely no need for you to worry or fear. You are just going through a cleansing process (i.e. spiritually you are been cleansed from your sins and physically your body is being rid of the toxin and the harmful effects. In other words it is the mercy of Allah Ta’aala that is raining upon you hence there is no need for you to worry).
قُل لَّكُم مِّيعَادُ يَوْمٍ لَّا تَسْتَأْخِرُونَ عَنْهُ سَاعَةً وَلَا تَسْتَقْدِمُونَ (سورة سبا, اللآية 30)
عن أبي سعيد الخدري قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم إذا دخلتم على المريض فنفسوا له في الأجل . فإن ذلك لا يرد شيئا . وهو يطيب بنفس المريض ( ابن ماجه 1/104)
Mufti Zakaria Makada
Checked & Approved:
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)