How should our style (method) be in (conveying the message of Islam, propagation of Islam)? How should I convey the message of Islam to people who despise Islam?
Submitted by on Mon, 26/10/2009 - 12:11
Dear Brother / Sister,
Apparent Properties in the tabligh of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh)
Since the Messenger of Allah is ‘a beautiful pattern (of conduct)’ for believers, with the expression of God Almighty, his methods and forms of tabligh is the only reference for us, the believers. The Messenger of Allah acted in accordance with the general principles that happened in the general course of the universe, called the laws of creation and he set an example for his umma (community) for all kinds of situations. If he had wanted, he would have begged his Lord and could have obtained all kinds of worldly belongings; if he had wanted and if it had been appropriate for the divine wisdom, all of the polytheists would have been destroyed or they would have adopted Islam. However, since they would have happened as miracles, he would not have been a model to be followed.
Since the Messenger of Allah was an example in every issue, soldiers of heart who were determined to exceed seas of blood for the cause that they believed in and who were so mature and respectful towards the Exalted Creator as to attribute everything to Him when they attained their destination emerged.
When we examine the mission of calling people to Islam of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), we see that the following principles, among many other characteristics, are essential:
2. Treating people softly and Tolerance,
4. Attributing the results to Allah,
5. Inner depth,
The prophets were always subject to the greatest troubles and misfortunes. However, they showed the greatest patience against troubles and misfortunes. Almost all believers know what Hazrat Nooh (Noah), Hazrat Lut (Lot), Hazrat Musa (Moses) and Hazrat Eesa (Jesus) were subject to. However, all those troubles and misfortunes did not prevent them from propagating their causes; on the contrary, they continued to convey the message of Allah and His orders to people with patience and perseverance.
That general aim and duty of the prophets are expressed as follows in the Quran: "(It is the practice of those) who preach the Messages of Allah, and fear Him, and fear none but Allah: and enough is Allah to call (men) to account." (al-Ahzab, 33/39)
God Almighty says the following to our Prophet regarding tabligh:
"O Messenger! proclaim the (Message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His Mission: and Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief). For Allah guideth not those who reject Faith." (al-Maeda, 5/67)"
The Messenger of Allah spent all his life proclaiming Islam after undertaking that lofty duty. He visited one house after another and looked for people whom he could convey the message of Islam to.
The reaction of the opposite front was in the form of indifference and boycotting at first. Then, it continued with mockery and ridiculing. In the last phase, it continued with all kinds of torture. They placed thorns on the ways he was going to pass; they placed tripe over his head while he was praying and they insulted him. However, the Messenger of Allah did not give up his struggle despite all of those difficulties. It was the reason why he came to this world. He visited everybody including his most severe enemies repeatedly and conveyed them the divine message. He went to the enemies of Islam like Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab so many times; he told them about the religion and the truth..! He went to the fairs. He went from one tent to another in order to be able to guide even one person; they closed the doors on his face; however, he went to the same door again and told them the same things.
When the people of Makkah gave him no more hope, he went to Taif. Taif is a place suitable for an outing. Taif people, whom slackness spoiled, outdid Makkans. All of the flotsam and jetsam of Taif people came together and threw stones at the Messenger of Allah, who was the sun of the suns that even the angels could not look at so as not harm him, and chased him away. Zayd bin Haritha, whom the Messenger of Allah accepted as his son and loved, was together with him. Zayd used his body as a shield to protect our Prophet but some stones hit the body of the Prophet and caused a lot of bleeding on his body.
When they managed to run away from that intolerant atmosphere and took refuge under a tree, Jibril (Gabriel) appeared suddenly. He said that he could pull down the mountain over those people if the Prophet wanted. The Messenger of Allah said no to that offer even at a time when he was suffering. He said no to that offer because he hoped that even in the future some people from their descendants would believe in Allah…
Then, he opened his hands and begged his Lord:
O Allah! I complain to you about my weakness and being despised by people. Oh the most Merciful of the Merciful ones! You are the Lord of the despised and the helpless. You are my Lord. To whom are you leaving me? To the people of bad words and bad faces or to the enemy that interferes in my duty? If you have no wrath against me, I will not care the difficulties and troubles I suffer. However, your welfare is vaster and better. O my God! I take refuge in your luminous face that brightens the darkness and that is the means of salvation from being caught by wrath or from your displeasure. O my Lord! I expect your forgiveness until you are pleased with me. Oh my Lord! All power and strength is in your hand.
