Farewell Pilgramage & Sermon
According to Peacetv, in the year 632 C.E., the Holy Prophet felt that his mission was nearing completion, and, understanding that the end of his life was near, he decided to make a farewell pilgrimage to Mecca. After completing the various ceremonies of the Hajj, the Prophetsaaddressed the people gathered there from the top of the Mount of Mercy, in the Plain of Arafat:
“O people, listen to my words; for I do not know if I shall be among you after this year. Remember that you have to appear before your Lord Who will demand from you an account of all your actions.
“O people, you have rights over your wives and your wives have rights over you. Remember, you must always treat your wives with kindness. Woman is weak and cannot protect her own rights. When you married, God appointed you the trustees of those rights. You brought your wives to your homes under the Law of God. You must not, therefore, insult the trust which God has placed in your hands.
“O people, feed your slaves as you feed yourselves and clothe your slaves as you clothe yourselves. If they commit a fault which you are unable to forgive, then pass them on to someone else. They are part of God’s creation and are not to be harshly treated.
“O people, listen to my words, and remember that all Muslims are brothers one of another. As you are one brotherhood, you will not take your brother’s belongings which he does not give you of his own goodwill. And guard yourself against committing injustice.
“O people, take note that I trample under foot all un-Islamic customs and traditions. All blood-feuds are wiped out. As God has made you one brotherhood, so be not divided. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab; nor is a white one to be preferred to a dark one, nor a dark one to a white one. This day, retaliation for all murders committed in the days of ignorance is cancelled and all sums of interest are remitted.
“O people, worship your Lord, observe Prayer, observe the Fast during Ramadhan, pay the Zakat cheerfully, perform the Pilgrimage, and obey those in authority among you; God will admit you to His paradise”
And he concluded:
“What I have said to you, you shall tell the others who are not present.”
With these words the Prophetsafinished his address when a revelation came to him:
“This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed upon you my favour and have chosen for you Islam as Religion.”
(Holy Qur’an, 5:4)
This is believed to be the last Qur’anic revelation received by the Holy Prophetsaand with it the process of Quranic revelations, spanning a period of twenty two years, came to a close.
The Prophet’s Illness
Two months after returning from the farewell pilgrimage, the Holy Prophetsafell ill. One day, after having led the Prayer, he addressed the people present in the mosque. He said, “There is a slave among the slaves of 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.” When Abu Bakr heard these words, he began to weep; for he understood that the Holy Prophetsawas speaking of himself and that the choice he referred to was his imminent death. The Holy Prophetsacontinued, “O people, the most beneficent of men unto me in companionship and generosity has been Abu Bakr; and if I were to select from all mankind an inseparable friend, he would be Abu Bakr. But real companionship and brotherhood is ours when God unites us all in His presence”.
When the Prophetsabecame so ill that he could not even come to the mosque, he asked that Abu Bakr lead the daily Prayers. Hazrat A’isha knew that her father was very sensitive and prone to weeping and would be greatly distressed taking the Prophet’s place. She, therefore, suggested Omar’s name instead. But the Holy Prophetsainsisted that it be Abu Bakr.
One day the Prophetsawas feeling a little better so he asked to be taken to the mosque. Ibn Abbas and Ali supported him from each side and, with his feet dragging on the ground, took him to the mosque. Abu Bakr had already started leading the Prayer. As Ibn Abbas and Ali took the Prophet to the front row, the people tried to give Abu Bakr a hint by clapping their hands. Abu Bakr, however, was too engrossed in the Prayer and did not take any notice. Finally, he became aware of the Prophet’s presence behind him and wanted to move back. The Prophetsa, however, indicated to him to continue leading the Prayer and asked Ibn Abbas and Ali to put him down next to Abu Bakr. The Prayer then continued in such a manner that Abu Bakr was following the Holy Prophetsaseated next to him while the people behind were following Abu Bakr. After the Prayer was over the Prophetsaasked Abu Bakr why he didn’t continue leading the Prayer after he was asked to do so. Abu Bakr replied, “How dare the son of Abu Qahafa lead the Prayer in the presence of the Messenger of God.”
As the Prophet’s illness advanced, he requested his wives to allow him to spend his last days with A’isha, to which they all agreed. One day Fatimah, his daughter, came to see him. A’isha saw the Holy Prophet whisper something in Hazrat Fatimah’s ear, upon which Fatimah began to cry. Then he whispered something else in her ear, which made her smile through her tears. When A’isha queried Fatimah on what the Holy Prophetsawas whispering to her, she answered that it was a secret not to be divulged. Much later, she told A’isha that the Holy Prophet had informed her that he was going to die in that illness and this had made her cry. Then the Holy Prophetsatold her that she, Fatimah, would be the first from the Prophet’s house to join him, and this had cheered her up.
The Prophet’s Mosque in Medinah was adjacent to his residence. One day the Prophetsastood by the window and looked outside at the Muslims getting ready to say their Fajr Prayers behind Abu Bakr. The people looked at the Holy Prophet’s face and waited for him to join them. He smiled at them and indicated with his hand for Abu Bakr to go ahead with the Prayer. That was the last time the Muslims saw their Prophet’s face; that day at noon, the Holy Prophetsapassed away. On June 8, 632 C.E., the Holy Prophetsawas buried and thus ended the glorious career of the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him, the greatest man of Arabia, indeed of the whole world.
When Omar was told of the Prophet’s death, he did not believe it. He always thought that the Holy Prophet was going to outlive all of them. He, therefore, proceeded to the mosque and started telling the people that the Prophetsawas merely absent in spirit and will return soon.
When Abu Bakr heard the sad news, he went straight to his daughter A’isha’s house and drew back the cloak which covered the Prophet’s face. He looked at the face of his departed friend and then bent down and kissed it. “Dearer than my father and mother,” he said, “thou hast tasted the death which God decreed for thee. Thou art too precious with the Lord for another death to befall thee.”
After this, Abu Bakr went out where Omar was still addressing the people. He asked Omar to be quiet but Omar paid no attention. Finally Abu Bakr started to speak to the people himself:
“O people, whosoever worships Muhammad, let him then know that Muhammad is dead. But whosoever worships God, let him know that the Lord is living and does not die”
Abu Bakr then recited the following Quranic verses which were revealed after the Battle of Uhud:
The Holy Prophet’s body was bathed and laid out in the chamber of A’isha where he had died. Next morning, the inhabitants of Medinah came and visited it, praying over his remains. Abu Bakr and Omar entered the chamber and prayed as follows:
“Peace be upon thee, O Prophet of God, and mercy from the Lord and His blessing. We bear witness that the Prophet of God has delivered the Message revealed to him; has fought in the way of God until God gave his religion victory; has fulfilled his words, has drawn us to himself, and been kind and tender-hearted towards the believers; has sought no recompense for delivering the Faith to us, neither has he sold it for a price at any time.”
In the evening, the final rites were performed and the body was buried in a grave dug in A’isha’s chamber, at the same place where the Prophetsa
had breathed his last. Later on, when Abu Bakr died, he was buried in the same chamber and, in due time, Omar as well. Thus was fulfilled a dream of A’isha that three moons fell, one after another, into her chamber.
“And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, Messengers have passed away before. If then he dies or is slain, will you non back on your heels?
(Holy Qur’an, 3:145)
Hazrat Abu Bakr’s words put a hush on the crowd. Omar himself was astounded. When realization finally sank in that the Holy Prophetsawas really dead, his legs could not carry him and Omar fell to the ground.