Prophet Muhammad (SAW) : Eternal Rest

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) : Eternal Rest

After the religion brought by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had been made perfect and complete, Allah sent down the revelation:

“This day I have perfected your religion, completed my favors upon you, and declared Islam as your Religion” [Surah Al-Maidah:3]

The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) had delivered the message truthfully. He had spared no pains. He had not let any hardship or sacrifice shake him. He had brought up the people who could be trusted to live up to the spiritual heritage of the Prophets of Allah (SWT), who could shoulder the heavy responsibility of carrying the banner of Faith and Truth and to guard the message of Allah against every interpolation and mutation. Allah had even affirmed that they were capable of the obligation laid on them in the Quranic verse that says:

“Ye are the best community that hath been raised-up for mankind, ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah.” [Surah Al-‘Imran 110]

The Quran contains Allah’s pure and holy truth, the source of inspiration and conviction to these people, which enjoyed the assurance of Allah from being eclipsed or from undergoing any corruption in its text.

“Verily We reveal the Reminder, and verily We are its Guardian.” [Surah Al-Hijr 9]

On the other hand, Allah’s help and victory came to invigorate the Prophet (peace be upon him) who saw the people entering the religion of Allah in large numbers. Delegations from Arab tribes followed one after another in rapid succession to pledge their allegiance to him. The lightning speed or the geometric growth, with which Islam gained converts, promised its victory over all religions of the world.

Allah, in Surah an-Nasr, makes an allusion to the rapid success of Islam:

“When Allah’s succor and the triumph cometh And You seest mankind entering the religion of Allah in troops. Then hymn the praises of Your Lord, and seek forgiveness of Him. Lo! He is ever ready to show mercy.” [Surah An-Nasr 1-3]

RECITATION OF THE Quran AND DEVOTIONS

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to retreat into his mosque for private devotions during the last ten days of Ramadan, but during the last Ramadan of his life he had secluded himself for twenty days. (Al-Bukhari, Kitab ul-A’itika)

The Quran used to be reviewed by the Prophet (peace be upon him) with Jibreel (Gabriel) once annually during Ramadan, but this was done twice in the year which he died. The Prophet (peace be upon him) at such a time told his companions that he had some strong feelings that the time of his departure from the world was drawing near. (Al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Manaqib)

No man has ever had the glowing desire to meet the Lord as possessed by the Prophet (peace be upon him), and Allah now gave him permission to quit the fleeting world.

The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) held him dear like the apple of one’s eye. His death was thus a shock more terrible than what they could be expected to endure. But Allah had in His infinite wisdom prepared them beforehand for that unprecedented heartache. The rumor about the Prophet’s death had been circulated around in the battle of Uhud, but later on it came out that Allah had still not deprived them of the blessed companionship of His Prophet (peace be upon him). Yet none of them had regarded the Prophet (peace be upon him) as immortal for they knew that he would have to leave this world sooner or later. It was on that occasion that the revelation was sent down by Allah to forewarn Muslims. As the Quran says:

“Muhammed is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him. Will it be that when he dieth or is slain, ye will turn back on your heels? He who turneth back doth not hurt Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful.” [Surah Al-‘Imran 144]

The earliest Muslims had been guided, trained and set right by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Their hearts were harmonized with Allah and they were all put in harness at the great task of spreading the message of Islam to the farthest corners of the world. And they never had any doubt that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would one day be summoned by the Lord in order to be recompensed for the greatest service rendered by him in humanity.

The verse:  “When Allah’s succor and the triumph cometh,”  had convinced the companions that it was but the first announcement of the Prophet’s approaching departure from their midst. They were fully conscious of the fact that reference to the help and victory coming from Allah signified completion of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) mission.

