The Journey to Allah the Sublime

Symptoms of Farewell

When the call to Islam was completed and the new faith dominated. Allah’s Messenger began to develop certain grave symptoms. They could be perceived through his statements and deeds:

In the month of Ramadan, 10 A.H., he secluded himself for twenty days in contrast to ten, as was in the previous practice.

The angel Jibreel reviewed the Qur’an twice with him and not once in that year.

His words in the Farewell Pilgrimage:

``I do not know whether I will ever meet you at this place after this year.’’

The revelation of Surat An-Nasr during the Days of Tashreeq, which, when revealed to him, made him realize that it was the time for the departure and that the Surah was an announcement of his approaching death.

During the early days of the month of Safar, 11 A.H., the Prophet went to Uhud and observed a farewell prayer for the martyrs. It looked like he was saying good-bye to both the dead and the living. He then ascended the pulpit and addressed the people saying:

``I am to precede you and I have been made witness upon you. By Allah, you will meet me at the Hawd (Tank) very soon. I have been given the keys of the treasures of the earth or the keys of the earth. By Allah, I do not fear for you a return to polytheism after me, but I do fear that you will compete with each other in acquiring worldly riches.’’

One day, at midnight, he went to the cemetery of al-Baqi’ and begged Allah to forgive the Islamic martyrs. He said:

“Peace be upon you, inhabitants of the grave! The morning that dawn upon you is more relieving than that which dawns upon the living. Afflictions are approaching like cloudy lumps of a dark night, the last of which follows the first. The last one is bearing more evil than the first.’’ He comforted them saying:

“We are also coming to you.’’

The Start of the Disease

On Monday, the 29th of Safar, 11 A.H., he participated in funeral rites in Al-Baqi’. On the way back he had a headache, and his temperature rose so high that the heat could be felt over his head covering.

He led the Muslims in prayer for eleven days although he was sick. The total number of days in which he was sick was either thirteen or fourteen.

The Last Week

As his sickness grew severe, he would ask his wives: “Where shall I stay tomorrow? Where shall I stay?’’ They understood what he wanted, so they allowed him to stay wherever he wished. He moved to `Aishah’s room while he was leaning on Al-Fadl bin Al-`Abbas and `Ali bin Abi Talib (May Allah be Pleased with all of them). His head was banded and he was brought to her room while his feet dragged on the ground. It was there that he spent the last week of his life. During that period, `Aishah would recite Al-Mu’awwidhat (Chapters 113 and 114 of the Qur’an) and other supplications that had been taught by him; after their recitation she would blow on her hands and then rub them on his body for blessings.

Five Days Before His Death

On Wednesday, five days prior to his death, the Prophet’s temperature rose very high signaling the severity of his disease. He fainted and suffered from pain. “Pour out on me seven Qirab (water skin pots) of water so that I may go out to meet and speak to the people,’’ he said. So, they seated him in a container and poured water on him until he said: “That is enough. That is enough.’’ Then he began to feel well enough to enter the Masjid. He entered it with his head wrapped, sat on the pulpit and gave a speech to the people who were gathering around him. He said:

``The curse of Allah falls upon the Jews and Christians as they made their Prophets’ graves places of worship.’’

Then he said:

``Do not make my grave a worshipped idol.’’

Then he offered himself and invited the people to repay any injuries he might have inflicted on them, saying:

``He whose back I have ever lashed, I offer him my back so that he may avenge himself on me. He whose honor I have ever insulted, here I am offering my honor so that he may avenge himself.’’

Then he descended, and performed the Dhuhr prayer. Again he returned to the pulpit and sat and then resumed his first speech about enmity and some other things.

A man then said: “You owe me three dirhams.’’ The Prophet said: “O Fadl, pay him the money.’’ He went on saying:

``I admonish you to be good to the Ansar (Helpers). They are my family and with them I found shelter. They have acquitted themselves credibly of the responsibility that fell upon them and now there remains what you have to do. You should fully acknowledge and appreciate the favor that they have shown, and should overlook their faults.’’

