THE ELEVENTH YEAR OF HEGIRA

The first and last link in the chain of prophets, Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh), the Light of Being, a mercy to all worlds, was struck down with a fever after his return from the Farewell Pilgrimage. The fever would prove to be the illness that was to separate him from his ummah and unite him with his Rafiq’ul-A’la, the Highest Companion; the reunion he had been waiting for, for his entire life. Having realized that his time was now near, especially with the revelation of Surah an-Nasr, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) was now preparing for the final journey, bidding farewell to everyone, alive and deceased, in an implying manner. He had gone to the Jannat’ul-Baqi cemetery a day before he became ill and looking at the graves, had prayed, “O my Lord, the Supreme…do not deprive Your mercy from those who lie here!” (Ahmad, III, 489)

 Reunion and the Great Farewell: The Sublime Journey to the ‘Highest Companion’

The first and last link in the chain of prophets, Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh), the Light of Being, a mercy to all worlds, was struck down with a fever after his return from the Farewell Pilgrimage. The fever would prove to be the illness that was to separate him from his ummah and unite him with his Rafiq’ul-A’la, the Highest Companion; the reunion he had been waiting for, for his entire life. Having realized that his time was now near, especially with the revelation of Surah an-Nasr, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) was now preparing for the final journey, bidding farewell to everyone, alive and deceased, in an implying manner. He had gone to the Jannat’ul-Baqi cemetery a day before he became ill and looking at the graves, had prayed, “O my Lord, the Supreme…do not deprive Your mercy from those who lie here!” (Ahmad, III, 489)

After coming back from the cemetery, he ascended the minbar of the Mosque and addressed the Companions in the below words, virtually, of good-bye:

“I will be the first of you to reach the Pool of Kawthar and I will meet you there! Our meeting place is the Pool. I see it at this moment! I will testify on your behalf! I have been given at this moment the treasures of earth and their keys. By Allah, I fear not that you will return to idolatry after me! But I fear that you will get carried away in worldly greed and become jealous of each other, kill one another and perish just like those have perished before you!” (Bukhari, Janaiz, 73; Muslim, Fadail, 31)

Coming down from the minbar, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then retreated to his chamber, exhausted. The illness grew worse by each passing day. Once it became unbearably intense, being the pillar of courtesy he was, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) asked permission from his honorable wives to pass his remaining days in the chamber of Aisha (r.ha). (Bukhari, Tibb, 22; Ahmad, VI, 34, 38; Balazuri, I, 545)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had never undergone an illness of such intensity until then. The pure and clean life he led was of the kind that kept away illness altogether. But the grand yet burdensome duty of prophethood[1] well above ordinary human capacity that he had been carrying out for the past twenty-three years and the malicious acts of numerous kinds his enemies had methodically inflicted him with right from the start had, in the end, worn his body out. All this made it possible for illness to make its way into his body.

On another note, the illness was to elevate him to a lofty rank and a high standing. The effects of the poison he tasted at Khaybar also played an important role in the illness. Indeed, during a moment when the intensity of the illness was taking its toll, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) said to Aisha (r.ha), “I have been constantly feeling the sting of the poisoned meat I tasted at Khaybar, Aisha; and now I can hear the severing of the vein in my heart.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 83)

Similarly, Anas ibn Malik (r.a) is reported to have said, “I used to notice the mark and the effects of this poison on his uvula.” (Muslim, Salam, 45)

Because of this poison, the Light of Being (pbuh) thus passed away as a martyr; and Allah, glory unto Him, who had already honored him with prophethood, was now granting him the blessing of martyrdom as well. (Ibn Hisham, III, 390; Waqidi, II, 678-679; Haythami, VI, 153)

So severe was the heat of the fever that had gotten hold of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) that it was causing him to sweat unceasingly; it was like water relentlessly dripping from a hanging water bottle. Abu Said al-Khudri (r.a), who had come to visit him, could not help to remark, “What a severe fever you have, Messenger of Allah”. He continues to recount:

“I placed my hand on him. I could feel the heat of his fever from above the blanket. ‘You have such a high fever, Messenger of Allah’, said I, to which he replied, ‘We (prophets) are like that. Troubles come to us in scores but so are their rewards.’

‘Who are inflicted with troubles most among humans, Messenger of Allah?’ I then asked.

‘Prophets’, he said.

‘And then?’

‘Then the righteous’, he replied, after which he added, ‘among them are persons inflicted with so much tribulation that they cannot find anything else other than a woolen cloth to cover themselves. They rejoice troubles, just as you rejoice abundance.’” (Ibn Majah, Fitan, 23)

The rigor of his illness did not allow him to join the jamaah in his final days. He appointed Abu Bakr (r.a) to lead the Companions in salat. Feeling slightly rejuvenated at one stage, he made an appearance in the Masjid, in front of the Companions, to whom he said the following words:

“Allah, the Glorious has left a servant of His, free to choose between the world and its adornments and the blessings of His presence…and that servant has chosen the blessings of His presence!”