Then, when the revelation came,  “This day have I perfected your religion…”, a number of eminent companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were led to believe that the time for his final summons was drawing near. (Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, p. 427)

ARDENT DESIRE FOR PROXIMITY TO ALLAH

After his return from the farewell pilgrimage, a number of things done by the Prophet (peace be upon him) indicated that he was approaching the journey’s end and he was now making preparations for meeting the ‘Companion Most High’.  Eight years after the battle of Uhud, the Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed over those who were slain there like one who was bidding farewell to the living and the dead. He then mounted the pulpit and said, “I am one who goes before you and I shall be a witness to you. Your appointed place is at the Haud-I-Kauthar where I find myself standing. I have been given the keys of the treasure of the earth, and I do not fear for you that you would become polytheists after I am gone, but I fear lest you should long for worldly things and strike each other’s necks.”

BEGINNING OF THE ILLNESS

The sickness of the Prophet (peace be upon him) began shortly before the end of Safar. Late in one night, the Prophet (peace be upon him) went to the cemetery of Madinah, known as Jannatul Baqi, where he prayed for the dead and returned to his house. The next morning his ailment began.

‘Aisha relates that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) returned from the Jannatul Baqi he was suffering from a headache and was muttering, “O my head.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Nay, O my head! ‘Aisha, O my head!” His pain increased. Then, in the house of Maymuna the Prophet (peace be upon him) called his wives and asked their permission to be nursed in the house of ‘Aisha. All of them agreed and the Prophet (peace be upon him) came out walking supported by Fad b. ‘Abbas and ‘Ali. He had a cloth bound on his head and his feet were dragging as he came to the house of ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her). (Al-Bukhari, Chap. Mard-un-Nabi)

‘Aisha tells that during the illness from which the Prophet (peace be upon him) never recovered he told her, “Aisha, I still feel pain from the food I took at Khaybar, now I feel my aorta being cut because of it.”

SOLICITUDE FOR THE WELFARE OF MUSLIMS

Some of the Prophet’s companions came to see him during his illness in the house of ‘Aisha. He welcomed them and prayed for their guidance on the right path and invoked the help and blessings of Allah for them. Thereafter he said, “I enjoin you to fear Allah and assign you to His care after me. I am a warner unto you from Allah. Behold! Never give yourselves to arrogance and vainglory in the habitations of Allah’s servants for Allah has told you and me: ‘As for the Abode of the Hereafter We assign it unto those who seek not oppression in the earth, nor yet corruption. The sequel is for those who ward off (evil).” [Quran 28:83]

Then he recited another verse: “Is not the home of the scorners in Hell?” [Quran 39:60]

INDIFFERENCE TO THE WORLD AND WEALTH

‘Aisha relates that during his illness, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) asked her, “Aisha, what has happened to those pieces of gold?” When she brought five or seven or nine dirhams, he took them in his hands and said, “How shall I face Allah with these in my possession? Give these away in charity.”

ANXIETY FOR THE PRAYERS

While the Prophet (peace be upon him) was caught in a debilitating sickness, he inquired, “Has everybody offered prayers?” Those attending him replied, “No, O Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him), they are waiting for you.” He asked someone to bring water in a pan. After being served with his request, he took a bath and tried to get up, but fell unconscious. On regaining consciousness after a short while, he again asked, “Has everybody offered prayers?” They replied, “No, O Prophet of Allah, they are waiting for you.” All the people were then sitting silently in the Prophet’s Mosque for the night prayer. Now Abu Bakr was considerate enough and concerned with the prevailing situation that he asked ‘Umar to lead the prayer. ‘Umar, however, declined saying that he (Abu Bakr) was more qualified than he was. Thus, Abu Bakr lead.

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) felt a bit better he came out taking the help of ‘Abbas and ‘Ali for the noon prayer. As soon as Abu Bakr came to know of the Prophet’s arrival, he tried to step back, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) directed him not to leave his place and asked the two who were supporting him to let him take the seat by the side of Abu Bakr. Thus, the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed the prayer sitting while Abu Bakr kept standing in the prayer.

