Musa Kâzım GÜLÇÜR
The religion of Islam teaches that all Muslims are brothers and sisters, and they should respect, help, and care for each other. One of the important ways to encourage the growth of such affection between people is to visit one another. In this respect Islam attaches great importance to visiting others for the sake of pleasing God. The Prophet said that a person who visits a sick person or a Muslim for the sake of God has a place prepared for them in Heaven. [Tirmidhi, Birr, 64]
Visiting fosters feelings of caring, trust, unity, and togetherness in the community. Muslims get to know each other better through visiting. They can learn about one another’s difficulties and problems. Visiting also provides an opportunity to give one another advice about various issues and to make decisions together. This helps people feel that they are not alone and to look towards the future with hope. When one is experiencing hardship or feeling down, seeing friendly faces helps one to feel more positive about life.
For several reasons today people live far from their parents; however, we are still responsible for visiting them whenever possible. A Muslim should visit their parents, relatives, neighbours, friends, and everyone they know, if possible. It is especially important on holidays. It is also appropriate at births, weddings, and deaths.
The following hadith speaks of the necessity of visiting neighbours and other friends. According to a narration by Qays ibn Sa’d, one of the Companions, God’s Messenger came to visit him one day, stayed in his house for some time, prayed for him and then left his home. Another tradition recounts that the Prophet visited an Ansari family, ate a meal in their home, performed his salat (worship), and prayed for them while he was there. [Bukhari, Adab, 65] ‘Abdullah ibn Qays also witnessed that “The Messenger would visit the Ansar, both individually and as a group. When he visited them individually, he went to their homes; when he wanted to see them as a group, he would go to the mosque.” [Kandahlawi, quoted from the translation of Hayat al-Sahaba, (“The Prophet’s Companions’ Way of Life”), Vol. III, 1115]
Considering the above narrations, it is clear that the Prophet visited Muslims often, and he always asked how they were doing. We can also see that the Prophet’s Companions continued the practice of visiting each other, even when they lived in different regions. They would cross great distances to visit one another for the sake of God, even though traveling at that time incurred great difficulties. Salman, for instance, went from Midian to Damascus to see Abu al-Darda. [Bukhari, Adab, 65] ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud had the following conversation with his friends who came from Kufa to Medina to visit him: ‘Abdullah asked, “Do you sit together and share your problems?” and his friends answered, “We have never neglected doing so.” ‘Abdullah then asked, “Do you visit one another?” The friends replied, “Yes, O Abu Abdur Rahman; in fact, if we have not seen some of our Muslim brothers for a long time, we walk all the way to the other end of Kufa to see them and to ask how they are.” ‘Abdullah replied, “As long as you continue to do this, you will live in peace.” [Kandahlawi, ibid]
In order to visit people in the most appropriate manner there are some guidelines that should be followed. Under normal conditions, if these guidelines are not meticulously followed, a visit may not yield the expected benefits. Furthermore, to ignore the guidelines invites the risk of causing annoyance or difficulties for people instead of winning God’s pleasure with the visit. The guidelines are:
1. A proper time should be selected for a visit. Normally, one should not visit during sleeping, eating, or working hours.
2. Clean, fresh clothing should be worn when making a visit, to avoid making the hosts uncomfortable.
3. If possible, one should give prior notice when planning to visit, including what time one is coming.
4. When visiting another’s house, one should knock on the door, give salaams, inquire after the health of the inhabitants, and share good or bad events that have happened.
5. A visit should not be too long. The visitor should avoid saying anything hurtful or annoying, they should present a smiling, positive face with kind words, and try to share something that will please the host.
6. During visits, gossip and inappropriate topics should be avoided.
Translated by Jessica ÖZALP