After the "farewell" Hajj" completed, tens of thousands of pilgrims began their return home. Those who came from deserts returned to the desert; those who came from Tihamah returned there, and those who came from the south of Yemen, Hadramawt and neighboring territories did likewise. Rasulullah and his Sahaba (R.A.) set out in the direction of Madinah. When they reached their homes, they settled down confident that peace had covered the entire Peninsula. From here, it was natural that Rasulullah became preoccupied with the conditions of those countries under the rule of Byzantium and Persia, especially Sham, Egypt and Iraq. Now that the people had coverted to Islam in such large groups, that their delegations had already declared in Madinah their obedience and committed their people to serve under its banner and, finally, now that all the Arabs have united, the Arabian Peninsula became secure in its entirety. Indeed, there was no reason for any of the Arab kings and chiefs to withdraw or to violate loyalty to Rasulullah or to Islaam. Under no other authority did they enjoy more power and internal security under that which the Unlettered Nabi had instituted.
In Muharram 11 A.H. Rasulullah visited Uhad and prayed for the souls of the beloved martyrs who had sacrificed their lives for Allah and his Rasool He then visited "Jannatul Baqi", the Muslim cemetery in Madinah and offered prayers for the departed. It was during his return from "Jannatul Baqi" that he developed a severe headache. Hazrat Abu Muwayhibah (R.A.) who had accompanied him to the cemetery supported Rasulullah to the apartment of Rasulullah 's wife Hazrat Maymunah binte Harith bin Hazin (R.A.) His headache brought on a fever and he was confided to bed. It was not easy for the Muslims, considering their great love for Rasulullah The Sahaba (R.A.) knew that Rasulullah never suffered from any serious illness. Nothing had adversely affected his health throughout this period except a brief lack of appetite in 6 A.H. to Jewish magic, and a little discomfort following his eating a bite of poisoned lamb in 7 A.H. Furthermore, the rhythm of his life and the logic of his teachings always protected him with the barest and simplest necessities. His clothes and his house always perfectly clean, For Rasulullah not only saw it that the duties of ablutions were perfectly carried out at all times, but he even used to say: "Were it not for my fear of imposing hardship on my people I would have made it duty for them to brush their teeth five times a day". On the other hand, the ritual of prayer and daily exercise which Rasulullah observed as well as his sense for minimalist economy in the pursuit of pleasure, his refrain from indulgences of all kinds, and his general unconcern for things of this world which always kept him at a distance from them, but in attachment to the life after this life and the secret of existence - all the aspects of their character protected him against disease and gave him good health. His strong natural, construction and innate inclination to moral goodness consolidated his immunity against disease.
The news of Rasulullah 's illness spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula. The rebellious impostors raised their heads in mischief claiming prophethood. Among, them were Musailimah Kazzab of Yamama, Aswas al Ansi ibn Ka'ab of Yemen, Tulaiha ibn Khuwaylid and a woman Sajjaa binte Harith . Each of them individually laid claims to prophethood. Musailimah Kazzab had communicated with Rasulullah regarding his claim to prophethood. He sent a message to Rasulullah saying: "I too am a prophet like you. To us belong half of the earth, and to the Quraish belong the other half, if the Quraish were only just". Rasulullah asked the envoy of Musailimah to convey to him: "That, I Muhammed heard his message and realized its lies. The earth belongs to none but Allah, and Allah grants it to whomsoever He chooses among His worthy and righteous servants. Peace belongs to the rightly guided."
Musailimah Kazzab met his death by the hands of Wahshi (R.A.), during the Khilaphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.). Wahshi would go about saying with great remorse that when he was a "kaafir", he had martyred one of the holiest persons (Hazrat Hamza (R.A.) and when he embraced Islaam he killed one of the most evil persons (Musailimah Kazzab of Yemen), during the Khilafate of Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.).
Rasulullah was in the house of Hazrat Maymunah (R.A.), when he found it necessary to call the members of his house and to ask of them to attend to him in the house of Hazrat Ai'sha (R.A.) His wives agreed to nurse him there. He moved out of Hazrat Maymunah (R.A.)'s house, his head wrapped, leaning on Hazrat Ali bin Abu Talib (R.A.) on one side and Hazrat Abbas (R.A.) on the other. His legs could hardly carry him. He entered the quarters of Hazrat Ai'sha (R.A.) and there he lay down.
Inspite of all his illness he continued to administer the affairs of the Muslim State. He appointed Hazrat Usamah (R.A.) the son of Hazat Zaid bin Harith (R.A.), as Commander of an expeditionary force to avenge the death of his father who had been martyred at Mu'tah. The significance of Hazrat Usamah (R.A.)'s appointment was also an indication of Rasulullah 's confidence, love and respect for his Ummah, regardless of the persons being a slave or his progeny. Furthermore, he placed all the Sahaba (R.A.) including Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) Hazrat Umar bin Khattab(R.A.) the senior most, under the command of Hazrat Usamah (R.A.) for this particular expedition.
However Hazrat Usamah (R.A.) had left Madinah with his army and camped temporarily outside Madinah at Jurf because of Rasulullah 's illness. The Sahaba (R.A.) in the expedition often came into Madinah with the permission of Hazrat Usama (R.A.) to be at the bedside of Rasulullah .
Rasulullah 's fever increased in the first days of his sickness so much that he felt as if on fire. When the attack of fever subsided, Rasulullah walked to the Masjid to lead the prayer. He continued to do so for several days but felt too weak to talk to the Sahaba (R.A.) or to give audience to them. But he could hear their gossip about his appointment of a very young man to command the elder Muhajirun and Ansar in the coming campaign against Sham (Syria). Despite the gradual deterioration of his health and the aggravation of his pain, he felt it necessary to address the people on that subject.
One day he asked his wives and servants to pour on him seven goatskins of water from various wells. The water was brought from different wells as commanded and poured over him as he sat in a tub belonging to Hazrat Hafsah bint Umar ibn Kattab (R.A.) He then put on his clothes, wrapped his head and went to the Masjid. Standing at the pulpit he praised Allah, prayed for the martyrs of Uhad, and addressed the congregation in the following words: "O Men, carry out the expedition under Usamah (R.A.) Your complaint against his generalship is of the same kind as your complaint against generalship against his father before him. By Allah, Usamah is as fit for the generalship as was his father". Rasulullah stopped for a while, and there was absolute silence. He then resumed his address, saying: "Has he not made a better choice who, when given the option of taking this world, the other world, or property submit in whatever is with Allah, choose the last alternative?" Nabi fell silent again, and the people were absolutely motionless. With his deep understanding and sensitivity Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) realized that Prophet Muhammed was here referring to himself. His loyalty to Rasulullah and profound feeling for his person overwhelmed Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.), who could not hold back his tears. Deeply moved and crying, he said:
"But we would give our own lives and the lives of our children for you. O Muhammed ".
Fearing the spread of Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) contagious affection among the congregation, Rasulullah said softly: "O Abu Bakr!" He then commanded all the gates of the masjid to be closed except the one which led to the quarters of Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.). When this was done he said: "I do not know of anyone whose companionship is preferable to me than yours. Of all the people of the would, I would choose only Abu Bakr as a permanent friend and constant companion. His has been the friendship and fraternity of true faith and it will last until Allah brings us together again". Rasulullah left the pulpit to return to Hazrat A'isha (R.A.)'s quarters. As he did, he turned to the people and said: "O Muhajireen, be good to the Ansar. The Muslim community increases every day, but the number of the Ansar remains the same. The Ansar have been my own people, my trustworthy people among whom I have taken shelter. Be good to the virtuous among, them reward the pious, and forgive the wrongdoers.
The following day, Rasulullah tried to get out of bed and lead the prayers in the Masjid as usual. When he found his effort futile, he ordered that Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) lead the prayer in his place. Hazrat A'isha (R.A.) was anxious for Rasulullah to lead the prayer himself . She thought that nothing would better allay fears of the people than for them to see Rasulullah resume his daily functions. She therefore apologized for her father, Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) saying that his voice was too soft and that he would break down and cry whenever he recited the Qur'aan. Realizing his incapacity to rise from bed, Nabi ordered once again that Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A.) lead the prayers. When Hazrat A'isha (R.A.) insisted, Rasulullah in anger said: "How obsessive are women! Order Abu Bakr (R.A.) to lead the prayers at once".
