The Prophet's Biography - nabi muhammad 23

The Prophet's Biography - nabi muhammad

23

THE LAST COUNSEL

When he was about to breathe his last, he said repeatedly “Lo! Be careful of prayer and of those whom you possess or have under your charge.” He continued to repeat these words until they became inaudible but it appeared that he was trying to express them. (Baihaqi and Ahmad, Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, p.473)

‘Ali says that he heard the Prophet of Allah (r) commending the Muslims to be careful of prayer and poor-due and to be generous to their slaves and subordinates.

‘Aisha relates that while she has started reciting the last two Soorahs of the Qur’an over the Prophet (r), he lifted up his eyes and said, “With the Exalted Companion! with the Exalted Companion!” Just at that moment ‘Abdurahman b. Abu Bakr entered the room with a green toothstick in his hand. The Prophet (r) looked at in a way that she thought he wanted it. She chewed it a little to make it soft and pliable, and gave it to him. He rubbed his teeth with it as he used to rub before and tried to hand it over to her but it fell down from his hands.

She further says that a cup of water was kept near him. He dipped his hand in it and then wiped his face, saying, “There is no God but Allah. Verily, there are pangs of death.’ Then he lifted up his forefinger and said, “With the Exalted Companion” until his soul took departed and his forefinger dropped on one side into the water.

'Aisha said that when the Prophet (r) was about to leave them behind, he had his head on her thigh. He fainted in a split second and then regaining consciousness, looked up towards the ceiling, saying all the while, “Verily, with the Exalted Companion!” And with these words on his lips, the Prophet (r) of Allah was yielding his last breath.

 

HOW THE PROPHET (r) LEFT THIS WORLD

When the Prophet (r) abandoned this world, he had all of Arabia well in his hand. The sovereign and rulers were scared by his rising power while his companions were ever willing to undergo any sacrifice, to lay down their own lives and to surrender up their wealth, property and children for his sake. Yet he left this world without a single dinar or dirham or a slave or a bondmaid in his possession. All that he owned at the time was one white mule, some weapons and a piece of land, which had already been given away in charity. (Al-Bukhaari, Mard un-Nabi)

The Prophet’s coat of mail had been pawned to a Jew for thirty Sa’s of barley (Al-Bukhaari, Mard un-Nabi) when he died and nothing was left with him to retrieve it. (Baihaqi, p. 52)

The Prophet (r) secured the freedom of forty slaves during his illness. Only six or seven dinars were left with ‘Aisha, but he asked her to give away even those in charity. (Al-Siratul Halabiyah, Vol. III, p. 381)

'Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) relates that on the day the Prophet of Allah (r) died, there was nothing in her house which could be taken by a living being except for a little barley left in a cupboard. It lasted for a few days until she weighed it, and that very day it was all used.

The Prophet (r) died on Monday, the 12th day of Rabia ul-Awwal in the heat of noon after the sun had passed the meridian. He was then sixty-three years of age. (As related by most of the Traditionists) This was the darkest hour for the Muslims, a day gloomy and lament for humanity just as his birth had signaled hope and cheerfulness for the whole world. Anas and Abu S’aid al-Khudri said that when the Messenger of Allah (r) came to Madinah, everything looked better and brighter but no day was worse or darker than the day he died. Some of the people saw Umm Aymaan weeping when the Prophet (r) was bed-ridden. When they asked what had made her weep, she replied, “Of course, I know that the Prophet of Allah (r) will quite leave this world but I am weeping because the revelation from heaven has come to an end.” (Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, pp. 544-46)

 

BEWILDERMENT OF THE COMPANIONS

The news of the Prophet’s death fell like a thunderbolt on his companions. All were stunned because of the ardent love and esteem they had for him. Such was their reliance on his loving care as the children are assured of the protection of their parents. Their distress was not at all surprising, for Allah speaks of the Prophet's concern for his followers:

“There hath come unto you a Messenger, (one) of yourselves, unto whom aught that ye are overburdened is grievous, full of concern for you, for the believers full of pity, merciful.” [Soorah At-Taubah 128]

 