Umm Al-Fadl ibn al-Harith says that she had heard Allah’s Messenger reciting Surah al-Mursalat at the sunset prayer. Thereafter he did not lead any prayer until Allah summoned him to His presence. (Al-Bukhari, Kitab us-Salat)

AN ADDRESS

Of the few occasions when the Prophet (peace be upon him) made for the pulpit during his illness, he once said while a cloth was tied around his head. “Behold, Allah gave to His bondmen the choice between this world and that which is with Him, so he chose that which is with Allah.” Abu Bakr saw the significance of the Prophet’s word, for he knew that it was the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself who had been given that choice. He broke into tears and exclaimed, “Nay, may our own lives and our children be your ransom.’

The Prophet (peace be upon him) then replied, “Abu Bakr, have patience and don’t be hasty. Indeed, of all the people, the most generous toward me in regard to his life and property was Abu Bakr. And, were I to choose anyone to be my dearest friend, indeed I would choose Abu Bakr. But the love and concern for Islam takeS precedence above all others.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said in this occasion, “There shall be left open no door of the mosque save Abu Bakr’s”. (Al-Bukhari, Kitab Us-Salat)

DIRECTIVES FOR KINDLINESS TO THE ANSAAR

‘Abbaas and company happened to pass by a group of Ansaar. They saw them weeping and asked, “What makes you weep?” They answered, “We have been recalling our meetings with the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him).” When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was informed of the incident, he came out, the end of his mantle wound round his head, and mounted the pulpit. He did not mount the pulpit again after that day when he praised Allah and extolled Him. Then he said, “I commend the Ansaar to you, for, behold, they are my intimates and bosom friends. They have fulfilled their duty, and now whatever claims they have on others remain to be requited. Therefore, you shall welcome whatever is done by the good among them, and forgive those that do wrong.” (Al-Bukhari, Fada’il Ashab)

LAST LOOK AT THE MUSLIMS IN PRAYER

Abu Bakr continued to lead the prayer. On a Monday morning, when the people were performing the dawn prayer, the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) lifted the curtain of his door and kept his gaze fixed in the worshippers for some time to see how they paid honors to the Lord. He perhaps wanted to see the results of his life-long endeavor and struggle, training and guidance. Or, perhaps, having ever been so much fond of prayers, he wanted to know how they were enthralled and lost in prayers in his absence as they had always been in his presence. What the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw was extremely satisfying. For, never had the mission of any Prophet (peace be upon him) been carried out to completion in that manner. It reassured him that the attachment of the community he brought up to Allah and His religion was ever durable and undying, not transient to wear away after his death. Allah knows better how delighted he was, as his companions say, when his face was beaming with joy. They relate that “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) lifted the curtain and kept his eyes fixed upon them, standing on ‘Aisha’s door. It seemed as if his face was an open book. He smiled and then laughed. We thought that we might be seduced or distracted from our prayers because perhaps, he was coming out to perform the same. But he told us to complete what we were doing and then he pulled down the curtain. And that was the day on which he died.” (Al-Bukhari, Mard-an-Nabi)

INTERDICTION OF PRAYERS AT SEPULCHERS

Among the last words uttered by the Prophet (peace be upon him) were: “Allah’s curse is upon the Jews and Christians for having taken their Prophets’ graves as places of worship.”

‘Aisha and Ibn ‘Abbas related that when the time for the Prophet’s death drew nigh, he had a black striped sheet over him. Often, he pulled it over his face and then having felt restless, removed it. It was in this condition that he said, “Allah’s curse is upon the Jews and Christians for having taken their Prophets’ graves as places of worship.”

He was warning the Muslims against such a practice.

THE LAST COUNSEL

When he was about to breathe his last, he said repeatedly “Lo! Be careful of prayer and of those whom you possess or have under your charge.” He continued to repeat these words until they became inaudible but it appeared that he was trying to express them. (Baihaqi and Ahmad, Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, p.473)

‘Ali says that he heard the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) commending the Muslims to be careful of prayer and poor-due and to be generous to their slaves and subordinates.

