The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The rights of one Muslim over another are five: returning the greeting of salaam, saying ‘yarhamuk Allaah (may Allaah have mercy on you)’ when he sneezes, accepting invitations, visiting the sick and attending funerals.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2625) 

My last post about sharing dishes with our neighbors, which is a widespread and common practice here – lead me to recall my experience in both Bahrain and Saudi Hospitals. Unfortunately, I have been hospitalized more times than I care to say here and have found the following excerpt from a Saudi Blogger  (warning: read her blog at your own risk. It is not the most Islamic or conservative blog out there, so do not clique if you are easily offended)to be truthfully hilarious! I’ll try to insert my comments within the quote:

It all started when we went to visit our grandmother in Munich…Germany…She had a knee problem (who hasn’t in Saudi????…80% of our elderly have knee problems whether it is from sitting cross- legged/Siddhartha position but without the straight back and the meditation…or because they were praying on their knees and hands most of their lives…hmmmm…I will go with the first option)

Anyway she had a knee problem and made a surgery…we were a bit worried cause she was quite old but it turned out to be as good as new…Alhamdullelah ( meaning thanks god)…Of course at first the nurses had strict visiting hours…you know… very disciplined…very german…But this was BEFORE they met us…the AlHajeri crowd…the Saudi crowd….

This is no exaggeration. They travel in packs here. In America we visit in twos, here the whole tribe comes and if it is not a private room and you are the roommate, expect to be part of the party.

I mean WHO has visiting hours in Saudi??????…Some people may even consider it an insult if the patient’s door is closed…The poor sick victim has to support his family members…their friends…his hospital neighbors…their family members…and their friends…random people that like to visit sick people in hospitals as a good deed *…and total strangers…Actually you have to cross a whole corridor of flowers and a line of people before entering the room….visiting hours?????? Are these people nuts????? And That is exactly what we did…i.e changed the whole German program…:p

I bet they did! I got a good laugh out of this one, because this is exactly what has happened to me on several occasions. I even had gifts brought to me by complete strangers, after learning that I was all alone with no family in this country. I’ve also had strangers drop in to pray for me, or just visit when they see you have no visitors. even my floor mates were waiting for me surrounding my bed and making dua after I had my gallbladder removed. I was so groggy and in and out of it but they stayed by my bedside for a long time.

* It is seen as a “good action” in our culture and religion if you do the Big threes: visit sick people, attend weddings and attend funerals…even if you do not know any of the family members…they will receive you like any other visitor…In other Arab countries going to a little boy’s circumcision party or greet a newborn is also considered a “good action”…

Since most of the floor were Arabs…(they all had knee problems)..and they mostly came from the Middle East (especially U.A.E and Qatar)…Every single day we had to go from room to room to say hi…wish them a quick recovery…chat a little..and accept the dates, sweets and Arabic coffee** they served us…So it took us an hour every morning to reach my grandmother’s room….Of course we skipped the “foreign” patients (which I pity cause they were mostly alone)…Since they might have thought we escaped from the Loony bin or that we just wanted to bomb them for fun…But at the end of our journey there.. They did pop out and said Hello…and also they had enough of the crap they call food in the hospital…and got tempted by our oriental aromas that we bring (on a daily basis) to our grandmother…***

**Damn! the U.A.E Arabic coffee is strong…I couldn’t sleep for two days…In Saudi we use more “Hehl” ( sort of herb and spice we add to our coffees…Saudis use a lot of those!!!)***Another thing about hospitals in Saudi…we never eat the hospital’s food…we don’t care how much Calorie…how rich…how spicy our home cooked meal is…but home-cooked diet it is for the rest of the stay…Subhanallah! This is so true! In America, you have to smuggle food in like contraband. Here it is expected to be brought in. They don’t even check with the doctors or care what your diet is. husbands will come first thing in the morning before they go to work, before visiting hours to drop off the thermos of fresh coffee and tea, dates, and fruit. Then at lunch time you’ll have either the husband come back or a group of women with the afternoon fresh coffee and tea, plus lunch. It’s still not visiting hours either! Visiting hours is when EVERYBODY comes!

I really have nothing else to add, I just found her post so funny and could relate to it on so many levels. At first, I was annoyed and irritated when it happened to me in Bahrain. However, I’ve adjusted. The people have no concept of personal space the way we do as Americans. I honestly don’t like much fuss made over me and I tend to try and treat people the way I want to be treated but have realised that many people like to be fussed over. They mean well, and I am usually very sad in the hospital because I don’t have my family. Even in the States I was in the hospital twice (once for 5 days after delivering my 1st born and another for a week with pneumonia) and I rarely had any visitors and I was in a big Muslim community! So I have learned to appreciate the small kindness you get from the locals, even if they are complete strangers. I’ve even been offered to come and recover in the homes of people.