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With The Prophet In The Last Hours Of His Life

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The heart-wrenching demise of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, is considered one of the most sorrowful events in the history of Islam. So much so that after performing the ritual cleansing and shrouding of the holy body of Allah’s messenger, Imam Ali (peace be upon him) pulled aside the shroud from the Prophet’s face. With a broken heart and overwhelmed with grief, he addressed the Prophet, saying: ‘May my parents be sacrificed for you! With your departure, the chain of prophethood, divine revelations, and the news of the heavens have ceased. If you hadn’t urged us to be patient in the face of adversities, I would have cried so much for you that the springs of my tears would have dried up. Our sorrow and grief over this calamity are eternal. Even though this level of grief and sorrow is minuscule compared to the tragedy of losing you, there’s no other way to express it. May my parents be sacrificed for you! Remember us in the hereafter and keep us in your thoughts.’ [1]. Then he covered the Prophet’s blessed face with the shroud.

In this article, we intend to examine the most crucial issue related to the days of the Prophet’s demise, namely his succession (Caliphate). For this purpose, we have referred to various books on early Islamic history, especially the book ‘Encyclopedia of Islamic History’.

The Date of the Demise of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

The prevalent opinion among Shiite scholars is that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his progeny, passed away on a Tuesday, the 28th of Safar in the 11th Hijri year. However, the popular belief among the Sunni majority is that he departed on the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal of the same year.

Sheikh Mufid writes: “The Prophet passed away on a Tuesday, the 28th of Safar in the 11th Hijri year, and at that time he was sixty-three years old.” [2]. Following him, the late Tabarsi in ‘Alaam al-Warai’, Qutb Rawandi in ‘Qasas al-Anbiya’, Halabi in ‘Manaqib Aal Abi Talib’, and Arbeli in ‘Kashf al-Ghamma’ have cited the same date, and this report is well-known. However, in ‘Usul al-Kafi’, Vol. 1, p. 439, it is mentioned: “The Messenger of Allah passed away on the night of the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal.” Sheikh Tusi cites this opinion in ‘Amali’, p. 266, Hadith 491, narrating from Ibn Hazm, and this aligns with what is mentioned in ‘Sirah Ibn Ishaq’, Vol. 4, p. 304. However, Sheikh Tusi, in his other book ‘Tahdhib’, Vol. 6, p. 2, and ‘Misbah’, p. 732, follows his teacher, Sheikh Mufid, and cites the 28th of Safar.

Meanwhile, Ibn Khashab Baghdadi (d. 567 AH) and Ibn Abi Thalj Baghdadi (d. 325 AH), with their chains of narration, have reported from Nasr bin Ali Jahzami, from Imam Ali bin Musa al-Ridha, peace be upon him, from his father, from his ancestors, from Imam Ali, peace be upon him, that: “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, passed away on a Tuesday, precisely on the 2nd of Rabi al-Awwal in the 11th Hijri year, while he was sixty-three years old.”(3)

Tabari, in a narration from Kalbi, via Abu Makhnaf, reports from the jurists of Hejaz that “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, left this world in the middle of the day on Tuesday, the 2nd of Rabi al-Awwal in the 11th Hijri year.”[4]

Erbeli, while addressing the confusing circumstances following the heartbreaking departure of Allah’s messenger and the trusted recipient of divine revelation, writes: “The disagreement among Muslims regarding the birth date of the Prophet (12th or 17th of Rabi al-Awwal) is understandable and reasonable, as they were unaware of his future status and were largely illiterate, not recording birth dates. However, the dispute concerning the specifics and date of his demise is puzzling and thought-provoking, given that his passing was a significant event that should have been meticulously documented.”[5]

Unfortunately, many pivotal and historically significant events and instructions from the Prophet were either altered or forgotten. Such that the Umayyads could ascend the pulpit of the Prophet as his caliphs, lead Friday prayers and congregational prayers in his mosque, and martyr his grandsons, Hassan and Hussain, peace be upon them. The history and events related to the Prophet’s demise are among the many issues that have been attempted to be buried in obscurity and ambiguity.

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The Importance of War with the Romans

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) was well-aware of the significance of the region of Syria and Palestine, which was under Roman control. He was certain that the powerful Roman empire, witnessing the rapid expansion of Islam, subduing rebellious Jews, and exacting a tribute from Christians, would not remain passive. He anticipated the Romans seeking an opportunity to strike at the nascent Islamic state. Consequently, in the eighth year of Hijra, he dispatched an army commanded by Ja’far bin Abi Talib, Zaid bin Haritha, and Abdullah bin Rawaha to this region to counter potential threats. During this expedition, all three brave commanders, along with many Muslims, were martyred. The remaining Islamic forces, now under the command of Khalid bin Walid, retreated and returned to Medina.

Later, in the ninth year of Hijra, when news spread in Medina about the Romans’ preparation to attack the Hijaz region, the Prophet set out for “Tabuk” with 30,000 warriors. Without any encounter or bloodshed with the enemy, they returned to Medina. This potential threat was taken very seriously by the Prophet. Thus, after the Farewell Pilgrimage and upon his return to Medina, he prepared a well-organized army to be sent to this region and instructed the elite of the Muhajirun (emigrants) and Ansar (supporters) to participate [6]. To motivate Muslims to join this Jihad, the Prophet personally tied a flag for Usama[7] and instructed him: “Fight in the name of Allah and in Allah’s path. Engage in combat with Allah’s enemies. Raid them at dawn, and move so swiftly from Medina to Syria that the enemy remains unaware of your movement.”