The Prophet (r) was so gracious and considerate that his every companion believed himself to be the closest to him and never had any misgivings about his love and confidence. It was the reliance born of absolute trust mingled with devotion that had made it difficult for some of them to think of the day when the Prophet (r) would depart from this world leaving them alone. One of these was ‘Umar, who had been one of the closest to the Prophet (r), and when he was told that the Messenger of Allah (r) was already dead, he protested violently. He went so far as to address the people in the Prophet’s mosque and told them that Allah’s Prophet (r) would not quit this world until Allah had destroyed the hypocrites. (Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, pp. 544-46)

 

THE COURAGEOUS PROCLAMATION BY ABU BAKR

(may Allah be pleased with him)

A man of determination and courage was needed at this difficult hour. And, this man was Abu Bakr, the most senior of the Prophet’s companions, who had been selected by Allah to take over the legacy of the Prophet (r) with a firm hand. When the news reached him, he hurried back from his house. For a moment he stopped at the door of the mosque where ‘Umar was resolutely speaking to the people, without paying heed to anybody, he proceeded to Aisha’s room where the dead body of the Prophet (r) lay covered with a mantle. He uncovered the Prophet's face and kissed it. Then, he proceeded to say “My father and mother be your ransom. You have tasted the death Allah had decreed for you, a second death will never overtake you.”

Replacing the mantle on the Prophet's face, he then went out to the Mosque. ‘Umar was still making a harangue to the people, so he said gently, “Umar, keep quiet.” But ‘Umar was too excited to listen to Abu Bakr.

Now, Abu Bakr realized that ‘Umar was not in a mood to terminate his speech. So he stepped forward and called out to the people, whereupon they came round to him leaving ‘Umar.

Abu Bakr praised Allah and then said: “O Men, if any one of you worshipped Muhammed, let him know that Muhammed is dead. But if anyone worships Allah, then Allah is alive and He will never die.”

Then he recited the Qur’anic verse:

“Muhammed is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him. Will it be that, when he dieth or is slain, ye will turn back on your heels?” He who turneth back doth no hurt to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful.” [Soorah Aali-'Imraan 144]

 

All those persons who were present on the occasion later on stated on oath that when Abu Bakr recited the verse, it seemed as if it had just been revealed. ‘Umar said: “When I heard Abu Bakr reciting that verse, I was taken aback and fell down as if I did not have a leg to stand on. I felt as if I had then come to know of the Prophet’s death.”

OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO ABU BAKR

(may Allah be pleased with him)

All Muslims then swore faithfulness to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), in the Hall of Banu Sa’ida, as the successor of Allah’s Messenger. The reason for making haste was due to old rivalries flaring up suddenly through machinations of the devil and selfishness of the faint-hearted hypocrites. Those who were sincere and well-meaning wanted to ensure that the Muslims remained united and strong under a leader, who could look after their affairs and give a burial to the Messenger of Allah (r) as his successor and head of the Muslim community.

 

BURIAL OF THE PROPHET (r)

Normalcy returned thereafter. The initial shock and grief gave way to tranquility and confidence and the Muslims again turned to the great task for which they had been trained and prepared by the Prophet (r) of Allah. The Prophet's family members washed and covered him, and stationed the bier in his house. On this occasion, Abu Bakr informed the people that the Prophet (r) told him that every Prophet was buried on the spot where he dies. The Prophet's bedding was accordingly removed from the place and Abu Talha Ansari then dug a grave for him at the same spot.

Then the people came to pay their last respects to the Prophet (r) and to say the funeral prayer in batches one after another. Women came in after the men followed by the children, all of whom prayed over him. Nobody acted as Imam in the prayers over the Prophet (r). (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 663)

The day this came to pass was Tuesday. (Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd; Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, p. 517)

It was a sad day for Madinah. When Bilal gave the call for morning prayer he could not help recalling the Prophet (r) in his mind and broke down in tears and sobs. His crying tore the hearts of all others who had been part of the living. But, it was quite different now, as everything seemed to be wearisome, gloomy.

Umm Salama says, “What a tormenting affliction it was! When we recall the distress we were in, every other trouble appears to be lighter and easier to endure.’ (Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, pp. IV, p. 517)

The Prophet (r) had once said to the believers, “O ye people! If any one of you comes to grief, he ought to console himself in his bereavement by recalling to his mind the anguish that will rend his heart on my death. For no sorrow would be greater to my followers than the agony caused to them by my death.” (Ibn Kathir Vol. IV, p. 549)

 

Letters to Monarchs

 

When the Prophet (r) expressed his desire to send letters to the kings of the Arabs and non-Arabs, the companions advised him to affix his seal on the letter for the kings usually refuse to entertain the unsealed ones. The Prophet (r) accordingly stamped his letters to them with a silver seal on which was engraved:

"Muhammed the Messenger of Allah." (Al-Bukhaari, Kitab-ul-Jihad and Shamail At-Tirmidhi).


LETTERS OF THE Prophet (r)

Of the many letters sent by the Prophet (r), those written to Heraclius (the Byzantine Emperor), Chosroes II (the Emperor of Iran), Negus (the king of Abyssinia) and Muqauqis (the ruler of Egypt) are the most important.

The Prophet (r) wrote in this letter to Heraclius:

I begin with the name of Allah, the beneficient, the Merciful.

This letter is from Muhammed, the slave and Messenger of God, to Heraclius, the great King of Rome. Blessed are those who follow the guidance. Verily I call you to Islam. Embrace Islam that you may find peace, and God will give you a double reward. If you reject then on you shall rest the sin of your subjects and followers.

O people of the Book come to that, which is common between you and us; that we will serve none but Allah, nor associate aught with him, nor take others for lords besides God. But if you turn away, then say: bear witness that we are Muslims.

The letter sent to the Chosroes II read:

I begin with the name of Allah, the beneficient, the Merciful. From Muhammed, the Messenger of God (r), to Kisra, the great King of Persia.

Peace be upon him who follows the guidance, believes in Allah and His Prophet (r), bears witness that there is no God but Allah and that I am the Prophet of Allah for the entire humanity so that every man alive is warned of the awe of God. Embrace Islam that you may find peace; otherwise on you shall rest the sin of the Magis. (Al-Tabari, Vol. III, p. 90)


In the letter addressed to Negus, the Prophet (r) had written:

"I begin with the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful.

From Muhammed, the Messenger of Allah (r), to Negus, the great King of Abyssinia.

Peace be upon him who follows the guidance.

Glory be to Allah besides whom there is no God, the Sovereign, the Holy, the Peace, the Faithful, the Protector. I bear witness that Jesus, the son of Mary, is the Spirit of God, and His Word that He cast unto Mary, the Virgin, the good, the pure, so that she conceived Jesus. God created him from His Spirit and His breathing as He created Adam by His hand and His breathing. I call you to God, the Unique, without any associate, and to His obedience and to follow me and to believe in that, which came to me, for I am the Messenger of God. I invite you and your men to the Great Lord. I have accomplished my task and my admonitions, so receive my advice. peace be upon him who follows the Guidance. (Tabaqat Ibn S'ad, Vol. III, p. 15).


The Letter sent to Muqauqis, the chief of the Copts of Egypt, read:

I begin with the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammed, the Messenger of Allah, to Muqauqis, the Chief of the Coptic.

Peace be upon him who follows the guidance.

I call you to Islam that you may find peace, and God will give you a double reward. If you reject, then on you shall be the sin of your countrymen. O people of the Book, come to that which is common between you and us; that we will serve none but Allah, nor associate aught with him, nor take others for lords besides God. But if you turn away, then say: bear witness that we are Muslims."  (Mawahib Landuniyah, Vol. III. Pp. 247-48)

 

WHO WERE THESE KINGS ?

We cannot appreciate the solemnity and significance of the memorable step taken by the Prophet (r) unless we realize who Heraclius, Chosroes, Negus and Muqauqis were, the extent of their dominion, prestige, splendor and might in the world during the seventh century. Anyone who is not well-aware with the political history at the time might have taken them as local rulers for so many of them are found in every country. But one who is mindful of the political state of the world in the seventh century and the power and splendor of the ambitious monarchs who had divided the world among themselves, would but arrive at one conclusion. That only a man sent by God on a mission could dare summon the imperious autocrats to put their trust in his Prophethood. Such a man should be devoid of the least doubt in the success of his sacred task, or of a speck of fear in his heart. He had to possess such a glowing conviction in the glory and majesty of God that the proudest sovereign was to him not any more than an illusory puppet going through the motions of regality. For all these reasons, it would be worthwhile to give a brief sketch of the monarchs to whom the Prophet (r) had sent his epistle.