The sensitive Abu Bakr (r.a) knew, without delay, that the words the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had uttered were of farewell. He became overwhelmed with incommunicable grief. He felt dejected and began to weep, somehow managing to say, “May our parents be ransomed for you Messenger of Allah! We could sacrifice ourselves, our parents, children and all else we have for you!” (Ahmad, III, 91)

No other Companion present was able to make out the inner gist of the Prophet’s (pbuh) words, apart from Abu Bakr (r.a), ‘the second of the two’ at Cave Sawr, as he is referred to by the Quran.

It has been reported that the Noble Messenger (pbuh) said, “I have infused Abu Bakr with whatever there is in my heart.”[2]

Upon seeing the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) loyal friend reduced to tears, the astounded Companions began saying to one another, “Isn’t it odd that the Messenger of Allah speaks of some righteous person wishing to return to his Lord and Abu Bakr over there weeps?” (Bukhari, Salat, 80)

In fact, Abu Bakr’s (r.a) delicate heart had sensed the great separation that was looming and had begun weeping like the reed flute bemoaning from separation. Once the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) condition intensified, the other Companions, too, began sensing a glimpse of the greatest of all separations, which was now only a matter of time. Solemn grief took hold of the Ansar and the Muhajirun.

“Wouldn’t it be good if you prayed to regain your health, Messenger of Allah?” some Companions suggested. But the Noble Prophet (pbuh), who, until then, had always prayed for good health, this time refused to do so.

Aisha (r.ha) explains:

“When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) fell ill, he would read al-Falaq and an-Nas, breathe into his hands and then rub his entire body with it. As his illness aggravated, I began doing the same; reading the two surah, breathing into my hands and then rubbing his entire body. I also said a prayer that Jibril (a.s) had said previously when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had become ill, which was ‘The Lord of humankind! Heal this illness! Cure lies only in Your Hands! No one else apart from You can provide a cure! Give me such a cure that it leaves not a remnant of illness!’ But then the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) turned around towards me and said, ‘Better you take your hands of me, for your prayer shall no longer be of any avail…I am waiting for my time!” (Ahmad, VI, 260-261; Ibn Saad, II, 210)

Aisha (r.ha) continues:

“The Messenger of Allah then called his precious daughter, the delicate Fatimah. ‘Welcome, my daughter’, he said as she arrived. He had her seated next to him, whereupon he said something to her in a quiet tone. Fatimah then began to cry. He then quietly said something else to her, which this time made her happy and she began to smile.

Never had I known, until that day, that a smile could be so close to tears and tears so close to a smile. I asked Fatimah the reason and she said, ‘He informed that he would end up passing away as a result of his illness. I cried over that. He then told me that I would be the first one to reunite with him. And that made me happy.’” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 83)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was able to lead the Companions in salat at times when his illness was of a lesser intensity. On one of those occasions, he addressed the Companions, who were distraught by the grief of coming to terms with separating from the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), in the following manner:

“People…

I hear that you fear for the death of your Prophet! But has there even been a prophet, sent before me, who has stayed with his people forever that I should remain with you forever more? Be well aware that I am to reunite with my Lord; and so will you! Without a doubt, al things take place with the permission of Allah.

Be well aware that I will go before you and wait for you! Beware; our meeting spot tomorrow in the Hereafter is the head of the Kawthar Pool. Whosoever wants to meet with me tomorrow, let him remove his hands and tongue from sin. People…Sins are cause for a change of fortune. When people are good, their leaders are good, too…when people are bad, so too are their leaders. By Allah in whose Hand of Might my life resides, at this hour, I am standing above of my Pool and gazing at it from where I am…”

At this point, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) turned his gaze towards the weeping Abu Bakr (r.a).

“Do not cry, Abu Bakr”, he urged, as he continued his words. “People…Nobody else has been more selfless and generous in wealth and friendship than Abu Bakr. If I were to adopt a friend among humans other than my Lord, it surely would have been Abu Bakr…Close all the doors that open to the Masjid. Keep only Abu Bakr’s door open…I see a light hovering above his door.” (Bukhari, Salat, 80; Ibn Saad, II, 227)

“My Companions,

I am after all a human being. I therefore may have infringed on the rights of some among you. Whoever’s skin I may have hurt, here is my skin! Let him come and restore his right! Whoever’s back I may have hit, here is my back! Whoever’s property I may have unknowingly seized, here is mine…Let him come and take it!

