The Death of Our Beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)

Date: 18th January 2015; 24th Rabi’ al-awwal 1436

Our life here in this Dunya is limited. We all know that one day or the other we must leave this world and finally face our Hereafter. The Quran states:

Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. to Us must ye return.

Surah Al-Anbiya, Ayah 35 (21:35) Translation: Yusuf Ali

Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was a mortal like all creation in this world and he too had to face death. It is mentioned so in the Quran by Allah:

Verily, you (O Muhammad) will die and verily, they (too) will die.

Surah Az-Zumar, Ayah 30 (39:30) Translation: Muhsin Khan

But one thing needs to be clarified that our death and the death of the prophets are not same. Prophets of Allah are in fact alive in their graves and are awaiting the Day of Judgement. It can be inferred so from this Hadith:

Anas ibn Malik (Radi Allahu Anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “The Prophets are alive in their graves performing Salah.”

References: Recorded by al-Bayhaqi (Rahmatullah Allaih) in his ‘Hayat al-Anbiya’ and Abu Ya’la (Rahmatullah Allaih) in his Musnad. The above Hadith has been authenticated by many Hadith scholars, such as: Ibn Hajar (Rahmatullah Allaih), al-Haythami (Rahmatullah Allaih), Ali al-Qari (Rahmatullah Allaih), al-Munawi (Rahmatullah Allaih), al-Shawkani (Rahmatullah Allaih) and others.

Just like the other prophets our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is also alive in his grave. In fact if we recite Darood Sharif on Fridays, it reaches the grave of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). It is mentioned so in this Hadith:

Aus (Radi Allahu Anha) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “The best of your days is Friday, so send more and more greetings to me on it, for your greetings are presented to me.” They asked, “How are our greetings presented to you while you are dead and your body is turned into dust?” He (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) replied, “Allah has forbidden the earth to consume the bodies of the prophets.”

References: Sunan Abu Dawud and Sunan an-Nasa’i.

So all our prophets sent to spread the religion of Allah are in fact alive so our death should not be compared with those of the prophets. Now let’s recall how history records the death of our Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

There were few signs or symptoms given before the coming of the death of Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). One book mentions eight of these early symptoms:

  • In Ramadan in the tenth year of Al-Hijra he secluded himself for twenty days in contrast to ten, previously.
  • The archangel Jibril reviewed the Qur’ân twice with him.
  • His words in the Farewell Pilgrimage (i.e. Al-Wida‘):
  • “I do not know whether I will ever meet you at this place once again after this current year.”
  • The revelation of An-Nasr Chapter. So when it was sent down on him, he realized that it was the parting time and that Surah was an announcement of his approaching death.
  • On the early days of Safar in the eleventh year of Al-Hijra, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) went out to Uhud and observed a farewell prayer to the martyrs. It looked like saying goodbye to both the dead and the living alike. He then ascended the pulpit and addressed the people saying:
  • “I am to precede you and I have been made witness upon you. By Allâh, you will meet me at the ‘Fountain’ very soon. I have been given the keys of worldly treasures. By Allâh, I do not fear for you that you will turn polytheists after me. But I do fear that acquisition of worldly riches should entice you to strike one another’s neck.”
  • One day, at midnight he went to Al-Baqee‘ cemetery, and implored Allâh to forgive the martyrs of Islam. He said: “Peace be upon you tomb-dwellers! May that morning that dawns upon you be more relieving than that which dawn upon the living. Afflictions are approaching them 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 will follow you.”

Reference: Ar-Raheeq-ul-Makhtum by  Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri

The revelation of Surah An-Nasr indicated the coming death of our Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). It is mentioned in one Hadith:

Narrated by Ibn Abbas (Radi Allahu Anhu): ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab used to let Ibn Abbas sit beside him, so ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf said to ‘Umar, “We have sons similar to him.” ‘Umar replied, “(I respect him) because of his status that you know.” ‘Umar then asked Ibn ‘Abbas about the meaning of this Holy Verse:– “When comes the help of Allah and the conquest of Mecca . . .” (110:1) Ibn ‘Abbas replied, “That indicated the death of Allah’s Apostle which Allah informed him of.”  ‘Umar said, “I do not understand of it except what you understand.”