While he was praying like that, somebody approached him silently; he gave a bunch of grapes in a plate to the Messenger of Allah and said, “Please help yourself.” When the Messenger of Allah reached out his hand to the plate, he said “Bismillah” (in the name of Allah). It was an unexpected happening for the slave named Addas, who treated him the grapes. He asked astonishingly: “Who are you?” The Messenger of Allah answered: "I am the last prophet and messenger!" Then, Addas leaned over him and started to kiss him. He found what he had been looking for for years suddenly and he believed in Islam. (Ibn Hisham, Sirah, 2:60-63; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, 3:166; repr: S. Nur 1997, 1: 70-73).
Our first shelter to take against the difficulties that we will face while conveying the message of Islam today must be patience.
Patience is mentioned in more than eighty places in the Quran and believers are ordered to follow patience. The verse: "O ye who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere." (al-Baqara, 2/153) is only one of them. As believers, we can apply patience in three categories in our life: Patience against troubles and misfortunes. It puts man among those who show patience and tawakkul (trust in Allah. b) Patience for avoiding sins. It makes man attain taqwa (fearing Allah) and become a muttaqi. c) Patience in worshipping and obeying Allah. That patience makes man enter among the people that Allah loves. (Badiuzzaman, Sözler (Words), 353)
a) To show patience against troubles and misfortunes means to abandon fury and not to complain when one faces unwanted and painful situations.
b) Patience for avoiding sins can be achieved by abandoning bad things, avoiding disobedience and persevering. It necessitates a permanent belief and a strong determination because sins weaken and blur belief and eliminate its light and brightness.
c) Patience in worshipping and obeying Allah means to continue worshipping, to be sincere and to act in accordance with Islamic criteria. (A. Zeydan, İslâm Davetçisinin Esasları, 2:69).
The scholar, Abdullah Qadir, adds this to the kinds of patience: Patience for keeping to the Quranic line without changing ways and directions when faced by the attractive beauties of the world.
Patience against the frenzy of the time in the tasks that need time.
Patience for the desire to meet Allah until the command of “return” comes from Allah by realizing the fineness in obedience to orders.
A Muslim shows patience in order to attain the pleasure of Allah by obeying Him. That kind of patience is a means for the love and pleasure of Allah. Sincerity is essential in such patience. Sincerity means to do everything only for the sake or pleasure of Allah. (Badiuzzaman, Lem'alar (Flashes), 21.Lem'a).
Man should show the same patience against haram too. When man is exposed to haram first, the resistance shown against it will eliminate the bad sparks coming from it and thus will overcome it. Therefore, our Prophet said the Hazrat Ali "The first glance is for you but the rest are against you." That is, harams can catch a man’s eyes. However, if he closes his eyes and turns his face away, it will not be recorded as a sin for him. Even a reward can be recorded for him because he has not looked at haram. Similarly, man is always face to face with committing sins. As he shows resistance against committing sins, he will reach taqwa (fearing of Allah) and higher ranks in taqwa.
Testing is the sunnah of Allah for his slaves in their lives. Allah tests His slaves in order to disclose their talents and abilities. With such a testing, it becomes clear how a person uses the ability of will and choice that has been granted to him. Allah tests any one of His slaves that he wishes at any time and however He wills. A person can be tested through his closest relatives. Therefore, man should think that he can be tested both through his enemies and friends; he should do favors to his friends, whom can be used as a means of testing against him by God Almighty.
2. Treating People Nicely and Tolerance
Tolerance and gentleness are the most important cornerstones in the tabligh of Islam by our Prophet. God Almighty says the following to the Prophet, who approaches people with gentleness, by congratulating him on the honesty and perfection of his acts: "It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted they would have broken away from about thee; so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then when thou hast taken a decision, put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). " (Aal-e-Imran, 3/159)
Gentleness is like a different golden key given to the Messenger of Allah. He opened many hearts with that key and affected their hearts. But for his gentleness, many intolerant hearts would have faced some harsh acts and some would have opposed to Islam unlike now, and some would have moved away from him. Only thanks to the gentleness of the Messenger of Allah were they prevented and many people embraced Islam in groups.