In another version:

``The number of believers would increase, but the number of Helpers would decrease to the extent that they would be among men as salt in the food. So, he who among you occupies a position of responsibility and is powerful enough to do harm or good to the people, he should fully acknowledge and appreciate the favor that these benefactors have shown, and overlook their faults.’’

And he said:

``Allah the Great has given a servant of His the opportunity to make a choice between whatever he desires from Allah’s provisions in this world, and what He keeps for him in the world, but he has opted for the latter.’’

Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri said: “Upon hearing that, Abu Bakr began to cry and said: `May our fathers and mothers be ransomed for your sake.’ We wondered why Abu Bakr said such a thing. People said: `Look at that old man! Allah’s Messenger talks about a servant of Allah who was granted the right between the best fortunes of this world and the bounty of Allah in the Hereafter, but he says: May our fathers and mothers be ransomed for your sake!’ It was later on that we realized what he meant. Allah’s Messenger was the servant given the choice. We also acknowledged that Abu Bakr was the most learned among us.’’

Then Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

``I am most obliged to Abu Bakr for the favor of his company and property. If I were to take any other Khalil (friend) except Allah, I would have chosen Abu Bakr as a friend of mine. But for him I feel affection and brotherhood of Islam. No gate shall be kept open in the Masjid except that of Abu Bakr’s.’’

Four Days Before His Death

On Thursday, four days before his death, Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to the people, though he was suffering from severe pain: “Come here. I will have you write something through which you will never fall into error.’’ Upon this `Umar bin AlKhattab (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “The Prophet of Allah is suffering from acute pain and you have the Qur’an with you; the Book of Allah is sufficient for you.’’ Others however wanted the writing to be made. When Muhammad heard them debating over it, he ordered them to go away and leave him alone.

That day he recommended three things:

  1. The expulsion of the Jews, Christians, and polytheists from Arabia.
  2. Recommendation to honor and entertain delegates, in a way similar totheir custom.
  3. The third was forgotten by the narrator. It could have been adherence tothe Book and the Sunnah. It was likely to be the accomplishment and the mobilization of Usamah’s army, or it could have been performance of prayers and being attentive to slaves.

In spite of the strain of disease and suffering from pain, the Prophet led all the prayers until that Thursday, four days before his death. On that day he led the Maghrib prayer and recited:

``By the winds (or angels or the Messengers of Allah) sent forth one after another.’’ [77:1]

In the evening he grew so sick that he could not overcome the strains of the disease or go out to the Masjid. `Aishah(May Allah be Pleased with her) related that the Prophet asked: “Have the people performed the prayer?’’ She replied: “No. They haven’t. They are waiting for you.’’ He said: “Put some water in the washing pot.’’ We did what he ordered. He washed and wanted to stand up, but fainted. When he recovered, he again asked, “Have the people prayed?’’ Then the same sequence of events took place a second and third time. He washed and fainted after his attempts to stand up.

Therefore he sent a message to Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) to lead the prayer. Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) then led the prayers during those days. Abu Bakr led the people in seventeen prayers during in the life of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Three or four times `Aishah asked the Prophet to excuse Abu Bakr from leading the prayer because of his gentleness, but he refused and said:

``You (women) are like the women of Joseph (Yusuf). Convey my message to Abu Bakr to lead the prayer.’’

A Day or Two Prior to His Death

On Saturday or on Sunday, the Prophet felt that he was well enough to perform the prayer; so he went out leaning on two men in order to perform the Dhuhr prayer. Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him), who was leading the people in the prayer withdrew when he saw him coming; but the Prophet made a gesture for him to stay where he was and said: “Seat me next to him.’’ They seated him on the left hand side of Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him). The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then led the prayer, and Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) followed him and raised his voice at every ` Allahu Akbar ‘ (i.e., Allah is the Greatest) the Prophet said, so that the people may hear clearly.

A Day Before His Death

On Sunday, a day before his death, the Prophet freed his slaves, donated in charity the seven dinars, which he owned, and gifted his weapon to the Muslims. So, when night fell `Aishah had to borrow some oil from her neighbor to light her oil-lantern. Even his coat of armor was deposited as security to a Jew for thirty Sa’ of barley.

