The Sentiments of the Companions When the Prophet Died

The Sentiments of the Companions (ra) When the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) Died

The reaction of the Companions regarding the Prophet’s death is another affair altogether:

Salim ibn ‘Ubaid (ra) related, during his sickness, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) became unconscious; when he later recovered consciousness, he said, ‘Has the prayer arrived?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ Then he said, ‘Order Bilal to perform the call to prayer, and order Abu Bakr to pray with the people (i.e., to lead the people in prayer).’

Then again, he lost consciousness; when he was revived, he said, ‘Has the prayer arrived?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, ‘Order Bilal to make the call to prayer, and order Abu Bakr to pray with the people.’

‘A’ishah (ra) said, ‘My father is indeed a man who is quick to become sad and to cry; if he stands in that position, he cries, and he is not able. Would that you ordered someone else.’

He again lost consciousness, and when he revived this time, he said, ‘Order Bilal to make the call to prayer, and order Abu Bakr to pray with the people, for indeed, you women are the companions of Yusuf. [They are like the companions of Yusuf in that they display outwardly that which is opposite to what is in their inside. ‘Aishah (ra) said her statement so that people wouldn’t be pessimistic about her father, an explanation that is related in Bukhari and Muslim.]

So Bilal (ra) was ordered to make the call to prayer and he did so, and Abu Bakr (ra) was ordered to lead the people in prayer, and he did so. Then the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) found some energy, and he (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said , ‘Find someone for me upon whom I may lean.’ Barirah and another man came, and he (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) leaned upon them: When Abu Bakr (ra) saw him, he began to move back so that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) could take his place, but the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) signalled to him that he should remain firm in his place until Abu Bakr (ra) completed his prayer. [Scholars have opinion, ‘He went out, leaning on ‘Abbas (ra) and another man, who was ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra). It is said that the two men were ‘Abbas (ra) and his son, Fadl (ra). It is understood from the different narrations that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) went out on numerous occasions in this manner.]

Then the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) died , yet ‘Umar (ra) said, ‘By Allah, if anyone mentions that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has died, I will strike him with this sword of mine.’

The people were illiterate: never before Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was there a Prophet among them. The people desisted [from any action] and said, ‘O Salim, go to the Messenger of Allah’s companion and call him.’

So I went to Abu Bakr (ra) while he was in the Mosque. As I approached him, I was crying in bewilderment. When he saw me, he said, ‘Did the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) die ?’ I said, ‘Indeed, ‘Umar (ra) says: If I hear anyone mention that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) died, I will strike him with this sword of mine.’

Abu Bakr (ra) then said to me, ‘Proceed,’ and so I proceeded with him until he reached the people, who had entered upon the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). He (ra) said, ‘O people! Make way for me.’ They made way for him until he bent down to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and touched him; he then said: “Verily, you (O Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)) will die and verily, they (too) will die.” (Quran 39:30)

The people said, ‘O companion of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), has the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) died?’ He answered, ‘Yes.’ And they knew that he had spoken the truth.

They said, ‘O companion of the Messenger of Allah! Is the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) to be prayed upon?’ He (ra) said, ‘Yes.’ ‘And how?’ They asked. He replied, ‘A group enters to magnify Allah, pray to Him, and invoke him. Then they leave, after which another group enters, who magnify Allah, pray to Him, and invoke Him, after which they leave…’

The people asked, ‘O companion of the Messenger of Allah! Is the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) to be buried?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ They said, ‘Where?’ He answered, ‘In the same place that Allah took his soul, for indeed, Allah did not take his soul except in a good and pure place.’ And they knew that he had spoken the truth. Then he ordered the offspring from the Prophet’s father’s side to wash him… [i.e., his (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) male inheriting relatives. And so ‘Ali (ra) washed him. Al-Fadl ibn ‘Abbas (ra), Usamah (ra), and Shaqran (the freed slave ofthe Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would pass the water on to ‘Ali (ra). The entire narration is related by Al-Tirmidhi in Al-Shamail; by Ibn Majah in Al-Salah (The chapter on the Messenger of Allah’s prayer during his sickness); by Al-Tabarani, in Al-Kabir; part of it by al-Bukhari, in his Sahih; and part of it by Al-Nisa’i.]

‘Umar (&) said, “By Allah, if I hear anyone mention that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has died, I will strike him with this sword of mine!”

Why would ‘Umar (ra) threaten others with his sword, if not because of his great love of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). He loved the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) more than he loved his own self, his son, his wife, his wealth, and all of mankind. His reaction when he heard someone say, “The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has died,” is completely understandable.

As for the rest of the Companions, they refrained from speaking. Because there never was a Prophet among them before the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), they knew not what to do. But Abu Bakr (ra), who went to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and touched him, recited:

“Verily, you (O Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) will die and verily, they (too) will die.” (Quran 39:30)

His recitation here points to his profound understanding of the Noble Quran; he understood from this verse that death is inevitable – even for the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). The rest of the companions were so shocked that they passed through a phase of denial, and no wonder, for the one they lost was the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).

How many times have we heard of people who fell unconscious upon hearing the news of their child’s death; for some, the shock led to a stroke, causing them to die instantly; others lost their mind or suffered from some dangerous sickness.

“The people said, ‘O companion of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), has the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) died?’ He answered, ‘Yes.’ And they knew that he had spoken the truth.” It was at this point that the companions calmed down, knowing that the Messenger of Allah had indeed died.

Anas (ra) related,

On the day that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) entered Madinah, all things inside of it became illuminated. But on the day that he died, all things in it became darkened. And no sooner did we leave the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and bury him than we reproached our hearts (i.e., they did not find their hearts to be upon the same degree of purity as before the Prophet’s death, when revelation was still being revealed to him, and when he was still teaching them).’ [Ibn Majah, in Sahih Ibn Majah(1322)]

“On the day that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) entered Madinah, all things inside of it became illuminated”: Everything was gleaming because of the Messenger of Allah’s presence and arrival; happiness filled the hearts of the young and old, males and females. But on the day he (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) died, all things became darkened. The landscape and scenery around them changed: they found no taste in the delicious, no beauty in the beautiful. Their souls became constricted.

As soon as they parted from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and finished burying him, they reproached their hearts, which became different from the hearts that they had known during his lifetime. So piercing and delicate were their emotions and feelings, they sensed a slight change that to others would probably have remained imperceptible.

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