Objections to Usama’s Leadership

Ibn Ishaq has narrated from Urwa bin Zubair and others that despite suffering from illness, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) dispatched Usama’s army towards “Balqa” and “Darum” in the land of Palestine. Some questioned, “How can he, who is but a youth, be given precedence over all the Muhajirun (emigrants) and Ansar (supporters) and be appointed as their commander?”

Following the objections from some of the Companions, the Prophet emerged from his chamber, his head wrapped in cloth, ascended the pulpit, and after praising Allah, declared, “O people, obey Usama’s commands and join his army. I swear by my life, if today you object to his leadership, you had previously objected to his father’s leadership too. He is as worthy of command as his father was.” He then descended from the pulpit. [8]

Although Waqidi was a keen and astute individual, striving to detail facts gathered from reports, traditions, and narratives, he failed to specify the individuals of this army whom the Prophet emphatically endorsed. He used the word “people” (“الناس”) six times in relation to Usama’s army, the term “Muslims” (“المسلمين”) three times, “the early Muhajirun” (“المهاجرين الأولين”) three times, and mentioned the “Ansar” (“الأنصار”) once, saying, “men from the Muhajirun and the Ansar.” He then names two individuals from the Ansar. However, as mentioned earlier, both Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham focused on the term “the early Muhajirun,” and Ibn Ishaq, only once in Urwa’s narrative, added “Ansar” to “Muhajirun” [9].

Ya’qubi briefly writes in his book that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) handed over the flag to Usama for command over a large number of Muhajirun and Ansar, including Abu Bakr and Umar. Some objected, saying, “He is too young, only nineteen years old!” But the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) responded, “If you object to his leadership today, you had also objected to his father’s leadership, although both were worthy of command.” [10]

Ya’qubi, differing from Waqidi, writes that the Prophet’s illness began approximately in the middle of the month of Safar. However, he agrees with Waqidi that Usama’s army was ready two weeks before the Prophet’s departure but did not move [11].

Beware of Sedition Among People

Sheikh Mufid in Ershad states, “When the Prophet Muhammad became aware of the impending end of his life, he would address the Muslims at every opportunity, warning them against sedition and division after his demise. He frequently emphasized the importance of adhering to his Sunnah and maintaining unity and consensus. He urged them to follow his progeny, to obey and protect them, to assist and support them in the faith. He warned against dissent and apostasy. Numerous narrators have quoted him saying, ‘O People, I am departing from among you, and you will join me at the pond of Kawthar. Be mindful, for I will question you about two matters. Be vigilant in how you uphold them. Know that Allah has informed me that these two will not separate until they meet me. I sought these two from Allah, and He granted them to me. Be aware, I am leaving these two among you: the Book of Allah and my progeny, my family. Do not precede them lest you diverge, and do not lag behind them lest you perish. Do not try to teach them, for they are more knowledgeable than you. O people, do not revert to disbelief after me, slaying each other… Remember that Ali bin Abi Talib is my brother and successor, who will fight for the interpretation of the Quran, just as I fought for its revelation’.”

The Prophet appointed Osama as a commander, tying the banner in his name. He instructed him to head towards Roman territory, the same place where his father had been martyred. The Prophet’s strategy was to send the early Muhajirun and Ansar out of Medina so that, upon his death, none among them would remain with ambitions to lead the people, dispute his successor’s right, or usurp his rightful status. Therefore, he appointed Osama to command the mentioned individuals, striving to send them out of Medina as soon as possible. He instructed Osama to camp at “Jurf” and urged people to join him promptly, warning them against delays and procrastination. However, during this period, as he prepared to dispatch Osama’s army, he fell ill, became bedridden, and eventually passed away.” [12].

Another reason for this choice was that the Prophet wanted to challenge the pride of some of the early Muhajirun and Ansar. He aimed to show them that holding societal positions was based on merit and competence, and Osama possessed such qualities.

Sheikh Mufid then narrated the incident about the prayer and further said, “After the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his family, completed his prayer, he returned to his house. He called a group of Muslims, among whom were Abu Bakr and Umar bin Khattab, and asked, ‘Didn’t I instruct you to join the army of Osama as soon as possible? Why have you disobeyed my orders?’ Abu Bakr replied, ‘I had left, but I returned to see you again!’ Umar said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I did not leave because I don’t like to inquire about your well-being from others!’ However, the Prophet emphasized thrice, ‘Send forth the army of Osama.’’ [13].

It is popularly believed that the Prophet cursed those who disobeyed his command, but there’s no record of this in our traditions except for a weak narration involving a conversation between a Kharijite and Imam Baqir, peace be upon him. This is mentioned in Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 27, p. 324. The curse by the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, is mentioned by Ahmad bin Abdulaziz al-Juhari al-Baghdadi (d. 323 AH) who is among the early Mu’tazilites, in his book “Saqifah.” The Mu’tazilite Shafi’i al-Baghdadi (d. 665 AH) quoted it in his commentary on Nahj al-Balagha, Vol. 6, p. 52. Al-Shahrastani also mentioned it in his notes on Chapter 1, p. 20 of the book Al-Milal wa al-Nihal.

Visiting Baqi’ and Delivering a Sermon

Sheikh Mufid, in his book “Irshad”, narrates: The Prophet said to Imam Ali, peace be upon him, “Jibreel (Gabriel) used to recite the Quran to me once a year, but this year he recited it twice. I don’t know the reason for this except that my time (of death) is approaching.” [14] “O Ali, I was given the choice between the treasures of this world and eternal life in it, or meeting my Lord and Paradise, and I chose the meeting with my Lord and Paradise.” [15].

