The Effect of Visiting the Ill
Even a short visit to an ill person will impact the state of your heart. Visiting the ill and seeing their vulnerability and fragility makes your heart alert and alive to your own fortunate circumstances. Having seen an ill person or a chronic condition, you heart will be filled with joy and gratitude to Allah that you still have your faculties, are able to walk and have the ability to lead life as normal.
As a Muslim, seeing an ill person should make you thank Allah that you still have a chance. It will make you realise how much you have deprived yourself of performing good deeds, and will motivate you to do more before your own health fails you. The Prophet (SAW) reminds us:
Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death. (Al Haakim)
What Can A Visit Achieve?
Visiting the ill is an opening for the door of da'wah and charity, and a means through which you support the ill and their family. There is an abundance of ahadeeth which extol the benefits of helping others. One of the most elevated people in the eyes of Allah is the one that helps another: this is the real heart of Islam.
One does not have to be rich to perform good deeds. Even if we lack the financial means, there is a lot we can do by visiting the ill. Apart from transportation costs, such a visit costs us nothing in monetary terms. Islam does not require us to bring expensive bouquets and greeting cards. Yet a single visit, whether to Muslims or non Muslim, may change someone's life forever:
Reported by Anas (RA): A young Jewish boy who was in the service of the Prophet (SAW) fell ill. The Prophet (SAW) went to visit him. He sat down by his head and said to him, "Embrace Islam.'' The little boy looked at his father who was sitting beside him. He said: "Obey Abul-Qasim (i.e., the Messenger of Allah (SAW)).'' So he embraced Islam and the Prophet (SAW) stepped out saying, "Praise be to Allah Who has saved him from Hell-fire.'' [Bukhari].
Imagine if, as a result of a single visit, you are also able to be the cause of someone's salvation!
Read up on various ahadeeth on rahmah. The repeated theme is that whoever deals with others with rahmah, Allah will deal with him with rahmah. Whoever does not emulate mercy will be deprived of Allah’s mercy.
On the contrary, what is our value when we see people in illness or calamity and we are indifferent? The following hadith provides food for thought:
Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "There are two blessings in which many people incur loss. (They are) health and free time (for doing good)."
Just like our existence, health and time will not last forever. All these will be taken away from us sooner or later. In the journey of iman, we try to grab every opportunity of goodness, in whatever way we, while we can. If we don't, something is wrong with our hearts. If you look at the news, you will see how people are losing their eyesight, lives and limbs through various reasons, such as epidemics, wars and demonstrations. Whereas when we have our full faculties about us, no one is stopping us from chasing after all these good deeds apart from ourselves.
If we follow the sunnah, a visit will take less than ten minutes. How many people can we visit in a single day? How many angels will be accompanying us if we visit five or ten people a day?
When you visit patients, your visit fills their hearts with joy as a result, the power of their du’a for you can be unbelievably immense. Further, the du'a of an ill person is accepted. Therefore, visiting the ill is a goodness that we should not deny ourselves.
Ways of visiting the ill
If we allocated just one day a week and distribute our resources amongst a group of people, a lot can be achieved. You can visit the ill on an individual level, whether at their hospitals or at home. You can make the effort to take care of them, bring them food or help them with medication and treatment costs. You can accompany them through their dialysis or chemotherapy sessions.
There are also ways to perform an organised visit at the hospital, for example through your local masjid. If you would like to organise such an activity, check with your local hospital, for each of them have different procedures and protocols regarding access, patient’s privacy and also basic training. You will also need to check the relevant laws regarding fundamental matters such as permits, authorisation and security. Private hospitals may have stricter privacy laws, for example, and what is permitted by law in one jurisdiction may not apply in the next. A bit of simple research and a few phone calls can answer these questions quickly.
What is stopping us?
One visit can give you what nothing else can give you. This visit by itself, will make you so famous in the kingdom of Allah, and eradicate the diseases of the heart. When you see sick people all the time, you will always be thankful to Allah and will humble yourself. You will be exceedingly grateful that you still have teeth, vision, ability to move around, breathe or go to the bathroom by yourself. These are the small blessings that we take for granted until they are taken from us.
All this talk needs iman. This is what elevates our ranks, and this is what the Companions managed to achieve in their lifetimes. In one incident, after fajr, Rasulullah SAW asked his congregation who visited the sick on that day. Abu Bakr (RA) replied in the affirmative. Rasulullah (SAW) then asked who intended to give charity and to fast on that day. Similarly, Abu Bakr (RA) said yes to all. This was the amount of sacrifice and energy that he spent for Allah.
One day, we will not live to see another fajr. Soon, we will meet Allah. Life presents us with opportunities, but an opportunity, once gone, will never come back. Today we can, tomorrow we cannot. We are not assured that we will live until tomorrow, but we have the present.
May Allah give us a tongue that remembers Him, heart that thanks Him, and a body patient with Him.
Oh Allah, give us the ability for there is no ability except what You have given us. Don't let us waste the time that we have left in our lives. Please cleanse our hearts from all the attachments of dunia, and make us amongst those who perform good deeds purely for You. Decorate us with the quality from Your qualities. Make us those who spread goodness on this earth. Ameen.