As it is understood from the verse, gentleness originates from mercy. If the Messenger of Allah had become rude and harsh, everybody around him would have abandoned him. The vast mercy of God Almighty made him gentle. That is, God made his nature so perfect and gentle that the hands that touched him were never injured, and they found a rose when they expected thorns. (Abdullah 1997, 1:398).
I find it useful to mention some hadiths related to mercy here. The Messenger of Allah says:
Allah will not show mercy to someone who does not show mercy to people. (Bukhari, "Tawhid", 2; Muslim, "Fadail," 66)
Show mercy to those on the earth, those in the sky will show mercy to you. (Hakim, al-Mustadrak, 4:277)
He who does not show mercy to people will not be shown mercy. (Bukhari, "Adab," 18; Muslim, "Fadail, 65)
Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) acted tolerantly towards even those who broke his teeth and injured his head. After the conquest of Makkah, he said to the Makkans, who were wondering what would happen to them, “You may go; all of you are free” although they had expelled him from his hometown when he was sorry and in tears. He forgave Abu Sufyan and softened his heart so that he would embrace Islam. He also forgave Wahshi, who had killed his beloved uncle, and Ikrima, the son of Abu Jahl. He forgave many others like them and did not call them to account for what they had done.
He did not reproach people; he did not blame them in front of others due to their mistakes; instead of despising them, he acted nicely and honestly by setting an example to them.
Sometimes, there were some people who came to him, acted rudely and even insulted him. If he had raised a finger, a hundred swords would have cut off his head. However, he reacted gently towards those rude and harsh behaviors. (Abdullah, 1997, 1:403).
Bukhari and Muslim narrate from Abu Said al-Khudri: A man called Dhu'l-Huwaysira came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Meanwhile, the Messenger of Allah were dividing the war booty. He addressed our Prophet insolently: "O Muhammad, be just!" (If that word were said to one of us, we would have a shock. As a matter of fact, we can be unfair. However, the person to whom that sentence was said was a prophet who was appointed to bring justice to the world.)
Hazrat Umar, who was there at that time, roared when he heard that disrespectful remark and said, “Let me cut off that munafiq’s head, O Messenger of Allah!”
After soothing Hazrat Umar and those who thought like him, the Messenger of Allah turned to that man said to him only the following: "Woe on you! If I am not just, who else can be just? (Bukhari, "Adab", 95; Muslim, "Zakat", 142) In other narrations, the reply of our Prophet is in a different form that can mean as follows: "Woe on me if I am not just; it means I am destroyed. Woe on you because of my injustice because you follow me as a prophet!" (Abdullah, 1997, 1:405-406)
The following are guiding principles related to tolerance:
Open your heart to everybody, let it be like oceans! Be filled with belief and feel love for people; let there be no dejected heart that you have not been interested in and you have not helped..! Appraise the good people due to their good deeds; be generous towards believing hearts; approach the faithless people softly so that their animosity and hatred will melt away; be like Messiah with your breaths...! Drive away the bad deeds with good deeds; do not heed rude attitudes! Everybody reflects his own character through their behavior. Prefer the way of tolerance and be noble-hearted towards those who do not have good manners..! It is the most distinguished quality of a heart that is full of love to love the love and to turn against hostility. To hate everybody is either an indication of having been directed by the devil or a sign of insanity. Love human beings; admire humanity..! (Abdullah, S. Nur, p. 101)
When we look at the events happening in the universe, we see a gradualism. That gradualism is one of the most important points in conveying the message of Islam.
We know that our Prophet (pbuh) conveyed the message of Islam gradually and step by step, and the Quran was sent down in 23 years. The 23-year period was divided into two; the first period is called the Period of Makkah, and the second period as the Period of Madinah.
Although it is possible to mention several periods in the Period of Makkah, it is possible to deal with it as two periods: one when the message of Islam was conveyed secretly, the other when it was conveyed openly. The following verse is quite meaningful about the call in Makkah: " Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth, best who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance." (Nahl, 16/125)
The verses that were sent down during the Period of Makkah generally contained the fundamentals of belief, ethical principles, behavioral criteria and advice.
The Period of Madinah was a period when, on the on hand, Islamic legal system was enacted and settled and on the other hand, the barriers between the slave and Allah were tried to be eliminated. (Buti, S. Ramazan, Fiqhu's-Sira p. 95).
The Master of the universe (pbuh) conveyed the message of Islam in accordance with the conditions of each period; he did not burden a load of 40 kg on someone who had the capacity of 10 kg, thus, he did not cause that person to be injured. He treated people in accordance with their states and paved the way for people to warm to Islam and have belief in their hearts.
That principle of the Messenger of Allah is a main principle that will serve as an example till Doomsday. Abdurrashid Ibrahim, the famous traveler who visited Japan in the 1900’s, narrates the following: "I told a Japanese person, who became a Muslim as a result of my tabligh, only about the fard prayers. He started to pray as I taught him. Once, he saw me performing sunnah prayer and asked me what it was. I said it was the sunnah of the Prophet. He asked me, “Why did you not tell me about it before?” I said, “If I had told you about it when you first became a Muslim, it could have been difficult for your soul.” He said, “You are right”, and started to perform sunnah prayers from then on (Abdurrashid Ibrahim, Japonya'da İslâmiyet, 1:156).
4. Attributing the Results to Allah
Our Prophet (pbuh) did whatever necessary for something and left the rest to Allah. He never boasted about the success and achievement that Allah granted, on the contrary, he often said that all good results came from Allah and that nothing would have happened but for His help.
The faithful people loving the Prophet (pbuh) and following his path always attributed the achievements to Him, and they did not have euphoria of victory. A believer should fulfill his duty and should not interfere with the duty of Allah. A very outstanding example regarding the issue is as follows:
It is very well known that Jalaluddin Harzamshah, a hero of Islam who defeated the army of Jenghiz Khan several times, was addressed by his viziers and commanders as follows while he was setting out for a battle:
"You shall be victorious, God Almighty will make you the winner."
He answered them as follows:
"My duty is to fight in the way of Allah. I cannot interfere in his duty. To make someone victorious or a loser is his duty. (Nursî, Lem’alar (Flashes), 17. Lema)
Naturally, when one has such mentality, he will not be conceited and will not boast about anything; he will not show egocentrism, either.
5. Inner depth
Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) has been on the summit in terms of inner depth. He was the best devotee among the devotees and the best worshipper among the worshippers. He feared Allah so much that his heart almost stopped. He was so sensitive that there were very few times when he did not have tears or he did not shiver; when he was active, he was like a sea; when he was not active, he was like an ocean.
Inner depth takes place through devotion and worshipping. The one who practiced them best was our Prophet (pbuh). The state of devotion means not to be delighted even if the whole world is given to you and not to feel sorry even if you lose the whole world. That state was at the highest point with the Messenger of Allah. He would not be delighted even as much as someone who found a grain of barley if he were given the whole world. He would not feel sorry even as much as someone who lost a grain of barley if he lost the whole world. He abandoned the world and the worldly things in his heart. However, that abandoning does not mean to abandon the world really because he showed us the most logical and best ways of making a profit.