When the Prophet fell ill and felt that his time was near, he told his companions, “I have been commanded to seek forgiveness for the inhabitants of Baqi’.” He then leaned on Imam Ali, peace be upon him, and went to Baqi’. Standing amidst the graveyard, he said, “Peace be upon you, O inhabitants of the graves… Greetings to you, O people of the graves. Congratulations for you have passed what people are being tested with; in times when trials will emerge like dark pieces of night, one after another.” He then returned to his house [16].

Three days later, with his head wrapped and leaning on Imam Ali and Fadl bin Abbas, he emerged from his house, sat on the pulpit, and said, “O people, the time for my departure from among you is near. Whoever I owe something to, come so I can repay it; and whoever demands something from me, come so I can settle it. O people, between Allah and anyone, there’s nothing but deeds that result in good or evil. O people, no one should have false claims or aspirations. By the One who sent me with the truth, nothing except deeds combined with mercy will result in salvation, and if someone commits sins, they’ll be doomed. Have I conveyed the message of Allah?” After delivering the sermon, he performed a short prayer and entered the house of Umm Salama [17].

Deputizing on behalf of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)

Sheikh Mufid in his book “Irshad” writes that Bilal used to give the call for prayer (Adhan) every day. After the Adhan, he would go to inform the Holy Prophet. One day, after calling out the dawn Adhan, he went to the Prophet and saw that due to illness, the Prophet had lost consciousness. Bilal loudly said, “Al-Salat, Yarhamukum Allah.” Upon hearing Bilal’s voice, the Prophet regained consciousness and said, “Someone else should lead the prayer in my stead, for I am not capable.”

Following this, Aisha said, “Inform Abu Bakr!” [18], Hafsa remarked, “Notify Umar!”

The Prophet (Peace be upon him and his progeny) had previously instructed both Umar and Abu Bakr to join the army of Usama and go out. He was unaware that they had disregarded his command. However, upon hearing Aisha and Hafsa’s remarks, he realized they had stayed back in Medina against his orders. He observed that both were trying to send their respective fathers to lead the prayers, even while he was alive, thereby sowing discord. Hence, he said, “Stop! You are like the women who sent Joseph to prison.”

He then called upon Ali and Fazl bin Abbas. After performing ablution and leaning on them, he moved towards the mosque, dragging his feet due to weakness.

Upon entering the mosque, he saw Abu Bakr standing in the mihrab (prayer niche). The Prophet approached the mihrab and gestured to Abu Bakr to move back. Abu Bakr retreated, and the Prophet (Peace be upon him and his progeny) stood in the mihrab. He did not continue the prayer from where Abu Bakr had left off. Instead, he started the prayer from the beginning with the Takbirat al-Ihram [19].

Hadith of the Inkwell and Paper

Sheikh Mufid continues to write: After the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, finished his prayer, he returned to his home. Due to his distress and exhaustion, he fainted. At that moment, cries and lamentations arose from the crowd that had entered his house. After a while, the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, regained consciousness and said, “Bring the inkwell and the shoulder blade (paper) so that I may write something for you, and you will never go astray after it!” Someone stood up to fetch the inkwell and paper, but the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, fainted again. Umar said to that person, “Go back! For he is delirious!” [20]. The person returned, and some of the present said, “Verily, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. We acted against the command of the Messenger of Allah!”

This narration was quoted by Halali Hamedi in his book, Vol 2, p.794, by Nishapuri in his clarification, p.259, and by Tabari in his history from three different chains through Saeed bin Jubair from Ibn Abbas without mentioning Umar’s name. The late Majlisi also quoted it in Bihar al-Anwar, Vol 30, p.7073 from five chains from Bukhari, two chains from the collection between the Sahihayn (Bukhari and Muslim) and three chains from Sahih Muslim. Some are attributed to Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari, and the rest are narrated from Ibn Abbas.

Ibn Abi Al-Hadid, the Mu’tazili, in his commentary on Nahj al-Balagha, Vol 12, p.2021, citing the History of Baghdad written by Ahmad bin Abi Tahir Baghdadi Khorasani (died 208 AH), quoted Ibn Abbas as saying: “During Umar’s caliphate, I visited him. He asked, ‘How did you leave your uncle’s son, who is a prominent figure in your family, and came to me?’ I replied, ‘I left him drawing water with his bucket from the well for his palm groves while reciting the Quran.’ Then he asked, ‘O Abdullah, is he still thinking of the caliphate?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He asked, ‘Does he still think that the Messenger of Allah had appointed him?’ I said, ‘Yes, and I even asked my father about his claim.’ My father responded, ‘He speaks the truth.’ Umar said, ‘Ali had a high position with the Messenger of Allah, but this does not prove a point or remove any blame. The Prophet wanted to elevate Ali’s position at the time of his death and even specify him as his successor, but I prevented it due to my concern for Islam and knowledge of its status. By Allah, the Quraysh should not dominate the rule; for if they did, the Arabs in all regions would revolt against them! The Messenger of Allah knew what was in my heart and refrained from expressing it.’ May Allah want what has transpired!”

