4 Islamic Moral Principles When Visiting The Sick

Prophet Muhammad (S) has said, “Whoever feeds a sick person what he desires, Allah shall feed them out of the foods of Paradise” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 81, chapter 4).

Prophet Muhammad (S) has said, “Whoever feeds a sick person what he desires, Allah shall feed them out of the foods of Paradise” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 81, chapter 4).

As Muslims, we are fortunate to belong to a faith that is a comprehensive manual. Our deen guides us in every aspect of our lives.

It also has a set of Islamic moral principles that a believer should try to follow. Of the many manners stipulated in our deen ‘visiting the sick’ is probably the most timely of all in a COVID world. 

According to Islamic traditions visiting the sick is an act that brings delight to the heart of the believer, therefore aiding in their recovery. We can all agree that acts of compassion during sickness uplift our morale and will-power, possibly more than medications or treatments.

While visiting the sick is regarded as a social obligation of one believer upon the other, this act can have countless spiritual benefits for the visitor himself too. Prophet Muhammad (S) has said,

“Every believer who visits a believer upon his sickness in the morning will be accompanied by seventy thousand angels. Then when they sit by the sick person, they will be filled with divine mercy while the angels will ask forgiveness for them until the evening; and if they visit in the evening, the angels will ask forgiveness until the morning” (Ibid, p. 120).  

The encompassing nature of Islam has also set out the manner in which one should visit the sick. 

1. Take a gift that will make them happy or something they are in need of

This could be a physical item such as a gift, or simply a home-cooked meal. Usually, we know the likes and dislikes of the person we are visiting, so taking something along when we visit is recommended.

Prophet Muhammad (S) has said, “Whoever feeds a sick person what he desires, Allah shall feed them out of the foods of Paradise” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 81, chapter 4).

If you are living in a country where lockdown restrictions do not allow you to visit people at homes, or if visiting a recovered COVID patient is a risk to you or others then you can carry out this deed of providing a meal or gift through various delivery services available in your country. 

2. Make your visit short in duration

When visiting an ill person we should aim to make our visits short in duration, so that we aren’t a means of further tiredness for them. Unfortunately, it is common practice for people to stay for hours upon hours at people’s homes when they visit. This puts an unnecessary burden on both the ill individual and their family. 

A common example of this is when a woman gives birth to a child and comes home from the hospital. According to societal norms, the quicker you visit the mother and the baby it is seen as a greater indication of your love for them.

However, usually it is the first 40 or so days where a woman finds it hard to sit for long periods of time and she is usually low on sleep. In such instances, your visit could be a short stay where instead of sitting and talking you come to help her with house chores or care of the baby. Or you could just visit after a month or so when she is more capable of hosting guests. 

Imam Ali (A) has said, “Surely, among the most visitors (to the sick) with Allah in terms of rewards is the one who lessens their sitting when they visit their sick brother except when the sick person likes and wants that” (Biharul Anwar, vol 81, chapter 4).

3. Your visit to the ill should include inquiring about their illness, praying to God for their recovery, and greeting them in an affectionate and warm manner

In some cultures, this is a common practice where the visitors gather around in a circle and say a small prayer for the sick individual. However, in some instances, we see that people go to visit the sick and talk about everything but the sick individual’s health. 

Our traditions state that meeting the sick individual in a warm manner involves shaking their hand.

Prophet Muhammad (S) has said, “A complete visit to a sick person is to lay your hand over him and to ask him about his condition”. 

4. Give them hope and raise their morale

Falling ill can have a detrimental effect on one’s mental health. Many people lose hope and stop fighting for life. It is our job as their visitors or well-wishers to raise their morale. Even if their condition is critical, we still need to give them hope. 

This act of ours has the capacity to lead them to recovery, as in many illnesses like cancer, the will-power of the patient plays a vital role. But even if us making them hopeful doesn’t have any physical effects, it will undoubtedly have a positive effect on their soul.

Prophet Muhammad (S) has said, “When you come to a sick person then, fill them with hope and life. Surely, that will change nothing, but it relieves the soul of the sick”. 

Due to the distances between us and our loved ones nowadays, this act of providing hope can even be carried out simply over a phone call. 

As the world begins to arise from the horrors of COVID, isolations, lockdowns, and travel bans, we need to enact these manners of human compassion and meaningful interactions more than ever before. Visiting the sick is just one example of how Islam teaches us to nurture this human spirit within us.

By doing so, you will not only be making this world a more compassionate place to live, but simultaneously be creating a flourishing place for yourself in the akhirah.