Our Prophet did not give any importance to the world. Once Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) came to the presence of the Messenger of Allah. Our Prophet was on the mat that he had slept, and there was the impression of the math on his face. There was a piece of processed leather in one part of the room and a small bag with a few handfuls of barley in another part. They were all the things that were available in his room. Hazrat Umar was moved by what he saw and started to weep. When the Messenger of Allah asked him why he was crying, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "O Messenger of Allah! While the rulers and kings lie in their beds of feather, you (for whom the universe was created) are lying on a dry mat and the mat makes an impression on your face. What I have seen has made me cry.” Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah said to Umar: "O Umar! Do you not want it that the world will belong to them but the hereafter will belong to us?" (Bukhari, "Tafsir", 21) In another narration, our Prophet says: "What relation have I got with the world? I am like a traveler, a traveler who sits in the shade of a tree for a while and then goes on his journey." (Tirmidhi, "Zuhd", 44; İbn Majah, "Zuhd", 3)
He came to this world with a duty. He brought breaths of revival to people in terms of feelings and thoughts. When his duty ended, he left the world. It is impossible to think that a person who was so disinterested in the world would tend to have some things in the world. He never showed a tendency towards the world and he never deviated from his path.... (Abdullah 1997, 2:473-474)
First, he practiced the things himself that he was going to tell his umma to do and served as an example to his umma in all of his attitudes. As a matter of fact, nobody could lead a life like he did. He was so disciplined and serious in his individual worship. His whole life seemed to be programmed based on worshipping. We should not think of worshipping as only prayers, fasting, etc. He fulfilled everything that he did with a consciousness of worshipping. (ibid, 2:478)
The world wanted to push itself through his heart many times but he always rejected the world. (Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 2:231) The servants of our century should take the Prophet as an example and reach inner depth, without forgetting the outer conquest along with the inner conquest.
If the soul and the desires of man are left uncontrolled, his tendency to and interest in the world will increase. The world even becomes his ultimate aim and the purpose of his life. However, the following is stated in the Quran: "Short is the enjoyment of this world: the Hereafter is the best for those who do right: never will ye be dealt with unjustly in the very least!" (Nisa, 4/77) Then, a believer should try to reach inner depth and he should not ignore preparing for the hereafter. The happy people who are at spirit’s service will always head towards the pleasure of the Creator, humanity and virtue.
The modesty and humility of the Messenger of Allah shine like a star as a different dimension of his fatanah (wisdom) on the one hand and tabligh on the other hand. His modesty increased as he was known and accepted by everybody. It seemed as if modesty and humility were born again together with him. They continued by developing till he died. Once, the angel came and asked him: "Would you like to be a slave prophet or a king prophet?" Jibril (Gabriel) whispered to him: "Be humble towards your Lord!" The Messenger of Allah answered: "I would like to be a slave prophet who goes to bed hungry one day and begs his Lords and who goes to bed full another day and thanks his Lord..." (Haythami, Majmau'z-Zawaid, 9:19-20.) He always regarded himself as person like other people; he never made a distinction between himself and others. Once, he looked at the man who was shivering before him and said to him: "Brother! Do not shiver! I am the son of a woman who ate onions like you..." (Ibn Majah, "At'ima", 30)
As Muslims, we should take our Prophet as an example. Worldly ranks and positions, goods and properties should not spoil man and should not make him forget himself. The quality of a responsibility given to a person does not transform him into another being. Therefore, man should always regard himself as a person like the other people.
The modesty and humility of the Master of the Universe continued both when he entered Makkah as a victorious commander and when he was forced to leave Makkah. He bowed his head so much that the head that touched the sky was bowed as low as to touch the saddle...
A hadith reported by our mother, Hazrat Aisha, tells us the following: "The Messenger of Allah acted like an ordinary person at home. He mended his own clothes, repaired his own shoes and helped her wives in their housework." (Tirmidhi, "Shamail", 78) When he did those things, his name was mentioned in many places in the world; everybody talked about him and the religion he brought. He used time so efficiently that he could find time for chores despite his important responsibilities. He had the best form of all of the nice characters.
Humility is not humiliation, and conceit is not dignity. The Master of the Universe (pbuh) states the following about humility and conceit: "Allah elevates the person who acts modestly for him one degree. Allah takes that person to the highest place of Firdaws Paradise. Allah lowers a person who shows conceit one degree. Allah lowers that person to the lowest degree of Hell." (Mundhiri, at-Targhib, 4:339)
The highest person among those who always lead their lives in a constant feeling of reckoning and responsibility is the Master of the Universe. He knew what a heavy burden was slavery and with that consciousness, he always tried to make himself ready for the day of reckoning. He called his umma’s attention to the issue as follows:
"Bring yourself to account before you are taken to account." The great reckoning will definitely be very tough. We must prepare for that day. I want to present you a talk between our Prophet and Hazrat Aisha regarding the issue.
