Etiquettes of Visiting the Sick
1) The rights of a Muslim over a fellow Muslim
2) Virtues of visiting the sick
3) Etiquettes of visiting the sick
4) Gifts for the sick
5) Islaamic incantations
6) Supplication for the sick and virtues of being ill
O Muslims! Fear Allaah, and seek the help of your Creator in all matters. Seek guidance from the way of your Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, for he was the most kind and beneficial person to others. He kept strong ties with people, especially when they were afflicted with illness or close to death.
He would always visit the sick, whether Muslim or Jew. Being busy with running the affairs of the Islaamic state did not stop him from visiting the sick, especially those with whom he had ties of kinship, despite the fact that he had a lot of relatives and belonged to a large tribe.
People loved him dearly and he was always surrounded by many people, regardless of whether he spoke or kept quiet; he remembered Allaah, worshipped Him abundantly and was a brave fighter.
The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has taught us that: “The rights of a Muslim upon his fellow Muslim are: that he answers his salutation, or Salaam, when he is saluted, he visits him when he is sick, he follows his funeral when he dies, he accepts his invitation (to food) when he invites him, and he says the relevant corresponding supplications when he sneezes.” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
It is evident from this Hadeeth that it is not necessary that one knows the person in question; rather, it is enough that he is a Muslim for him to have these rights. This is because the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam began with: “The rights of a Muslim upon his fellow Muslim…” Therefore, if there is a relationship added to the fact that the person in question is Muslim, such as being a neighbour, relative or brother, then this renders the right even greater. In fact, its greatness is directly proportional to the proximity of the bond between the two people.
In another Hadeeth, Al-Baraa’ Ibn ‘Aazib, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded us: “…To visit the sick, to follow the funeral processions, to say the relevant supplications upon sneezing, to fulfil one’s oaths, to support the oppressed, to accept invitations (to food) and to spread the salutation of Salaam.” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
One who visits the sick enjoys the fruits of Paradise until he returns home. The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “The Muslim will continue to be in the Khurfa of Paradise until he comes returns (home).” So somebody asked him: “O Messenger of Allaah! What is the Khurfa of Paradise?” He replied: “They are gardens of fruits.” (Muslim).
As for the virtues of visiting the sick, ‘Ali ibn Abu Taalib, may Allaah be pleased with him, who was the cousin of the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam reported that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “No Muslim visits another Muslim (at the time of sickness) in the morning, except that seventy thousand angels will (ask Allaah to) send peace upon him until that evening. And if he were to visit him in the evening, then seventy thousand angels will (ask Allaah to) send peace upon him until the next morning, and he will have fruits of Paradise (awaiting him).” (Tirmithi).
It is from the etiquettes of visiting the sick to rush to visit him as soon as he becomes sick, as it is understood from this saying of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
However, there are Ahaadeeth that state that one should visit the sick after three days of sickness, as it is reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not use to visit the sick until three days had passed. (Ibn Maajah & Bayhaqi)
Therefore, if the illness is serious or dangerous in nature, such that one fears the loss of life of the sick person, and it is known that he will not be harmed or bothered by being visited immediately, then the visit can take place immediately. But if the sickness is a light one, then the visit should take place after three days.
It is from the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that the duration of visiting the sick should be short, especially if the patient is weak or if there are too many visitors, or if the place where he is resting is small. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Make your visits short, people will love you more.”(Al-Haakim).
The best gift for the sick is that one supplicates for him upon entering upon him, and not that one secretly provides him with things that have been forbidden by the doctors, like certain foods or drinks, especially if they are Haraam, such as cigarettes.
It is recommended for the visitor to follow the example of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam when visiting the sick, such as stroking the sick person with one’s right hand whilst saying: “O Allaah! Lord of Mankind! Take away this pain. O Allaah! Cure him. You are the All-Curer: there is no remedy other than Yours, a remedy that never leaves the diseases.” (Bukhaari & Muslim). Or one can say seven times: “I ask Allaah the Exalted, the Lord of the Great Throne, to heal you.”
Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whoever visits a sick person whose death is not approaching, and says seven times: ‘I ask Allaah the Exalted, the Lord of the Great Throne, to heal you.’ Then Allaah will heal him. (Al-Haakim).
Another of the greatest gifts that one can give to the sick is the advice of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as reported by ‘Uthmaan Ibn Abi Al-‘Aas, may Allaah be pleased with him, that he came to the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam complaining about pain in his body, so he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam advised him to: “Place your hand where it hurts on your body and say, ‘Bismillaah’ thrice, then say seven times, ‘I seek refuge in Allaah and in His power from the evil of what I find and of what I guard against.'” (Muslim)
It reflects fine manners and love for the sick when one asks his family about his condition. When ‘Ali ibn Abu Taalib, may Allaah be pleased with him, came out from the room of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam at the time of his sickness, and people asked him about the condition of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he replied: “By the will of Allaah, he will be better by morning.”
The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Allaah will say on the Day of Judgment (to a person): ‘O son of Aadam! I was sick and you did not visit Me!’ So the person will reply: ‘O my Lord! How could I have visited You, while You are the Lord of the worlds?’ So He will say: ‘Did you not know that My servant, so and so, was sick, yet you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me with him?'”(Muslim).
It is also recommended that the visitor sits beside the head of the sick person, and that he makes encouraging remarks, giving him hope of speedy recovery and prolonged life. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “If you visit a sick person, then try to put him at ease by giving him hope (of prolonged life), for it does not change anything, but relaxes (and comforts) him.” (Ibn Maajah & Tirmithi).
It should be said to the sick person: “Do not worry. It (i.e., the sickness) will be a purification (for you), Allaah willing.” (Bukhaari).
Also, one should ask the sick person to supplicate for him, as the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam 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 Maajah).
It is commendable to remind him of the phrase: ‘Laa illaaha illa Allaah‘ (i.e., there is nothing worthy of worship except Allaah) if he is on his death bed, as the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Have the one facing death repeat after you ‘Laa Ilaaha illa Allaah’, at the moments of death.” (Muslim). He also said: “He whose last words before death are ‘Laa Ilaaha illa Allaah’, Allaah will grant him paradise.” (Abu Daawood).