O my Lord! I am but a human being. Whichever Muslim I may have reproached, I may have hit or cursed, render that a means for their purity, reward and mercy! (Ahmad, III, 400)

O my Lord! Whichever Muslim I may have reproached, render that a means of his closeness with You on the Day of Judgment!” (Bukhari, Daawat, 34; Darimi, Muqaddimah, 14; Ibn Saad, II, 255; Tabari, Tarih, III, 191; Halabi, 463-464)

To all intents and purposes, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) was hence bidding farewell to the Companions. After these words, he retreated to his room, exhausted. It would be the last time he would ever lead the Believers in salat. Thereafter, only on one final occasion would he be able gather his strength and offer salat behind the lead of Abu Bakr (r.a).

On a Monday morning on the 12th of Rabiulawwal, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) felt one last breeze of relief, yet not enough strength for him to join the Companions in salat. He only lifted the curtain that hung above the door of his chamber and gazed, for the very last time, at the mass of Believers standing shoulder to shoulder, offering fajr salat behind the lead of Abu Bakr (r.a). Delighted by what he saw, he smiled in utter satisfaction. It was as if the grip of the uncompromising illness had departed for a moment, making way for the contentment of leaving behind a righteous mass of Believers, enhanced with the relief of having properly executed the duty entrusted by Allah, glory unto Him. (Bukhari, Maghazi, 83; Adhan, 46, 94; Muslim, Salat, 98; Nasai, Janaiz, 7)

Looking on was Aisha (r.ha):

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was smiling as watched his Companions offer salat. I had never before seen him so happy.” (Ibn Hisham, IV, 331)

Allah, glory unto Him, had granted the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) a blessing greater than that of any other prophet before him. He lived to see the triumph of the Call. The Arabian Peninsula had now been purified of idols, shattered and demolished by the very people that once reverently stood in front of them to worship. People who, in the not so distant past, used to bury their own daughters alive, had now become pillars of compassion, moulded by the very hands of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), the best of all educators, who had now rendered them virtual wonders of creation.

On the same morning, he commanded an army of Companions he had prepared from before, whose departure had however been delayed due to his illness, to set out. To the young commander, Usamah bin Zayd (r.a), he suggested, “Leave around midmorning, with the blessings of Allah!” (Waqidi, III, 1120)

Later on in the same day, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) told Aisha (r.ha) to distribute among the poor the six or seven dinars he had with her. Not long after, he inquired whether she did as she was asked to. Finding out that it had slipped her mind owing to her concerns over his illness, he asked for the dinars. Then taking them in his hands, he said:

“Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, is not one to deem it proper to reunite with his Lord with these in his hands, without having given them away to the poor”. He then distributed the dinars among five Ansari families after which he remarked, “Now I feel relieved”, taking a light nap shortly thereafter.[3] (Ahmad, VI, 104; Ibn Saad, II, 237-238)

There; a never-ending charity!

For the Ahl’ul- Bayt he had the following words:

“Beware, people, the fire rages. Tribulations are looming, like hordes in the night! I have only made permissible what is permissible by the Quran, the Book of Allah, and prohibited what is prohibited therein!

Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah! Safiyya! Offer deeds worthy in the sight of Allah! For I shall not be able to save you from His punishment (unless you do your part in servanthood)!” (Ibn Saad, II, 256; Bukhari, Manaqib, 13-14; Muslim, Iman, 348-353)

“Beware…beware to seize onto salat!” said the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) on the same day. “Treat those under your care kindly! Fear Allah on their behalf! Do not neglect to clothe and feed them. Speak to them caringly!” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 123-124/5156; Ibn Majah, Wasaya, 1)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) used his miswaq to brush his teeth that day with a heightened enthusiasm. “It was as if I had never before seen the Messenger of Allah use his miswaq more beautifully”, comments Aisha (r.ha). (Bukhari, Maghazi, 83; Ibn Saad, II, 261)

The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) had a small water container by his side. Time and again, he used to dip his hand into it and moisten his face, and say, “La ilaha ill-Allah…surely death has its (bouts of) inebriation.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 83)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) prayed in the following manner that day:

“O my Lord…Encompass me with your compassion! Take me to Rafiq’ul-A’la! Allah! Encompass me with your compassion! Grant me your mercy! Take me to Rafiq’ul-A’la!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 83; Ahmad, VI, 126)

At some point during the day, the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) consoled his dejected daughter Fatimah (r.ha), saying, “Do not cry, dear, and when I pass away, say

اِنَّا ِللّٰهِ وَاِنَّا اِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

:To Allah we belong and to Him is our return!” (Ibn Saad, II, 312)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) gave a similar word of caution to his Companions, reminding them of the ayah revealed in the darkest hour of Uhud when the Believers came to the brink of annihilation upon the circulation of the rumor that ‘Muhammad had been killed’:

وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلاَّ رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَى أَعْقَابِكُمْ وَمَن يَنقَلِبْ عَلَىَ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَن يَضُرَّ اللّٰهَ شَيْئًا وَسَيَجْزِي اللّٰهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ

“And Muhammad is no more than a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful.” (Al-i Imran, 144)

Jibril (a.s), the Angel of Revelation, came to the Prophet (pbuh) on the same day and announced, “Peace and blessings to you, Messenger of Allah. This is the last time I am stepping foot on Earth for you!” (Ibn Saad, II, 259)

The words the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had uttered earlier that day, were now gradually coming to life: “The spirit of a prophet is never taken until he is shown his station in Paradise! Then it is left upto him to proceed thereto!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 83, 84; Ahmad, VI, 89)

Arriving afterwards in the wake of Jibril (a.s) was the Angel of Death (a.s). He asked permission to enter the presence of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Granted permission, he came in, stood as he said, “Messenger of Allah! Ahmad! Allah the Almighty has sent me to you, ordering me to comply with whatever your command may be. If you wish, I shall take your spirit; if not, I shall leave it with you!”

Jibril (a.s), who was still next to them at that point, remarked, “Allah the Almighty misses you, Messenger of Allah!”

To the Angel of Death (a.s), waiting for a response, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) said, “That which is by the side of Allah is better and longer lasting! So, Angel of Death, do what you have been commanded to do; take my spirit!” (Ibn Saad, II, 259; Haythami, IX, 34-35; Balazuri, I, 565)

He then, for one last time, dipped his hand into the water container by his side, moistened his face. He had now begun to make his way through the threshold of reunion at the final moments of a life dominated by a yearning for the Divine. Uttering the words of tawhid, he said:

“O my Lord! Rafiq’ul-A’la! Rafiq’ul-A’la!” and surrendered his pure spirit. The hand with which he had moistened his face had slowly and elegantly dropped inside the water container. (Bukhari, Maghazi, 83)

The ayah revealed years ago:

إِنَّكَ مَيِّتٌ وَإِنَّهُم مَّيِّتُونَ

“Surely you shall die and they too shall surely die.” (az-Zumar, 30) was now realized.

Allah…Pray onto our Blessed Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh), his progeny and companions; render them all sacred and grant your greetings onto them…And render this an eternal prayer!

The members of the Blessed Prophet’s(pbuh) family found themselves immersed in a flood of grief-stricken tears the moment he passed away. In the meantime, despite nobody seeing it, they all heard a soothing voice of condolence, comforting them.

“May Allah’s peace and blessings be on you”, it said.

After the Ahl’ul-Bayt responded in the same way, the same voice was again heard, this time echoing an ayah:

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَآئِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ
فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ
وَما الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلاَّ مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

“Every soul shall taste of death, and you shall only be paid fully your reward on the day of resurrection; then whoever is removed far away from the fire and is made to enter the garden he indeed has attained the object; and the life of this world is nothing but a provision of vanities.” (Al-i Imran, 185) This was followed by a similar tone of consolation:

“Know that there is a consolation in the sight of Allah for each disaster, a successor for each deceased and a something in return for each to have passed away! Clutch onto Allah and expect what you expect from Him! One who is truly inflicted is one who has been deprived of rewards (in the Hereafter)! May Allah’s peace and blessings be on you!” (Ibn Saad, II, 259)

Ibn Omar (r.a) attests, “The entire Ahl’ul-Bayt, everyone in the Masjid and those standing on the street heard that voice.” (Balazuri, I, 564) Ali (r.a) states that the voice belonged to Khidr (a.s). (Ibn Saad, II, 260)

So overwhelmed with sorrow was Fatimah (r.ha) from being separated from her father that she said, “Such a disaster has been poured onto me with the departure of the Prophet of Allah that if it was to be poured onto daylight, it would surely turn its glow into pitch black.” (Diyarbakri, II, 173)

Fatimah (r.ha) was never seen smiling in the six months of life she lived subsequent to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). (Kâmil Mîras, Tecrîd Tercemesi, XI, 25-26)

After a severe illness that lasted thirteen days following his return to Medina, on Monday the 12th of Rabiulawwal, in the 11th year of Hegira (8June, 632), the gates of the sublime horizons opened for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), the Beloved, who, passing through it finally reunited with the Greatest of all Friends, Allah, glory unto Him.

Though they could not entirely come to grips with their emotions, the Companions now felt that the gist of life itself had departed. Bilal Habashi (r.a), the Prophet’s (pbuh) muaddhin, could not manage to call out the adhan ever again after that day with that beautiful voice of his that filled the entire skies. Whenever the Companions insisted he do so, Bilal (r.a) would make a move; but suddenly unable to see to Blessed Prophet (pbuh) take his usual place at the front of the Masjid, he would feel stifled, lose his voice and break down, returning without being able to go through with the adhan. In hope of putting out the blaze of love ravaging his heart, he moved away from Medina, to Damascus. Some time later, he saw the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in his dream.

“How long must this separation last, Bilal?” he was telling him. “Isn’t it time you visited me?”