Once, the Master of the Universe (pbuh) went to Hazrat Aisha and saw her weeping; he asked her, “What makes you weep, O Aisha?” Hazrat Aisha says: "O Messenger of Allah! I thought about the Day of Judgment and the fear of that day made me weep. Will you remember your family on that day? The Messenger of Allah answered: "Oh Aisha! There are three places where nobody can remember others. They are when the Books of Deeds are delivered, when the deeds are weighed and when passing the Sirat Bridge." Then, everybody will wonder whether their books of deeds will be given from their right, left or back. When the deeds are weighed, they will wonder if their rewards or sins will outweigh and whether they will be able to pass the Sirat and attain Paradise and Jamalullah (the face of Allah); they will wonder if their feet will slip and they will fall down to the depths of Hell.
Our Prophet (pbuh) calls the attention of his umma by addressing his own relatives about preparing for that fearful day as follows:
O sons of Abdimanaf! Try to save your souls that are in the hand of Allah because I cannot do anything for you.
The Messenger of Allah narrows the circle and continues to address his own tribe as follows:
O sons of Hashim! Try to save your souls that are in the hand of Allah because I cannot do anything for you, either.
The Messenger of Allah narrows the circle some more and says the same things for his uncle Abbas, aunt Safiyya and daughter Fatima.
We understand from those remarks that it is necessary to prepare for the hereafter before going there. Paradise and Jamalullah are gained in the world not in the hereafter. The following is a hadith of our Prophet "The world is the field of the hereafter." (Aliyyulkari, al-Masnu' 1:135; al-Ajluni, Kashful-khafa 1:1320) We will reap in the harvest of the hereafter whatever we sow in this world.
The Master of the two worlds, who had great difficulty under the burden of slavery said: "The Chapters Hud, al-Waqia and al-Mursalat made me old. He was ordered: " Therefore, stand firm (in the straight path) as thou art commanded." (Hud, 11/112). That firmness in the straight path was what God Almighty had prescribed for His messenger. He was asked to maintain that straight path...
In the chapter al-Mursalat, it is stated that people are divided into groups for Paradise and Hell and that they bent double due to fear. ln chapter al-Waqia, those groups were displayed. What was narrated in those chapters terrified the Messenger of Allah and made him old... (Abdullah 1997, 2:475)
The companions of the prophet, who had so much difficulty due to the feelings of responsibility and reckoning, led a very meticulous life and serve as examples to us. Hazrat Abu Bakr continued to milk the sheep of his neighbor to earn his living even after he was elected as caliph. However, as a result of the insistence of Hazrat Umar and other companions, he decided to give up milking the sheep in order not to delay the work of the state and agreed to get a small salary. He left a small earthenware jar and a letter to be given to the caliph after his death. When they opened the jar, they found small coins and a note. The note read as follows: "The money you allocated for me remained on some days. I felt ashamed of Allah to spend it because it was the money of the people.” Hazrat Umar started to weep when he saw it and said, "You left us a life which is impossible to lead."
Hazrat Umar led a life to be taken as an example too. His life was accepted as a model even by non-Muslims. Mahatma Gandhi, the founder of India who lived centuries after him, addressed his nations as follows: "O my people. I promise you a just administration like the administration of Umar of Muslims." (Sırma, İ. Süreyya, İslâm Tarihi Ders Notları)
They led their lives with that consciousness and comprehension, enlightening our way. What we need to do is to follow that enlightened path as Muslims and to take over their inheritance.
Questions on Islam
- What was the relationship between the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions like? How did he treat them?
- Is it justifiable for a man who lost his right hand, his wealth, wife and job in an accident to commit suicide?
- Can I get information about the high ethics of Hz. Muhammad (PBUH)?
- Suhayl bin Amr (r.a.)
- What would you advise me to do in order to show patience in the face of illnesses and misfortunes?
- Abdullah bin Abi Awfa (r.a.)
- Thawban (r.a.)
- The most virtuous four women are mentioned; who are the most virtuous women?
- Shaddad bin Aws (r.a.)
- Can we transform troubles, misfortunes and illnesses into good things for us? How?