Heavenly Departure of Holy Prophet (SAWA)
By: Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi
Sorrow and distress filled Fatimah’s heart and pain hurt her too much when she became certain that her father was going to leave her for the other world. She sat beside and stared at him. She heard him saying, ‘Ah, my anguish!’
She was distressed and said, ‘Ah, my anguish for your anguish father!’
The loving father said kindly to his darling daughter, ‘No anguish for your father after this day!’18
She was very affected by these words because she became completely certain that her father would leave her. When the Prophet (S) saw her very sad and distressed, he wanted to delight her. He asked her to come closer to him. He whispered to her something and her eyes were filled with tears, and then he whispered to her another thing and she began smiling. Aa’isha (the Prophet’s wife) was astonished at seeing that and she said, ‘I have not seen delight that is nearer to sadness like today.’
Aa’isha asked Fatimah (s.a.) about what her (Fatimah) father whispered to her but she did not answer her. When days passed, she told her saying, “He said to me: ‘Gabriel reviewed the (whole) Qur’an to me once a year, but this year, he reviewed it to me twice. I do not think except that my death has come.’
This was the cause of her pain and crying. As for the cause of her delight, she said, “He said to me: ‘You are the first one of my family that shall join me (die). I am the best ancestor to you. Are you not pleased to be the principal of the women of this nation?’”19
The Prophet (S) comforted Fatimah (s.a.) saying, “O my daughter, do not cry! When I die, you say: ‘we are Allah’s and to Him we shall return’ It has recompense for any dead one.”
She said, ‘And for you O messenger of Allah?!’
He said, ‘Yes, and for me.’20
When the Prophet (S) began suffering more pain, Fatimah (s.a.) began crying and she said to him, ‘By Allah, you are like what some sayer has said: “A white one by whose face it is prayed that clouds may rain; The resort of orphans, the guard of widows.”’
The Prophet (S) said to her, ‘It is the saying of your uncle Abu Talib.’ Then he recited this Qur’anic verse: “And Muhammad is but a messenger; the messengers have already passed away before him. If then he dies or is killed, will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful. (3:144).” 21
The Prophet Recommends of his Family
Anas bin Malik narrated, ‘Fatimah, with al-Hasan and al-Husayn, came to the Prophet (S) in his last illness. She embraced him and stuck her chest to his while crying bitterly. The Prophet (S) ordered her not to cry out of fearing for her. He said while tears were falling down over his cheeks, ‘O Allah, these are my family. I have entrusted them to every believer…’ He repeated that three times.22 He said that because he knew well that his family would face all kinds of calamities.
The Prophet’s Inheritance for his Two Grandsons
Fatimah (s.a.) came with her two sons asking her father to bequeath them some of his morals and nobilities. She said to him, ‘O Father, these are your two sons. Please bequeath something from you to them.’
The Prophet (S) said, ‘As for al-Hasan, he shall have my gravity and glory, and as for al-Husayn, he shall have my courage and generosity.’23
The Prophet (S) recommended Imam Ali (a.s.) to care much for his two grandsons. Three days before his death, the Prophet (S) said to Imam Ali (a.s.), ‘O father of the two darlings, I recommend you of my two darling grandsons in all this life. How soon your two supports will be undermined! May Allah be my guardian over you…’
When the Prophet (S) died, Imam Ali (a.s.) said, ‘This is one of my two supports that the messenger of Allah talked about’, and when Fatimah (s.a.) died, he said, ‘This is the second support that the messenger of Allah told me about.’24
To the High Paradise
It was time for the Prophet (S) to leave this world and join his brothers, of the great prophets near the Lord. The Angel of Death came down to him asking permission. Fatimah (s.a.) said to him (the angel), ‘He (the Prophet) is busy with himself.’ The Angel of Death left and came back later asking permission. The Prophet (S) woke up and said to his daughter, ‘Do you know him?’ She said, ‘No, O messenger of Allah.’ The Prophet (S) said, ‘He is the establisher of graves, destroyer of houses and separator of gatherings.’
Fatimah (s.a.) was shocked and sorrows attacked her. She said sadly, ‘O Father! To the death of the last of prophets (he has come)? Alas! To the death of the best of the pious and to the end of the master of choices? Alas! To the cease of the revelation from the Heaven? After today, I shall be prevented from talking with you.’