He also cited in the commentary of Ibn Abi Al-Hadid, Vol 12, pp.78-79 from Ibn Abbas: “Umar and I had set out for Syria. On the way, he said to me, ‘O son of Abbas, I am upset with your cousin. I asked him to accompany me, but he declined. I still see him upset. Do you think he is still bitter about losing the caliphate position?’ I replied, ‘Exactly, he believes that the Messenger of Allah had designated him for the caliphate.’ Umar said, ‘O son of Abbas, if the Messenger of Allah intended something but Allah did not will it, what can be done?! The Messenger of Allah intended something, but Allah willed another, so Allah’s will prevailed and the Prophet’s did not! Did everything the Messenger of Allah intended come to pass? He intended to appoint him as the caliph at the time of his death, but I, fearing sedition and for the spread of Islam, prevented it! The Messenger of Allah realized this and refrained from announcing his decision.'”

The will of the Prophet (PBUH) to Imam Ali (A.S)

 Sheikh Mufid writes: After the individuals had left the presence of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, he said: “Bring to me my brother, Ali ibn Abi Talib, and my uncle.” They were called, and both appeared before the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family.

The Prophet turned to his uncle and asked: “O Abbas, O uncle of the Messenger of Allah, will you accept my will, act upon my promises, and repay my debts?”

Abbas replied: “O Messenger of Allah, your uncle is old and has a family. You have been generous and magnanimous like a cloud, and there might be promises on your behalf that your uncle may not be able to fulfill.” Then, the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, turned to Ali, peace be upon him, and asked: “O my brother, will you accept my will, act upon my promises, repay my debts, and after me, look after the affairs of my family?”

Ali, peace be upon him, responded: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.”

Then he ordered that his sword, armor, and all personal belongings, even the cloth he used to tie around his belly in wars, be brought. After these items were presented, he handed them all to Ali, peace be upon him. He then took off his ring and said: “Take this and wear it.” Then, the Prophet embraced Ali, peace be upon him, and told him to go home in the name of Allah [21].

Sheikh Saduq, with his chain of narrators, narrates from Ibn Abbas: When the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, was lying sick, some companions were around him. During this time, Ammar ibn Yasir asked him: “O Messenger of Allah, may my parents be sacrificed for you! If that event occurs, who will give you the ritual purification (ghusl)?”

The Prophet replied: “Only Ali ibn Abi Talib; for the angels will assist him during the purification.”

Ammar asked again: “May my parents be sacrificed for you! If that event occurs, who will pray over you?”

The Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, turned to Ali, peace be upon him, and said: “O son of Abu Talib, after my soul is separated from my body, wash it well and shroud me in these two cloths (which were used cloths) or between a white Egyptian cloth and a Yemeni sheet. Do not shroud me in an expensive cloth. Then carry my body to the edge of my grave. At that moment, first Allah Almighty from above the Throne, then Gabriel, Michael, Israfil, accompanied by numerous angels whose count is known only to the Most High, then those who bear the Throne, then the inhabitants of the seven heavens, one after another, then all my family and my wives in order will pray over me. They will gesture towards me and send salutations upon me. Thus, you should not distress me with your weeping and lamenting.” [22].

The Tears of the Ansar

Sheikh Mufid in “Amali”, with his own chain of narrators, narrates from Ibn Abbas: Men and women of the Ansar had gathered in the mosque, crying for the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his family. At this moment, Abbas, his son Fadhl, and Imam Ali, peace be upon him, entered and conveyed to the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, saying, “O Messenger of Allah, the men and women of Ansar have gathered in the mosque, crying over your condition. They fear that you might leave this world.”

The Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, said, “Hold my hands.” He then entered the mosque with a wrapped cloak around him and a piece of cloth tied around his head, and he sat on the pulpit. [23] He then began praising Allah and said, “O people, why do you deny the death of your Prophet? Doesn’t death encompass me and all of you? If anyone were to remain immortal, I would remain with you forever. Be aware, I will join my Lord while leaving behind trusts among you. If you cling to them, you will never go astray: Allah’s book, which is in your hands and you read it morning and evening… and my progeny, my own family. I urge you to be kind regarding them, and I urge you to be kind regarding the Ansar. You know their status before Allah, His messenger, and the believers. Didn’t they grant you refuge and shared their resources with you, even when they faced hardships themselves? When one of you is given a responsibility, accept the good words of the righteous Ansar and overlook the mistakes of those among them who err.”

This gathering was the last that took place before the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, met his Lord [24]. He then addressed the people who had gathered around him and said, “O people, know that after me there will be no prophet, and there is no Sunnah after my Sunnah. Whoever claims prophethood is claiming falsely, and his abode will be Hell. Whoever claims prophethood, kill him, and know that his followers will be the dwellers of Hell. O people, keep the law of retaliation alive, uphold the rights, do not be divided, remain Muslims to persist.” [25]

My summoned my brother

Sheikh Mufid has written in Ershad: Except for carrying out essential tasks, Amirul Mu’minin did not leave the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, alone. The next day, when the Prophet regained consciousness, he observed everyone around him, but Imam Ali (peace be upon him) was not present. Hence, he ordered, ‘Summon my brother and companion.’

Aisha, who was present there, said, ‘He means Abu Bakr. Call him.’ Abu Bakr was called. He entered the room and sat beside the Prophet. The Prophet was very weak. He closed his eyes and remained silent. When he opened his eyes and saw Abu Bakr, he turned his face away. After a while, the Prophet remained silent. Abu Bakr said to those around, ‘If he had something to say to me, he would have spoken. So, he got up and left the room.’

After Abu Bakr left, the Prophet, for the second time, said, ‘Summon my brother and companion.’