After this, Rasulullah 's sickness and pain increased. His fever was so high it could be felt by his wives and servants upon touching the blankets which covered him. Hazrat Fatimah (R.A.) his daughter, whom he loved deeply as his only surviving offspring, visited him everyday. Whenever she entered his room, Nabi would cry, kiss her, and give her his own chair. One day when she entered the room, he greeted her saying, "Welcome my daughter". But it was she who kissed him. He asked her to sit by him on his bed and whispered to her twice, first making her cry then making her laugh. Hazrat A'isha (R.A.) sought to discover what was said: but Hazrat Fatimah (R.A.) refused to give away what she took to be a secret. It was not until after Nabi 's demise that Hazrat Fatimah (R.A.) divulged what Rasulullah had then told her, namely that he was to leave this world of that same sickness - which caused her to cry - and that she would be the first member of his family to join him after death - which made her smile.
In order to cool his fever, Rasulullah dipped his hand in a container by his bed, filled every now and then with cold water, and wiped his face. At times the high fever gave him convulsions, recovering from one of these attacks, he overheard his daughter Fatima (RA.) saying with deep sorrow: "Oh, the terrible pain my father is suffering!" At this Rasulullah said, "Your father will suffer no more pain this day", meaning he was to meet his Lord before the day was over.
At the beginning of his illness Rasulallah had in his house seven Dinars; he feared he might leave this world while some money was still in his possession. He therefore commanded his relatives to give the money away to the poor. However, their preoccupation with his sickness and constant attendance upon, in addition to their concern for his deteriorating health, caused them to forget to carry out his order. When he came to himself on Sunday, on the eve of the day of his passing away, Rasulullah enquired whether they had fulfilled his order. Hazrat Aisha (R.A) answered that the money was still in her hand. He then said: "What spectacle is this of Muhammad, if he were to meet Allah in this condition?" The money was thereafter given to the poor.
Rasulullah spent a peaceful night in which his fever seemed to subside. It was as if the medicine which his relatives had prepared for him had somewhat alleviated the disease. In the morning he was even able to go to the Masjid although his head was still wrapped and he needed to lean on Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA) and Fadl ibn al Abbas (RA). Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) was leading the prayer at the time of Nabi 's entry into the Masjid. As the Sahaba (RA) saw Rasulullah come in, they were so overjoyed at his recovery that they almost allowed their prayer to be interrupted. Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) raised his voice in the recitation signaling that the prayer must go on and not to be interrupted. Rasulullah was extremely pleased with what he saw, Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) knew well that the people would not have been diverted from prayer by the arrival of any other man. As Rasulullah came close to Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) to join in prayer, the latter moved himself away from his position of leadership so that Nabi might take over. Rasulullah however, pushed him back into place. He sat besides Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) and prayed in a sitting position. When he completed his prayer, he joined the congregation and talked to them with a clear voice, audible even outside the Masjid. He said: "O Men, the fire is ready. Subversive attacks are advancing like waves of darkness. By Allah, I shall not be held responsible for ought of this. I have never allowed anything which the Qur'aan had not made legitimate, and I have never forbidden ought which the Qur'aan had not forbidden. Allah's curse is upon those who take graves for their Masjid".
The Sahaba (RA) were so overjoyed at the signs of recovery in the health of their beloved Nabi that Hazrat Usamah ibn Zayd (RA) even asked permission to march on Syria (Shaam). Indeed even Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) came forward and said: "O Rasool of Allah it is evident that Allah has granted you His blessings and given you good health just as we all wished and prayed. I had promised the daughter of Kaharijah [meaning his wife] to spend the day with her. May I take leave of you? "Rasulullah granted him leave, and Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) went to al Sunh on the outskirts of Madinah, where his wife resided. Hazrat Umar (RA) and Hazrat Ali (RA) returned to their business as usual. The Sahaba (RA) dispersed in joy and happiness after their days of sadness over the news of Rasulullah 's illness. Rasulullah returned to the quarters of Hazrat Aisha (RA). Rasulullah felt quite weak. Hazrat Aisha (RA) helped Rasulullah in with a heart full of awe and sympathy, wishing she could offer him her own life and energy to replace his waning strength.