The Prophet (S) pitied his darling daughter and said to her, ‘Do not weep! You will be the first one to join me…’25
Then the Prophet (S) permitted the Angel of Death to come to him. When he came in, he said, ‘O messenger of Allah, Allah has sent me to you and ordered me to obey you in whatever you order me to do. If you order me to take your soul, I shall do, and if you order me to leave it, I shall do.’
The Prophet (S) was astonished at the angel’s courtesy. He said, ‘O Angel of Death, would you do that?’
The Angel said, ‘I have been ordered to obey you in whatever you order me to do.’
No one of Allah’s prophets and messengers had ever got such preference as Prophet Muhammad (S) had. Allah had ordered the Angel of Death to ask permission before coming to him and to obey him in everything.
Then Gabriel came down saying to the Prophet (S), ‘O Ahmed, Allah is longing for you.’26
The Prophet (S) chose to be near his Lord. He permitted the Angel of Death to take his soul. The two grandsons were terrified and they threw themselves on their grandfather while crying and shedding tears. The Prophet (S) began kissing them and seeing them off.
Imam Ali (a.s.) wanted to take them away from the Prophet (S) who refused and said to the Imam, ‘Let them enjoy me and let me enjoy them, for they will suffer calamities after me.’
Then he turned to his visitors and said, ‘I have left among you the Book of Allah and my progeny, my household. One who loses the Book of Allah, is like one who loses my Sunna, and one, who loses my Sunna, is like one who loses my progeny. They (the Book of Allah and the progeny) will not separate until they shall come to me at the pond (in the Paradise).’27
Then he said to Imam Ali (a.s.), ‘Put my head on your lap, for the decree of Allah has come. When my soul comes out, take it and rub your face with it, and then direct me towards the qibla, prepare me, offer the prayer on me, and do not leave me until you burry me in my grave. Seek help from Allah the Almighty.’
Imam Ali (a.s.) put the Prophet’s head on his lap and put his (imam Ali) hand under his (the Prophet) chin. When the Angel of Death began taking the Prophet (S) soul, the Prophet (S) recited some Qur’anic verses until his holy soul left his pure body. Imam Ali rubbed his face with it.28
Mankind was afflicted with a great calamity; the leader, teacher and educator died, and that light, which lit the world with the divine teachings, high morals and noble manners, went out.
Muslims were shocked by the disaster and they lost their minds. The Prophet’s wives began beating their chests. The women of the Ansar beat their faces and their throats were harmed because of crying.29
As for Fatimah (s.a.), she fell over the pure body of her father saying, ‘O father! O messenger of Allah! Of prophet of mercy! Now the revelation does not come. Now Gabriel ceases coming to us. O Allah, let my soul join his (the Prophet) soul, and have mercy on me by looking at his face, and do not prevent me from his reward and intercession on the Day of Resurrection.’30
Then she mourned for him saying, ‘O Father, to Gabriel I mourn you! O father, the Paradise is your abode! O father, you responded to the Lord Who has invited you!’31
Preparing the Holy Corpse for Burial
Imam Ali (a.s.) alone, washed (ritually) and prepared the Prophet’s corpse for burial. No one participated with him in that. While washing the Prophet’s body, he sorrowfully said, ‘May my father and mother be sacrificed for you O messenger of Allah! By your death, something has ceased that it has not ceased by the death of any other than you; prophethood, revelation and the news of the Heaven. You have been particular until you sufficed away from anyone other than you, and you have been popular until people were the same in you. If you had not ordered of patience and forbidden from impatience, we would have exhausted our tears for you, and disease would have lasted long and distress would have endured forever.”32
Al-Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle and Usama gave Imam Ali (a.s.) water from behind a curtain.33 Good scent came out of the Prophet’s body. Imam Ali (a.s.) said, ‘May my father and mother be sacrificed for you O messenger of Allah! You are good scented alive and dead.’34 The water, which the Prophet’s corpse was washed with, was from a well called al-Ghars that the Prophet (S) drank from.35 Finishing the ritual washing, Imam Ali (a.s.) enshrouded the holy corpse and put it on a bed.