‘Aisha relates that while she has started reciting the last two Surahs of the Quran over the Prophet (peace be upon him), he lifted up his eyes and said, “With the Exalted Companion! with the Exalted Companion!” Just at that moment ‘Abdurahman b. Abu Bakr entered the room with a green toothstick in his hand. The Prophet (peace be upon him) looked at in a way that she thought he wanted it. She chewed it a little to make it soft and pliable, and gave it to him. He rubbed his teeth with it as he used to rub before and tried to hand it over to her but it fell down from his hands.

She further says that a cup of water was kept near him. He dipped his hand in it and then wiped his face, saying, “There is no God but Allah. Verily, there are pangs of death.’ Then he lifted up his forefinger and said, “With the Exalted Companion” until his soul took departed and his forefinger dropped on one side into the water.

‘Aisha said that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was about to leave them behind, he had his head on her thigh. He fainted in a split second and then regaining consciousness, looked up towards the ceiling, saying all the while, “Verily, with the Exalted Companion!” And with these words on his lips, the Prophet (peace be upon him) of Allah was yielding his last breath.

 

HOW THE PROPHET (peace be upon him) LEFT THIS WORLD

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) abandoned this world, he had all of Arabia well in his hand. The sovereign and rulers were scared by his rising power while his companions were ever willing to undergo any sacrifice, to lay down their own lives and to surrender up their wealth, property and children for his sake. Yet he left this world without a single dinar or dirham or a slave or a bondmaid in his possession. All that he owned at the time was one white mule, some weapons and a piece of land, which had already been given away in charity. (Al-Bukhari, Mard un-Nabi)

The Prophet’s coat of mail had been pawned to a Jew for thirty Sa’s of barley (Al-Bukhari, Mard un-Nabi) when he died and nothing was left with him to retrieve it. (Baihaqi, p. 52)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) secured the freedom of forty slaves during his illness. Only six or seven dinars were left with ‘Aisha, but he asked her to give away even those in charity. (Al-Siratul Halabiyah, Vol. III, p. 381)

‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) relates that on the day the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) died, there was nothing in her house which could be taken by a living being except for a little barley left in a cupboard. It lasted for a few days until she weighed it, and that very day it was all used.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) died on Monday, the 12th day of Rabia ul-Awwal in the heat of noon after the sun had passed the meridian. He was then sixty-three years of age. (As related by most of the Traditionists) This was the darkest hour for the Muslims, a day gloomy and lament for humanity just as his birth had signaled hope and cheerfulness for the whole world. Anas and Abu S’aid al-Khudri said that when the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came to Madinah, everything looked better and brighter but no day was worse or darker than the day he died. Some of the people saw Umm Aymaan weeping when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was bed-ridden. When they asked what had made her weep, she replied, “Of course, I know that the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) will quite leave this world but I am weeping because the revelation from heaven has come to an end.” (Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, pp. 544-46)

BEWILDERMENT OF THE COMPANIONS

The news of the Prophet’s death fell like a thunderbolt on his companions. All were stunned because of the ardent love and esteem they had for him. Such was their reliance on his loving care as the children are assured of the protection of their parents. Their distress was not at all surprizing, for Allah speaks of the Prophet’s concern for his followers: “There hath come unto you a Messenger, (one) of yourselves, unto whom aught that ye are overburdened is grievous, full of concern for you, for the believers full of pity, merciful.” [Surah At-Taubah 128]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was so gracious and considerate that his every companion believed himself to be the closest to him and never had any misgivings about his love and confidence. It was the reliance born of absolute trust mingled with devotion that had made it difficult for some of them to think of the day when the Prophet (peace be upon him) would depart from this world leaving them alone. One of these was ‘Umar, who had been one of the closest to the Prophet (peace be upon him) , and when he was told that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was already dead, he protested violently. He went so far as to address the people in the Prophet’s mosque and told them that Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him) would not quit this world until Allah had destroyed the hypocrites. (Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, pp. 544-46)

THE COURAGEOUS PROCLAMATION BY ABU BAKR (may Allah be pleased with him)

A man of determination and courage was needed at this difficult hour. And, this man was Abu Bakr, the most senior of the Prophet’s companions, who had been selected by Allah to take over the legacy of the Prophet (peace be upon him) with a firm hand. When the news reached him, he hurried back from his house. For a moment he stopped at the door of the mosque where ‘Umar was resolutely speaking to the people. without paying heed to anybody, he proceeded to Aisha’s room where the dead body of the Prophet (peace be upon him) lay covered with a mantle. He uncovered the Prophet’s face and kissed it. Then, he proceeded to say “My father and mother be your ransom. You have tasted the death Allah had decreed for you, a second death will never overtake you.”

