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Day 13: Visit the Sick-30 Deeds 30 Days

Day 13: Visit the Sick

The idea of visiting the sick is a very emphasized concept in Islam. This practice serves to show empathy to the sick individual, let them know they are not alone, and provide some company. Of course, all this is done in a way that brings joy to the person, rather than burdening them.visit the sick

This Ramadan, pick a day where you pay a brief visit to someone you know is ill, or afflicted with a long-term condition. If you can’t visit in person, then try to give them a phone call. It doesn’t have to be someone in your family or are close with, but rather anyone who you’d like to bring some happiness to.


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Do We Have a Right to Visit the Sick?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

I know someone who was told by his sick brother-in-law not to come visit him. He responded by telling his brother-in-law that he has a right to visit him. Is this true?

It has always been my understanding that we have a responsibility to visit the sick.

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Yes, you are correct in stating that we have a responsibility to visit the sick, but not a right.

Visiting the sick is from the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) which he afforded even to those of other faiths due to the importance of fulfilling the rights of one’s fellow humans, generally.

Tirmidhi recorded a tradition (hadith) in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “No Muslim visits a Muslim in the morning without a thousand angels praying blessing on him until evening, or visits him in the evening without a thousand angels praying blessing on him until morning and he will have fruits in the Garden.”

On another occasion, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reminded us that visiting the sick is a right of the afflicted. Abu Huraira (may Allah be well-pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The rights a Muslim has over another Muslim are five: returning the greeting, visiting the sick, joining funeral processions, accepting invitations and blessing those who sneeze.” [Bukhari; Muslim]

Consequently, the visitor doesn’t have a right to visit. Rather, the sick person has the right to be visited and he may forfeit this right if he deems fit, or simply, if circumstances don’t allow for a visit at the present time. What this tells us is that we should strive to be considerate in our seeking to apply the sunna, particularly during times of emotional stress or high sensitivity. Sunnas also have sunnas.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]

Please also see: Forgotten Sunnas: Healthy Relationships Through Visiting the Sick and: Etiquettes of Visiting the Sick and: Prophetic Supplications to Cure Illnesses

And Allah Most High knows best.

wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

Forgotten Sunnas: Healthy Relationships Through Visiting the Sick

The Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) said, “Every Muslim has five rights over another Muslim: to return the greetings, to visit the sick, to accompany funeral processions, to accept an invitation, to respond to the one who sneezes.” [al-Bukhari, Muslim]

When in good health, we visit each other and hang out. If we have a need to do so, we make time to meet up and speak to one another; through such interactions we form friendships and bonds. If this is the case when we are well, moreover it should be that these ties are strengthened while visiting someone when they are sick, when there is no need or tangible benefit other than pure love, concern, and care.

The sunna of visiting the sick applies to not only people we know, but also people we don’t know, as there is always room for forming new friendships.

When we share the suffering of others, even if the suffering be mild, and we take the time out to offer comfort and support in times of weakness and sickness, whether physical or emotional, we can truly begin to grasp some of the meanings behind the words of the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) when he said:

The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, and camaraderie is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever. [Muslim]

And,

Indeed, Allah would say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory’s sake? Today I shall shelter them in My shade when there is no other shade but Mine.’ [Muslim]

The recommendation to visit the sick not only apply to believers, but extends towards non-Muslims. The Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) would visit non-Muslims when they were sick, such as the hadith of the young Jewish boy as narrated by Imam al-Bukhari.

Moreover, in visiting the sick, there is something in it for the one visiting: reminders and rewards.

Rewards for Visiting the Sick

There are many ahadith concerning the merits of visiting the sick. Among them, the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) is recorded to have said:

When the Muslim visits his [sick] Muslim brother, he is harvesting the fruits of Paradise until he returns. [Muslim]

Whoever visits a sick person or visits a brother in Islam, a caller cries out to him, ‘May you be happy, may your walking be blessed, and may you occupy a dignified position in Paradise.’ [al-Tirmidhi]

There is no Muslim who visits a [sick] Muslim early in the morning but that seventy-thousand angels send blessings upon him until evening comes, and if he visits him in the evening, seventy thousand angels send blessings upon him until morning comes, and he will have a garden in Paradise. [al Tirmidhi]

Etiquettes of Visiting the Sick

Make an intention: We are told that “Acts are according to their intentions” by the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) [Muslim]. Therefore, one should make noble intentions such as:

  1. Fulfilling the right of a fellow Muslim
  2. To follow the sunna of the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him)
  3. To pray for their recovery and health
  4. To recite the sunna supplications when visiting
  5. To bring joy and happiness to the visited
  6. To help fulfil the needs of another person
  7. In case of a non-Muslim, to guide them to Islam by showing mercy and excellent manners
  8. To remind oneself of the blessings of good health

Timing: It is important to consider what time one visits the sick. Very early morning, very late in the evening, or common nap and meal times should be avoided. One should enquire first what a good time to visit for both the sick person and their family.

Keep visits short: Visits should generally be kept short, so as not to overburden the sick person. It maybe that they are tired or have a need that they are too embarrassed to do with visitors around. Talking may also be undesirable to them. However, if the patient clearly wants one to stay, then there is no harm in staying. There is no need to visit more than once, and one should avoid repeated visits unless the patient requests so or it is known that they will be happy if one does so.