The Prayer over the Holy Corpse
The first who offered the prayer on the great corpse was Allah, then Gabriel, Israfel and then the angels groups by groups.36 Then Imam Ali (a.s.) offered the prayer on him. When Muslims came to offer the prayer on the Prophet’s corpse, Imam Ali (a.s.) said to them, ‘No one of you is to be an imam (in the prayer). He (the Prophet) is your imam alive and when dead.’
So Muslims came group by group to offer the prayer of the dead in lines with no imam. Imam Ali (a.s.) was standing beside the Prophet’s corpse and saying, ‘Peace be on you, O prophet, and Allah’s mercy and blessings. O Allah, we bear witness that he has informed of what has been revealed to him, been loyal to his nation and struggled in the way of Allah until Allah glorified His religion and perfected His word. O Allah, make us from those who follow what has been revealed to him, and fix us (on that) after him, and gather between us and him.’ People said, ‘Amen.’37
The masses of Muslims passed by the Prophet’s pure body while overcome by sorrow and distress for their savior, liberator and teacher, who had established to them a great civilization and state and lit to them the life after their ignorance and deviation, died.
After the rituals of prayer on the holy corpse, Imam Ali (a.s.), under the darkness of night, buried the sacred body in the last abode. He stood beside the tomb and said, ‘Patience is nice except for you, and impatience is ugly except for you. The calamity of your death is so great, and it is so great before and after you.’38
The pure progeny were so terrified after the Prophet’s death. They feared that the Arabs, and especially the tribe of Quraysh, might revolt to avenge on the Prophet’s family, because the Prophet (S) had killed their men for the sake of Islam. The tendency of avenging was deep-rooted in the Arabs, and it was Imam Ali (a.s.) who had killed their men and heroes, and so they were eager to avenge. Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, ‘When the messenger of Allah (S) died, the family of Muhammad spent the longest night and they thought that there would be no sky to shade and no earth to carry them, because the messenger of Allah had afflicted the near and the far for the sake of Allah.’39
Anyhow, the Prophet’s death was the greatest of calamities that the Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) faced. It was the beginning of the terrible calamities that they suffered later on. We shall talk about that in the following chapters.
As for Fatimah (s.a.), she was very sad for the great loss of her father. She elegized him with very moving poems. She often sat by the tomb and expressed her passions for her father. What pained her more was that people did not regard her as she deserved, and did not consider her kinship and position to the messenger of Allah.
18. The Life of Imam al-Hasan bin Ali, vol. 1 p. 112.
19. The Life of Imam al-Husayn bin Ali, vol. 1 p.215.
20. Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 1 p. 133.
21. The Life of Imam al-Husayn bin Ali, vol. 1 p. 216.
22. Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 1 p. 133.
23. Manaqib Aal Abi Talib, vol. 2 p. 465.
24. Amali of Sheikh as-Saduq, p. 119.
25. Durratul Nassihin, p. 66.
26. Tabaqat ibn Sa’d, vol. 2 p. 48.
27. Maqtal al-Husayn by al-Khawarizmi, vol. 1 p. 114.
28. Manaqib Aal Abi Talib, vol. 1 p. 29. Many historians have mentioned that when the Prophet (S) died, his head was in Imam Ali’s lap. It was mentioned in At-Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. 2 p. 51, Majma’ az-Zawa’id, vol. 1 p. 293, Kanzol Ummal, vol. 4 p. 55, Thakha’ir al-Uqba, p. 94, ar-Riyadh an-Nadhira, vol. 2 p. 219.
29. Ansab al-Ashraf, vol. 1 p.574.
30. Tareekh al-Khamees, vol. 2 p. 192.
31. Siyer A’lam an-Nubala’, 2 p. 88, Sunan ibn Maja, vol. 1 p. 511.
32. Nahjol Balagha, vol. 2 p. 255.
33. Wafa’ul Wafa’, vol. 1 p. 227, al-Bidayeh wen Nihayeh, vol. 5 p. 263.
34. At-Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. 2 p. 63.
35. Al-Bidayeh wen Nihayeh, vol. 5 p. 261.
36. Hilyatul Awliya’, vol. 4 p. 77.
37. Kanzol Ummal, vol. 4 p. 54.
38. Nahjol Balagha, vol. 3 p. 224.
39. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 22 p. 537, Usool al-Kafi, vol. 1 p. 445.