We gratefully acknowledge and thank Islamic
Publications Ltd. for permission to print this
excerpt (Ch. 29) from Everyday Fiqh (vol. 1) 
by Abdul Aziz Kamal
Visiting the Sick Person

1. Visiting the sick with a view to inquiring about their health and welfare is a highly commendable act in the sight of Allah. The Muslims of a habitation have been enjoined to inquire and look after a patient who has nobody else to look after him. The Holy Prophet himself was very particular about this. Not to speak of the Muslims, he would even visit the non-Muslim patients to inquire about their health and welfare.  In this connection, he has given specific instructions exhorting his followers to visit the sick people in their habitations.  For instance, he has said :

On the Day of Judgment Allah will say : 'Son of Adam !  Why did you not attend on Me when I fell ill ?  Man will say : 'Lord !  Thou art the Sustainer of the whole universe : How could I attend on Thee ?'  Allah will say : 'So and so of My servants fell ill, and you did not care for him.  Had you paid him a visit, you would have found Me, too !'  (Muslim)

When a Muslim inquires after his sick brother or pays him a visit, a crier from the heaven cries : 'Blessed you are !  You have done well !  You have earned a place for yourself in Paradise.(Tirmidhi)

2. The sick person should be consoled and counselled to bear up his affliction with patience ; he should be reminded that the illness is also a blessing of Allah for the believer : it becomes and expiation for his past negligences and errors. 

When the Holy Prophet visited a patient, he would ask him : 'How are you ?' and then would console him, saying : 

'There should be no cause for you to worry.  If Allah wills, this ailment will help purify you of sins.'

According to Hadrat Abu Sa'id, the Holy Prophet has said:

Whenever a Muslim suffers from an affliction, disease, grief or anguish, or even a thorn-prick, he is forgiven his sins by Allah on that account. (Bukhari Muslim)

Again, according to Hadrat Abu Sa'id, the Holy Prophet said :

Whenever you go to see a sick person, you should console him and sympathise with him. Though by doing so you cannot change his fate, you will at least make him happy for a while.'  (Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)

3. One should also pray for the well-being of the patient.  According to Hadrat 'Aishah, whenever the Holy Prophet visited a sick person, he would pass his right hand over his body and would pray.


Azhibil-basa Rabb in-nasi washfi Antash-Shafi,
la shifa illa shifa uka shifa-al la youghadiru saqamak.

'Lord of mankind !  Remove the affliction of of this patient and heal him, for Thou alone art the Healer : none can be healed unless healed by Thee ; heal him so completely that the disease leaves him altogether.' (Bukhari, Muslim)
4. The patient may be asked to pray for the visitor himself, for during the illness the patient is naturally inclined towards Allah.  A tradition says :
'When you go to see a sick person, you should request him to pray for you, for the sick person's prayer is just like an angel's prayer.' (Ibn Majah)

5. One should not prolong one's stay with the patient unless so desired by the patient himself.  Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas says :

6. When a Muslim visits a non-Muslim patient, he should invite him towards Islam with wisdom and prudence, because the patient is better disposed and inclined to accept the truth during illness.  According to Hadrat Anas, when a Jewish boy who used to serve the Holy Prophet fell ill, the Holy Prophet went to see him. 

He sat by his head and said : 'Accept the true Faith.'  The boy looked up to his father who was also present.  The father said to the boy, 'Accept the proposal of Abul Qasim,' whereupon the boy embraced Islam.  The holy Prophet felt pleased and while leaving the house, said : Thank God Who has saved this boy from the Hell fire. (Bukhari)
Concerning the One Who is Dying

1. When symptoms of death appear on a patient, he should be turned on his side so as to make him face the Qibah and his head should be raised a little.  However, if he experiences hardship in this position, he should be left to himself.

2. The persons attending on the patient should go on pronouncing a the Kalimah : La Ilaha ill-Allah Muhammad-ur Rasulullah, gently but should avoid urging the patient to recite it, for in his critical condition he may refuse to do so , or may utter something derogatory to his faith senselessly. Then when the patient has uttered the Kalimah once, the attendants should stop reciting it ; however, if the patient after that talks of a worldly matter, he may again be induced to recite the Kalimah as his last words before death.  The Holy Prophet has said ;

Induce your dying ones to recite the Kalimah La Ilaha ill-Allah. (Muslim)
And he has also said : 
The one who utters La Ilaha ill Allah as his last words before death, will enter Paradise.  (Abu Da'ud)
4. According to a tradition, Surah Ya-Sin should be recited near the patient who is on the point of death. (Abu Da=id, Ibn Majah)
Righteous and God-fearing persons should attend on a dying person, for Allah may have mercy on him because of them. (Fatawa Alamgiri)
5. It is considered desirable to burn incense near the dying person.

6. After a person has breathed his last, his eyes should be gently shut and his mouth closed with a bandage running under the chin and tied over the head, and arms and legs straightened.  While closing the eyes of the dceased, one should make the following supplication :


Allahumma yassir 'alaihi amrahu wa sahihil 'alaihi ma ba'dahu wa as'idhu bi-liqa'ika 
waj'al ma kharaja ilaihi khair-am mimma kharaja 'an-hu. 
O Allah !  Make his affair light for him, and render easy what he is going to face after this, and bless him with Thy vision, and make his new abode better for him than the one he has left behind.

7. It is natural for a person to grieve over the death of a near and dear one, and shed tears, but it is forbidden to wail for the dead, beat the breast, slap the face and tear one's hair and garments.