Reference: Sahih Bukhari

After the conquest of Khaibar, the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was in fact poisoned by the meat given by the Jews. Hadith says:

Narrated Anas bin Malik (Radi Allahu Anhu):  A Jewess brought a poisoned (cooked) sheep for the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) who ate from it. She was brought to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and he was asked, “Shall we kill her?” He said, “No.”  I continued to see the effect of the poison on the palate of the mouth of Allah’s Apostle (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

Reference: Sahih Bukhari

It is this poison which later afflicted caused the pain before the death of our Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

THE START OF THE DISEASE:

Let us now discuss the days right before his death.

On Monday the twenty-ninth of Safar in the eleventh year of Al-Hijra, Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) participated in funeral rites in Al-Baqee‘. On the way back he had a headache, his temperature rose so high that the heat effect could be felt over his headband.

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

THE LAST WEEK:

When his sickness grew severe he asked 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 (Radi Allahu Anha)’s room leaning — while he was walking — on Al-Fadl bin Al-‘Abbas and ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (Radi Allahu Anhum). Head banded as he was, he dragged his feet till he came into her abode. It was there that he spent the last week of his life.

During that period, ‘Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha) used to recite Al-Mu’awwidhatayn (Chapters 113 and 114 of the Qur’ân) and other supplications which he had already taught her.

In spite of the strain of disease and suffering from pain, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to lead all the prayers till that Thursday — four days before he died.

In the evening he grew so sick that he could not overcome the strain of disease or go out to enter the Masjid. ‘Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha) said: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) asked: “Have the people performed the prayer?” “No. They haven’t. They are waiting for you.” “Put some water in the washing pot.” Said he. We did what he ordered. So he washed and wanted to stand up, but he fainted. When he came round he asked again “Have the people prayed?” Then the same sequence of events took place again and again for the second and on the third time he fainted after his attempts to stand up. Therefore he sent to Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) to lead the prayer himself. Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) then led the prayer during those days. They were seventeen prayers in the lifetime of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

A DAY OR TWO PRIOR TO HIS DEATH:

On Saturday or on Sunday, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)) felt that he was well enough to perform the prayer; so he went out leaning on two men in order to perform the noon prayer. Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu), who was then about to lead the prayer withdrew when he saw him coming; but the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) made him a gesture to stay where he was and said: “Seat me next to him.”

They seated him on the left hand side of Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu). The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) led the prayer, and Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) followed him and raised his voice at every ‘Allâhu Akbar’ (i.e. Allâh is the Greatest), the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, so that the people may hear clearly.

A DAY BEFORE HIS DEATH:

On Sunday, a day before he died, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) set his slaves free, paid as a charity the seven Dinars he owned and gave his weapons as a present to the Muslims. So when night fell ‘Aishah had to borrow some oil from her neighbour to light her oil-lantern.

Even his armour was mortgaged as a security with a Jew for thirty Sa‘ (a cubic measure) of barley.

THE LAST DAY ALIVE:

In a narration by Anas bin Malik (Radi Allahu Anhu), he said: “While the Muslims were performing the dawn prayer on Monday — led by Abu Bakr, they were surprised to see the Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) 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. For he thought that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) wanted to go out and pray.” Anas said: “The Muslims, who were praying, were so delighted that they were almost too enraptured at their prayers. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) made them a gesture to continue their prayer, went into the room and drew down the curtain.” The Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) did not live for the next prayer time.

When it was daytime, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) called Fatimah (Radi Allahu Anha) and told her something in a secret voice that made her cry. Then he whispered to her something else which made her laugh. ‘Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha) enquired from her after the Prophet’s death, as to this weeping and laughing to which Fatimah (Radi Allahu Anha) 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 (Radi Allahu Anha) glad tidings that she would become the lady of all women of the world. Fatimah (Radi Allahu Anha) witnessed the great pain that afflicted her father. So she said: “What great pain my father is in!”. To these words, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) remarked: “He will not suffer any more when today is over.”

He asked that Al-Hasan and Al-Husain (Radi Allahu Anhum) 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 them and told them to remember Allâh. Pain grew so much severe that the trace of poison he had at Khaibar came to light. It was so sore that he said to ‘Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha): “I still feel the painful effect of that food I tasted at Khaibar. I feel as if death is approaching.” He ordered the people to perform the prayers and be attentive to slaves. He repeated it several times.