Distressed, Bilal (r.a) suddenly woke up. Without further ado, he left, this time to visit the hallowed grave of the Noble Prophet (pbuh) in Medina. Just as he was bowling his eyes out in the presence of his beloved, shedding tears on his grave, Hasan and Hussain (r.huma) arrived. Elated to see the dear grandsons of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), Bilal (r.a) warmly hugged them.

“We would love to hear you call the adhan, Bilal”, they pleaded, and to their wish Bilal (r.a) succumbed. His adhan shook Medina. When he came to the part Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah, all the men and women of the town took to the streets and began pouring into the Mosque, thinking the Noble Prophet (pbuh) had come back to life. Since the passing away of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), never had there been a day in which the dwellers of Medina shed more tears. (Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, I, 244-245; Dhahabi, Siyar, I, 357-358)

Stating the following is Anas ibn Malik (r.a):

“I have never seen a day more lit and prettier than the day the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and Abu Bakr arrived in Medina. I also witnessed the day in which the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) passed away. I have never seen a day darker, gloomier and more dreadful. Everything in Medina had been set alight by the arrival of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in Medina and then sent into darkness with his passing away! We buried his sacred corpse unwillingly, believing little that he had actually passed away!” (Ahmad, III, 221, 268, 287; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 1/3618; Darimi, Muqaddimah, 14)

All troubles and tribulations that Muslims were to undergo thereafter would mean nothing. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) has stated, accordingly, “Muslims inflicted with a trouble of some kind or another should think and find consolation in the tribulation they are inflicted with through my passing away, and keep patient.” (Muwatta’, Janaiz, 41; Darimi, Muqaddimah, 14)

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) also says:

“My health is of benefit to you: you talk with me and I talk with you! My passing away is also of benefit to you: your deeds are presented to me; upon seeing your good deeds, I thank Allah for it and upon seeing your bad deeds, I pray Allah for your forgiveness.” (Haythami, IX, 24)

On the report of Aisha (r.ha), the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) passed his final moment in praise of the Almighty, repentance and thanks. He was incessantly repeating, “Subhanallahi wa bi-hamdihi, astaghfirullaha wa atubu ilayh: I negate Allah from attributes unworthy of His Divine Status and give my thanks to Him. I wish for Him to forgive me and I repent for my sins.” (Bukhari, Adhan, 123, 139; Muslim, Salat, 218-220; Ahmad, I, 393; Ibn Saad, II, 192)

The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) had a Divine mark right between his shoulder blades, attesting to his prophethood. Many a Companion would live in yearning just to kiss it. After he breathed his last, as there was no change in his glowing expression, the Companions began to doubt whether he had really passed away. Asma bint Umays (r.ha), a relative of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), thereupon looked for the seal of prophethood on his back. Noticing it had disappeared out of sight, they finally became convinced he had made the eternal journey.[4]

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) left neither a coin of dirham behind, nor a slave. His legacy consisted merely of the white mule he rode, a weapon and some land at Khaybar and Fadak, which he had already handed over as trust for wayfarers.[5]

The Noble Messenger (pbuh) passed away on Monday and was buried the next day. The Companions offered his funeral salat individually; no one imam led a congregation. Some suggested he be buried right next to the minbar of the Masjid. Others thought the Baqi Cemetery would be suitable. The discussion was ultimately ended by Abu Bakr (r.a), who stated, “I had heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘Each prophet is buried where he dies’”. They hence began digging the exact spot where he breathed his last.[6]

Getting prepared to wash the Prophet’s (pbuh) corpse, they made an attempt to remove his shirt, only to be thwarted by a sudden voice they heard, commanding them not to take off his shirt! So they washed him without removing his shirt.[7]

Abdullah ibn Masud (r.a) recounts:

“Our beloved Messenger of Allah had informed us of his death a month before. ‘Who is to lead your funeral salat, Messenger of Allah?’ we asked, full of tears. He, too, began shedding tears, as he said, ‘Hold on; may Allah have mercy on you all! May He reward you with good for the sake of His prophet! After you wash and enshroud me, lay me on my mattress over there, next to my grave in this house! Then leave the room for a few moments, for first my two friends Jibril and Mikail will offer my salat; then Israfil and the Angel of Death, with the army of angels by his side. Afterwards enter the room in groups; offer my salat and send your prayers and peace. But do not disturb me by praising me or yelling and shouting.

Let the male members of my family offer my salat first and then the females. You can offer it afterwards.

Send my greetings to my Companions who are not present here! Send my greetings to all those to follow me, in my Religion, until the Final Hour, too!” (Hayhtami, IX, 25; Ibn Saad, ii, 256-257)

Everything was carried out in line with the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) wishes. Ali (r.a) declared, “Let nobody have any doubts seeing that there is no imam leading the salat of the Prophet (pbuh). He is your imam in his death, as he was in life!” Then standing across the Prophet’s (pbuh) corpse, he pronounced:

“May Allah’s peace, mercy and blessings be unto you, Messenger of Allah!

