28th Safar, the Day of Manifold Grief
By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
Tomorrow, the 28th of Safar is that sad day in the annals of history when the person whom the Holy Qur'an calls "Mercy unto the creation", breathed his last.
To be exact, 1421 lunar years have passed since the departure from the mortal world of the Last and Greatest of the Divine Messengers, whose universal mission to mankind was foretold by all Prophets to their respective nations – Abraham in his scripture, Moses in Deuteronomy, Jesus in the Gospel according to St. John and several others including the sages of the Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, Greeks, Chinese, Africans etc – but the grief remains fresh till this day.
Not because he left the Ummah in any state of ambiguity without naming anyone to take charge of political and spiritual affairs, or as some others allege, he hinted at an aged person who did not live more than a couple of years after him.
Nay such thoughts about the Seal of Prophets are nothing but sheer blasphemy, especially in view of the fact that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), whom God says "neither errs, nor speaks out of desire, but it is revelation that is revealed" (53:2-5), said in the most explicit words: "I am leaving behind among you the Thaqalayn (two invaluable things); the Book of God (the Holy Qur’an) and my progeny the Ahl al-Bayt. Hold fast to them and you will never go astray, for the two will never separate from each other even when they return to me at the Fountain (of Kowthar on the Day of Judgement)."
Also, two months and ten days before his passing away, he halted on God's express commandment at the pond (Ghadeer) of Khum near Juhfa, while returning from the Farewell Hajj Pilgrimage, and after a delivering a sermon in broad daylight on accomplishment of his mission, lifted his cousin, and proclaimed without mincing words: "For whomsoever I am Master, this Ali (AS) is his Master."
Then how come the dispute among Muslims who have sadly splintered into sects? Why did the Ummah fail to fully adhere to his instructions?
What made a group of his companions assemble at the Saqifa Bani Sa'dah to arbitrarily select a caliph after a fist fight among them, even as the body of the Prophet lay unburied amidst the profound grief of his only surviving daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA) and her Qur'anic blessed household (33:33) – husband Imam Ali (AS), sons Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS) and daughters Zainab (SA) and Umm Kulthoum (SA)?
Why on the 28th Safar in 50 AH, the 39th anniversary of the Prophet's passing away, his elder grandson – hailed along with the younger as Leaders of the Youth of Paradise – was not just treacherously martyred through poisoning by the person posing as the caliph (Mu'awiyah), but his dead body was pierced by a volley of arrows shot by a future caliph (Marwan), while the lady on a mule – who over a decade-and-a-half earlier had rode a camel to cause the first open armed dissension among Muslims – cheered those desecrating the laws of Islam?
There is no intention of opening old wounds on such a doleful day, however, for the sake of Islamic unity it is necessary to clear the mists of the past, especially since the last day of Safar (Friday), which we mark as the end of the two-month period for Imam Husain (AS) and the immortal martyrs of Karbala, happens to be the martyrdom anniversary of another of the Prophet's Infallible Heirs (Imam Reza – AS), who was a victim of another imposter masquerading as caliph (Mamoun).
To end this brief column, the following passage from the book al-Muraja'at of the Lebanese scholar, Seyyed Abdul-Hussain Sharafuddin, which is actually a collection of his correspondence with Sheikh Salim al-Bishri, the Dean of Egypt's al-Azhar Academy, ought to enlighten us of the undeniable realities of the last moments of the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
Letter 86 titled "Thursday's Calamity" referring to a sad incident mentioned by the compilers of all Sahihs and Sunans, including al-Bukhari, on the authority of Ubaydullah ibn Abdullah ibn Utbah ibn Mas`ud quotes Abdullah ibn Abbas as saying that when death approached the Messenger of Allah, his house was full of his companions and he said: "Let me write you something that will forever protect you against straying after me."
But a certain person (I prefer not to name him here, although Bukhari and others have mentioned his name) said: "The Prophet is under the influence of pain, and you have with you the Qur'an; so, the Book of Allah suffices us."
Those present there argued, and their argument developed into a dispute, with some of them saying the Prophet should write what he intends to, in order to save Muslims from going astray after him, while others repeated what that person had said. When the argument and dispute intensified in the presence of the Prophet, he said to his companions: "Get away from me."
Food for thought indeed on the anniversary of the passing away of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), who as Imam Ali (AS) says in one of his sermons in the celebrated book Nahj al-Balagha: “When the Messenger of God passed away his head was on my chest, and his (last) breath blew over my palms and I passed it over my face. I performed his (funeral) ablution, may Allah bless him and his progeny, and the angels helped me. The house and the courtyard were full of them (angels). One party of them was descending and the other was ascending. My ears continually caught their humming voice as they invoked Allah’s blessings on him, till we laid him to rest in his grave. Thus, who can have greater rights with him than I during his life or after his departure?”