THE PROPHET BREATHES HIS LAST:

When the pangs of death started, ‘Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha) leant him against her. She used to say: One of Allâh’s bounties upon me is that the Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) died in my house, while I am still alive. He died between my chest and neck while he was leaning against me. Allâh has mixed his saliva with mine at his death. For ‘Abdur Rahman — the son of Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) — came in with a Siwak (i.e. the root of a desert plant used for brushing teeth) in his hand, while I was leaning the Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) against me. I noticed that he was looking at the Siwak, so I asked him — for 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 him “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 (Istanna) his teeth as nice as he could.” There was a water container (Rakwa) available at his hand with some water in. He put his hand in it and wiped his face with it and said:

“There is no god but Allâh. Death is full of agonies.”

As soon as he had finished his Siwak brushing, he raised his hand or his finger up, looked upwards to the ceiling and moved his lips. So ‘Aishah listened to him. She heard him say: “With those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace with the Prophets and the Truthful ones (As-Siddeeqeen), the martyrs and the good doers. O Allâh, forgive me and have mercy upon me and join me to the Companionship on high.” Then at intervals he uttered these words: “The most exalted Companionship on high. To Allâh we turn and to Him we turn back for help and last abode.” This event took place at high morning time on Monday, the twelfth of Rabi‘ Al-Awwal, in the eleventh year of Al-Hijrah. He was around sixty-three years and four days old when he died.

There is a Hadith related to the death of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) which states that the Angel of Death (Alayhi As-Salām) sought permission before taking the soul of Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) but the Hadith said to be fabricated. The Hadith goes like this:

When Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) got sickness of death, Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) came to him and said: “O Muhammad! Allah (azza wa jall) sent me to you with a special mission for glorifying and honoring you. Allah who knows your condition better than you sent me to ask you this: How do you feel yourself? Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: I am very sad and sick. Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) came to him on the second day. And the conversation between Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and him repeated as same as the first day. The third day Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) came and the conversation repeated as the days before. This time Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) came with an angel who is called Isma’il and he is the commander of 100.000 angels. Each angel he commands also commanding 100.000 angels. Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) asked permission for that angel. Then Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) asked about that angel. Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) said: the Angel of Death (Alayhi As-Salām) is at the door and he is asking permission to enter upon you. He has never asked permission from anyone before you and he will never ask anyone for permission after you. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: Let him in, O Jibril. Jibril gave the permission. The Angel of Death (Alayhi As-Salām) entered and said: Peace be upon you, O Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Allah has sent me to give you the choice between staying in this world and meeting Allah. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) asked him: O Angel of Death! Will you do whatever I say? He said: Yes! Indeed I have been commanded with this. This time Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) looked at Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) and Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) said: O Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)! “Innallaha qad ishtaqa ila liqaik” (Truly Allah longs to see you). Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) told the Angel of Death: Do whatever you have been commanded with. Then the Angel of Death took his soul.”

References and Notes: This Hadith is mursal. It is because Ali ibn Husayn the narrator of this Hadith had been born almost 30 years after death of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Kasim the one whom (Imam Shafi Rahmatullah Allaih) narrated this Hadith from had been declared as an arch-liar by Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Rahmatullah Allaih). Ibn Hanbal said fabrication for his narrations. Others also believe that he is weak (narrator).

So all of us need to be aware that the above mentioned incident is in fact a fabricated tale.

THE COMPANIONS’ CONCERN OVER THE PROPHET’S DEATH:

The great (loss) news was soon known by everybody in Madinah. Dark grief spread on all areas and horizons of Madinah. Anas (Radi Allahu Anhu) said: “I have never witnessed a day better or brighter than that day on which the Messenger of Allâh(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) came to us; and I have never witnessed a more awful or darker day than that one on which the Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) died on.”

When he died, Fatimah (Radi Allahu Anha) said: “O Father, whom his Lord responded to his supplication! O Father, whose abode is Paradise. O Father, whom I announce his death to Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām).”