Hafsa said, ‘Perhaps he means Umar. Call him.’ When Umar entered and the Prophet saw him, he turned his face away without saying a word. After a while, Umar said, ‘Apparently, he has nothing to say to me.’ So, he got up and left.

After Umar left, the Prophet for the third time said, ‘Summon my brother and companion.’ [26] Umm Salma said, ‘He means Ali (peace be upon him). Call him and don’t search for anyone else.’ Thus, Ali (peace be upon him) was called. When Imam Ali approached, the Prophet gestured for him to come closer. Ali bent down, and his head came close to the Prophet’s mouth. The Prophet whispered to him for an extended period. Then, Ali sat in a corner until the Prophet fell asleep.

They asked Ali, ‘O Aba al-Hassan, what did the Prophet say to you?’ He replied, ‘He opened a thousand gates of knowledge for me, each leading to another thousand gates.’ [27] ‘He entrusted me with something, which I will fulfill by Allah’s will.’

After a while, the Prophet opened his eyes and said to Ali, ‘Place my head in your lap. The divine decree has come. After I surrender my soul to its Creator, pass your hand over my face and then over your face. Then, turn me to face the Qibla, take charge of my affairs. [28] After I pass away, give me a bath. During the bath, cover my private parts; no one should see it, or they will go blind. [29] Pray over me before anyone else, don’t leave me until I’m buried, ask Allah Almighty for help [30] and bury me right here. Make my grave four fingers above the ground and sprinkle some water on it.’ [31].

Imam Ali (peace be upon him) placed the Prophet’s head in his lap. The Prophet went into a state of unconsciousness. Fatima, seeing this, threw herself on her father’s body and with great emotion recited the following poem: ‘And a radiant face for which clouds would give rain, the orphans’ support, and the widows’ refuge.’

A few moments later, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) regained consciousness and heard the poem. He said softly: “My daughter, this is a saying of your uncle Abu Talib. Do not recite that, but say: ‘Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many were the messengers that passed away before him. If he died or was slain, will you then turn back on your heels?’ (Aal-E-Imran: 144

Lady Fatimah (PBUH) wept profusely. The Prophet gestured for her to come closer. As she approached, he whispered something in her ear, and her face lit up with joy!

Later, when asked what the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) had told her that had dispelled her sorrow and made her face radiant, she replied: “He gave me the glad tidings that I would be the first from the Ahlul Bayt to join him and that it wouldn’t be long before I followed him. This news brought joy to my heart. [32]

Sheikh Saduq in ‘Amali’ narrates from Ibn Abbas: Then the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Ali, come closer, even closer…” Ali (PBUH) approached until the Prophet (PBUH) took his hand and pulled him near, and in that state, he lost consciousness. Hassan and Hussain (PBUT) rose, weeping bitterly, and fell upon the body of the Messenger of Allah. Ali (PBUH) tried to console them and separate them from the Prophet’s body when he regained consciousness, opened his eyes, and said: “Dear Ali, let me embrace them and let them embrace me; let me take my farewell from them, and let them take their farewell from me. Be aware that after me, these two will be oppressed and unjustly slain.”

He then repeated three times: “May Allah’s curse be upon those who oppress them.” [33]

Sheikh Tusi has narrated a similar account in ‘Amali’ with his own chain of narrators from Imam Hussein (PBUH), from his father Ali (PBUH) as follows: The Prophet (PBUH) said to Bilal, ‘O Bilal, bring my sons Hassan and Husain to me.’ He left and brought the two of them. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) held them close to his chest and kissed them. I felt they might discomfort the Prophet, so I approached to separate them from him, but he said, ‘O Ali, let them be. Let them embrace me and let me embrace them. Allow them to benefit from me, and let me benefit from them. Soon after me, they will face grave tribulations, and may Allah curse those who cause them fear and harm. O Lord, I entrust these two and the righteous believers to You.’ [34] After that, the Prophet remained silent, and while Ali’s (PBUH) hand was under his head, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) surrendered his soul to the Creator…

Ali (PBUH) rubbed his hands on the face of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), then wiped his own face with them. He closed the eyes of the Prophet (PBUH), turned him towards the Qibla, and covered his body. He then rose to undertake the burial arrangements [35].

Ayashi, in his Tafsir, narrates from Imam Baqir (PBUH): When Ali (PBUH) closed the eyes of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), he exclaimed, ‘Indeed, we belong to Allah, and to Him we shall return. What a tremendous calamity that has broken the backs of the close ones and wounded the believers; a tragedy unparalleled and irremediable.’ [36].

A Striking Claim

Ibn Ishaq narrates from Zahri, from Sa’id bin Musayyib, from Abu Huraira: “When the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, passed away, Umar ibn al-Khattab stood up and said, ‘Some believe that the Messenger of Allah has died. I swear by Allah, the Messenger of Allah hasn’t died, but has instead gone to meet his Lord, just as Moses son of Imran went to meet Allah and returned to his people after forty days, when they thought he had departed from this world. I swear by Allah, the Messenger of Allah will certainly return, just as Moses returned. Those who think that the Messenger of Allah has died should be punished by amputating their hands and feet.’