 

HERACLIUS (610-641)

The Byzantine empire, then calling itself "New Rome", had along with its Iranian counterpart, kept a tight hand over the civilized world for several hundred years. Its emperors ruled in direct succession to the Roman Emperors over vast and populous lands in Europe, Asia and Africa. The empire was enormously rich while its phenomenally good armies and navies had compiled a successful military record. Coming from a Greek family, Heraclius was born in Cappadocia but was brought up in Carthage where his father was the Exarch of Africa. In his early years he never made any illusion to his fire of genius, avarice for power or qualities of leadership.

When Phocus killed the tyrant Emperor Maurice, in 602 A.D., and usurped the throne, the Chosroes of Persia declared himself the avenger of his former benefactor. The Byzantine Empire absorbed heavy losses as the Iranians reduced Antioch, Damascus, and Jerusalem and took away the True Cross in triumph. Soon afterwards they entered Alexandria, and Egypt too was gone. It seemed to be the end of the great Roman Empire in the East. It was then that the secret emissaries of the Senate prevailed upon the Exarch of Africa to send his son from Carthage to Constantinople. Heraclius was crowned in 610 A.D., when the Empire, afflicted by famine and pestilence, was incapable of resistance and hopeless of relief against the enemy laying a siege to the capital.

Heraclius spent the first few years of his reign beseeching the clemency of Persians and suing out peace, but in 621 A.D. he was suddenly awakened from his sloth. This was the year in which the prediction of Roman Victory, something most "distant of its accomplishment", was made by the Qur'an. In a sudden, displaying the courage of a hero, Heraclius exchanged his purple for the simple garb of a penitent and warrior and decided to become the deliverer of Christendom and restorer of the greatness of the Eastern Empire. He began a great counter offensive and defeating the Persians of their own territory, brought his victorious arms to the capital of Iranian Empire. Amidst the triumph of his succeeding campaigns, Heraclius avenged the honor of Byzantium, crushed the arms as well as the glory of Iranian Empire until it seemed to be nearing its end.

Heraclius returned to Constantinople in 625 A.D. and then, in 629, marched in triumph to Jerusalem for restoring the True Cross to the holy sepulcher. The people went forth to meet the victor, with tears and thunderous applauses, spreading carpets and spraying aromatic herbs on his path. The glorious event was celebrated with the tumult of public joy. While the emperor triumphed at Jerusalem, he was conveyed the letter of the Messenger of Allah (r) inviting him to embrace Islam. By that time, Heraclius seemed to have exhausted himself. He became the "slave of sloth, of pleasure, or of superstition, the careless and impotent spectator of the public calamities," as he had been in the beginning, until the new movement of Islam exploded out of Arabia and took away the very provinces Heraclius had recaptured from the Persians. The boundaries of the Byzantine Empire again shrunk to the Asia Minor and the coastal regions of the Mediterranean Sea in Europe.

The work of Heraclius was undone, but he was decidedly one of the most extraordinary and inconsistent Emperors who assumed the charge of the Byzantine Empire. Great were his exploits and adventurous campaigns and he ruled the greatest empire of the day. In the magnitude of his dominions, wealth and military prowess, he could be compared only with Chosroes II, the Emperor of Persia. Heraclius died at Constantinople in 641 A.D. and was buried there.

 

CHOSROES II

Known as Khusro Parvez to the Arabs, he was the fourth son of Hormouz and the grandson of Chosroes I, Anushirvan the Just. The murder of Hormouz in 590 A.D. was succeeded by enthronement of Chosroes II, but after suffering a defeat at the hands of a rebel chief, Bahram, he had to solicit the protection of Maurice, the Byzantine Emperor. The fugitive prince was helped by Maurice with a powerful army which restored his kingdom after two fierce battles on the banks of Zab and the confines of Mada'in. While the majesty of the Persian Emperor was revived, Phocas, who promoted himself to the vacant purple, killed his adopted father, Maurice. Chosroes II decided to avenge the death of Maurice and invaded the Byzantine dominions in 604 A.D. Chosroes II continued to extend his triumphant march to Constantinople, even after the death of Phocas, rolling in the dust all the Byzantine provinces, Syria , Egypt and Asia Minor, in the rapid tide of his success.

