بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم

THE GREATEST CALAMITY

THE GREATEST CALAMITY

Sent by: Sister Umme Zubair

When Soorah (Chapter) al-Nasr was revealed the Sahaabah (Companions) of the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) rejoiced with the glad tidings of help and victory from Allah. The Soorah depicts a most pleasing scene of people embracing the religion of Islam in large crowds, fulfilling the prophecy of the Prophet Muḥammad, that Islam would spread across the Arabian Peninsula. Hadhrat Abu Bakr alone, wept uncontrollably. He declared: ‘May my mother and father be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah!’ For he alone understood that this Soorah was not only foretelling the near victory that the Muslims would soon enjoy, but it was in fact foretelling the passing away of the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). Hadhrat Ibne Abbas later explained this Soorah in the gatherings of the senior Sahaabah who witnessed Badr by saying: ‘This was a sign for the Prophet to know his time of departure from mortal world.’ (Bukhari)

The Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) stands alone as the greatest of the Messengers and the most beloved to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) of His creation. No being, whether human, jinn or indeed angel has drawn closer to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s presence in this life than the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). During the miraculous night journey, even the leader of the angels, Hadhrat Jibril, could not accompany the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) as he ventured forward to speak to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) directly, with no barrier between him and His Lord except the veil of (Noor) light. It is sufficient for us to understand the status of the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) when we look at the great terms of endearment and respect by which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) himself addresses the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) in the Quraan. With this in mind, it becomes clear that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) did not send the most beloved of His creation to this world for any other reason than to establish His religion and make His Word the highest. When this mission was complete the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) was to return to His Lord.

The Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: If one of you is afflicted with a calamity, then let him remember his calamity by me (his death); for indeed, it is the greatest of calamities. (Ibne Maajah)

To this day the Muslim Ummah suffers from the trauma of the death of the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). But even through his death, the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) sought to console the Ummah and alleviate the anguish of their own calamities by comparing it to the greatest of calamities, namely his death (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). As-Sindi states: ‘Remembering a greater disaster wipes out the effect of a smaller one, and if one was able to tolerate and shoulder the greater disaster then it becomes easier for him to withstand the smaller one’.

The Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) stated: The stars safeguard the skies, and when the stars disappear, then the skies will get what they were promised (i.e. the day of Resurrection), and I safeguard my Sahaabah, so when I go then my Sahaabah will get what they were promised (i.e. trials and tribulations), and my Sahaabah safeguard the Muslim Ummah, so when they go then my Ummah will get what they were promised. (Muslim)

Commenting upon this Ḥadeeth, Imam An-Nawawi said: “Everything that the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) stated in this Ḥadeeth regarding incidents that follow his departure has taken place.”

Hadhrat Anas bin Maalik narrates that when the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) arrived, we felt as if Madinah had become illuminated; and on the day that the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) passed away, the city of Madinah never seemed darker.

The only Sahaabi who was explicitly informed of the imminent death of the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) was his beloved daughter Hadhrat Faaṭimah. She states that the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) whispered in her ear:

“Jibrīl reviews the Quraan with me once every year, but this year he revised it twice – and I think this is because the time for my death has come. And you will be the next to die from my family.” Upon hearing this she wept, so the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) whispered again:

“Are you not happy that you will be the best of all the ladies of Jannah (Paradise)?’

This caused Hadhrat Faaṭimah to laugh out of joy. (Bukhari and Muslim)

But in order to prepare the Sahaabah for his passing the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) indeed hinted to his death on a number of occasions. Ibne Rajab cites the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam)’s sermon during the ‘farewell Hajj (Pilgrimage)’ in which the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:

“Take from me your rights for perhaps I will not meet you again after the end of this year.” (Ibne Hishaam)

The events leading up to his death began with the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) bidding farewell to and making Du’aa for the deceased Muslims. His freed slave Abu Muwaihibah narrates that the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) instructed him to accompany him to al-Baqee (the graveyard of the Muslims in Madina) where he invoked Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) for the deceased. He then informed Abu Muwaihibah:

“O Abu Muwaihibah! I was given a choice (by Allah!) to have control over this world and live in it eternally, followed by Jannah; or to meet my Lord (now) and be granted Jannah after that.”

He said: “I would sacrifice my father and mother for your sake! Choose the control over this world and to live in it eternally, followed by Jannah”.

The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) replied: “No Abu Muwaihibah! I swear by Allah that I have chosen to meet my Lord (now) and be granted Jannah after it.”

In this narration the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) was given the choice of everlasting life in this world followed by Jannah in the Aakhirah (Hereafter) but he chose the higher companionship of His Lord. This momentous choice is hugely symbolic for all Muslims – our Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) chose the Aakhirah and gave it preference over this world and he shunned clinging to this temporary life. In much the same way, he chose the vessel of milk over the vessel of wine when presented to him by Hadhrat Jibril prior to the miraculous night journey. He chose the pure Fitrah (Natural Disposition) over the carnal desires of this world. The Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) on both occasions made fundamental choices for himself and by extension the rest of this Ummah. It is our religion which is in perfect harmony with the natural disposition, and it is our religion which elevates its followers to seek the abode of the Aakhirah.