UMAR (Radi Allahu Anhu)’s ATTITUDE:

Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu), who was so stunned that he almost lost consciousness and stood before people addressing them: “Some of the hypocrites claim that the Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) died. The Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) did not die, but went to his Lord in the same way as Musa (Alayhi As-Salām) bin ‘Imran did. He stayed away for forty nights, but finally came back though they said he had been dead. By Allâh, the Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) will come back and he will cut off the hands and legs of those who claim his death.”

 

ABU BAKR (Radi Allahu Anhu)’s ATTITUDE:

Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) left his house at As-Sunh and came forth to the Masjid on a mare-back. At the Masjid, he dismounted and entered. He talked to nobody but went on till he entered ‘Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha)’s abode, and went directly to where the Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was covered with a Yemeni mantle. He uncovered his face and tended down, kissed him and cried. Then he said: “I sacrifice my father and mother for your sake. Allâh, verily, will not cause you to die twice. You have just experienced the death that Allâh had ordained.”

Then he went out and found ‘Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) talking to people. He said: “‘Umar, be seated.” ‘Umar refused to do so. People parted ‘Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) and came towards Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu), who started a speech saying:

“And now, he who worships Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Muhammad is dead now. But he who worships Allâh, He is Ever Living and He never dies. Allâh says:

Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) 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.”

Surah Ali Imran, Ayah 144 (3:144) Translation: Muhsin Khan

Ibn ‘Abbas (Radi Allahu Anhu) said: “By Allâh, it sounded as if people had never heard such a Qur’ânic verse till Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) recited it as a reminder. So people started reciting it till there was no man who did not recite it.”

Ibn Al-Musaiyab said that ‘Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) had said: “By Allâh, as soon as I heard Abu Bakr say it, I fell down to the ground. I felt as if my legs had been unable to carry me so I collapsed when I heard him say it. Only then did I realize that Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) had really died.”

BURIAL AND FAREWELL PREPARATIONS TO HIS HONOURABLE BODY:

Dispute about who would succeed him Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) broke out even before having the Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)’s body prepared for burial. Lots of arguments, discussions, dialogues took place between the Helpers and Emigrants in the roofed passage (portico) of Bani Sa‘ida. Finally they acknowledged Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) as a caliph. They spent the whole Monday there till it was night. People were so busy with their arguments that it was late night — just about dawn of Tuesday — yet his blessed body was still lying on his bed covered with an inked-garment. He was locked in the room. On Tuesday, his body was washed with his clothes on. He was washed by Al-‘Abbas, ‘Ali, Al-Fadl and Qathm — the two sons of Al-‘Abbas, as well as Shaqran — the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)’s freed slave, Osamah bin Zaid and Aws bin Khauli. Al-‘Abbas, Al-Fadl and Qathm turned his body round, whereas Osamah and Shaqran poured out water. ‘Ali (Radi Allahu Anhu) washed him and Aws (Radi Allahu Anhu) leant him against his chest. They shrouded him in three white Sahooli cotton cloth which had neither a head cloth nor a casing and inserted him in.

A sort of disagreement arose with regard to a burial place. Abu Bakr Radi Allahu Anhu) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allâh (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) say: ‘A dead Prophet is buried where he dies.’ So Abu Talhah (Radi Allahu Anhu) lifted the bed on which he died, dug underneath and cut the ground to make the tomb.

People entered the room ten by ten. They prayed for the Prophet (Radi Allahu Anhu). The first to pray for him were people of his clan. Then the Emigrants, then the Helpers. Women prayed for him after men. The young were the last to pray. This process took Tuesday long and Wednesday night (i.e. the night which precedes Wednesday morning). ‘Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha) said: “We did not know that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was being buried till we heard the sound of tools digging the ground at the depth of Wednesday night.”

After the death of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), Abu Bakr (Radi Allahu Anhu) became the first Caliph. Before his death he appointed Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) as his successor. Both of their graves lies at the side of the Prophet  (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). The lesson that we need to learn from this is that the first two Caliphs of Islam were the great Muslims. Both of them loved the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) so dearly that in the end they will be raised on the Day of Resurrection with the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) being right beside him. If we follow the Sunnah and love our Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) dearly then certainly all of us will be respected by Allah and His Messenger, Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) on the Day of Judgement and the honor we get on that day will certainly be something of such a value that it won’t be equal to anything that we have ever possessed in this world.

Bibliography: Ar-Raheeq-ul-Makhtum by  Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri

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