The Last Day He was Alive

In a narration Anas bin Malik (May Allah be Pleased with him) relates: “While the Muslims were performing the Fajr prayer on Monday, being led by Abu Bakr, they were surprised to see Allah’s Messenger raising the curtain of `Aishah’s room. He looked at them while they were praying aligned properly, and smiled cheerfully. Seeing him, Abu Bakr withdrew to join the lines and give way to him to lead the prayer as he had thought that the Prophet wanted to come for the prayer.’’ Anas (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “The Muslims, who were praying, were so delighted that they were almost taken away from their prayers. Allah’s Messenger gestured to continue their prayer, went into the room and drew down the curtain.’’

Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was not alive for the next prayer.

During the daytime, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) called Fatimah(May Allah be Pleased with her) and related to her something in a low voice which made her cry. Then he whispered to her something else which made her laugh. `Aishah(May Allah be Pleased with her) enquired from her after the Prophet’s death, as to this weeping and laughing, to which Fatimah(May Allah be Pleased with her) replied: “The first time he disclosed to me that he would not recover from his illness and I wept. Then he told me that I would be the first of his family to join him, so I laughed.’’

He gave Fatimah(May Allah be Pleased with her) the glad tidings that she would be the lady in charge of all the women of the world.

Fatimah(May Allah be Pleased with her) witnessed the great pain that afflicted her father. So she said: “What great pain my father is in!’’ To these words, the Prophet remarked:

``He will not suffer any more when the day is over.’’

He asked that Al-Hasan and Al-Husain be brought to him. He kissed them and recommended that they be looked after.

He asked to see his wives. They were brought to him. He preached to them and told them to remember Allah.

The pain grew so severe that the trace of the poison which he had at Khaibar came to light. It was so sore that he said to `Aishah(May Allah be Pleased with her): “I still feel the painful effect of the food that I had tasted at Khaibar. I feel as if death is approaching.’’

He ordered the people to perform their prayers and be attentive to their slaves, repeating it several times.

The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Breathes His Last

When the pangs of death began, `Aishah (May Allah be Pleased with her) leaned him against herself. She used to say: One of Allah’s favors to me was that Allah’s Messenger died in my house, while I was still alive. He died between my chest and neck while he was leaning against me. Allah has mixed his saliva with mine at his death. `Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) had come in with a Siwak in his hand, while I was leaning Allah’s Messenger against me. I noticed that he was looking at the Siwak, so I asked him, as I knew that he wanted it, “Would you like me to take it for you?’’ He nodded in agreement. I took it and gave it to him. As it was too hard for him, I asked, “Shall I soften it for you?’’ He nodded in agreement. So, I softened it with my saliva and he passed it (on his teeth).

In another version it is said: “So he brushed his teeth as well as he could.’’ There was a water pot available close to his hand with some water in it. He put his hand in it and wiped his face with it and said:

``There is no God but Allah. Death is full of agonies.’’

As soon as he finished brushing his teeth, he raised his hand or his finger up, looked upwards to the ceiling and moved his lips. So, `Aishah(May Allah be Pleased with her) listened to him. She heard him say:

“With those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, with the Prophets and the Truthful ones, the martyrs and the good doers. O Allah, forgive me and have mercy upon me and join me to the most exalted Companionship on high.”

Then he repeated the last words three times:

``The most exalted Companionship on high.’’

And at the same time, his hand came down and he joined the most exalted Companionship on high.

“To Allah we turn and it is to Him that we turn for help, and for the last abode.”

This event took place late in the morning on Monday, the twelfth of Rabi`ul-Awwal, 11 A.H. At the time of his death, he was sixty-three years and four days old.

The Companions’ Concern over the Prophet’s Death

The great news was soon known by everyone in Madinah. Dark grief spread on all areas and horizons of Madinah. Anas (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “I have never witnessed a day better or brighter than that day in which Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to us; and I have never witnessed a more awful or darker day than the one in which Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) died.’’

