Visiting the Sick

Musa Kâzım GÜLÇÜR

Muslims should visit their sick friends and neighbours at an appropriate time, and pray for their health. This is not only a duty, but a way to strengthen the bonds of affection between them.

It is Sunna to visit those who are ill. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, visited sick people and encouraged believers to do the same. [Bukhari, Janaiz, 2; Muslim, Libas, 114] When we visit a believer who is unwell, we can boost their morale and gain rewards for this good action. [Tirmidhi, Adab, 45; Nasai, Janaiz, 53]

It is difficult to fully appreciate the value of health until one becomes ill. Illness is a trial that requires submission to God’s will, and reliance on His care. The Prophet said that to visit invalids and attend funerals is a reminder of the Hereafter. [Bukhari, Jihad, 171] When he visited someone who was unwell, he would put his hand on their forehead, take their hand, ask how they were feeling, and pray for them, saying, “May you get well; may your illness purify you from sins.” [Bukhari, Tawhid, 31]

In a hadith qudsi God’s Messenger said, “God will say on the Judgment Day, ‘My servant was ill, and you did not visit him (her); if you had, you would have found Me there.” [Muslim, Birr, 43] His wife Aisha reported that when a member of his own family became ill, the Prophet would pray for them thus: “O God, the Lord and Sustainer of all people! Make this pain pass. You are the Healer; none can heal except You.” [Tirmidhi, Janaiz, 4; Abu Dawud, Tibb, 17] He directed Muslims who were unwell to “put your hand on the part of your body that is in pain, say Bismillah (In the Name of God) thrice, and then repeat seven times, ‘I take refuge in God Almighty from the harm and danger of my illness.” [Tirmidhi, Tibb, 32; Ibn Hanbal, Sunan, 1/239] He also advised, “If someone is on their deathbed, recommend that they recite the shahada of La ilaha illallah Muhammadun rasulullah, which means, “There is no deity other than God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”

God’s Messenger visited people who were ill regardless of whether they were Muslim. [Bukhari, Istidhan, 29] It is a duty for Muslims to visit those who are not well. When you are with a sick person, always speak positively and boost their morale. The Prophet said the following about visiting believers who are unwell: “The believers are as one body, one in love, mercy, and compassion. Whenever any organ or limb of the body is unwell, the other parts also feel pain.” [Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 3/175]

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, spread the best morals and created an environment of mutual assistance and brotherhood, which was ornamented with the highest altruistic emotions. Visiting the ill is one of these humane values, as this makes those who are unwell feel less alone and less helpless in the face of mortality; it lightens their burden and lessens the chances that they may fall into despair or misery. Everyone, even members of another religion, should be visited when they fall ill, as the Messenger visited people who were unwell, regardless of their religion. There is a hadith related by Anas ibn Malik that says, “There was a non-Muslim serving God’s Messenger. One day he became ill. The Prophet went to visit him and sat by his bed. He asked the man to become a Muslim. The servant looked at his father, who was also at his side. His father said, ‘Obey Abu al-Qasim (the Prophet).’ And this man became Muslim. When God’s Messenger was leaving the place he said, ‘Praise be to God, Who has saved him from the fire.” [Abu Dawud, Janaiz, 6]

When one is ill, one must not show impatience with the illness or with one’s visitors. To cry and complain or to wail, or to wish for death are not honourable actions. The Prophet once said, “Do not wish for death because of a trial that befalls you. If one of you truly wishes to die, let him say, ‘My God, if life is better for me, let me live; if death is better for me, then let me die.” [Bukhari, Tamanni, 6; Muslim, Dhikr, 10, 13]

There is no obstacle to prevent a man visiting a woman who is ill if he observes the proper formalities. [Abu Dawud, Sunan, 2/85] In fact, visiting the ill is so important that a believer should even visit a sinful Muslim if they are sick. The purpose of a visit is to make the ill person feel less alone, to raise their morale and hope, and to cheer them. Serious illnesses bring death to people’s minds, and therefore it is advisable to say to people that we will all return to God, that every person’s appointed hour will come, and that nothing can cause a person to die before or after the destined hour. [Saba 34:30; A’raf 7:34; Hud 11:3] It is also a good idea to bring gifts to people who are unwell. [Ibn Maja, Janaiz, 1] But we should not forget to ask how the person is doing; to fail to do so means that we have not followed the Prophet’s example. [Bukhari, Istizan, 29]

The Prophet once visited a sick Muslim and prayed the following prayer for them: “O God, give us good in all things in this world, give us uncountable blessings in the Hereafter, and save us from the fire of Hell.” [Tirmidhi, Daawat, 112; see also Baqara 2:201]

Translated by Jessica ÖZALP

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