The life of Prophet Muhammad: Hiyat al-Qulub


Sickness, Death, and Burial of Prophet Mohammed

It is related that when the prophet returned from his farewell pilgrimage, conscious that his departure to the eternal world was near, he was continually addressing the people, warning them to beware of seditions which would arise after his death, and exhorting them not to withdraw from his form of faith, and not do evil against the divine religion.

He bade them beware of leaguing against the rights of his family, but to render them support and obedience, which were so obligatory on them to yield. He repeatedly said, O ye people, I go before you, and when you meet me at the fountain of Koser, I shall demand how conducted towards the two great things I left you, namely, the book of God and my family. Beware then that you act not contrary to my command respecting them.


Verily the holy and omniscient Lord has told me that these two things cannot be separated till they rejoin me at the fountain of Koser. These two I place among you. Usurp not precedence of my family, nor forsake them, nor do any thing against them, lest ye be destroyed. Do not attempt to tech them, for they are wiser than you. Turn not from my faith, nor draw your swords against each other.

Know ye, that Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS), my cousin, is my successor, and will fight for the true meaning of the Koran as I did for its communication. He spoke on this subject to many assemblies of the people.


Mohammed made Asamet ibn Zayd emeer of a company hypocrites and seditious people, and commanded them to depart to Room, where Asamet's father had been slain. The object of the prophet was to free Medina of those opposed to the rights of Ali, till he should be established in the caliphate. He ordered Asamet to proceed to Jeraf and stop there till the army should be collected, and commanded a party of Muslims to drive the hypocrites out of the city to the camp of Asamet. In the midst of these preparations the prophet fell sick of that disease by which he departed in the mercy of God.


Taking the hand of the commander of the faithful he went out to Bakeea with most of his companions, saying, The Most High has commanded me to implore pardon for the dead at Bakeea. On arriving there he said, Assalam-alaykum! O ye people of the tombs, be happy in the state in which the morning finds you, saved from the seditions that await the living; verily the calamities are coming on men, like fragments of a dark night.


After imploring for a long time forgiveness for the dead at Bakeea, he turned to Ali (AS) and said, Jibraeel has every year recited the Koran to me once, but this year has done it twice, which I think is a sign that my death is near. Verily, the Most High offered me perpetual possession of the treasures of earth, or paradise: and I chose the latter, and to meet my Lord. When I die do thou cover my secrets, for whoever else looks on them will become blind.


The prophet returned to his house, and in the space of three days his sickness became severe. He then tied a bandage on his head, and leaning on the commander of the faithful and Fazl ibn Abbas, went to the masjid and ascended the member, and sitting down, thus addressed the people: Whoever has any claim to me, let him now declare it.


Verily, none can claim favor at the hand of God but by obeying Him, and none can expect to be safe without good works, or to enjoy the favor of God without obedience. Nothing but good works will deliver from divine wrath, and verily, if I should sin I should go to hell. O Lord, I have delivered thy message. He then came down from the member and performed short prayers with the people, and returned to the house of Umm Salmah, where he remained one or two days.


During the last sickness of the prophet, while he was lying with his head in Ali's lap, and Abbas was standing before him and brushing away the flies with his cloak, he opened his eyes and asked Abbas to become his executor, pay his debts, and support his family. Abbas said he was an old man with a large family, and could not do it.


Mohammed then proffered the same to Ali, who was so much affected that he could not command utterance for some time, but as soon as he could speak, promised with the greatest devotion to perform the prophet's request. Mohammed, after being raised into a sitting posture, in which he was supported by Ali, ordered Bilal to bring his helmet, called Zooljabeen; his coat of mail, Zatul-Fazool; his banner, Akab; his sword, Zoolfakar; his turbans, Sahab and Tahmeeah; his two party-colored garments, his little staff, and his walking cane, Memshook.


In relating the story Abbas remarked that he had never before seen the party-colored scarf, which was so lustrous as nearly to blind the eyes. The prophet now addressed Ali, saying, Jibraeel brought me this article and told me to put it into the rings of my mail, and bind it on me for a girdle. He then called for his two pairs of Arab shoes, one pair of which had been patched. Next he ordered the shirt he wore on the night of the Maraj, or ascent to heaven, and the shirt he wore at the battle of Ohod.


He then called for his three caps, one of which he wore in journeying, another on festivals, and the third when sitting among his companions. He then told Bilal to bring his two mules, Shahba and Duldul; his two she-camels, Ghazba and Sahba; and his two horses, Jinah and Khyrdam. Jinah was kept at the door of the masjid for the use of a messenger, and Khyrdam was mounted by the prophet at the battle of Ohod, where Jibraeel cried, Advance, Khyrdam. Last he called for his ass Yafoor. Mohammed now directed Abbas to take Ali's place and support his back. He then said, Rise, O Ali, and take these, my property, while I yet live, that no one may quarrel with you about them after I am gone.


When I rose, said Ali, my feet were so cramped that it was with the utmost difficulty that I could move. Having taken the articles and animals to my house, I returned and stood before the prophet, who, on seeing me, took his ring from his right hand, pointing the way of truth, and put it on my hand, the house being full of the Bani Hashim and other Muslims, and while from weakness his head nodded to the right and left, he cried out, O company of Muslims, Ali is my brother, my successor and caliph among my people and sect; he will pay my debts and cancel my engagements.


O ye sons of Hashim and Abdul Mutalib, and ye other Muslims, be not hostile to Ali, and do not oppose him, lest ye be led astray, and do not envy him, nor incline from him to another, lest ye become infidels. He then ordered Abbas to give his place to Ali. Abbas replied, Do you remove an old man to seat a child in his place? The prophet repeated the order, and the third time Abbas rose in anger, and Ali took his place. Mohammed finding his uncle angry, said to him, Do nothing to cause me to leave the world offended with you, and my wrath send you to hell. On hearing this, Abbas went back to his place, and Mohammed directed Ali to lay him down.


The prophet then said to Bilal, Bring my two sons, Hasan and Husayn. When they were presented he pressed them to his bosom, smelt and kissed those two flowers of the garden of prophecy. Ali, fearing they would trouble the prophet, was about to take them away, but he said, Let them be, that I may smell them, and they smell me, and we prepare to meet each other, for after I am gone great calamities will befall them, but may God curse those that cause them to fear and do them injustice.


O Lord, I commit them to thee, and to the worthy of the faithful, namely Ali ibn Abi Talib. The prophet then dismissed the people and they went away, but Abbas, and his son Fazl, and Ali ibn Abi Talib, and those belonging to the household of the prophet, remained. Abbas then said to the prophet, if the caliphate is established among us, the Bani Hashim, assure us of it, that we may rejoice; but if you foresee that they will treat us unjustly and deprive us of the caliphate, commit us to your companions. Mohammed replied, after I am gone, they will weaken and overcome you: at which declaration all the family wept, and moreover despaired of the prophet's life.


Before his departure, Jibraeel came to Muhammed and asked him if he wished to continue on earth. He replied that he did not, but having accomplished his apostleship, he wished to join his friends the prophets in heaven. He said, after me there will be no prophet, and if any one comes claiming to be a prophet, put him to death.


Most of the ulemas, both Shia and Sunni, believe that the departure of the sayyid of the prophets occurred on Monday, the 28th of the month of Safar, according to most of the Shias, and on the 12th of the month of Rabeea-ul-evvel, agreeably to a majority of the Sunnis, with whom, on this point, Mohammed ibn Yakoob Kulaynee agrees. But the former date is the correct one. The Sunnis indeed mention several dates, but there is no disagreement as to the fact that the prophet died at the age of 63, and in the 10th year of the Hijrah.


The Imam Sadiq (AS) says, Let every one attacked by disease think of the prophet, whose disease was more severe than that of any other. It is related that Jibraeel brought forth 40 dirhams of camphor from paradise to sprinkle on the corpse of the prophet, who divided it into 3 parts, one for himself, another for Ali, and the 3rd for Fatima. Ali visiting the prophet one day when he was sick, found him asleep, with his head in the lap of an extremely beautiful man, who told Ali to take his place. The prophet on awaking said it was Jibraeel.