Replacing the mantle on the Prophet’s face, he then went out to the Mosque. ‘Umar was still making a harangue to the people, so he said gently, “Umar, keep quiet.” But ‘Umar was too excited to listen to Abu Bakr.

Now, Abu Bakr realized that ‘Umar was not in a mood to terminate his speech. So he stepped forward and called out to the people, whereupon they came round to him leaving ‘Umar.

Abu Bakr praised Allah and then said: “O Men, if any one of you worshipped Muhammed, let him know that Muhammed is dead. But if anyone worships Allah, then Allah is alive and He willnever die.”

Then he recited the Quranic verse: “Muhammed is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him. Will it be that, when he dieth or is slain, ye will turn back on your heels?” He who turneth back doth no hurt to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful.” [Surah Aali-‘Imraan 144]

All those persons who were present on the occasion later on stated on oath that when Abu Bakr recited the verse, it seemed as if it had just been revealed. ‘Umar said: “When I heard Abu Bakr reciting that verse, I was taken aback and fell down as if I did not have a leg to stand on. I felt as if I had then come to know of the Prophet’s death.”

OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO ABU BAKR (may Allah be pleased with him)

All Muslims then swore faithfulness to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), in the Hall of Banu Sa’ida, as the successor of Allah’s Messenger. The reason for making haste was due to old rivalries flaring up suddenly through machinations of the devil and selfishness of the faint-hearted hypocrites. Those who were sincere and well-meaning wanted to ensure that the Muslims remained united and strong under a leader, who could look after their affairs and give a burial to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) as his successor and head of the Muslim community.

BURIAL OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD (peace be upon him)

Normalcy returned thereafter. The initial shock and grief gave way to tranquility and confidence and the Muslims again turned to the great task for which they had been trained and prepared by the Prophet (peace be upon him) of Allah. The Prophet’s family members washed and covered him, and stationed the bier in his house. On this occasion, Abu Bakr informed the people that the Prophet (peace be upon him) told him that every Prophet was buried on the spot where he dies. The Prophet’s bedding was accordingly removed from the place and Abu Talha Ansari then dug a grave for him at the same spot.

Then the people came to pay their last respects to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and to say the funeral prayer in batches one after another. Women came in after the men followed by the children, all of whom prayed over him. Nobody acted as Imam in the prayers over the Prophet (peace be upon him) . (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 663)

The day this came to pass was Tuesday.  (Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d; Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, p. 517)

It was a sad day for Madinah. When Bilal gave the call for morning prayer he could not help recalling the Prophet (peace be upon him) in his mind and broke down in tears and sobs. His crying tore the hearts of all others who had been part of the living. But, it was quite different now, as everything seemed to be wearisome, gloomy.

Umm Salama says, “What a tormenting affliction it was! When we recall the distress we were in, every other trouble appears to be lighter and easier to endure.’ (Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, pp. IV, p. 517)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) had once said to the believers, “O ye people! If any one of you comes to grief, he ought to console himself in his bereavement by recalling to his mind the anguish that will rend his heart on my death. For no sorrow would be greater to my followers than the agony caused to them by my death.” (Ibn Kathir Vol. IV, p. 549)

 

Also Read:

Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) : The Most Noble Character
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) : The Last Sermon
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) : The Farewell Pilgrimage
The Journey of Faith – Umrah in Ramadan
2nd Holiest Place : Masjid Al Nabawi in Madinah

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