When he (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) died, Fatimah(May Allah be Pleased with her) said: “O father, who responded to the Call of his Lord! O father, whose abode is Paradise. O father, I announce your death to Jibreel.’’

‘Umar’s Attitude

‘Umar (May Allah be Pleased with him) was so stunned that he almost lost consciousness; he stood before the people and said: “Some of the hypocrites claim that Allah’s Messenger has died. Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has not died, but has gone to his Lord in the same way as Moses bin `Imran did. He stayed away for forty nights, but finally came back though they said he had been dead. By Allah, Allah’s Messenger will come back and he will cut off the hands and legs of those who claim his death.’’

Abu Bakr’s Attitude

Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) left his house, which was situated in As-Sunh and came to the Masjid on horseback. At the Masjid, he dismounted and entered it. He spoke to no one, and instead went on until he entered `Aishah’s room, and went directly to where Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was.

The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was covered with a Yemeni mantle. He uncovered his face, leaned over, kissed him, and cried.

Then he said: “I sacrifice my father and mother for your sake. Verily, Allah will not cause you to die twice. You have just experienced the death that Allah has ordained.”

Then he went out and found `Umar talking to people. He said: “’Umar, be seated.’’ `Umar refused to do so. The people left `Umar and came towards Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him), who began to say:

``He who worships Muhammad should know that Muhammad is dead. But he who worships Allah, He is Ever Living and He never dies.

Allah says:

`Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah, and Allah will give reward to those who are grateful.’’’ [3:144]

Ibn `Abbas said: “By Allah, it was as if the people had never heard this

Qur’anic Verse until Abu Bakr recited it as a reminder. So, the people began reciting it until there was no person who did not recite it.”

Ibn Al-Musaiyab relates that `Umar (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “By Allah, as soon as I heard Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) say it, I fell down to the ground. I felt as if my legs had been unable to carry me so that I collapsed when I heard him say it. Only then did I realize that Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had really died.’’

The Burial and Farewell Preparations to His Honorable Body

Dispute about, who would succeed him, broke out even before the body of Allah’s Messenger was prepared for burial. Lots of arguments, discussions, and dialogues took place between the Helpers and Emigrants in the roofed passage of Bani Sa’idah. Finally they acknowledged Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) as the caliph. They had spent the entire day of Monday there, until it was night. The people were so busy with their arguments that it was late night, just before dawn on Tuesday, yet his blessed body was still lying on his bed covered with a garment. The room was locked from the outside.

His body was washed on Tuesday, with his clothes on, by Al-`Abbas, `Ali, Al-Fadl and Quthm, the two sons of Al-`Abbas, as well as Shuqran, the freed slave of Allah’s Messenger, Usamah bin Zaid, and Aws bin Khaula (May Allah be Pleased with all of them).

Al-`Abbas, Al-Fadl and Quthm (May Allah be Pleased with all of them) moved his body from side to side, while Usamah and Shuqran (May Allah be Pleased with all of them) poured water over him and `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) washed him, and Aws (May Allah be Pleased with him) leaned him against his chest.

The Prophet’s body was washed three times with water and berry leaves. The water came from Ghars, Sa`d bin Khaithamah’s well in Quba’ which the Prophet used to drink from. They shrouded him in three white Yemeni cotton sheets with neither a turban nor a shirt.

A slight disagreement arose concerning the burial place. Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “I heard Allah’s Messenger say: ‘A Prophet is buried where he dies.’ So Abu Talhah lifted the bed on which he had died, dug underneath and cut the ground for the grave. It was a Lahd type of grave with a niche in the side.

People entered the room in groups of ten and prayed the funeral prayer individually, without an Imam to lead them. The first to pray over him were the people of his tribe, then the Emigrants, then the Helpers. Women prayed for him after the men. The young were the last to pray.

This process lasted all day Tuesday and most of Wednesday until nightfall.

`Aishah(May Allah be Pleased with her) said: “We did not know that the Prophet was being buried until we heard the sound of tools digging the ground at the depth of the night before Wednesday.’’

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