Visiting the Sick Is An Obligation
Nu'man b. Bashir reported Allah's Messenger (pbuh) as saying: “The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.” (Muslim Book 32, Hadith 6258)
Visiting the sick is a responsibility on Muslims to fulfill. It shows love, mercy, compassion, and empathy, strengthening the bonds of family, and builds brotherhood and sisterhood.
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (pbuh) as saying: “Six are the rights of a Muslim over another Muslim. It was said to him: Allah's Messenger, what are these? Thereupon he said: When you meet him, offer him greetings; when he invites you to a feast accept it. when he seeks your council give him, and when he sneezes and says:" All praise is due to Allah," you say Yarhamuk Allah (may Allah show mercy to you) ; and when he fails ill visit him; and when he dies follow his bier. “On the Day of Resurrection, God the Mighty and Majestic will say: ‘O child of Adam! I became sick and you did not visit me!’ The person will say, ‘O Lord, how can I visit you and you are the Lord of all that Exists!’ God will say, ‘Did you not know that my slave ‘so and so’ became sick, and you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you visited him, you would have found me with him?’” (Muslim Book 26, Hadith 5379)
Happiness and optimism are Islamic virtues when they spring from trust and hope in God. Likewise sadness and pessimism are sinful when they reflect a state of despair in the Almighty. Therefore, regardless of how bad or “incurable” the illness, the one visiting the sick should encourage him with hope in God, Who has power over all things, including the chronically, even terminally ill.
“Is not He (God) able to give life to the dead?!” (Quran 75:40)
“…And in God should the believers put their trust.” (Quran 3:122)
Besides trying to help the sick forget their pain, suffering, discomfort and hardship – even if only for a short while - the visit should also serve to boost their morale, lift their spirit and strengthen their resolve.
What’s more, the visitor should use the occasion of his visit to remind himself and the one being visited of their total and utter dependence upon God; that it is better to suffer in this life than the Next, and that He, Most High, will reward the believer who is patient and firm when put to in trial.
“…And (righteous are those) who remain patient in times of poverty, sickness and during conflict….” (Quran 2:177)[i]
The Virtues of Visiting the Sick
There are many ahadith which speak of its virtue, such as the words of the Prophet (pbuh): “When the Muslim visits his (sick) Muslim brother, he is harvesting the fruits of Paradise until he returns.” (Muslim 2568)
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “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’.” (Tirmidhi 2008)
Imam Ahmad narrated that Jaabir (ra) said: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Whoever visits a sick person is plunging into mercy until he sits down, and when he sits down he is submerged in it.” (al-Silsilah al-Sahehah 2504)
‘Ali (ra) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “There is no Muslim who visits a (sick) Muslim early in the morning but 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.” (Tirmidhi 969)
Visiting the sick does not involve only those whom you know, rather it is prescribed for those whom you know and those whom you do not know. (al-Nawawi in Sharh Muslim).
Definition of the sick person whom it is obligatory to visit is the sick person whose sickness is preventing him from seeing people. If he is sick but he is still going out and seeing people, then it is not obligatory to visit him. (Al-Sharh al-Mumti’ 5/171)
Visiting Sick Non-Muslims
The Prophet (pbuh) visited a Jewish boy and called him to Islam, and he became Muslim. “The Prophet (pbuh) was present when his paternal uncle Abu Taalib was dying, and he called him to Islam but he refused.” (Bukhari 1356)
The purpose in that case may be to call the person to Islam, or to restrain his evil, or to soften his heart, and so on.[ii]
Ibn 'Abbas (ra) reported: The Prophet (pbuh) said, "He who visits a sick person who is not on the point of death and supplicates seven times: As'alullahal-'Azima Rabbal-'Arshil-'Azimi, an yashfiyaka (I beseech Allah the Great, the Rubb of the Great Throne, to heal you), Allah will certainly heal him from that sickness." (Abu Dawud and At- Tirmidhi in Riyad as-Salihin Book 7, Hadith 906).
Dua’s for the Sick
It was narrated from ‘Uthmaan ibn Abi’l-‘Aas that he complained to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about a pain in his body that he had suffered from the time he became Muslim. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to him: “Put your hand on the part of the body that hurts and say Bismillaah (in the name of Allah) three times. And say seven times: A’oodhu Billaahi wa qudratihi min sharri ma ajid wa uhaadhir (I seek refuge in Allah and His power from the evil of what I feel and worry about).” (Muslim 2202)
It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah (ra) that when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) came to a sick person or a sick person was brought to him, he would say: “Adhhib al-ba’s Rabb an-naas, wa’shfi anta al-Shaafi, laa shifaa’a illa shifaa’uka shifaa’an laa yughaadir saqaman (Take away the pain, O Lord of mankind, and grant healing, for You are the Healer, and there is no healing but Your healing that leaves no trace of sickness).” (Bukhari 5351, Muslim, 2191)
You should also recite al-Faatihah and al-Mu’awwidhaat, and within the whole Qur’aan there is healing, as Allah says:
“And We send down of the Qur’aan that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism and act on it), and it increases the Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers) nothing but loss” (Qur’an 17:82)
It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah (ra) that, “The Prophet (pbuh) used to recite al-mu’aawidhaat and blow over himself during his final illness, and when he became too ill (to do that), I used to recite them and blow over him and wipe his hand on him for blessing. Mu’ammar said: I asked al-Zuhri how he used to blow and he said: He used to blow on his hands then wipe his face with them.” (Bukhari 5403; Muslim 2192)
Ibn 'Abbas (ra) reported: “The Prophet (pbuh) visited a bedouin who was sick. Whenever he visited an ailing person, he would say, "La ba'sa, tahurun in sha' Allah [No harm, (it will be a) purification (from sins), if Allah wills]." (Bukhari in Riyad as-Salihin Book 7, Hadith 907)
“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) visited Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas and said: “O Allah, heal Sa’d,” three times.” (Bukhari 5659 and Muslim 1628).
The Prophet (pbuh) used to place his right hand on the sick person and say: “Adhhib al-ba’s Rabb an-naas, wa’shfi anta al-Shaafi, laa shifaa’a illa shifaa’uka shifaa’an laa yughaadir saqaman (Take away the pain, O Lord of mankind, and grant healing, for You are the Healer, and there is no healing but Your healing that leaves no trace of sickness).” (Muslim 2191)
The Prophet (pbuh) said ‘As’alu Allaha rabb al-‘arsh il-‘azeem an yashfiyaka (I ask Allah, Lord of the mighty Throne, to heal you), Allah will heal him of that sickness.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawood 3106)
When you visit a sick person, reassure him that he is going to live to lift their spirits, and to give them hope and to put their trust in Allah for the best.[iii]