The Etiquettes of Visiting the Sick and its Effects
One of the ethical points and signs of excellent ethics and behavior is the visiting of the sick. In the religion of Islam, visiting the sick is greatly insisted upon since its effects go back to the sick and also the visitor. Thus, one can find many narrations from the Household of the Prophet (SAW) about this subject, and the obligations that a Muslim should obey in that he should always visit the sick.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “Every Muslim has thirty moral obligations that should be considered. He won’t be free of these duties except by fulfilling them or if his Muslim brother forgives him those rights. The mentioned rights here is that during sickness, a Muslim should visit his brother.” 1
Even psychologists have done many researches about this issue and have proven that sick people who receive more attention and affections, recover faster. It has even been said that the nurse should put his/her hand on the hand of the sick and ask, after his/her health. This encourages the sick and ensures him that others are thinking of him/her. The religion of Islam has paid great attention to these moral points. There is a narration about this issue that is as follows:
The Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “The best visit is where the visitor puts his hand on the body of the sick and asks him, how he is.” 2
Imam Ali (AS) said: “The best way to visit is that you put your hand on hand of the sick and then leave soon.” 3
This then is the first point of the etiquettes of visiting the sick.
The second etiquette of visiting is taking along a gift for the sick especially something which the sick person likes and will be effective in his recovery.
Again the Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever feeds the sick with what he likes, Allah (SWT) will grant him heavenly fruits.” 4
The third etiquette of visiting the sick is that the visitor should give comfort and solace to the sick person and should give him confidence and peace by saying phrases such as, “you will get better sooner and Allah (SWT) will grant you health and happiness again”. 5 Pray for the sick in his presence and ask him to pray for you, also.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “When you visit the sick person try to provide the hope that he will recover, though it may not change the result and will not prevent the sick person’s death, but will be useful for his peace of mind.” 6
The Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “When one of you goes to visit his sick brother, he should pray for him and also ask him to pray for you, since the prayer of the sick is like the Angel’s prayers.” 6
Praying for the sick is to give him comfort and peace of mind, and also to reinforce his morale. God told Prophet Moses (AS) in a divine tradition to ask of what he wants while he is beside the sick and God will grant him what he wants and He even swears by His Own Honor and Glory.
God said: “I swear by My Honor and Glory if you will go to visit him (the sick), you will find Me there and I will grant you whatever was your request and it is only because of the honor that a Muslim has and that I am Allah (SWT) the Beneficent and the Merciful.” 7
The fourth etiquette of visiting the sick is that you should not expect to be treated as a guest, since the sick himself is not able to receive his visitors and his family and relatives are also tired and busy due to their nursing. Thus, it is prohibited to eat with the sick, since you will cause him/her discomfort and this is not compatibility with the aim of visiting.
Imam Sadiq (AS) has prohibited eating lunch or dinner with the sick, since it causes the loss of rewards. 8
Imam Ali (AS): “One who leaves the sick very soon will get more rewards from Allah (SWT)”. 9
Now let’s mention the effects of visiting the sick on the visitor. Among the most important effects that are mentioned, is that it causes the visitor to remember the Last Day and Its Hardships. Also, since he himself is healthy, he should be grateful to Allah (SWT) because of such a great divine blessing. Because among the important prayers, is asking for good health whether it is spiritual health or physical health. The Holy Prophet (SAW) has said:
“Visit the sick and participate in the funeral procession, since it reminds one of the Last Day. Pray for the sick and say: “O Allah (SWT)! Cure him due to Your Mercy and cure him with your medicine and keep him safe from any misfortune.” 10
Many rewards have been mentioned for this righteous act. Thus, the Holy Prophet (SAW) has said:
“The one who visits the sick, will be drowned in the Mercy of Allah (SWT).” 11
1. Bihar ul-Anwar, vol. 71, p. 236.
2. Mizan ul E’tedal Zahabi, vol. 3, p. 7.
3. Ayatollah Muhammad Reza Mahadavi Kani, Makarim ul-Akhlaq, p. 360; & Vasail ash-Shi’a, vol. 2, p. 642.
4. Bihar ul-Anwar, vol. 78, p. 224.
5. Ibid., p. 225.
6. Makarim ul-Akhlaq, p. 361.
7. Safinat ul-Bihar, vol. 2, p. 642.
8, Makarim ul-Akhlaq, p. 361.
9. Vasail ash-Shi’a, vol. 2, p. 642.
10. Daya-e al-Islam, vol. 1, p. 218; & Bihar ul-Anwar, vol. 78, p. 228.
11. Al-Mujazat an-Nabawiyyah, p. 250.