When Abu Bakr received news of this, he approached the mosque’s entrance where Umar was addressing the people, oblivious to Abu Bakr’s presence. He entered Aisha’s chamber where the body of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, was laid in a corner covered with a reddish cloth. Abu Bakr pulled back the cloth, kissed the Prophet’s face, and then covered it again. Exiting the chamber, while Umar continued speaking, Abu Bakr addressed him, saying, ‘Be silent, O Umar!’ But Umar wanted to keep talking. Abu Bakr then turned to the people and after praising Allah, said, ‘O people, be aware! Those who worshipped Muhammad should know that Muhammad has passed away, and those who worship Allah should know He is ever-living and never dies.’ He then recited the verse: ‘Muhammad is not but a messenger. Other messengers have passed on before him. So if he dies or is killed, would you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all, but Allah will reward the grateful.’ (Al-Imran: 144).It seemed Umar was unaware of this verse’s revelation; he stood agape in astonishment [37].

Ibn Ishaq then narrates from Anas bin Malik: “Afterwards, Umar declared, ‘O people, I spoke a word yesterday that I did not find in Allah’s Book, and the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, did not entrust me with such a message. However, I assumed that His Eminence would oversee our affairs till the end.’ [38] He then quotes from Ikrimah, from Ibn Abbas regarding Umar: ‘The reason I said that was because I had read in the Qur’an, “Thus We have made you a middle nation so that you will be witnesses over the people, and the Messenger will be a witness over you.” (Baqara: 143).

Sheikh Saduq in his ‘Khisaal’, through his sources, quotes Imam Ali, peace be upon him: ‘The departure of the noble Messenger, peace be upon him and his family, laid such a heavy burden on me that I felt even the mountains would not withstand its weight. I saw my household mourning, inconsolable. Their patience had run out, their senses overwhelmed; they neither heard nor understood. Some people consoled the Prophet’s family, urging them towards patience, while others cried alongside them. Amidst such circumstances, I urged myself to patience over the grief of the Prophet’s departure, peace be upon him and his family. In silence, I took on the duties of preparing, washing, perfuming, and shrouding His Eminence.’ [39].

Performing the funeral and burial rituals

Sheikh Mufid writes in Ershad: “When Ali (peace be upon him) wanted to wash the body of the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him and his family), he called Fazl bin Abbas to bring water for his ablution, and according to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him and his family) will, he closed his eyes. He then tore the shirt of the Prophet from the collar downwards and proceeded with his washing, anointing, and shrouding.” [40].

The late Kulayni has narrated from Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him): “The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) had become Ihram for Hajj with two pieces of cloth: one from Yemen (Hebri) and one from the deserts of Oman (Zafari). He was shrouded in those very cloths.” [41] In another narration, it is mentioned that the Prophet was shrouded in three pieces: two pieces from the desert and one Hebri piece. [42]

Sheikh Mufid, with his chain of narrators, has narrated from Ibn Abbas: “When Ali (peace be upon him) finished washing and shrouding the Prophet, he pulled the shroud away from his face and said, ‘May my parents be sacrificed for you! You lived a pure life and left this world in purity. With your passing, the station of Prophethood ended, a phenomenon that did not occur with the departure of other prophets. You attained such a stature that you became exclusively entitled to the greetings and salutations of Allah, and your vision was so vast that all people became equal in your eyes. If you hadn’t advised me to be patient and hadn’t prohibited me from excessive mourning, I would be shedding tears and lamenting profusely. May my parents be sacrificed for you! Remember us in the presence of your Lord and grant us His special favor.’ He then bent down, kissed the Prophet’s face, and covered it with the shroud.” [43].

Prayer over the body of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH)

The late Kulayni has narrated from Imam Sadiq, peace be upon him: Abbas approached the Commander of the Faithful (Imam Ali), peace be upon him, and said, “O Ali, people have gathered so that someone among them can lead the prayer over the body of the Messenger, peace be upon him and his family, and bury him in Baqi.”

The Commander of the Faithful stepped out and said, “O people, the Messenger of Allah is paramount over us in both his life and his death. He decreed: ‘Where I pass away is where I should be buried.’ [44] I have heard from the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, in his health and well-being, saying that the verse ‘Indeed, Allah and His angels send blessings upon the Prophet. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.’ (Ahzab: 56) was revealed about me so that after I surrender my soul to the Creator, it shall be recited over me.”

He then ordered the people to enter the chamber ten at a time and recite this verse over His Eminence. They entered, stood around the Prophet’s body, with the Commander of the Faithful in their midst, reciting the aforementioned verse. The others repeated the verse until the people of Medina and its surroundings sent blessings upon him, peace be upon him and his family [45].

Halabi has narrated from Imam Baqir, peace be upon him: “People, in groups of ten, from Monday afternoon until Tuesday morning, sent blessings upon His Eminence. When it came time for the close family and elite to pray over His Eminence, Ali, peace be upon him, sent Abu Burayda Aslami to the people of Saqifah to come, but they did not.” [46]. Sheikh Mufid wrote on this matter: Most of the close relatives were not present for the prayer over the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, for they were busy quarreling over his succession!”

Burying the Messenger of Allah (PBUH)

At that time, the practice of the Meccans was to dig the lahad (a niche in the grave) in the middle of the grave, and Abu Ubaidah Jarrah was the one who would dig graves for them. Meanwhile, the people of Medina would dig the lahad in the corner of the grave, and Abu Talha, Zaid bin Sahl Ansari, would dig graves for them. Abbas said: “O Allah, choose the type of grave for Your Messenger.” He then sent two people to find either Abu Ubaidah or Abu Talha, and bring whoever they found first. They found Abu Talha first and brought him, and he dug the grave for the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family.

