Etiquette of visiting the sick
One of the many beauties of Islam is that it is a way of life that corresponds with a human being’s natural disposition in every aspect of life. Amongst these things that a human naturally feels is mercy and compassion for the sick. Hence, Islam has placed a great deal of emphasis on bringing these qualities into our lives. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) stated in one hadith:
“Show compassion to those on earth, the One in the heavens will show mercy upon you.”
Visiting the sick is from amongst those responsibilities and duties that a Muslim must fulfill. Imam Bukhari has transmitted a hadith in his Sahih from Sayyidina Abu Huraira (RA) that our beloved Prophet (PBUH) said:
“The rights of one Muslim over another Muslim are six.” Someone asked, “What are they?” The Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied, “When you meet him you greet him with salaam (peace), when he invites you, you accept his invitation, when he consults you in a matter, you give him sincere advice. When he sneezes and praises Allah, you ask Allah to have mercy on him. When he is sick, you visit him and when he passes away you accompany him i.e. you join in his janazah (funeral).”
These actions create love of bonding within the Muslims. Furthermore, the Muslims in essence are like one body as mentioned in an authentic narration of Rasulullah (PBUH). If one part of the body hurts the entire body hurts. Our consolation will not take away the sickness from our Muslim brother or sister, but it may lift their spirits and make them happy.
Just as our Master Rasulaullah (PBUH) has guided us on how to conduct ourselves in every sphere of our lives, he has also guided us regarding the method of visiting the sick.
While fulfilling this revered act, the visitor should keep some things in mind so as to discharge his obligation in a successful manner. The visitor should call before hand to find out if it would be appropriate to visit at a specific time or to find out when it would be best to visit. The visit should be brief so that the ill person does not become burdened by the presence of the visitor. Sheikh Abdul Fatah Ghudda the renowned scholar of Syria writes in his book, ‘Islamic Manners’:
“The length of the visit should not be longer than the time between the two sermons of Friday. In this respect, it was said that the visit should be long enough to convey salaams and wishes, to ask the sick how they are doing, to pray for their recovery and to leave immediately after bidding them farewell.”
Also, one should try to avoid asking the details of the illness or discomfort the sick by talking about the illness. He should pray for the sick, for verily the rewards for such an act are great. Imam Bukhari and Muslim have transmitted a hadith from our beloved Mother Hadhrat Aisha (radhiallahu anha) who said:
“If someone fell sick, the Prophet (PBUH) would pass his beloved hand over the sick person saying the following prayer: ‘O Allah! Lord of mankind, take away the suffering, bring about recovery, only your cure takes away illnesses’.”
An effort should be made to inform the pious as to the state of the person sick. This is because the du’as of the pious never go in vain. The whole experience of visiting the sick is full of reflection if carried out according to the sunnah. Furthermore, only through illness can we truly appreciate good health from Allah. Sickness is a means of cleansing from Allah as well as a test from Allah. We pray to Allah to cure the sick amongst us and give us the ability to practice this sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).