Take a simple gift that will cheer the ill person: Receiving gifts is always nice, but particularly so when a person is feeling low-spirited. Simple, heartfelt gifts that the person will like are always the best, and could be anything from fruits, juice, broth, chocolates, flowers etc. However, a gift is not necessary, and one should not be put off visiting a sick person without a gift. The best gift is to make du’a for the person.

Du’a: There are various supplications that can be made for the sick person:

  1. Imam al-Bukhari narrated that whenever the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) would visit a sick person, he would say, “No harm will befall you. It is purification, if Allah wills.” (la ba’sa tahurun insha’llah)
  2. Imam al-Tirmidhi narrated that he (peaceful prayers and blessing be upon him) said, “O Allah, make the harm go away, Lord of mankind, and heal him, You are the Healer, there is no healing except your healing, a healing that does not leave any sickness.” (Allahumma adh-hibi‘l-ba’sa rabb an-nasi wash-fi fa-ant ash-shafi la shifa-a illa shifa-uka shifa-un la yugha-diru saqqama)
  3. Imam al-Tirmidhi also narrated that the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) said, “He who visits a sick person who is not at the point of death and supplicates seven times, ‘I beseech Allah the Great, the Lord of the Great Throne, to heal you (as-alu’llah al-azeemu rabbu’l-’arsh al-azeema in yashfika)’, Allah will certainly heal him from that sickness.”

Ask for du’a: One should also ask the ill person to make du’a for them, as the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) said, “If you enter upon a sick person, then ask him to supplicate for you, for his supplication is like the supplications of the angels.” [Ibn Maja]

Fulfill a need for the sick person: One should ask the person whether there is anything they desire or need. It is said that the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) visited an ill person and asked, “Do you long for anything? Do you long for sweet bread (ka’k)?” The man replied, “Yes.” So they sent someone to bring some Ka’k for him. [Ibn Maja]

Make conversation: One should make light-hearted and positive conversation. Related by Ibn Maja with a weak chain, the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “When you enter upon one who is sick, cheer him up.” Therefore, the visitor should be upbeat, encourage the patient to have hope, and make easy conversation.

At the same time, one should avoid joking too much or talking loudly. One should also avoid asking too many questions about the illness, or causing any type of anxiety in the person, such as telling them how bad they look, or that the illness can become serious! Similarly, one should not speak about bad news or events. Nor should one enter and draw the person into prohibited speech such as backbiting (ghiba) and tale-bearing during the visit.

Reminder Against Avoiding the Sunna of Visiting the Sick

One hadith should be sufficient as a stern warning against avoiding the visitation of those who are sick and shut-in:

Imam Muslim narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) said, “Allah the Exalted will say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘O son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit me.’ He will say, ‘My Lord, how can I visit you when you are the Lord of the worlds?’ Allah will say, ‘Did you not know that my servant was sick and you did not visit him, and had you visited him you would have found Me with him?’”

Build Genuine Relationships by Visiting the Sick

Insha’Allah, the above ahadith of the sunna of the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) encourages us all to do our best to visit the sick when possible, and thereby sharing in the tremendous rewards offered by such simple acts, acts which not only benefit us in the Afterlife, but build and fortify our relationships with those around us.

In a world of frenzied social media networking and online ‘friends’, the only real and meaningful social networking is in real life, with the people around us; those in need of help and support, those who need a kind word or smile to make that difference to their world, or simply widening our circle of good friends and company.

This is the way of our beloved Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him). Despite his many and varied responsibilities in the community and at home, he (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) would always make time to visit people, keep the ties of kinship and bonds of friendship strong, and this was even more so when people were unwell.

So, let us try to follow his way, for Allah Most High has told us, “Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example for whoever has hope in Allah and the Last Day,” [Qur’an 33:21].

And Allah knows best.


About “Forgotten Sunan” by Shaykh Jamir Meah

In this series of articles, Shaykh Jamir Meah presents simple, everyday practices of the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) that are either often neglected or go unbeknownst by many of us. Like many subtleties in life, these practices carry great reward with the least amount of effort.

Everything that the Prophet (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) did was for our benefit; to teach and guide us to that which is more beneficial in this life and the next. This not only applies to the licit (halal) and illicit (haram), or the ‘big’ questions in life, but he also urged us to seek the blessings and rewards in the ‘small’ aspects of everyday life.

When done sincerely, it is the attention to these detailed Prophetic etiquettes that embellishes our worship, breathes spirit into our day, and keeps us in the remembrance of God and his Messenger (peaceful prayers and blessings be upon him) as our days and nights pass.

Other articles in this series:

Can I Sit for Prayer If My Legs Are Painful Due to Exercise?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

Can I sit for prayer if my legs are painful due to exercise?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

No, you cannot sit for the obligatory (fard) prayer unless you (a) experience severe, unbearable pain in the standing (qiyam) position, or (b) are reasonably sure that standing will prolong an illness or injury. The determination of the latter is deferred to [ideally] a Muslim physician, or prior, relevant experience, or clear signs of greater detriment.

This is because the standing is an obligation of the prayer, and obligations cannot be left unless there is a genuine, legal excuse to do so. But you may sit [on the ground] for your sunna prayers, and similarly your supererogatory (nawafil) prayers, even without excuse. The reward is halved, but the prayer will remain valid. However, you may not sit for the two sunna cycles (rak‘as) before Fajr due to the strength of its emphasis.

[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah, with Tahtawi’s Gloss (2.20); Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (1.508)]

Please also see: The Fiqh of Praying Sitting Down

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.