When my younger cousin was admitted to the hospital recently due to an extremely high fever, my brothers and I decided to visit him for moral support and to lift his spirits.

It is indeed an obligation of every Muslim to visit the sick.  As reported by Abu Hurairah RA, Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

Every Muslim has five rights over another Muslim – to return the salam (greetings), to visit the sick, to accompany funeral processions, to accept an invitation, (and) to respond to the sneezer i.e. to say: ‘Yarhamuk-Allah (May Allah bestow His Mercy on you) when the sneezer praises Allah SWT

Apart from fulfilling one’s duty as a Muslim, it also strengthens brotherhood and friendship. Allah SWT promised bountiful rewards for those who visit their sick family members and friends, as the Prophet SAW stated: “A Muslim visiting his sick brother will continue to be in the harvest of paradise until he returns home.” 

Therefore this article shares some etiquette that should be observed when visiting the sick.

1. Make the visit short and pleasant

It was reported that Prophet Muhammad SAW encouraged that when visiting a sick person, the visit should be short and visitors should make the little noise.

As reported by Baihaqi, the Prophet SAW also said: “The best type of visit to a sick person is when the visitor gets up to leaves without delay.”

Another hadith reported that the Prophet SAW said: “Make your visits short, (and) people will love you more.” (Al-Haakim)

Visitors should also be considerate to patients, especially when they are weak and in need of rest, because if there are too many visitors the patient might feel claustrophobic.

They should also ensure that the patient is comfortable with them visiting. Some individuals receiving medical treatments may request privacy and do not wish for any visitors.

Additionally, some might not be comfortable sharing whatever illness befalls them, therefore being sensitive and maintaining confidentiality in this matter is necessary.

2. Bring a gift

It is always a nice gesture to bring gifts to sick family members and friends. When they’re hospitalised it can be very depressing as they are not in the comfort of their own home. Your gift may be the most valuable thing they receive.

When bringing gifts, one should be considerate of what is appropriate as some hospitals may restrict some items such as flowers, as they may trigger allergies for other patients. This can be substituted with balloons, fruit arrangements, books or magazines.

If you find out that the sick person is on the mend, bringing him his favourite food and drinks would definitely cheer him up more!

3. Offer prayers

Reported by Abu Sa’id Khudri (RA), Rasulullah SAW said: “When you visit a sick person, speak in a reassuring way to him. Saying this will not delay what is predestined but it will certainly make him feel happy.” (Narrated by Tirmizi, Ibn Maajah)

It is part of the sunnah to wish for his well-being and speedy recovery

This moral support will eventually motivate him to continue receiving medical care, for example, those who are undergoing chemotherapy. Assure him by saying, “Alhamdulillah, your health has improved,” or “Insha Allah you will get better soon.”

Additionally, supplications of a sick person are like the supplications of the angels as stated by the Prophet himself who 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.” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah).