Visiting the Sick
8.1 VISITING A PATIENT
It is your duty to visit your Muslim brethren in time of illness. This will enhance and nourish the bond of Islam and the brotherhood among you. As a committed Muslim, do not undervalue the great reward from Allah. Imam Muslim reported that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: ‘A Muslim visiting ill brethren will continue to be in the Khurfa of paradise until he, or she comes back home. He was asked, ‘What is the khurfa of Paradise?’ He answered, ‘This means the harvest of paradise.’ Imam Ahmad and Ibn Hibban in his authentic book reported that the Messenger said: ‘A visitor walking to visit a patient will be wading in the mercy of Allah. When the visitor sits with the patient they will be immersed in mercy until his, or her return.’
8.2 PRAYING FOR THE SICK
It is very appropriate to say few prayers for the sick asking Allah (SWT) to bless them with recovery and help them through their sickness. Bukhari and Muslim reported that Aisha said ‘If someone fell sick the Prophet would pass his right hand over them while saying the following prayer ‘O the Lord of humans, take away the suffering, bring the recovery, no cure but your cure that leaves no ilness.’ In another hadith reported by Bukhari, Ibn Abbas said that the Prophet when vising a sick person would say: ‘Hold on, may Allah cleanse you.’
8.3 THE LENGTH OF THE VISIT
Certain etiquette will make your visit to an ill person a refreshing and morale boosting one. Your duty is to ease his or her pains, and to make him or her more conscious of the rewards they will gain in return for their suffering and endurance.
Make your visit brief. Sick persons may not withstand such long visits. The length of the visit should be not longer than the time between the two speeches of Friday. In this respect, it was said that the visit should be long enough to convey your greeting and wishes (Salam), to ask the sick how he or she is doing, to pray for recovery and to leave immediately after saying good-bye.
If you visit a patient say your greeting
And immediately you should say, ‘Good-bye’
The best visit is every third day The best stay is in the blink of an eye
Do not bother the patient with many questions
Two or three words will get you all along.
At the end of his book of Malkite Fiqh, Al-Kafi, Imam Ibn ‘Abdul Al-Barr said: ‘Whether you visit a healthy or an ill person, you ought to sit where you are told. Hosts know better how to ensure privacy in their home. Visiting an ill person is a confirmed Sunnah. The best visit is the shortest. The visitor sought not to sit too long with an ill person, unless they are close friends and the ill person enjoys their company.’
8.4 THE MANNERS OF VISITING A PATIENT
The visitor ought to wear clean clothes with a fresh scent in order to make the patient feel better both spiritually and physically. At the same time, it is improper to wear fancy clothes that are more appropriate for parties and festivities. Wearing a strong perfume may annoy the sick.
Visitors ought to keep their conversation light and avoid gloomy talk that might exacerbate the patient’s distress. Avoid conveying bad news such as a failing business, a death, or similar bad news. Also, visitors ought not to inquire about the details of illness unless the visitor is a specialized physician. Similarly, visitors should not recommend to a patient any food or medicine that might have helped them or someone else. Such recommendation might lead the ill person, out of ignorance or desperation, to try it, causing further complication or even death.
Do not criticize or object to the treatment by the physician in the presence of the ill person for it might cast doubt in the mind of the sick. If you are a specialized physician, you may want to discuss the case and its treatment privately with the doctor in charge.
8.5 How the Ill express their complaints
It is recommended that when asked about our condition, a sick person should start by thanking Allah and then proceed to list his complaints. This is to avoid the appearance of complaining of Allah’s will. This was the etiquette of the followers as reported by Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi in his Tarikh Baghdad in the biography of Abdul Rahman Al-Tabib who was the physician of Imam Ahmad and Bishr Al-Hafi. Abdul Rahman said both Imam Ahmad and Bishr became sick and were treated at the same place. ‘When I visited Bishr, I asked how he felt, and with thanks to Allah first, he then proceeded saying I have this pain or that complaint. When I visited Imam Ahmad and asked how he felt, he would say ‘I feel all right.’ One day I told him, ‘your brother Bishr is also ill, but when I ask him of his conditions, he thanks Allah first, then tells me his condition. Imam Ahmad said, ‘Please ask him from where did he get this.’ I answered, ‘His presence makes me reluctant to ask.’ Imam Ahmad said, ‘Tell him your brother, Abo Abdillah asks from where did you get this.’ Abdul Rahman asked Bishr as told. Bishr said, ‘Abo Abdillah wants everything with authority. I heard this from Azhar who heard it from ibn Aoun who heard it from ibn Sireen; ‘If a person thanked Allah before complaining, it will not be a complaint but as if telling the acts of Allah. ‘ Abdul Rahman said, ‘I
told this to Imam Ahmad. After that, if asked how he felt, he would start by thanking Allah, and then describing his complaints.’
The answer of Bishr indicates that when asked about their health, the sick preferably should praise Allah first then explain their complaints. By this approach, it is not considered complaining against the acts of Allah.
from the book ISLAMIC MANNERS
By Shaykh Abdul-Fattaah Abu Ghuddah (RA)