Sickness and Death, Dr. Emdad Khan
Sickness and Death are very painful and emotional times, and yet they are also a time that may be filled with hope and mercy. Sickness wipes out our sins and bring us closer to God. Death is a departure from the life of this world to the eternal life of the hereafter.
We pray to God, the Most Merciful, to have mercy and forgiveness during our sickness and give us quick recovery from sickness. We also pray, that God fills the grave of our departed loved ones with light and that He grants him/her heaven and eternal peace.
Sickness, Patience and Virtues: Sickness expiates evil deeds and wipes out sins. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “When God wants to be good to someone, He tries him with some hardship.” Prophet (PBUH) also stated “For every misfortune, illness, anxiety, grief, or hurt that afflicts a Muslim – even the hurt is caused by the pricking of a thorn – God removes some of his sins.”
Visit the sick: We should visit the sick, to provide the moral support, and to make sure that he or she is well taken care of. The Prophet, (PBUH) stated: “Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and free the captives.”
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “A Muslim has six obligations to another Muslim. “What are these?” they asked. He replied: “To greet another Muslim when you meet him; to respond when he invites you; to give him your (sincerest) advice when he seeks it; to say ‘may God have mercy upon you’ when he sneezes and says ‘ may God be praised ‘; and to visit him when he falls ill; and when he dies, to attend his funeral.”
Reward for Visiting the Sick:The Messenger of God (PBUH) said: “A caller from heaven calls out to the person who visits a sick person, ‘You are good and your path is good. May you enter your residence in Paradise’.”
The Messenger of God (PBUH), also said: “Verily, God, the Exalted and Glorious, will say on the Day of Judgement: ‘O Son of Adam! I fell ill, but you did not visit Me.’ The human will ask, ‘O my Sustainer! How could I visit You when You are the Sustainer of the Worlds? And how can You fall sick?’ He, the Almighty, will say, ‘Did you not know that such and such a servant of Mine was sick. But you did not visit him. Did you not know that, had you visited him, you would have found Me by his side?
O Son of Adam! I asked you for food, but you fed Me not?’ The man will say, ‘O my Sustainer! How could I feed You when You are the Sustainer of the Worlds? And You are free from hunger?’ He, the Almighty, will say: ‘Such and such a servant of Mine asked you for food, but you refused to give him any. Did you not know that, had you fed him, you would have found it recorded here with Me?
O Son of Adam! I asked you for a drink, but you did not give Me any.’ The man will say, ‘O my Sustainer! How could I give You a drink while You are the Sustainer of the Worlds and are free from thirst?’ He, the Almighty will say, ‘ Such and such a servant of Mine asked you for a drink, but you did not give him any. Had you given him a drink, you would have surely found that recorded with Me.”‘
The Prophet, (PBUH) stated: “Verily, when a person visits his sick brother, he is, as it were, in one of the gardens of Paradise (enjoying its ripe fruits) until he returns to his home.”
The Messenger of God (PBUH), saying: ‘When a Muslim visits a sick in the morning, seventy thousand angels pray for him, and they continue praying for him until that evening. When one visits the sick in the evening, the angels pray for him and continue praying for him until the next morning. Moreover, he will be rewarded with the choicest fruits of Paradise.”
Etiquette of Visiting the Sick:The visitor prays for the recovery and health of the patient and that he should urge him to endure his trouble patiently. He should say nice words to cheer him up and keep his spirits high.The Prophet (PBUH) said: “When you visit a sick person, give him hope for a long life. This will not avert anything, but will please the patient and give him comfort.” When the Prophet (PBUH), visited a sick person he used to say to him: “Do not worry! It is a means of cleansing (you) of sins, God willing.”
Shorten the visits and make them as less frequent as possible, lest they should become burdensome for the patient, except when the patient himself desires longer and more frequent visits.
Visiting a Non-Muslim Patient: We are encouraged to visit a sick person, Muslim or not Muslim. It is narrated that “a Jewish boy, who used to serve the Prophet (PBUH), once fell ill. The Prophet, (PBUH), visited him and invited him to Islam, saying: ‘Submit to God’s will.’ So he accepted Islam.”
When We Visit a person at Death Bed: The Prophet (PBUH), said: “Prompt your dying people to say: ‘La ilaha illa-Allah’. (There is no Diety except One God). The Messenger of God (PBUH), said: “He whose last words are ‘La ilaha illa- Allah’ shall enter Paradise. The prompting (talqin) is necessary only when the dying person is unable to utter the shahadah. If such a person is able to utter these words then there is no need for prompting, but he should rather be advised to do so.
“We should lay a dying person so that the Qibla is on his right side and recite Sura Ya sin from the Qur’an. The Prophet (PBUH), said: “Ya Sin is the heart of the Qur’an. Whoever recites it seeking the pleasure of Allah and the hereafter will receive God’s forgiveness. So recite it to your dead.”
Close the eyes of the deceased and cover the body: ‘Aishah (R) said: “When the Messenger of God died, he was covered with a piece of cloth that had some designs on it.” The objective here is clearly to safeguard the respect and dignity of the deceased in death against prying eyes and against the exposure of his or her body to the idle curiosity of those looking for changes in its physical condition and features.
Settle the debt of the deceased: The Messenger of God said: “A believer’s soul remains in suspense until all his debts are paid off.”
On invoking God: A believer should, at the death of a relative or a friend, say, Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un, “Verily we belong to God, and truly to Him shall we return.”
Informing the Deceased’s Family and Friends: It desirable that the deceased’s family, friends, and other good people be informed about his death, so that they may share in the reward of participating in his funeral. The Prophet, (PBUH), informed his companions about the death of Negus (Najashi), the King of Abyssinia, the day that he passed away. And then the Prophet (PBUH), led them to the prayer ground where he lined them up and offered funeral prayer (for him) with four takbirs.
Weeping Over the Dead: is permissible, whereas crying and wailing are not. The Prophet,(PBUH), wept on the death of his son, Ibrahim, and said: “The eyes shed tears and the heart feels pain, but we utter only what pleases our Lord. O Ibrahim! We are aggrieved at your demise.”
Mourning for a Deceased: It is permissible to mourn for a period of three days on the death of a near relative. In the case of her husband’s death, a woman is to mourn for four months and ten days.
Prepare Food for the Bereaved Family: It is recommended that the relatives of the deceased prepare enough food to feed all the deceased’s family for one day and night, for it is the sunnah of the Prophet,(PBUH), and a practice of good people and an act of virtue and kindness and brings friends and neighbors closer to each other.” The scholars hold it commendable to urge the deceased’s family to eat so that their sorrow or excessive grief will not cause them to avoid food and thereby become weak.
Scholars disapprove of the deceased’s family preparing food for the people coming to pay their condolences, for it adds to their grief and further burdens them unnecessarily. Some scholars consider this to be absolutely forbidden (haraam).
Preparation for the Burial: The body of the deceased person must be prepared for burial, washed, and shrouded, and a funeral prayer must be offered for him