Upon his return the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) fell ill with his final illness and deteriorated for a period which Ibne Hajar states to be around 13 days. Hadhrat ʿAbdullah bin Mas’ood entered upon him and was taken aback by the suffering of the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) with his illness, to which the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) responded:
Allah will remove sins, just as a tree sheds its leaves, for any Muslim who is afflicted with sickness or any other tribulation. (Bukhari)

When he regained some of his strength he mounted the Minbar (Pulpit) for the final time, helped by the Sahaabah, and stated: Allah has given one of his slaves the choice between this life and what He has for him, so the slave chose what Allah had for him. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Hadhrat Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri narrates that upon hearing this, Hadhrat Abu Bakr began crying. We were all very surprised as to why this Soorah would make Hadhrat Abu Bakr cry, but later we discovered that Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) was referring to himself. It was here that we realized that Hadhrat Abu Bakr understood the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) better than any person. (Bukhari and Muslim)

When the health condition of the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) deteriorated significantly he sought permission from his wives to remain in the apartment of Hadhrat ʿAyeshah which they granted him. Hadhrat Ayeshah narrates that whilst the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) was suffering from his death-sickness, the call to Salaah (Prayer) was made.

The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Instruct Abu Bakr to lead the people in the Salaah.”

Some people advised him that Hadhrat Ab Bakr was a soft-hearted man who would not be able to restrain himself from crying during Salaah. The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) repeated his statement and people repeated the same advice to him. When this happened for the third time, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “You people are just like the women who plotted against Yousuf! Instruct Abu Bakr to lead the people in the Salaah.”

Therefore, Hadhrat Abu Bakr went to lead the Salaah, but all of a sudden, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) felt that he was recovering, so he came out of his house leaning against two men.”

Hadhrat ʿAyeshah continued: “It is as if I am looking at his feet dragging on the floor from pain at this very moment.”

She further added: “When Abu Bakr felt the presence of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) he began to retreat from his position, but the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) signaled for him to continue. Then, he came and sat down next to Auū Bakr and offered Salaah on that spot. (Bukhari and Muslim)

This is the last Salaah that the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) offered with his Ummah. And it is an unparalleled honor for Hadhrat Abu Bakr that the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) led him in Salaah while the Muslims followed the motions of Hadhrat Abu Bakr. He led the Muslims in the most important deed they can perform. And he would go on to lead the Muslims in their worldly affairs as the Khalifah (Caliph) of the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and head of Muslims at that time. It is from the compassion of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) to the Muslims that He chose a man to lead them in their religious and worldly affairs who most resembled the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) in conduct and was his intimate friend for over 50 years.

Hadhrat Anas bin Maalik narrated that during the death-sickness of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) he did not come out for three days. After this, when the very next Salaah was due, Hadhrat Abu Bakr came forth to lead the Salaah, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) opened the curtain of his house (and looked at us from within his house). There was nothing more beautiful than his face when he looked at us on that day. After that, he pointed to Hadhrat Abu Bakr to proceed and lead the Salaah and then he closed his curtain. He was to never come out of his house again, until he died’. (Bukhari and Muslim)

In the final moments of his life Hadhrat ʿAyeshah continued to recite al-Mu’awwizaat (Soorah al-Ikhlaas, al-Falaq and an-Naas) upon the palms of the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and helped him wipe it over his own body seeking blessings from his own hands. When the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) began to lose consciousness, his daughter Hadhrat Faaṭimah exclaimed: “What extreme pain my father is suffering!”

The Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) heard this and said: “Your father will never suffer again after today.” (Bukhari)

Hadhrat Anas bin Maalik said that the predominant matter that the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) kept repeatedly stressing whilst on his death bed was: “Guard your Salaah and watch over what your right hands possess.” (Ibne Maajah)

He continued to repeat this until he was no longer able to speak. In fact the last scene the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) witnessed of his Ummah which caused him to smile radiantly was his Sahaabah offering the Salaah with Jamaa’ah (Prayer in Congregation). It is as if this was the symbolic culmination of his message and confirmation that the Muslims would continue his legacy.

Hadhrat ʿAyeshah narrated: “It is from the bounties of Allah (upon me) that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) died in my house whilst laying in my lap with me holding him between my chest and neck. Hadhrat ʿAbdur-Rahmaan bin Abu Bakr went in to see the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and had in his hand a Siwaak (a wooden tooth-stick) while I was holding the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) in my lap. I noticed that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) kept looking at the Siwaak so I asked him if he wanted it. He nodded so I took it and began using it, but it seemed very hard so I asked him if I should soften it for him. Again he nodded, so I did so. There was a bowl of water next to the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) which he kept dipping his hands in and then wiping them over his head. Whilst doing this, he (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) was saying, ‘Laa ilaaha illAllaah (there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah), indeed death contains agony.’ Then he pointed upwards and kept saying, ‘Let me join the Highest Companions, let me join the Highest Companions.’ until he died and his hand dropped down.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

It is from the manner of respect that the angel of death seek permission before taking the souls of the Prophets. Such is their stature and superiority. The Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) final decision in this world was to seek the companionship of his Lord and so he vigorously used his Miswaak in preparation for this glorious meeting.

There is not a single moment that passes in the world today except that there is caller to the Salaah proclaiming across the skyline: “I bear witness that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

There is not a single moment that passes in the world today except that there is a faithful believer, individually or in a gathering, sending salutations on the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). There is not a single moment that passes in the world today except there is a Muslim re-enacting a Sunnah of the Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) in speech or in action. So let today be a poignant reminder to all Muslims that there is not a single aspect of his guidance that we will abandon, compromise on or dilute.

The Prophet Muḥammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) is truly the most magnificent individual to walk the earth and we, as Muslims, should feel a surge of self-respect, dignity and honor that our leader is the leader of all humanity. His guidance supersedes all other attempts by human beings to manage their affairs through laws, doctrines and culture. His message is the culmination and perfection of all divine messages revealed since the time of the first man and Prophet, Hadhrat Adam. He has led all the Prophets in Salaah in Masjid al-Aqsa as their Imaam in the noblest Jamaa’ah to ever assemble for Salaah in the entire history of humanity. Even though his death is the greatest calamity to strike the Muslim nation, his life is the most profound source of guidance, mercy and hope for all human beings.