Allah! We bear witness that he communicated what You revealed to him, advised his ummah and fought in Your way until You rendered Your Religion supreme and fulfilled Your word!

Allah! Render us among those who follow Him in what You revealed to Him! Give us perseverance in this path after him, too! Make us reunite with him!” A humming sound of amin was heard from the crowd of Believers, as he was making these prayers. (Ibn Saad, II, 291)

What bliss for the earth to keep the Noblest of Creation (pbuh) in her bosom.

With the religion now perfected and a testimony given to Allah, glory unto Him, by the entire Companions that His Messenger had fulfilled his duty of communicating what had been revealed, the Light of Being (pbuh) had now been called to the realm of eternity.

He now waits for his ummah on the plain of Resurrection, on the Sirat, by the Pool of Kawthar.

Please intercede on our behalf, too, Prophet of Allah!

He had honored the world on a Monday, the 12th of Rabiulawwal and had been entrusted with prophethood, again, on a Monday of the same month. Abu Qatadah (r.a) narrates:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was asked about fasting on a Monday. ‘That is my birthday and the day I was sent as prophet’ he replied.” (Muslim, Siyam, 197-198)

Again, it was it was in the morning the 12th of Rabiulawwal when he entered Medina and laid the foundation of the Islamic sovereignty to survive until the Final Hour. It would ultimately be its anniversary, the 12th of Rabiulawwal, when he departed the world for eternity, to anticipate his ummah and intercede compassionately on their behalf.

Poetically depicting the world as disloyal for having carried off the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), Aziz Mahmud Hudayi –May Allah have mercy on him- writes:

Who is to expect loyalty; you are the world of deceit, are you not?

The world that has abducted Muhammad Mustafa, are you not?

A Grief to Absorb the Whole Universe

Upon the passing away of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), Fatimah (r.ha) bewailed, as she said behind tearful eyes, “My dearest father, who for His Lord there is nobody closer! My dearest father who as attended the invitation of His Lord! My dearest father whose rank is the Paradise of Firdaws! My dearest father whose passing away we have notified Jibril!” After he was buried, she said to Anas (r.a):

“How did your hearts allow you to throw soil on the Messenger of Allah?” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 83; Darimi, Muqaddimah, 14)

Out of courtesy, Anas (r.a) did not respond; yet the somber look in his eyes said, “No, Fatimah, our hearts did not allow us but we forced ourselves to comply with the Prophet’s (pbuh) order!” (Kâmil Mîras, Tecrîd Tercemesi, XI, 25)

Packed inside the Masjid, the Believers were wailing when they were interrupted by the voice of Omar (r.a). “Do not let me hear anyone say ‘Muhammad (pbuh) is dead” he shouted with despondent anger, “or I will sever his neck with my sword. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has fainted in the same manner as Musa (a.s)!” He prolonged his fuming speech, to the point where his mouth even began to froth.

Immediately upon receiving the sad news, Abu Bakr (r.a) mounted his horse and had it gallop to the Masjid in Medina. The first thing he did was uncover the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) face from beneath the shroud. Throwing himself on his sacred corpse, he wept as he kissed him on his forehead, shortly after which he remarked:

“By Allah, the Messenger of Allah has passed away. We belong to Allah and to Him is our return (Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun). May my parents be ransomed for you! I promise that Allah will not let you taste the pain of death twice! You have died once and you have now passed the threshold of the destined death! Never shall there be death for you anymore, my dearest Prophet…” He then leaned over and kissed once more the Prophet’s beautiful face. Lifting his head once more, he wailed, “Oh my dearest friend!” as he landed another kiss on the forehead of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and then another.

“You were beautiful in life as you are in your death! How beautiful is, both your life and death!” he commented, after which he replaced the shroud over the face of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and walked out into the Masjid. Omar (r.a) was in the meantime still continuing his heated speech urging Believers to deny the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) had actually passed away.

“Time you sat down now, Omar”, Abu Bakr (r.a) remarked.

Beset with inexpressible feelings of grief, Omar (r.a) had no intention of sitting down. Only after Abu Bakr (r.a) repeated his advice a few more times could he regain his composure and draw back to assume a seat. Abu Bakr (r.a) then began his speech:

“Allah, glory unto Him, had informed His Prophet of his imminent passage while he was still alive. He has also informed you all of your death, when the time comes. Not a single person among you shall survive death. Whosoever worships Muhammad (pbuh) let him know that Muhammad (pbuh) has passed away! But whosoever worships Allah, know that Allah is Ever-Alive, Immortal! Allah, glory unto Him, says:

وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلاَّ رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَى أَعْقَابِكُمْ وَمَن يَنقَلِبْ عَلَىَ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَن
يَضُرَّ اللّٰهَ شَيْئًا وَسَيَجْزِي اللّٰهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ

‘And Muhammad is no more than a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful.” (Al-i Imran, 144)

Reminded of the ayah, people slowly began coming to terms with the fact that the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) had actually passed away. So stunned were they, however, in hearing Abu Bakr (r.a) recite the ayah that it was like they had no idea that it had been revealed long before.