By 616 A.D. Chosroes II had reached the summit of his victorious campaign for he seemed to announce the approaching dissolution of the Byzantine Empire. But his insolent demands at last animated the dormant valor of Heraclius who put the Iranians to rout and penetrated into the heart of Persia. Chosroes II, had to ultimately leave his country and seek refuge in some far off place and thus the battle between the two empires came to an end in 628 A.D. Chosroes II was, according to the unanimous verdict of historians, the greatest Emperor of Iran. In the East, his writ ran up to the northwestern parts of India. (Iran ba 'Ahad Sasanian, p. 602)

During his rule, the glory and magnificence of royal court had surpassed the limits of fancy. Iran was, during this period, more than a match to any country of the world in its ostentatious living, luxury of its nobles and the splendid workmanship of its artisans. Writing about the attainments of Chosroes II, the noted Arab historian At-Tabari says: "Made of a sterner stuff, he was the most prudent far-sighted Emperor of Persia. Deeds of valor, exploits of victory, abundance of wealth, stroke of luck and favorable circumstances had so bunched up during his reign as never before. It was for these reasons that he came to be known as Pervez which meant victorious in Arabic." (Tarikh Tabri, Vol. II, (Egypt), p. 137).

In the arts of civilization and ever-new innovations of edibles and drink, Iran was without any parallel. (Tarikh Tabri, Vol. II, (Egypt), p. 995) In the manufacture of perfumes it had attained perfection. The people had developed a taste for savory preparation, luscious liquors and the finest perfumes. Love of music had grown into craze, which had stipulated its development in the reign of Chosroes II. He was so fond of amassing wealth and artifacts that when his treasures was transferred from an old building to a new one at Ctesiphon in 607-8 A.D., it consisted of 468 million Mithqals of Gold valued at 375 million gold sovereigns. In the thirteenth year of his reign, Chosroes II had 830 million Mithqals of gold in his exchequer. The reign of Chosroes II lasted up to 37 years, after which his son Sherveh took over.

 

MUQAUQIS

He was the Prefect as well as Patriarch of Alexandria acting as the Governor of Egypt on behalf of the Byzantine Emperor. The Arab historians normally mentioned him by his title 'Muqauqis' but they hotly dispute his personal identity. Abu Salih who wrote in the sixth century after Hijrah (12 century A.D.) gives his name as Juraid b. Mina al Muqauqis (which is corruption of George, son of Mina). Ibn Khaldun says that the then Muqauqis was a Copt while al-Maqrizi asserts that he was a Roman.

When the Persians conquered Egypt in 616 A.D., the Byzantine Prefect and patriarch was John the Almoner who fled from Egypt to Cyprus and died there. George was appointed in his place as the Archbishop of Merkite church who remained in office from 621 A.D. till his death in 630 A.D. Known to the Arab historians as Juraij, they give the year of his appointment as 621 A.D. Alfred j. Butler is of the opinion that practically seized all the Arab historians about a person by the title of Muqauqis, appointed by the Byzantine Emperor Herculius after the recovery of Egypt from the Persians, who was both its Patriarch and Governor. They have, therefore, identified George as Muqauqis. But he also says that Muqauqis was only a title of the Patriarch since it was applied to the governor in the early Coptic manuscripts. It is also possible that some Coptic Patriarch might have assumed the ecclesiastical and political powers after the conquest of Egypt by the Persians. However, as the treaty of peace between the Romans and the Persians was executed in the year 628 A.D., the letter of the Prophet (r) was more probably received by the Patriarch of Egypt when he was more or less independent. This is why, it appears, that the Prophet (r) addressed him as the chief of the Copts.

Egypt was the most fertile dominion of the Byzantine Empire, far exceeding other provinces in population as well as in resources. It was also the granary of the Byzantine capital. When 'Amr b. al-'as entered Egypt at the head of the conquering Arab force, fourteen years after the Prophet (r) had sent his letter to Muqauqis, he wrote to Caliph 'Umar b. al-Khattab about that land: "The country is exceedingly fertile and green. Its length covers a journey of one month and its breadth is of about ten days." A census of Egypt taken by 'Amr b. al-As in 20 A.H./640 A.D. to find out the number of persons on whom jizya could be levied, showed that the population exceeded six million, one hundred thousand of which being Romans. 'Amr b. Al- As also wrote to the Caliph: "I have taken a city of which I can but say that it contains 4,000 palaces, 4,000 baths, 40, 000 Jews and 400 theatres for the entertainment of the nobles." (Husn-ul-MUhudra by Suyuti)



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