8. It is also forbidden to cry and complain over one's misfortunes at the death of a relative and curse oneself.  The Holy Prophet has said :

You should pray for your good under all circumstances, because whenever you pray for your good, the angels say, 'Ameen' ! (Muslim)
9. The deceased should be remembered in good words.  His merits should be mentioned and his weaknesses and demerits ignored.  The Holy Prophet has said :
Remember your dead ones by their merits and refrain from pointing out their demerits. (Abu Da'ud)

Washing of the Dead Body

1. No delay is allowed to be made in washing the dead body, its shrouding and burial.  The Holy Prophet has said:

Make haste in the funeral and burial : it is not desirable that the dead body of a Muslim should be held back by the people of the house for long. (Abu Da'ud)
2. It is an obligation to wash the dead body of a Muslim. If there is nobody to own a corpse, it is the collective responsibility of the Muslims to wash it. If it is buried without having been washed, all the Muslims concerned will become involved in sin.

3. If a corpse is placed down in the grave without having been washed, but has not yet been covered with earth, it should be taken out and washed.  However, if it has been covered with earth, it need not be taken out of the grave.

4. If a limb of the dead body remains dry and this is remembered after it has been shrouded, it should be un-shrouded and the dry limb washed.  However, if a little portion, e.g. a finger, or a portion equal to it, remains dry, it need not be un-shrouded to be washed.

5. Washing the dead body once is obligatory and washing it thrice according to the Sunnah.

6. Only that person is allowed to wash a dead body, who is allowed to see it.  Thus a man is not allowed to wash the dead body of a woman, and a woman is not allowed to wash the dead body of a man.  However, a wife can wash the dead body of her husband, because legally she remains wife of the deceased husband till the completion of the laid down waiting period.  But the husband cannot wash the dead body of his wife, because as soon as she breathes her last the marriage tie is broken. 

7. The dead body of a minor boy or girl can be washed by either a man or a woman.

8. The dead body should preferably be washed by a relative, but if the relative does not know the prescribed procedures, any virtuous person may wash it.

9. It is obligatory to wash the body of a baby who dies soon after birth but if it is still born, even then it may be washed though it is not obligatory to do so.

Prescribed Way of Washing the Dead Body

The body should be placed straight on the washing plank and stripped of the garments; the parts from the navel to the knees should be covered with a cloth to conceal the private parts, the washer then, with hands wrapped in cloth, should first clean and wash the private parts of the body, then the face and hands up to the elbows, then wipe the head and wash the feet as in Wudu, with disinfected lukewarm water.  It is not necessary to put water in the mouth and nose; however, if a man has died in the state of impurity due to sexual intercourse, or a woman in the state of menstruation of Nifas, the teeth and gums and nose must be cleansed with wet cotton. Then the mouth and nose and ears should be stuffed up with cotton so that water does not enter them on washing. Then the head should be washed with soap or some other disinfectant, then the whole body, first the right side, then the left.  Then the body may be brought up in the sitting position and the belly massaged gently and the excretion if any, cleaned, but there is no need to perform the washing (Wudu etc.) any more.  Last of all, the body should be turned on the left side and camphor mixed water run over it thrice, and then dried with the towel.

Regulations Relating to Shrouding

1. After the body has been dried, it should be shrouded.
2. It is obligatory to shroud the body well.
3. The expenditure on shrouding is to be incurred by those who supported the deceased person during lifetime ; but if there was no supporter and the deceased has left no property, either, it becomes the collective responsibility of the Muslims to bear the shrouding expenses.
4. The minor and the major, the one who has put on the pilgrim's garments and the one who has put them aside have to be shrouded in the same way.
5. The cloth used in shrouding should be of the same quality as the deceased person was permitted to use during life ; for instance, women may be shrouded in silken and coloured cloth, but silken and yellow-coloured shroud is forbidden for men.
6. It is undesirable to use a costly and superior cloth in shrouding, nor a very cheap and inferior cloth, but it should be of moderate quality generally used by the deceased during life.
7. It is preferable to shroud the body in white sheets of cloth, whether old or new.
8. There is no harm if shrouding arrangements are made by the deceased person during life, but it is undesirable to have the grave dug already during one's lifetime.
9. Garments have been prescribed for shrouding the males :

(a) A loose sleeveless shirt (kafni) reaching to the feet,
(b) the lower garment, from head to feet, and
(c) a sheet about two feet longer than the lower garment so that it may be fastened at the head and feet.

10. For the females, the following five garments have been prescribed :

(a) A loose sleeveless shirt,
(b) a lower garment
(c) A head-wrapper, which should cover the head and face, and should not be fastened,
(d) a breast-wrapper, which should vover the head and face, and should not be fastened,
(e) a sheet as for the male.

11. If cloth for the prescribed shroud is not available, only two garments, viz. The sheet and the lower garment, may be used for the male, and three garments, viz. The sheet, the lower garment and the head-wrapper, for the female.  If even this is not available, the body may be shrouded in any length of cloth available, and the open portion covered with hay and straw.

12. If abortion takes place, or a baby is born, still, it should be wrapped in a clean piece of cloth and burried ; it need not be shrouded according to the laid down procedure.

The Procedure

For the Male: Spread the sheet on a smooth plank or bier and spread the lower garment over it ; then put the shirt on the body and place the body on the lower garment ; then wrap the lower garment round the body with the right side over the left side ; then roll up the sheet also in the same way.

For the Female: Spread the sheet on a plank or bier and spread the lower garment over it; then put the shirt on the body and part the hair into two parts and spread it over the shirt on the breast ; then put on the head-wrapper and spread it over the face, but do not fasten it ; then place the body on the lower garment and wrap it round the body with the right side over the left side ; then wrap the breast-wrapper in the same way ; then roll up the sheet also and fasten it at the head, feet and waist.

Everyday Fiqh (Vol.1) by Abdul Aziz Kamal ©1986 published by Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., 13-E Shah Alam Market, Lahore, Pakistan