Three times he repeated in a weak voice the words,
“To the best friends, to the best friend, to the best friend.”
And breathed his last. Ali and Abbas gave the Prophet the last bath. Now the question arose where should they bury him. Abu Bakr said,
“The place where he breathed his last.”
The Prophet was then laid to his final rest in the living room of Ayesha, where now stand a dome and minaret.
The Holy Founder of Islam (peace be upon him) was 63 at the time of his death. He was raised as Prophet at the age of 40. He devoted the whole of his life to the service of God. Born an orphan without any riches, he died a king leaving no wealth behind. He never ate a full meal all his life nor wore a rich garment. His house was a mud hut, his court room was the mosque and his throne was its dusty floor. His bed was made of straw, his own arm, his pillow. For months there was no smoke in the chimney of his house. There was nothing to cook. The family lived on dates or goat’s milk or would go hungry. His wives had no maidservants, no silk, no jewellery. Their raiment was as simple as their resources were scanty. The Prophet kept no gold or silver with him. He gave away to the poor all that he received. There was nothing in the house when he died except a small quantity of barley.
The Prophet was of middle height, well built, fair faced, had a broad and high forehead, flowing hair, a thick beard, straight nose, beautiful black eyes and long eye-lashes. Fast in walking, he was slow in talk. Always the first to greet, he received friends and strangers with a smile, heard patiently, would never turn down a request for help, never withdraw his hand first. His habits were simple and his manners sweet. Ever willing to forgive, he punished only when punishment appeared to do greater good than forgiveness. His words, acts and thoughts were devoted to the service of God. He had no other aim in life. He sought only His pleasure. If he made peace at Hudaibiya it was to please God. The terms of the Treaty were harsh. He accepted them even though they hurt the feelings of some of his companions. He marched on Mecca with 10,000 believers. Mecca had treated him cruelly. The city was at his mercy. It begged for mercy. He granted it readily. For, so had God willed, though he knew well that some of his companions had suffered terribly at the hands of Meccans. Bilal the African was one of them. He had been treated with utmost cruelty. The Prophet wisely gave him the duty of calling Meccans to the flag of peace.
Ikramah, son of Abu Jahal, was a bitter enemy of the Prophet. He escaped from Mecca and was on his way to Abyssinia. His wife was a Muslim at heart. She asked the Prophet if he would forgive Ikramah. He said he would. The lady next asked if he could stay in Mecca a non-Muslim. The Prophet said he could. She went after her husband and brought him back. Ikramah wanted to hear all that she told him from the Prophet himself. So he went and asked him,
“My wife tells me that you have forgiven even me.”
The Prophet said he had. Ikramah at once joined Islam. Putting his mantle over him, the Prophet said,
“Whoever come to me as a Muslim is one with me. My house is his.”
Habbar had caused the death of Zainab, a daughter of the Prophet. He had run away to Iran. But there it occurred to him to come back and beg the Prophet’s forgiveness. He returned to Mecca and sought forgiveness. He was forgiven.
Hinda, the wife of Abu Sufiyan, and Vahshi, a slave, had mutilated the dead body of Hamza, an uncle of the Prophet. Both were forgiven.
Shaiba, another Meccan, joined the Hawazin to fight the Prophet. Full of hate, he advanced with a sword. He had only one thought – and that was to kill the Prophet. When he approached, he heard a voice, “Shaiba come closer,” said the Holy Prophet. He obeyed. The Prophet moved his hand across his chest. Shaiba was a changed man. He had only one thought now and that was to give his life for the Prophet.
A few days before his death, the Prophet said to the companions,
“If I have wronged anyone, let him have his revenge.”
All were in tears. One man came forward. He said the Prophet had hit him once; he had passed by him and dug his elbow in his side. The Prophet bared his back and asked him to hurt him as he had been hurt. The companions were taken aback. The man bent and kissed the Prophet’s bare back. All were surprised. The man wanted to have this last pleasure since the Prophet was not to be among them very long.
The Prophet loved cleanliness – in speech, in thought, in habits, in dress, in body, in the house, in the mosque and in the streets. He washed very often, before meals and after meals and before prayers.
He looked to the comfort of all. Friend and foe alike received of his kindness. Companions, relations, neighbours, strangers, all were treated generously. He himself looked to the requirements of guests and attended to the wants of the poor.
Once a pagan chief visited him. There was a large flock of goats grazing nearby. He asked for it as a gift from the Prophet. It was granted. When he went back to his tribe he told them that Muhammad had great faith in His God; he had no fear of poverty.
The Prophet always kept his word and observed his treaties. After the fall of Khaibar, a shepherd accepted Islam. He tended the sheep of a Jewish chief. He said to the Prophet,
“I cannot go back to my people now. What shall I do with the sheep and goats of my old master?”
The Prophet told him to set their face to Khaibar and drive them off. They would, he said, be guided to their master. And so they were.
After the treaty of Hudaibiya, a Muslim turned up to ask for protection. He said he was ill-treated and feared persecution if he was sent back. The Prophet had agreed to send back any Meccan who joined him after the treaty. He kept his word and asked him to go back trusting in God.