Abdullah ibn Masood said he asked the prophet who should bathe him after his death. He replied, My successor Ali. Abdullah then asked how long Ali would survive him. He answered, 30 years, the same period that Yoosha ibn Noon, the successor of Musa, survived that prophet.


It is related by several most respected authorities, that the prophet said to Ali, when I die bring 6 sacks of water from the well of Ghars and bathe me thoroughly with that water. Then robe me with embalming perfumes, after which take hold of the breast of my robe, and seat me upright, and ask me what you please, and I will answer all your questions. All this was done, and Mohammed then taught Ali a thousand chapters of knowledge, from each of which a thousand others opened, and told him all that would happen till the judgment day.


The Imam Zayn-ul-Abidin says that his father Husayn told him that Jibraeel visited the prophet three says before his death and said, Verily the Lord of the universe has sent me to you on account of your high estimation and exaltation before Him, and asks you concerning the sate which He better understands, and inquires how you find your condition. He replied, O Jibraeel, I find myself sad and in distress. On the third day Jibraeel again descended with the angel of death and an angel called Ismaeel, the regent of the air, attended by seventy thousand angels.


The same message from the Lord of the universe was delivered, and the same answer returned. The angel of death then asked permission to enter the house. Jibraeel therefore said to the prophet, O Ahmed, this is the angel of death, and asks permission to enter the house, a request he never stopped to make of any one before, and will never do it again. The prophet having given the permission, the angel of death entered and stood respectfully before him, and said, O Ahmed, verily the Most High has sent me to you and commanded me to obey you implicitly. If you order me to take away your spirit I will do it, or if you command I will return.


Jibraeel remarked to the prophet Verily the Most High wishes to meet you; on which Mohammed said, O angel of death, execute your orders. Jibraeel said, this is my last descent to earth: you were the necessary cause of my visiting it, for with you I had business; but I have now no more to do with this world.


When the holy spirit of the prophet left his immaculate body, one invisible came and consoled the mourners, saying, Assalam-alaykum! the mercy of God be upon you; every one must taste the cup of death, and all will receive their full reward in the judgment. Whoever escapes the fire of hell, will enter paradise. Life on earth is but a deceitful benefit.


Verily, the mercy of God sustains under every calamity, and God remains, whatever may perish, and His reward recompenses for what dies. Then trust and hope in Him. Verily, he finds calamity who is debarred from the favor of God. Ali observed this is Khizr who has come to console us.


The propeht said to Ali, When I die robe me in these two garments I have on, in a white garment of Misr, or in a Yemen cloak, and prepare not for me a costly robe. Carry me and lay me on the brink of the grave; then the first who will perform prayer over me will be the Almighty Lord, who will bless me from the empyrean of His own exaltation and glory. Next Jibraeel, Meekaeel, and Israfeel, with the hosts of angels, whose number no one knows but God, will perform prayers over me; then those around the divine empyrean, then successively those that dwell in each heaven, and last, all my family and wives according to their rank will sign to me and salute me.


After the prophet's departure to the eternal world, Ali performed the funeral ablutions, assisted by Fazl ibn Abbas, and then robed the corpse and kissed his blessed face. On the authority of the Imam Sadiq, it is related that when the prophet departed to the eternal world, Jibraeel and the angels, and Ruh, the Spirit, all of whom came down to the prophet on the night of dignity, now again descended, and the Most High enlightened the eyes of the commander of the faithful so that he saw them to the extreme part of the heavens. Thy assisted Ali in bathing the prophet and in performing prayers over him and assisted in laying the remains of Mohammed in long repose.


After the prophet's death Fatima was afflicted in spirit to a degree which none but God knew. Jibraeel was sent down daily to comfort her, and Ali wrote that the angel said, and this is the book of Fatima which is now with the Imam Mahdi. Fatima martyred 75 days after the prophet her father.


By: Allamah Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi

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