During the burial, the Ansar (supporters), who were around the chamber, exclaimed loudly, “O Ali, we swear by Allah, do not let our right regarding the Messenger of Allah be wasted. Allow one of us to enter the grave, so we don’t miss the blessing of participating in the burial of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family.” [47]

Ali, peace be upon him, said, “Let Aws bin Khawli enter.” He was one of the participants in the Battle of Badr, from the Khazraj tribe, and a noble man. After he entered the chamber, Ali, peace be upon him, ordered him to go inside the grave. Aws entered the grave. Then Ali, peace be upon him, lifted the body and handed it to Aws Khazraji inside the grave. After Aws placed the body on the floor of the grave, Ali, peace be upon him, said: “Now exit,” and he left. [48] Afterwards, Ali, peace be upon him, entered the grave, moved the shroud away from the face of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, and placed the right cheek of the Prophet facing the qibla (direction of Mecca) on the ground. He then placed bricks in the grave, exited, and began pouring soil over the grave. [49]

Kulayni has narrated: Ali, peace be upon him, placed bricks over the grave.[50] In another narration, it is mentioned that he covered the floor of the lahad with red pebbles.[51] About the height of the grave, Humayri has narrated: Ali, peace be upon him, made the grave one span and four fingers above the ground and sprinkled water on it.[52] However, in the history of Ya’qubi, it is mentioned: They made the grave of His Eminence square, and it was not raised above the ground level.[53]

Divine Test

Sheikh Mufid says: While Ali, peace be upon him, held a shovel in his hand and was busy pouring soil into the grave of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, a man approached him and said: “The people have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr. In the meantime, the ‘Tulaqa’ (those who were freed by the Prophet on the day of the conquest of Mecca) quickly made a pact with him, fearing you would arrive! The Ansar (supporters of the Prophet) also became humiliated due to their internal disagreements!”

Upon hearing this news, Ali, peace be upon him, placed the shovel on the ground and, while leaning on it, recited: “Alif Lam Meem. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe’ and will not be tested? And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make it known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make it known (the falsehood of) those who are liars. Or do those who do evil deeds think they can outstrip us? Evil is what they judge.” (Al-‘Ankabut: 1-4) [54].

References:

  1. Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 23.
  2. Sheikh Mufid, Ershad, Vol. 1, p. 189.
  3. Erbili, Kashf al-Ghummah, p. 14.
  4. Muhammad bin Jarir Tabari, Tarikh Tabari, Vol. 3, p. 200.
  5. Erbili, Previous, p. 15.
  6. Sirah Ibn Hisham, Vol. 2, p. 642.
  7. Sunni sources determine the date of sealing the banner as 26th of Safar, and as mentioned, they consider the date of the Prophet’s demise as 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal.
  8. Ibn Ishaq, Sirah, Vol. 4, p. 299-301.
  9. Waqidi, Maghazi, Vol. 3, p. 117-120.

10 & 11. Ya’qubi, Tarikh Ya’qubi, Vol. 2, p. 113.