Even the enemies of the Prophet spoke highly of his virtues. When Heraclius the Emperor of the Byzantines received the Prophet’s letter, he asked if an Arab caravan was in town. Abu Sufiyan, a Meccan chief, happened to be there. He was called to the court. The Emperor put some questions to him.
Heraclius: Do you know this man who calls himself a Prophet? Can you tell me what family he belongs to?
Abu Sufiyan: He comes of a noble family.
Heraclius: Did any Arabs before him make such a claim?
Abu Sufiyan: No.
Heraclius: Has there been a king among his forefathers?
Abu Sufiyan: No.
Heraclius: Are his followers rich and powerful or poor and humble?
Abu Sufiyan: Most of them are poor and humble.
Heraclius: Are their number increasing or decreasing?
Abu Sufiyan: They are increasing.
Heraclius: Has he ever broken a promise?
Abu Sufiyan: Not so far.
Heraclius: What does he teach?
Abu Sufiyan: That we should worship One God and set up no equal to Him. That we should speak the truth and give up vice, and all evil ways. That we should be good to one another and respect the promises we make to one another.
Heraclius said at the end:
“I first asked you about his family. You said he belonged to a noble family. Prophets always come of noble families. I then asked if any one before him had made a similar claim. You said no. I put this question because I thought if someone had done so he was merely following his example. I asked you if he had ever lied before. You said he did not. It was clear to me that a man who would not lie to men would never lie about God. I asked you if any of his forefathers was a ruler. You said, `No’. I then understood that his claim was not made to recover an old kingdom. I next asked if his followers were powerful and rich or poor and humble. You said they were mostly poor and humble. So are generally the followers of prophets. I then asked if their numbers were increasing or decreasing. You said that they were increasing. The followers of prophets are always on increase. I asked you if he had every played false. You said, `No.’ And this is the way of good men. It seems to me that he is a true prophet. I was half expecting that he would appear in our time but had no idea that he would be an Arab. If what you have told is true, then his kingdom will extend over these lands.”
The Prophet feared and trusted God alone. He had full faith in his mission. He relied completely on Allah for its success. He kept Him, before his mind every day, every hour and every minute of his life. He prayed sitting, standing, walking, before going to sleep, on waking up, before and after eating and drinking, when entering or leaving his house or the mosque, meeting friends, parting with friends, hearing good news, wearing a new dress, before and after answering the call of nature. In short, he had for every movement and every moment a special prayer. He prayed long and regularly; often he was in prayers a whole night. In fact, his whole life was a single continuous prayer.
The Prophet feared none but God. When in battle with the Hawazin, the Muslim army dispersed, the Prophet was left alone with a few friends. The enemy was raining arrows from both sides. The Prophet told Abu Bakr to leave his mule alone. Then spurring the animal forward he said,
“I am a prophet. I am no liar. I am the son of Abdul Muttalib.”
Once in Medina Muslims were in great fear of attack. They would keep awake all night. Once there was an alarm late in the night. A group of them started out to investigate. Instantly they saw a rider coming. It was the Prophet. He said there was nothing to worry about. He had rushed out alone on the bare back of his horse at the first sign of trouble.
The Prophet had a very tender heart for the less fortunate. The rich too were never unwelcome. But he warned them that the poor had a share in their property. He even said that it was on account of the poor that the rich were rich. He never took home any gold or silver or riches. Whatever came his way was given away to the poor right away.
Once a tribe came to Medina. They were in a very bad way. There were hunger lines on their faces. The Prophet was deeply moved. He at once summoned Muslims to the mosque. He called upon them to bring, “Coin, cloth, grain or even a date,” whatever they could afford. Some brought clothes, some gave away their stored grains. One companion brought a heavy load of gold coins. When all this was piled up before him, his face lit up like the moon. Every bit was distributed.
The Prophet commanded Muslims to love one another. He said,
“What one likes for himself he should also like for his brother.”
This was one of his directives:
“Beware, it is kufr (un-Islamic) to fight a Muslim; it is a sin to abuse him. It is not lawful for a Muslim to be angry with a brother for more than three days.”
He advised Muslims to greet one another, to shake hands, to give presents, to invite one another to meals, to serve the sick, and to assist at funerals.
For goodwill among mankind, the Prophet commanded his followers to be just even to the enemy, to speak the truth even against the nearest of kin and “to spread peace and feed the poor.”
He was never hard on any man except when he openly broke the law. For the poor and the needy he had always a soft corner in his heart. Once one Ibad bin Sharjil plucked fruit from a garden. It was a time of famine. The owner caught hold of him, beat him up and took off his cloak from him. When both were brought before the Prophet, he said to the gardener,
“This man was ignorant. You should have taught him about good behaviour. He was hungry. You should have fed him..”
Then he got back the man’s cloak and gave the gardener a quantity of cereal in recompense.
