DEATH OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (peace be upon him), 632 CE
Two months after performing the Hajj (Farewell Pilgrimage
), Prophet Muhammad fell ill. He continued to lead the congregation prayers. After one of these prayers he invoked special blessings on the martyrs of Uhud, and then addressed the Muslims:
“There is a slave among the slaves of Allah (The One God) to whom God has offered the choice between this world and that which is with Him, and the slave has chosen that which is with God.”
Upon hearing this Abu Bakr (ra) wept as he understood that the Prophet was talking about himself and that the choice meant his imminent death. The Prophet continued:
“I warn you O Muslims to be good to the Ansar (the Helpers, i.e., those residents of Medina who helped the Emigrants from Mecca). They have performed their duty well. Muslims will increase in number but Ansar will dwindle and be as salt in a meal.
“Woe to the nations before you who worshiped the tombs of their prophets. I forbid you to do that. O people, the most unselfish of men to me in his companionship is Abu Bakr, and if I were to take from mankind an inseparable friend he would be Abu Bakr - but the brotherhood of faith is ours until God unite us in His presence. O my dear daughter Fatimah and O my dear aunt Safiyah, spend your efforts in the way of the hereafter for I will not be able to help you against the Will of Allah.
“I go before you and I am your witness. Your meeting with me is at the pool (a lake fed by the celestial river Kawthar where believers will quench their thirst on their entry into paradise.). I fear not for you that you will set up gods beside Allah (The One God); but I fear for you that you will rival one another in worldly gains.”
Soon after this sermon, his last in the mosque, the Prophet became so weak that he could not move. He then appointed Abu Bakr (ra) to lead the prayers. The Prophet spent the rest of his illness in the apartment of his beloved wife A’ishah (ra). On the early morning of twelfth of Rabi’ al-Awwal, the prophet’s fever abated and he went to the mosque, assisted by Fadl and Thawban, when Abu Bakr was already leading the prayer. Realizing that the prophet was approaching, Abu Bakr stepped back without turning his head, but the prophet pressed his hand on his shoulder to let him know to continue. The Prophet sat on the right of Abu Bakr and completed the prayer while seated. The apparent recovery of the Prophet overjoyed the Muslims. Anas (ra) is reported to have said that I never saw the Prophet’s face more beautiful than it was at that hour.
Within hours, the Prophet lost his consciousness. He opened his eyes again an hour later saying to A’ishah (ra): “No Prophet is taken by death until he has been shown his place in Paradise and then offered the choice to live or to die.”
Among the last words he said were:
“With the supreme communion in Paradise, with those upon whom God has showered his favor, the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the righteous, most excellent for communion are they.”
The Prophet’s last words were “O Allah, with the supreme communion.”
He died in the evening of the twelfth of Rabi’ al-Awwal (June 8, 632 A.D.) at the age of sixty-three.
The news of the Prophet’s death was so hard upon close companions and Muslims that some of them refused to believe that he had passed away. (At the close of his death, he looked youthful as if in his forties and his face always shown a great radiance). Upon hearing this, Abu Bakr (ra) who was later to become the first caliph
went to the mosque and delivered one of the noblest speeches:
“O People! If Muhammad is the sole object of your adoration, then know that he is dead. But if it is Allah (The One God) you Worshiped, then know that He does not die.”
He then recited the following verse from the Qur'an, 3:144, which was revealed after the Battle of Uhud:
“Muhammad is no more than an Messenger: many were the Messengers that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will you then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude.”
The Prophet was buried the next day at the same place where he died. The place of his burial was decided by his saying as related by Abu Bakr (ra):
“Allah does not cause a prophet to die but in the place where he is to be buried.”
The Prophet lived a most simple, austere and modest life. He and his family used to go without cooked meal several days at a time, relying only on dates, dried bread and water. During the day he was the busiest man, as he performed his duties in many roles all at once as head of state, chief justice, commander-in-chief, arbitrator, instructor and family man. He was the most devoted man at night. He used to spend one- to two-thirds of every night in prayer and meditation (Qur'an 73:20). All of his children died before his death except Fatimah (ra) who died six months after his death. All of the Prophet’s wives (known as Ummul Momineen, i.e., mother of the faithful) passed their widowhood during the remaining period of their lives.
The Prophet’s possession consisted of mats, blankets, jugs and other simple things even when he was the virtual ruler of Arabia. He left nothing to be inherited except a white mule (a gift from Muqawqis
), few ammunition and a piece of land that he had made a gift during his life time. Among his last words were: “We the community of Prophets are not inherited. Whatever we leave is for charity.”
The Prophet’s actions and words were remembered and later recorded (known as Hadith), so that Muslims in future generations to the end of time could try to act and speak as he did. He has served as an example for all Muslims in all periods to modern times. He will remain a model example for all of humanity.
Date of Death:
Monday, 12th Rabi' al-Awwal, 11AH
June 8, 632 CE.