Rasulullah 's visit to the masjid turned out to be only an interlude of wakefulness which precedes death. After he returned home, every minute saw further deterioration of his health. There was no doubt that he had only a few hours to live. How did he spend these few hours of his life? What was his last vision? Did he spend those precious moments reviewing the career he lived since Allah had commissioned him to Risalat (Prophethood) and appointed him a guide to mankind. Did he recall the hardship he suffered, the joys he experienced, and the spiritual and military victories he achieved? Or did he spend the last moment praying to Allah and asking mercy with all his soul and all his mind as he used to do throughout his life? Or was he too weak to review anything and too unconscious even to pray? At this stage Hazrat Abdur Rehman ibn Abu Bakr (RA) entered the quarters of Hazrat Aisha (RA) carrying a miswak in his hand. Hazrat Aisha (RA) inquired of Rasulullah SAW whether he desired to use the miswak. Rasulullah indicated by signalling that he so desired. Hazrat Aisha (RA) took the miswak from the brother, chewed on it until it became pliable, and handed it over to Rasulullah who used it to brush his teeth.
As the agonies of death became stronger, Rasulullah turned to Allah in prayer saying: "O Allah help me overcome the agonies of death". Hazrat Aisha (RA) reported that his head was in her lap during the last hour. She said: "The head of Allah's Nabi was getting heavier in my lap. I looked at his face and found that his eyes had become fixed. I heard his murmur, 'Rather, Allah on High and Paradise'. I said to him, By him who sent you a Rasool to teach the truth, you have been given the choice and you chose well. The Rasool of Allah passed away while his head was on my side between my lungs and my heart reciting :
'It was my youth and inexperience that made me let him depart from this world in my lap. I then placed his head on the pillow and rose to bemoan my fate and join the other women in our bereavement and sorrow"
On Monday 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal 11 A.H. after an illness lasting thirteen days, Rasulullah passed away. Rasulullah 's family was plunged into indescribable grief. Hazrat Uthman ibn Affan (RA) fell in a swoon. Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA) felt as if the earth had caved in under his feet.
The news spread everywhere and the Muslims of Madinah were stunned and dumbfounded to think that their beloved Nabi was no more in this world . On hearing of this sad news, Hazrat Usamah ibn Zayd (RA) came back to Madinah from Jurf with his whole army.
Among those who was struck with disbelief was Hazrat Umar ibn Khattab (RA) . Upon hearing the news and hardly believing it, Hazrat Umar (RA) turned quickly to Rasulullah quarters . Upon arrival, he went straight to Rasulullah 's bed uncovered and looked at his beloved's face for a while. He perceived its motionless and deathlike appearance as a coma from which he believed Rasulullah would soon emerge. Hazrat Mughirah ibn Shu'bah (RA) tried in vain to convince Hazrat Umar (RA) of the painful fact. When Hazrat Mughrirah (RA) insisted, Hazrat Umar (RA) said in anger:
Some people are saying that the Rasool of Allah
had died. By Allah I swear that he did not die: that
he has gone to join his Lord, just as Hazrat Moosa
(AS) went before. Hazrat Moosa (AS) absented himself
from his people for fourteen consecutive nights
and returned to them after they had declared him
dead. By Allah, the Rasool of Allah will return
just as Hazrat Moosa (AS) returned. Any man who
dares to spread a false rumor such as Muhammed
death shall have his arms and legs cut off by
The Sahaba (RA) were becoming anxious at Hazrat Umar (RA)'s outburst. Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) arrived and entering the quarters of Hazrat Muhammed he found that Rasulullah was laid down in a corner and covered with a striped cloth. He approached, uncovered the face and kissed the forehead, saying, "How wholesome you are, whether alive or dead!" He then held Rasulullah head in his hands and looked closely at the face which showed no sign whatever of death's attack. Laying it down again he said, "What would I not have sacrificed for you! The one death which Allah has decreed for you as for any other man, to taste, you now have tasted. Henceforth, no death shall ever befall you ". He covered the head with the striped cloth and went straight to the masjid where Hazrat Umar (RA) was still proclaiming loudly that Hazrat Muhammed had not died.
Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) rose and made a sign to the people that he wished to address them. No one could have dared impose himself upon the congregation in such manner except Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA), for he was the ever trustworthy friend of Rasulullah whom Nabi would have chosen from among all men. After praising and thanking Allah, Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) delivered the following brief address:
O Men, if you have been worshipping Muhammed
then know that Muhammed is dead.
But if you have been worshipping Allah, then know
that Allah is living and never dies".
With great diplomacy and sense of immense responsibility Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) then quoted Surah Al-i-Imran which was revealed at Uhad when it was rumored that Rasulullah had been martyred:
"Muhammed is but a prophet before whom many
prophets have come and gone. Should he die or be killed,
will you abjure your faith? Know that whoever abjures
his faith will cause no harm to Allah, but Allah will surely
reward those who are grateful to him".
Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA)'s call for restraint, calm and submission to the will of Allah, some semblance of order was restored. Hazrat Umar (RA) had calmed down and looked upon Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) for guidance.
The ghusal of Rasulullah was performed by his next of kin, Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA), Hazrat Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib (RA) and his two sons al Fadl (RA) and Qutham (RA) as well as by Hazrat Usamah ibn Zayd (RA) and Shaqraan (RA) - Rasulullah 's household assistant, poured the water while Hazrat Ali (RA) washed the body. Hazrat Abbas (RA) and his two sons assisted with the turning of the body.
When the ghusal was completed. Rasulullah 's body was wrapped in three shrouds (kafan): two of them made in Suhar the third in Hibarah in Yemen. After the shrouding was completed, the body was left where it was and the doors were flung open for the Muslims to enter from the masjid, to take a last look at their beloved Nabi and to pray for him, Undoubtedly they emerged deeply moved and conscious of their sad bereavement. The room was practically empty when Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) and Hazrat Umar (RA) entered the room joined the Sahaba (RA) in the funeral prayer for Rasulullah . The Salaah was performed without a leader. When the Salaah was over, the men left and the women and children took turns taking a last look at Rasulullah . One and all, every man, women and child, emerged from the room torn with sorrow and crushed by a sense of bereavement for the loss of Allah's Rasool , the seal of His Ambiya.
There were differences of opinion among the Sahabs (RA) as to where Rasulullah should be buried. Some were in favour of burying him in Masjid-e-Nabawi; others suggested that he be buried in his own house. Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) said that he had heard Rasulullah say that every Nabi had been buried in the same place or spot where he had passed away.
The Arabs knew two ways of digging graves. The Makkans made their graves flat at the bottom while the people of Madina made them curved. Hazrat Abu Ubaydah bin Jarrah (RA) was the gravedigger for the Makkans, and Hazrat Abu Talha Zayd bin Sahl (RA) was the gravedigger for the people of Madina. Rasulullah 's relatives could not choose between them. Rasulullah 's uncle Hazrat Abbas (RA) sent two men to call the grave diggers for consultation. Only one was found and could respond to the call, and that was Hazrat Abu Talhah (RA) from the people of Madina. He therefore was asked to dig a grave for Rasulullah as he knew best.
When evening came and the Muslims had taken leave of the body of our beloved Nabi , Rasulullah 's relatives prepared for the burial. They waited until quarter or third of the night had passed before proceeding with the burial. Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA) ; Hazrat Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib (RA) and the two sons of Hazrat Abbas (RA) lowered the seal of all Ambiyah-Hazrat Muhammed to his last resting place in this World. They built over it a bridge with bricks and then covered the grave with sand.
Hazrat Muhammed bin Abdullah bin Abdul Muttalib left this world just as he had entered, without material shackles. His only inheritance left to mankind was the Deen (religion) of truth and goodness. He had paved the ground and laid the foundation for the great civilization of Islam which had covered the world in the past and would cover the world in the future. It was a civilization of which Tauhid, or the Unity of Allah, was the cornerstone; and an order in which the word of Allah and His commandments are always uppermost, while those of unfaith are nethermost. It was a civilization absolutely clean of all paganism and of all idolatrous forms and expressions, a civilization in which men were called upon to co-operate with one another for the good and moral happiness of all men, not for benefit of any group or people. Rasulullah left to this world the Book of Allah (Qur'aan), a guidance and mercy to mankind, while the memory of his own life gave the highest noblest example for man's emulation.
One of the last sermons which Rasulullah delivered to the people during his illness contained the following words: "O Men! if I have lashed the back of anyone, let him come forward and lash my back in return. If I have insulted anyone let him come forward and take satisfaction of me. If I have dispossessed any one of any wealth, let him come forth and seize his wealth from me. If there be any such men as these, let them come forth without any fear of retaliation or hatred, for neither of these become of me". Only one man came forth to make a claim, that Nabi owed him three dirhams, he was paid in full by Nabi on his deathbed. Rasulullah left this world an inheritance of a great spiritual legacy which will continue to illumine the world until Allah completely fulfills His promise and gives success of His deen (religion) to all.