The Prophet had no leniency for the rich criminal. Once a woman of a powerful tribe stole something. The Prophet decided to punish her under the law. Sine she came of a noble family, he was requested to let her go. He was very angry and said,
“The Israel were ruined because they would punish the poor offender and let off the rich.”
The Prophet had great regard for the man who would earn his own living. He once said if a man carries load of wood on his back to the market to sell and thus save his honour, it is better for him to do so than to beg.
The Prophet never for once believed that he was superior to others. In war and in peace, every time he was a comrade and an equal. There was no special seat for him to sit. He sat among his companions as one of them. A stranger would not know who the chief of the group was. Once during a journey, the companions divided among themselves their duties. The Prophet undertook to collect fuel wood for cooking food. The companions would not let him. They said they would do all the work and serve him. He said, he would not like a special treatment “as God loves not one who wants to be above his companions.”
During the journey to Badr, Muslims had very few mounts. Three of them rode one camel by turns. The Prophet took his turn like others. The companions insisted that he should ride and they would walk. The Prophet said,
“You cannot walk faster than me and I am more anxious to win merit than you.”
He shared domestic work with his wives. Ayesha says,
“He engaged himself in household chores. He would patch his clothes with his own hands. He would sweep the floor, milk the goats, do his shopping, cobble his shoes and mend the bucket and tether the camel and give it fodder and join in kneading the dough.”
The slave-women of Medina freely called on him for help. He would respond to every distress call.
Hind Ibne Hala, who knew him intimately from childhood says,
“He was mild of temper not harsh; he would insult no one; was grateful for the smallest service, would not find fault with anything; would eat of whatever was placed before him and pass no remarks. He would be angry only when someone opposed the truth. In his personal affairs he was never angry, nor did he ever take revenge.”
Ayesha says of him,
“The Prophet would never speak ill of anyone. He would never give evil return for evil. He would overlook and forgive. If he had a choice, he would chose the easier way, if it were not sinful. He would be far from it in that case. He never sought revenge from anyone in personal matters. Whoever broke the law, he was punished under God’s law. He never cursed any Muslim by name. He never hit a slave man or a slave girl, a woman, a serving man or an animal. He never turned down a request except when it was improper. He always entered the house smiling. He would never spread out his legs when sitting among friends. He spoke slowly so that if anyone wanted to do so, he could commit to memory what he said.”
Ali says of the Prophet:
“He had a smiling face, was mild of temper, kindly-disposed; neither hard nor narrow-minded. Would not shout, would not utter a harsh word, would not find fault and was not a hard task-master. If he did not like something, he would overlook it. But one who knew him well would understand by his silence. He disliked three things for himself, argument, vain talk, interest in things that did not concern him. In respect of others also he would not have three things: He would not speak ill of the. He would not find fault and would not pry in their private affairs. He would talk only about things that were useful. When he talked, the companions heard silently, their heads bent down as if birds were perched on them. When he became silent, only then would they talk. When he was talked to he would listen quietly until the talker had finished. If people laughed over something he too would smile. If an outside talked rough, he was patient with him. He did not like to hear himself praised. But if anyone thanked him for whatever he received from him, he accepted his thanks. He would never interrupt anyone while he talked until he became silent. He was exceedingly generous, most truthful, very kind hearted and the best company.”
The Prophet had a number of children. All except Fatima died during his life. Most of them died early. Zainab, his eldest daughter, died in the eighth year of the Hijra. She was married to Abul As bin Rabi. She left behind a daughter and a son. The Prophet was very fond of the grand daughter. She was named Imama and was married to Ali after the death of Fatima.
Two daughters, Ruqiyya and Ume-kalsum, were married to Uthman, one after the other. Uthman had migrated to Abyssinia with Ruqiyya where both lived for some time.
Fatima was married to Ali in the second year of Hijra. She died six months after the Prophet’s death. She left behind two sons, Hassan and Hussain, and two daughters Ume-kalsum and Zainab.
The Prophet treated members of his family with utmost kindness. He never forgot his first wife, Khadija, who was also the first to accept him as prophet. He was a loving father and a loving husband. But above all, he was a servant of God. All his love was for Him. His entire household followed his example faithfully. Then denied themselves the pleasures of this world and shared all the hardships of the Prophet’s life. All Arabia was under him when the Prophet passed away. He left behind for his family no property, no gold, no cash, no valuables, no stores.
He gave the world the Quran and his own example, two greatest gifts of God to mankind to regulate human life. He taught man truth, honesty, patience, self-denial, compassion, justice, good neighbourliness, peace, faith in God and hard work. He elevated man to the highest station when he said,
“I am but a man like you.”
He found Arabs a wild and warlike people given to booze, burglary, voluptuous ways and oppression. He made them a nation of saints and martyrs, God fearing helpers of widows and orphans, given to prayer and fasting.
When he first called the Quresh of Mecca to God they jeered at him and later plotted to slay him. He was forced to seek refuge in distant Medina. May Allah bless him with His choicest blessings! Before he died he was the King of all Arabia, even of the Quresh.