  1. Sheikh Mufid, Previous, Vol. 1, p. 179-181.
  2. Ibid, Vol. 2, p. 183-184.
  3. Sheikh Mufid mentions this hadith for the first time here. It’s not found in our other sources. What is stated in E’lam al-Wara, Vol. 1, p. 264; Qasas al-Anbiya by Qutb Rawandi, p. 357 and Manaqib Aal Abi Talib, Vol. 1, p. 291 is quoted from him.
  4. The same content from Sheikh Mufid is quoted in Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 22, p. 466 and in Vol. 21, p. 409 quoted from al-Muntaqi, authored by Kazruni. He quoted it from Sirah Ibn Ishaq, Vol. 4, p. 292 and Sheikh Saduq in his Amali, p. 226, narrated Hadith 11 from Imam Sadiq, peace be upon him, quoting from his father and grandfather.
  5. Sheikh Mufid, Previous, Vol. 2, p. 181. Similarly, Ibn Ishaq in Sirah, Vol. 4, p. 291-292 narrates from Abdullah bin Amr bin As from Abi Muwaiah, the freedman of the Messenger of Allah. He said, “On that night, only Aisha was with the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family!” It seems Abu As didn’t want to mention Ali, peace be upon him. Ibn Ishaq also mentioned the term “temptations” in his sermon: see Vol. 4, p. 304.
  6. Sheikh Mufid, Previous, Vol. 1, p. 182.
  7. Ibid, Vol. 1, p. 182. Ibn Abi al-Hadid Mu’tazili quoted from his teacher, Yusuf Lamani: The Prophet, as narrated, said someone should lead the prayer without specifying who. This was the morning prayer. However, Ali, peace be upon him, said: Aisha ordered Bilal to call her father to lead the prayer for the people. Ali, peace be upon him, often mentioned this in private to his companions and said: The Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, said to the two, “You are like the women who sent Joseph to prison,” because each of them wanted to appoint their father as the deputy of the Prophet. When Abu Bakr moved away from the mihrab, the Prophet restarted the prayer. (Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, Vol. 9, p. 197)
  8. Sheikh Mufid, Previous, Vol. 1, p. 182-183 / Sayyid Murtaza, al-Shafi, Vol. 2, p. 158-161 / Summary of al-Shafi, Vol. 3, p. 28-32 / see: al-Mustarshid, edited by Mahmoudi, p. 118-146. Tabari narrated from Aisha that Abu Bakr led the prayer on behalf of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family. (Tarikh Tabari, Vol. 3, p. 197)
  9. Sheikh Mufid, Previous, Vol. 1, p. 184.
  10. The same source, Vol. 1, p. 285 / Sheikh Saduq, Alal al-Shara’i, Vol. 1, p. 198, Chapter 131, Hadith 1, narrated by Imam Baqir (peace be upon him) and Hadiths 2 and 3 by Zaid bin Ali (peace be upon him) / The same source, Amali, Hadith 1244, narrated by Ali (peace be upon him).
  11. Sheikh Saduq, Amali, p. 505, Hadith 6. Similarly, in Kashf al-Ghummah, Vol. 1, p. 17, narrated from Tha’labi’s book through Ibn Mas’ood. It states that the one conversing with the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) was Abu Bakr. Meanwhile, Tabari in his history, Vol. 3, p. 191-192, quotes a similar narration from Ibn Mas’ood, indicating that the speaker was Ibn Mas’ood himself.
  12. Tabarsi has mentioned the same in Al-Ihtijaj, Vol. 1, p. 89, but it reads: The Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) leaned on one of the mosque’s columns and delivered a sermon.
  13. Sheikh Mufid, Amali, p. 45-47.
  14. The same source, p. 53, Hadith 15, narrated by Imam Baqir (peace be upon him).
  15. Sheikh Mufid, Irshad, Vol. 1, p. 186 / Tabari, aforementioned, Vol. 3, p. 196.
  16. A similar narration is found in Sheikh Saduq’s Amali, p. 508-509, Hadith 6, narrated by Ibn Abbas.
  17. Sheikh Mufid, aforementioned, Vol. 1, p. 185-186.
  18. The same source, Vol. 1, p. 181-182. This narration is also in Sheikh Tusi’s Amali, p. 660, Hadith 1365, narrated by Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him).
  19. Sheikh Mufid, aforementioned, Vol. 1, p. 186.
  20. Muhammad bin Ya’qub Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 450, narrated by Imam Baqir (peace be upon him).
  21. Sheikh Mufid, aforementioned, Vol. 1, p. 187 / Sheikh Tusi, Amali, Hadith 316 / Bukhari, Sahih, Vol. 6, p. 12 / Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 4, p. 1904 / Tirmidhi, Sahih, Vol. 5, p. 361.
  22. Sheikh Saduq, Amali, p. 508-509, under Hadith 6.
  23. Sheikh Tusi, Amali, p. 600-602, Hadith 1244, narrated by Zaid bin Ali and Imam Baqir through his ancestors from Ali (peace be upon him). Additionally, in Kashf al-Ghummah, Vol. 1, p. 17, narrated from Abu Ishaq Tha’labi’s book: The Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) called Hasan and Husain (peace be upon them) and would kiss and smell them. With tears flowing, he would suck on their lips.
  24. Sheikh Mufid, aforementioned, Vol. 1, p. 187 / Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 197. Ibn Ishaq, in his Seerah, quotes Ibn Zubayr who narrates from Aisha: The Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) passed away in my chamber with his head resting between my head and chest. I got up, slapping my face and head! (Vol. 4, p. 305) which contradicts the words of Imam Ali (peace be upon him). Ayashi,
  25.  Tafsir al-Ayashi, Vol. 1, p. 209, Hadith 166.
  26. Ibn Ishaq, Previous Source, Vol. 4, p. 305.
  27. Ibid., Vol. 4, p. 311.
  28. Sheikh Saduq, Reference: Khisal, Vol. 1, p. 370-371, narrated from Imam Baqir (AS) and from Muhammad ibn Hanafiyya; Ikhtisas, p. 164.
  29. Sheikh Mufid, Previous Source, Vol. 1, p. 178; Ibn Ishaq in his Seerah, Vol. 4, p. 312, narrated from Ikrimah from Ibn Abbas.
  30. Muhammad ibn Ya’qub Kulayni, Furu’ al-Kafi, Vol. 4, p. 339, Hadith 2; Sheikh Saduq, Man La Yahdhuruhu al-Faqih, Vol. 2, p. 334, Hadith 9594; Sheikh Hurr Amili, Wasail al-Shia, Vol. 3, p. 16.
  31. Muhammad ibn Ya’qub Kulayni, Furu’ al-Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 330, Hadith 6 and Vol. 3, p. 143, Hadith 2; Sheikh Tusi, Tahdhib, Vol. 1, p. 291, Hadith 850; Ibn Ishaq, Seerah, Vol. 4, p. 113.
  32. Sheikh Mufid, Amali, p. 102; Syed Razi, Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 235; Ibn Ishaq, Seerah, Vol. 4, p. 313.
  33. Muhammad ibn Ya’qub Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 451, Hadith 37.
  34. Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 450-451, Hadith 35 and 38; Ibn Ishaq, Seerah, Vol. 4, p. 314.
  35. Halabi, Manaqib Aal Abi Talib, Vol. 1, p. 297.
  36. Sheikh Mufid, Irshad, Vol. 1, p. 188; Ibn Ishaq, Seerah, Vol. 4, p. 312.
  37. Sheikh Mufid, Previous Source, Vol. 1, p. 188.
  38. Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 188.
  39. Muhammad ibn Ya’qub Kulayni, Furu’ al-Kafi, Vol. 3, p. 197, Hadith 3.
  40. Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 201, Hadith 2 and Vol. 4, p. 548; Sheikh Tusi, Tahdhib, Vol. 1, p. 461.
  41. Reference: Qurb al-Asnad, p. 136, Hadith 555.
  42. Ya’qubi, Previous Source, Vol. 2, p. 114.
  43. Sheikh Mufid, Previous Source, Vol. 1, p. 189.
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