“By Allah,” Omar (r.a) later confessed, “it was like I had never heard that ayah until that day. Hearing it from Abu Bakr, I was terrified. My feet could not carry me; my knees suddenly grew weak and I collapsed on the spot!” (Ibn Saad, II, 266-272; Bukhari, Maghazi, 83; Haythami, IX, 32; Abdurrazzaq, V, 436)

Not long after Abu Bakr’s (r.a) piercing speech, Omar (r.a) rushed to the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) corpse, leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. His eyes swelling with tears, he said:

“May my parents be ransomed for you, Messenger of Allah! The date log, against which you used lean, had begun to weep from the pangs of your separation and had only gone quiet when you placed your hand on it…But your friend is worthier of weeping and moaning over your separation than that date log!

May my parents be ransomed for you, Messenger of Allah! Your Lord has said:

مَّنْ يُطِعِ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدْ أَطَاعَ اللّٰهَ

‘Whoever obeys the Prophet has obeyed Allah’ (an-Nisa, 80). He counts obeying you on level par with obeying Himself, whereby he raises your supremacy in His Sight to the highest rank!

May my parents be ransomed for you, Messenger of Allah! Despite sending you as the last of all prophets, Allah has again raised your virtue to the highest rank, by obtaining an oath of allegiance[8] from all the previous prophets, to believe and help you!

May my parents be ransomed for you, Messenger of Allah! The longing the dwellers of Hellfire will develop tfor you while being punished, as they will say:

يَا لَيْتَنَا أَطَعْنَا اللّٰهَ وَأَطَعْنَا الرَّسُولَا

‘…if only we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger!’ (al-Ahzab, 66), has elevated your worth in the Sight of Allah to its ultimate degree!” (Kastallani, II, 492)

Recounting the sad memories of that day below is Umm Salamah (r.ha):

“We had gathered around the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and were crying the day he passed away. His beautiful corpse was still inside our house and we were consoling ourselves by looking at him. When we heard the sounds of picks just after dawn, we wailed; so did the crowd waiting inside the Masjid. Medina shook by the sound of a solitary scream. Especially hearing Bilal (r.a) sob while calling out the adhan when he came to the part Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah, aggravated our grief all the more. As people began charging towards the grave, those inside shut the door on them. How painful a day that was! Whenever we were burdened by another trouble thereafter, we would instantly remind ourselves of the pain we felt the day the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) passed away, and not take any notice of it.” (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, V, 256)

As they loved him more than everyone and everything else, the Companions found separating from the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) agonizingly difficult. There were many among the Companions who no longer wished to live a life without him, to have eyes that were no longer going to catch sight of him or ears that were never to hear him speak again. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had in fact foretold of their plight long ago in a hadith:

“By Allah, in whose Hand of Might the life of Muhammad resides, a day will come when you will no longer be able to see me. Seeing me in your company, then, will become dearer and worthier to anyone of you than his family and entire wealth!” (Muslim, Fadail, 142; Bukhari, Manaqib, 25)

They saw out the remainder of their lives in anticipation of the day when they would once again reunite with the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and enjoy his sight eternally.

Othman (r.a) explains:

“If there was ever a person among the Companions to grieve the most over the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), that surely was me. Others, it is true, grieved over him, too. There were even some who developed anxiety after his bereavement. While I was sitting under the shade of a wall, Omar (r.a) had apparently walked passed me and greeted me. I did not even take notice of his greeting, let alone seeing him walk pass. It turns out that Omar later went to Abu Bakr (r.a) and said, ‘I just walked past Othman, greeted him but he did not greet me back. Could there be a thing more bizarre?’

I later noticed the two of them come by. They greeted me, after which Abu Bakr asked, ‘Your brother Omar came to me, telling me that he greeted you, without you responding. What is the reason?’

‘I did not do anything of the kind’ I replied, to which Omar immediately countered by saying, ‘By Allah, you did!’

‘By Allah, I was neither aware of you walking past or nor of you greeting me!’ I said.

‘Othman speaks the truth’, concluded Abu Bakr.” (Ahmad, I, 6)

Shortly after the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) passed away, Omar (r.a) suggested to Abu Bakr (r.a) they should visit Umm Ayman (r.ha), as the Prophet (pbuh) did during his life. So they did. Upon seeing them, Umm Ayman (r.ha) broke down in tears.

“Why are you crying?” they asked. “Don’t you know that the blessings prepared by Allah for the Prophet (pbuh) are much better than the world?”

“I am not crying because of that”, she replied. “Of course I know that the blessings prepared by Allah for the Prophet (pbuh) are much better than the world. I am crying because Revelation has come to an end.” Her sensitive considerations sent Abu Bakr and Omar (r.huma) into a stir of emotion. They, too, joined her in shedding tears. (Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 103)

Years later, as Omar (r.a) was patrolling the streets of Medina as Caliph, he noticed a candlelight shining forth from inside a house. As he came closer, he saw an old woman inside, spinning wool and at the same time reciting a poem to herself.

“Upon Muhammad (pbuh) be the peace of the righteous…For your mercy, Muhammad, let every unique soul pray…You used to worship at night and weep at dawn…Death approaches closer to all, day by day…The abode of the Hereafter will reunite me with you…If only I could say!”

Omar (r.a) sat down and cried awhile. He then knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” asked the elderly woman.

“It is Omar ibn Khattab.”

“What is Omar doing here at this time of night; what can he want from me?” she inquired, fretfully.

“For your love of Allah, please open the door. Do not be afraid!” beseeched Omar (r.a), upon which she opened the door ajar.

“Read the poem you read moments ago”, he then insisted. She began to. Just before she came to the final line, Omar (r.a) interrupted and said, “I beg you to add me in your company, too!”

She then changed the final line of her poem to, “The abode of the Hereafter will reunite me with you and Omar…If only I could say; Allah, the Forgiver, have mercy on Omar!” Omar (r.a) then left, gratified. (Ali al-Muttaqi, XII, 562/35762)

Anas (r.a) used to say, “Not a single night comes to pass without me seeing my Beloved (the Prophet (pbuh)) in my dream”, and cry. (Ibn Saad, VII, 20)

The Companions used to refer to the Blessed Prophet as habibi (my beloved) or khalili (my dearest friend), expressions of the overflowing love they nurtured for him.[9]

By virtue of incessantly sending salat’us-salam to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), they were showing their undying love and attachment to him; yet their remembering of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was not reserved exclusively to that. Their uncompromising abidance by his path, their adherence to his sunnah, their constant mention of his ahadith at every given opportunity, among the many other deeds they embodied, were ways of keeping his loving memory ever alive.

Abu Dharr (r.a) states, “I promise by Allah that the Messenger (pbuh) left us in such a state when he left for the Hereafter that even a bird flapping its wings in the sky would remind us of a saying of his. For he had truly said, ‘…whatever may take you closer to Paradise and distance you from Hell, has all been disclosed.’” (Ahmad, V, 153, 162; Haythami, VIII, 263)

It is an imperative of Islam that all Muslims love the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) more than everyone and everything else in the world, prefer his commands and prohibitions to their own desires and unconditionally abide by his entire words and actions.

[1].      In the process of receiving Revelation, the Blessed Prophet’s r body would become exceedingly heavy. If he was on camelback, for instance, it would buckle the legs of the camel to the point where onlookers would begin to fear they would break, forcing the camel to crouch on the spot. (Ahmad, II, 176; VI, 445; Ibn Saad, I, 197) Zayd ibn Thabit t says, “I was sitting next to the Messenger of Allah r one day. Because of the crowd of people, his knee was slightly above mine, leaning against it. Suddenly, he began receiving Revelation. By Allah, I have never experienced anything heavier that his knee at the time. I thought it was only a matter of time before my knee was crushed.” (Ahmad, V, 190-191)

[2].      See, Ajlunî, Kashfu’l-Khafâ, v. 2, p.419.

[3].      Imam Kastallani, in relation, comments, “If the Messenger of Allah r, the Beloved of the Lord of the Worlds, the greatest of all prophets whose past and future sins have been forgiven thinks this way, then just think of the situation of those who return to Allah having infringed on the rights of other Muslims, having appropriated what is impermissible to them of their wealth.” (Kastallânî, II, 480-481)

[4].      Ibn Saad, II, 272; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, V, 231.

[5].      Bukhari, Maghazi, 83.

[6].      Qadi Iyad says, “There is not a shadow of a doubt that the place where the Prophet of Allah r lies is the noblest piece of land on earth.” (Shifa, II, 96) Imam Busiri similarly states, “There is no better fragrance than that of the soil that boasts the sacred body of the Beloved Prophet r in its bosom. How lucky he is who has smelt and kissed that soil.” (Qasidah-i Burdah, Bayt no: 58)

[7].      Muwatta, Janâiz, 27; Ahmad, VI, 267.

[8].      See, Âl-i İmrân, 81.

[9].      Bukhari, Tahajjud, 33; Sawm, 60; Muslim, Musâfirîn, 85; Ibn Majah, Sadaqât, 10; Darimî, Sawm, 38; Ahmad, V, 159; Ibn Saad, IV, 229.